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Title: Mediæval London, v. 1-2 - Vol. 2, Ecclesiastical
Author: Besant, Walter (Sir)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mediæval London, v. 1-2 - Vol. 2, Ecclesiastical" ***

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Transcriber’s Notes.

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation and spelling remain unchanged except where in conflict
with the index.

Italics are represented thus _italic_, and superscripts thus 6^{th}.

The ancient documents reproduced, particularly in Appendix IX, contain
abbreviations represented by symbols no longer in use. These have been
represented by the tilde˜ .

Lower case Latin numbers surmounted by xx (score) are shown thus iiij∕xx.

                      _UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME_

                          PRICE 30/ NET EACH


 _With 146 Illustrations and a Reproduction of Agas’ Map of London in

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predecessors.”—_Pall Mall Gazette._

“A vivid and fascinating picture of London life in the sixteenth
century—a novelist’s picture, full of life and movement, yet with the
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_With 116 Illustrations and a Reproduction of Ogilby’s Map of London in

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      _With 108 Illustrations, mostly from contemporary prints._

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                         The Survey of London




                                VOL. II



                           SIR WALTER BESANT


                         ADAM & CHARLES BLACK



                                PART I

                       THE GOVERNMENT OF LONDON

  CHAP.                                                             PAGE

   1. THE RECORDS                                                      3

   2. THE CHARTER OF HENRY THE SECOND                                  8

   3. THE COMMUNE                                                     11

   4. THE WARDS                                                       24

   5. THE FACTIONS OF THE CITY                                        35

   6. THE CENTURY OF UNCERTAIN STEPS                                  66

   7. AFTER THE COMMUNE                                               72

   8. THE CITY COMPANIES                                             108

                                PART II

                         ECCLESIASTICAL LONDON

   1. THE RELIGIOUS LIFE                                             127

   2. CHURCH FURNITURE                                               159

   3. THE CALENDAR OF THE YEAR                                       164

   4. HERMITS AND ANCHORITES                                         170

   5. PILGRIMAGE                                                     179

   6. ORDEAL                                                         191

   7. SANCTUARY                                                      201

   8. MIRACLE AND MYSTERY PLAYS                                      213

   9. SUPERSTITIONS, ETC.                                            218

  10.  ORDER OF BURIAL                                               223

                               PART III

                           RELIGIOUS HOUSES

   1. GENERAL                                                        227

   2. ST. MARTIN’S-LE-GRAND                                          234


   4. THE CHARTER HOUSE                                              245

   5. ELSYNG SPITAL                                                  248

   6. ST. BARTHOLOMEW                                                250

   7. ST. THOMAS OF ACON                                             263

   8. ST. ANTHONY’S                                                  268

   9. THE PRIORY OF ST. JOHN OF JERUSALEM                            270

  10. THE CLERKENWELL NUNNERY                                        284

  11. ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, OR HOLIWELL NUNNERY                      286

  12. BERMONDSEY ABBEY                                               288

  13. ST. MARY OVERIES                                               297

  14. ST. THOMAS’S HOSPITAL                                          309

  15. ST. GILES-IN-THE-FIELDS                                        311

  16. ST. HELEN’S                                                    313

  17. ST. MARY SPITAL                                                322

  18. ST. MARY OF BETHLEHEM                                          325

  19. THE CLARES                                                     329

  20. ST. KATHERINE’S BY THE TOWER                                   334

  21. CRUTCHED FRIARS                                                342

  22. AUSTIN FRIARS                                                  344

  23. GREY FRIARS                                                    348

  24. THE DOMINICANS                                                 354

  25. WHITEFRIARS                                                    360

  26. ST. MARY OF GRACES                                             363

  27. THE SMALLER FOUNDATIONS                                        365

  28. FRATERNITIES                                                   382

  29. HOSPITALS                                                      385


   1. LIST OF WARDS OF LONDON                                        391

   2. LIST OF ALDERMEN                                               393

   IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY                                         395

   4. LIST OF PARISHES                                               397

   5. PATRONAGE OF CITY CHURCHES                                     400

   6. FESTIVALS                                                      401

   7. AN ANCHORITE’S CELL                                            404

   8. THE MONASTIC HOUSES                                            406

   9. A DOMINICAN HOUSE                                              407

  10. THE PAPEY                                                      411

  11. CHARITABLE ENDOWMENT                                           413

  12. FRATERNITIES                                                   420

  INDEX                                                              423



  Extract from Letter-Book E, dated 1316, relating to the
  Grocers’ Company                                                     5

  Obverse and Original Reverse of the Seal of the City of London,
  showing Figure of St. Thomas à Becket                               13

  Old Mayoralty Seal, Thirteenth Century                              15

  King John signing Magna Charta                             _Facing_ 20

  Aldgate House, Bethnal Green                                        25

  Parts of the South and West Walls of a Convent                      30

  The Tower of London about 1480                                      39

  The Crown offered to Richard III. at Baynard’s Castle      _Facing_ 56

  King Richard holding a Council of Nobles and Prelates               61

  Henry of Bolingbroke challenges the Crown                           62

  Richard II. consulting with his Friends in Conway Castle            63

  Richard II. and his Patron Saints                                   69

  Whittington and his Cat                                             73

  Death of Whittington                                                74

  Crossbowman                                                         77

  The Morning of Agincourt                                            81

  Facsimile of Heading of Account, 1575-1576, showing Cooper at Work  85

  South-East View of the Old House lately standing in Sweedon’s
  Passage, Grub Street                                                91

  South-West View of Gerrard’s Hall                         _Facing_ 100

  Facsimile of Surgeons’ Arms, 1492, with St. Cosmo and St. Damian
  supporting                                                         101

  Interior of the Guildhall                                          103

  A Tally for 6s. 8d. issued by Edward I.’s Treasurer to the
  Sheriff of Lincolnshire                                            105

  Election Garland given by Robert and Cicely Chamberlayn, 1463      105

  A Bagpipe-Player                                                   110

  Illustration from Zeller’s _La France Anglaise et Charles VII._    111

  The Seal of the Vintners’ Company, 1437                            112

  Tombstone of William Warrington, Master Mason, at
  Croyland Abbey, 1427                                               113

  Coopers’ Marks, A.D. 1420                                          114

  Part of Facsimile of the Original Charter granted by
  King Richard III. to the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers
  of the City of London (16th February, 1 Richard III.)              116

  Liverymen of London                                                117

  Frontispiece to the Grangerised Edition of Brayley’s _London
  and Middlesex_                                            _Facing_ 118

  William Smallwood, Master of the Pewterers’ Company                121

  St. Ethelburga’s Church, Bishopsgate Street                        129

  The Prioress                                                       131

  The Monk and his Greyhounds                                        131

  Chantry Chapel of Henry V. in Westminster Abbey                    133

  Earl of Northumberland receiving Mass                              135

  Interesting Antiquities in Westminster Abbey              _Facing_ 138

  Savoy Chapel and Palace                                            141

  The Lollard’s Tower, Lambeth Palace                                149

  Knights of the Holy Ghost embarking for the Crusades               151

  A Priest called John Ball stirs up great Commotion in England      155

  Embroidery of the Fourteenth Century, supposed to be part of a
  Frontal or Antependium                                             160

  Archbishop of Canterbury preaching on behalf of Henry,
  Duke of Lancaster                                                  161

  Queen Margaret, Wife of Henry VI., at Prayers                      168

  All Hallows, London Wall                                           175

  Wilsdon, Middlesex                                                 181

  The Tabard Inn, Borough                                            187

  Boss from the Ruins of the East Cloister of St. Bartholomew’s
  Priory                                                             195

  Sanctuary Knocker, Durham Cathedral                                202

  The Martyrdom of St. Thomas                                        203

  Brasses in St. Bartholomew the Less, Smithfield                    207

  The Sanctuary Church at Westminster                                209

  North-West View of the Ruins of the Bishop of Winchester’s Palace,
  Southwark                                                          215

  Torments of Hell                                                   219

  The Chapel of the Hospital for Lepers in Kent Street, Southwark,
  called Le Lock                                            _Facing_ 220

  Funeral Service                                                    223

  North View of the Oratory of the Ancient Inn situated in
  Tooley Street, Southwark, and formerly belonging to the Priors
  of Lewes in Sussex                                                 229

  The Sanctuary of St. Martin’s-le-Grand                             235

  Plan of Holy Trinity Priory (Ground Floor Story)}
                                                  } _Between_ 244 _and_ 245
  Plan of Holy Trinity Priory (Second Floor Story)}

  The Charter House                                                  246

  Conjectural Restoration of the Buildings of the Priory Church of
  St. Bartholomew the Great as existing in Prior Bolton’s time
  (about A.D. 1530)                                                  251

  Part of the Choir, with the Remains of the South Transept, of the
  Church of St. Bartholomew the Great                                252

  Tomb of Prior Rahere                                               253

  The Gate of St. Bartholomew’s Priory                               255

  St. Bartholomew the Less                                           257

  Interior of St. Bartholomew the Great                              259

  Eastern Cloister of St. Bartholomew’s Priory                       261

  Seal of the Hospital of St. Thomas of Acon                         263

  Becket receiving a letter from Henry II. constituting him
  Chancellor. Consecration of Becket to the See of Canterbury.
  Becket approaching the King with Disapprobation                    265

  The Priory of St. John of Jerusalem, London                        271

  Crypt of St. John’s Church, Clerkenwell                            273

  “The Templars”: an Ancient House at Hackney                        275

  Knight Templar                                                     276

  Knight Templar: Temple Church                                      276

  An Effigy at the Temple Church, erroneously described as that
  of Sir Geoffrey de Mandeville                                      277

  Interior of the Temple Church                                      279

  Ancient Cloisters in Clerkenwell                                   285

  The Arms and Seals of the Prior and Convent of St. Saviour at
  Bermondsey                                                         289

  Bermondsey Abbey                                                   293

  A General View of the Remains of Bermondsey Abbey, Surrey _Facing_ 294

  Figure of a Knight Templar       }
                                   }                                 298
  Traditional Figure of Old Overie }

  Gower’s Monument, St. Mary Overies                                 299

  Bishop Andrewes’ Tomb, St. Mary Overies                            301

  Gateway of St. Mary’s Priory, Southwark                            303

  Ancient Crypt, Southwark                                           305

  North-East View of St. Saviour’s Church                            307

  South-West View of the Interior of the Church of St. Helen,
  Bishopsgate Street                                                 314

  South-East View of the Nunnery of St. Helen, Bishopsgate Street    315

  The Crypt of the Nunnery of St. Helen, in Bishopsgate Street       317

  Seals of St. Helen’s Nunnery                                       319

  The Gothic Altar-piece in the Collegiate Church of St. Katherine,
  with the Monuments of the Duke of Exeter and of the
  Hon. G. Montague                                                   335

  The Church of Austin Friars                                        345

  Arms of Sir R. Whittington, Grey Friars, now Christ’s Hospital     348

  Christ’s Hospital, from the Cloisters                              349

  “Ye Plat of Ye Graye Friers,” A.D. 1617                            351

  Blackfriars’ Priory                                                355

  A Column of the Hall of Blackfriars’ Priory                        357

  Crypt of Old Whitefriars’ Priory                                   361

  Flagellants                                                        367

  Interior of Old Lambe’s Chapel, Monkwell Street                    369

  Exterior of the South Side of Old Lambe’s Chapel                   371

  North-East View of the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, Leadenhall,
  in the Parish of St. Peter-upon-Cornhill, London                   375

  Hall of the Brotherhood of the Holy Trinity                        383

  Page of the Roll containing the names of the “Brethren and Sisters”
  of the Guild of Fraternity of Corpus Christi,
  1485, 1486, 1488                                          _Facing_ 384

  North-West View of the Chapel and Part of the Great Staircase
  leading to the Hall of Bridewell Hospital, London                  386

                                PART I

                       THE GOVERNMENT OF LONDON



Before entering upon the government of London under the Plantagenet
Kings, let us first ask what are the documents in which we shall find
information at first hand.

No city in the world possesses a collection of archives so ancient
and so complete as the collection at the Guildhall. Riley, in his
Introduction to the _Liber Albus_, begins his list of those who have
consulted the archives with John Stow. Surely, however, the compiler
of the _Liber Albus_ itself, John Carpenter, also consulted archives
even in his day valuable and ancient. Strype, in the preparation of his
Edition of Stow, also consulted the City archives:—

“Again,” he says, “another Thing, that Labour and Diligence hath been
bestowed in, relates to the Laws, Customs and Usages of the City.
Wherein the Liberties and Privileges, as well as the Duties of the
Citizens, are contained. And therefore ought to be known by them, and
in that regard necessary to be set down, as accurately and largely as
might be; being Things so material for them to be advised of. This was
laudably begun by A. M. in the last Edition: but very much improved and
enlarged in this. And to enable me the better in the doing the same,
it was not only necessary to gather up, and present the many and most
important Acts of Parliament and Common Council, relating to the City
and its Affairs; but also to have recourse to the authentick Books and
Records belonging to the Chamber of London: Where many ancient and
curious Matters of this nature might be found. But this seemed to be
somewhat difficult to be obtained. Yet by the Help of some friends of
Quality and good Account, and making the Court of Aldermen acquainted
with my Design, and requesting their Leave and Licence, I obtained an
Order from them to Mr. Ashhurst, then Town Clerk, to give me Access
to some of their Books, that might be most to my Purpose, and their
Allowance to transcribe what I thought convenient out of them: but
withal I was enjoined by the Court to leave in Mr. Town Clerk’s hands
all my Notes that I should so collect thence, to be reviewed and
examined; lest some things published from them might seem prejudicial
some way or other to the City, or be judged not so convenient to be
known; or lest any Mistakes might be made by me in transcribing. Which
(as was fit), I readily complied with. Many Remarks I took out thence,
respecting both the ancient State of the City, and also of the Courts,
the Customs, the Magistrates, the Officers, &c. The Chief Books I
conversed with, were those two famous ancient Volumes, the one called
_Liber Horne_, from the Writer, the other called _Liber Albus_, _i.e._
the White Book. Both so often made use of and cited by Mr. Stow. This
last mentioned Book was composed in Latin, An. 1419. 7. H. 5. mense
Novembris. And what it contains is known by what is writ in one of the
First Pages, viz. Continens tam laudabiles Observantias, non scriptas,
in dict. Civitate fieri solitas, quam notabilia memoranda, &c., sparsim
et inordinate scripta. That is, ‘Containing as well laudable Customs,
not written, wont to be observed in the said City, as other notable
things worthy remembering, here and there scatteringly, not in any
Order written.’ The Compiler of this White Book was one Carpenter:
whose Name fairly and largely writ fronts the first page. Who I suppose
may be that J. Carpenter, sometime Town Clark in the Reign of Henry V.,
mentioned by Stow in his Survey among the worthy Benefactors of the
City: and whose Gifts are there set down. In this Volume are inserted
Memorials of the Maiors, Sheriffs, Recorders, Chamberlains, and the
other chief officers of the City: likewise all the Charters granted
by the several Kings of England from William the Conqueror: and the
Confirmations thereof. There is also a Tract of the Manner and Order,
‘How Barones & Universitas Civitat. London, &c. That is, the Barons
(_i.e._ the Freemen) and Commonality of the City of London, ought to
behave and carry themselves towards the King and his Justitiaries
Itinerants in the Time it pleaseth the King to hold Pleas of the Crown
at the Tower of London: Together with many other Matters and Subjects,
contained in this Choice MS.’

       *       *       *       *       *

The other Book, which I had also the favour of perusing, namely
_Horne_, was near an Hundred Years older, so named from Andrew Horne,
sometime Chamberlain of the City, viz. in the time of King Edward the
Second. What this Book contains, is told by this Inscription in one
place of it, viz. ‘Iste Liber restat Andreae Horne Piscenario London,
de Breggestrete. In quo continentur Cartae, & aliae Consuetudines
predict. Civitat. Angliae & Statuta per Henricum Regem, & Edwardum
Regem fil. predict. Regis Henrici edita.’ And again, ‘In isto Libro
continentur tota Statuta, & Ordinationes & Cartae & Libertates, &
Consuetudines Civitat. London & Ordo Justitiorum itinerantium apud
Turrim Lond. & ipsum iter.’


Another Book also there was in the Chamber, which I also perused for
the same purpose, called _Liber Custumarum_. The First Tract whereof
is, de Laudibus Nobilitatis Insulae Britanniae. It is in old French,
and consisteth of thirteen chapters; Beginning thus—

‘De Britaigne, que ore est appele Engleterre, & qui est si benure sur
toutes autres Isles; & qui est si plentiuous de blez & des arbres, &
large de boys & de rivers & de veneisons & de oisiaus convenables, et
noble de mout de maneres bons chiens. Citees y ad mont belles et bien
assises, & belles guameries de terre amyable; close de mere & de douces
Ewes delitables: ceo est asavoir, de fluvies, de beaus undes, de clers
fountaynes & de douces, &c.’

       *       *       *       *       *

The writer then applies himself to treat of London; as, the several
Charters, the Wards, and the Streets, Passages, and Places there,
Privileges of Maiors, &c.

To which I add the _Calendarium Cameræ_, London, which was also another
Book in the Chamber, of use to me also in my searches.”

During the eighteenth century, except for Strype, the archives appear
to have been unmolested. Early last century Sir Francis Palgrave made
many extracts from this treasury. More recently, M. Auguste Thierry
published certain treaties of commerce of the thirteenth to fifteenth
centuries, between the citizens of London and the merchants of Amiens.
In 1843 M. Jules Delpit spent some time at the Guildhall collecting
from copies of documents relating to the connections between France and
England. Since then the work of publishing and annotating these papers
has gone on with great diligence.

A list of the items which comprise the City archives is given by Riley:—

“In addition to the early Registers, or Letter-Books, from A to K
inclusive (the respective dates of which are given at the conclusion
of this volume), the Record-room at Guildhall contains the following
compilations:—_Journals_ and _Repertories_ of the Courts of Aldermen
and Common Council from A.D. 1417 down to the present time. _Liber de
Antiquis Legibus_, a Latin Chronicle of the City transactions from A.D.
1178 to 1274, the only one of the records hitherto published. _Liber
Horn_, a miscellaneous collection, date 1311, and compiled probably by
its original owner, Andrew Horn. _Liber Custumarum_, a compilation of
a similar nature, date about 1320, and put together probably under the
supervision of the same Andrew Horn. _Liber Albus._ _Liber Dunthorn_, a
compilation in Latin, Anglo-French, and English, prepared between A.D.
1461 and 1490. _Liber Legum_, a collection of laws from A.D. 1342 to
1590. _Liber Ordinationum de Itinere_, compiled _temp._ Edward I.: in
addition to which, there are the _Assisa Panis_, commencing in 1284;
_Liber Memorandorum_, date 1298, and several other manuscript volumes
of inferior note and value.

Among the books which are known to have formerly belonged to the
Corporation of London, but are now lost, are the following:—_Liber
Niger Major_, and _Liber Niger Minor_, both quoted in _Liber Albus_,
_Speculum_, _Recordatorium_, possibly identical with the _Liber Regum
Antiquorum_, also lost; _Magnus Liber de Chartis et Libertatibus
Civitatis_; _Liber Rubeus_, and _Liber de Heretochiis_, both mentioned
in the Letter-Books, according to M. Delpit, as formerly in existence.
It is not improbable that these volumes may have disappeared on
the disastrous occasion when, in the reign of Edward VI., the Lord
Protector Somerset borrowed three _cartloads_ of books from the Library
at Guildhall, none of which were ever returned.”—Riley’s Introduction
to _Liber Albus_.

Since this list was prepared, the Corporation have undertaken the
publication of Riley’s _Memorials of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and
Fifteenth Centuries_; Sharpe’s _Calendar of Wills_; the _Calendar of
Letters_; Sharpe’s _London and the Kingdom_; Price’s _Descriptive
Account of the Guildhall_; Agas’s “Map of London”; Riley’s _Chronicles
of Old London_. In addition to these volumes, one must not omit
Arnold’s _Chronicle of Customs_, published in 1811; the publications
of the Camden Society, which include many documents invaluable to
the student of City history; other Chronicles translation has made
accessible, such as the “Dialogue de Scaccario,” published in full in
Stubbs’s _Select Charters_.



The Charter granted by Henry the Second, though apparently full,
contained certain omissions which are significant and important. Round
has arranged this Charter side by side with that of Henry the First,
dividing their contents into numbered clauses, italicising the points
of difference (_Geoffrey de Mandeville_, pp. 368-369).

        HENRY THE FIRST                          HENRY THE SECOND

  (1) Cives non placitabunt extra        (1) Nullus eorum placitet extra
  muros civitatis pro ullo placito.      muros civitatis Londoniarum de
                                         ullo placito _praeter placita de
                                         tenuris exterioribus, exceptis
                                         monetariis et ministris meis_.

  (2) Sint quieti _de schot et de        (2) Concessi etiam eis quietanciam
  loth de Danegildo et_ de murdro,       murdri, [_et_] _infra urbem et
  et nullus eorum faciat bellum.         Portsokna_, et quod nullus faciat

  (3) Et si quis civium de placitis      (3) De placitis ad coronam
  coronæ implacitatus fuerit, per        [spectantibus] se possunt
  sacramentum quod judicatum fuerit      disrationare secundum antiquam
  in civitate, se disrationet homo       consuetudinem civitatis.

  (4) Et infra muros civitatis nullus    (4) Infra muros nemo capiat
  hospitetur, neque de mea familia,      hospitium per vim vel per
  neque de alia, nisi alicui             liberationem Marescalli.
  hospitium liberetur.

  (5) Et omnes homines Londoniarum       (5) Omnes cives Londoniarum sint
  sint quieti et liberi, et omnes res    quieti de theloneo et lestagio per
  eorum, et per totam Angliam et per     totam Angliam et per portum maris.
  portus maris, de thelonio _et
  passagio_ et lestagio _et
  omnibus aliis consuetudinibus_.

  (6) Et ecclesiæ et barones et cives
  teneant et habeant bene et in pace
  socnas suas cum omnibus                (This clause is wholly omitted).
  consuetudinibus ita quod hospites
  qui in soccis suis hospitantur
  nulli dent consuetudines suas,
  nisi illi cujus socca fuerit, vel
  ministro suo quem ibi posuerit.

  (7) Et homo Londoniarum non            (7) Nullus de misericordia pecuniæ
  judicetur in misericordia pecuniæ      judicetur nisi secundum legem
  nisi ad suam _were_, scilicet          civitatis quam habuerunt tempore
  ad c solidos, dico de placito          Henrici regis avi mei.
  quod ad pecuniam pertineat.

  (8) Et amplius non sit miskenninga     (8) In civitate in nullo placito
  in hustenge, neque in folkesmote,      sit miskenninga; et quod Hustengus
  neque in aliis placitis infra          semel tantum in hebdomada
  civitatem; et husteng sedeat semel     teneatur.
  in hebdomada, videlicet die Lunae.

  (9) Et terras suas _et wardemotum_     (9) Terras suas _et tenuras et
  et debita civibus meis habere faciam   vadimonia_ et debita omnia juste
  _infra civitatem et extra_.            habeant, _quicunque eis debeat_.

  (10) Et de terris de quibus ad me      (10) De terris suis et tenuris
  clamaverint rectum eis tenebo lege     _quæ infra urbem sunt_, rectum eis
  civitatis.                             teneatur secundum legem civitatis;
                                         et de omnibus debitis suis quae
                                         accomodata fuerint apud Londonias,
                                         et de vadimoniis ibidem factis,
                                         placita [? sint] apud Londoniam.

  (11) Et si quis thelonium vel          (11) Et si quis _in tota Anglia_
  consuetudinem a civibus Londoniarum    theloneum et consuetudinem ab
  ceperit, _cives_ Londoniarum capiant   hominibus Londoniarum ceperit,
  de burgo vel de villa ubi theloneum    _postquam ipse a recto defecerit
  vel consuetudo capta fuit, quantam     Vicecomes_ Londoniarum namium inde
  homo Londoniarum pro theloneo dedit,   apud _Londonias_ capiat.
  et proinde de damno caperit.

  (12) Et omnes debitores qui civibus    (12) Habeant fugationes suas,
  debita debent eis reddant vel in       ubicumque habuerunt tempore Regis
  Londoniis se disrationent quod non     Henrici avi mei.
  debent. _Quod si reddere noluerint,
  neque ad disrationandum venire,
  tunc cives quibus debita sua debent
  capiant intra civitatem namia sua,
  vel de comitatu in quo manet qui
  debitum debet._

  (13) Et cives habeant fugationes       (13) _Insuper etiam, ad
  suas ad fugandum sicut melius et       emendationem civitatis, eis
  plenius habuerunt antecessores         concessi quod sint quieti de
  eorum, scilicet Chiltre et             Brudtolle, et de Childewite, et de
  Middlesex et Sureie.                   Yaresive, et de Scotale; ita quod
                                         Vicecomes meus_ (sic)
                                         _London[iarum] vel aliquis alius
                                         ballivus Scotalla non faciat._

The text of the first is that of Stubbs’s _Select Charters_; that of
the second is taken from the transcript in the _Liber Custumarum_
(collated with the _Liber Rubeus_).

One very curious mistake was discovered by Round in the first. In
clause 9 the word _wardemotum_ is used. This, by comparison with
the corresponding clause in the second Henry’s Charter, should be
_vadimonia_: in other words, both Charters confirmed to the citizens
“the property mortgaged to them and the debts due to them.”

To consider the differences:—

(1) No citizens are to plead without the walls. The second Charter
adds “except in pleas for exterior tenures, my moneyers and servants

By the second clause the citizens are freed from Scot and Lot and
Danegeld and Murder. Henry the Second substitutes acquittance of murder
within the City and Portsoken.

(6) Clause 6 is omitted in the second Charter.

(9) Clause 9. I have already shown the error discovered by Round in the
word _wardemotum_.

(10) Here is a limitation, “quæ infra urbem sunt,” which are within the

(11) The clause concerning debtors omitted in the second Charter.

(12) About taking toll or any other custom from the citizens: for the
“citizens” is substituted the Sheriff.

(13) Observe that Henry the Second does not speak of the Sheriff of
London, but of _my_ Sheriff.

The most important omission, however, in the second Charter is that
which gives the citizens the right to hold Middlesex on the _firma_ of
£300 a year, and the right to elect their own Justiciar and Sheriff.



We are now in a position to proceed to the establishment of the
Commune. The stages of any important reform are, first, the right
understanding of the facts; then a tentative discussion of the facts;
then an animated discussion of the facts; next, an angry denial of
the facts; then a refusal to consider the question of reform at all;
finally, the unwilling acceptance of reform with gloomy prophecies
of disaster and ruin. One knows nothing about these preliminary
stages as regards the great Civic Revolution of 1191. But I am quite
sure that, just as it was with the Reform Bill of 1832, so it was
with the creation of a Mayor in 1191. There were no newspapers, no
pamphlets, and no means of united action except the Folk Mote at
Paul’s Cross—which would clearly be of no use on such a point—and the
casual meeting day by day of the merchants by the riverside. There
was no Royal Exchange; there were no Companies’ Halls for them to
meet in; we have no record of any meeting; but we may be sure that
the inconvenience of the situation was discussed whenever two or
three were gathered together. We may be equally sure that there were
Conservatives, those who loved the old days, and dreaded the power of a
central authority. Opinion as regards reform has always been divided,
and always will be divided; there are always those who would rather
endure the ills that exist than meet unknown ills which may be brought
upon them by change. I do not know how long the discussions continued
and the discontent was endured. On this subject history is dumb. One or
two points, however, are certain. The first is that all the great towns
of Western Europe were eager for the Commune; the next is the model
which they proposed to copy.

It must have been well known to our Kings throughout the twelfth
century that the creation of the Commune in the great trading cities of
Western Europe was not only ardently desired by the citizens, but had
been actually achieved by many. What they desired was a Corporation,
a municipality, self-government within their own walls. It is certain
that London looked with eyes of envy upon Rouen, a City with which it
was closely connected by ties of relationship, as well as those of
trade, because Rouen obtained her Commune fifteen years before London
obtained the mere shadow of one. It was, in fact, from Normandy that
the City derived her desire to possess a Commune. The connection
between London and Rouen was much closer than we are generally willing
to recognise. Communication was easy, the Channel could be crossed
whenever the wind was favourable, the Englishman was on a friendly
soil when he landed in Normandy, a country ruled by his own Prince.
The Normans found themselves also among a friendly people on the soil
of England. They came over in great numbers, especially to London. The
merchants of Rouen had their port at Dowgate from the days of Edward
the Confessor. Many of the leading London merchants came from Rouen and
Caen. Therefore, whatever went on in Rouen was known in London. Now, in
the year 1145, great and startling news arrived. It was heard that the
City of Rouen had obtained a Commune, that is to say, a municipality,
with a Mayor for a central authority, and powers of government over
the whole City. Further news came that the Commune was established in
other parts of France and in the Netherlands, and that everywhere the
cities were forming themselves into municipalities, breaking away from
the old traditions and organising themselves. This was not done without
considerable opposition. The rights of the Church, the rights of the
Barons, the rights of the King, were all invaded by the creation of the
Commune. It was, however, a great popular movement, irresistible. It
succeeded for a time, but in one city after another it fell to pieces.
In England it succeeded greatly, and it continued to extend and to
flourish. Meanwhile the merchants of London understood very well that,
in this respect, what suited the people of Rouen would suit them.
Indeed, the conditions were very similar in the two Cities.[1]

Then began a serious agitation—but not after the modern fashion—among
the London citizens in favour of the new civic organisation. Henry the
Second would have none of it. In his jealousy of any transfer of power
to the people, he allowed no guilds to be formed save with his consent;
at one blow he suppressed eighteen “Adulterine” guilds which had thus
been created. But he could not suppress the ardent desire of the people
for the Commune.

Had the successor of Henry been as wise a King and as clear-sighted
as his father, the desire of the City might have been staved off for
another generation. But Richard was not Henry. When he was gone upon
his crusade, the government was left in the hands of his Chancellor,
William Longchamp. And then follows one of those episodes in which the
history of London becomes actually the history of the whole country.

Longchamp had become unpopular with all classes. The barons felt the
power of his hand and resented it; the merchants found themselves
continually subject to extortionate fines, the clergy to exactions.
He held all the Royal Castles; he was attended by a guard of a
thousand horsemen; he affected the parade of royalty. In considering
this personage, it must be remembered that he had many enemies in all
ranks, and that his character has been chiefly drawn by his enemies.
It was, of course, a great point against him—and always hurled in his
teeth—that he was of humble origin; he was also, as a matter of course,
charged with every kind of immorality. His haughtiness, which might be
excused in his position of Viceroy, was undoubted; it was called by his
enemies insolence; and there could be no doubt as to the taxes which
he imposed. In the letter written by Hugh, Bishop of Coventry, after
Longchamp’s deposition, even ecclesiastical invective seems to have
done its very worst. The real reason of the deadly hatred is summed up
in the following:—

 “To omit other matters, he and his revellers had so exhausted the
 whole kingdom, that they did not leave a man his belt, a woman her
 necklace, a nobleman his ring, or anything of value even to a Jew.
 He had likewise so utterly emptied the King’s treasury, that in all
 the coffers and bags therein, nothing but the keys could be met with,
 after the lapse of these last two years.” (_Roger de Hoveden_, Riley’s
 trans., vol. ii. p. 235.)


From a wax cast in the Guildhall Museum.]

On the other hand, Peter of Blois replied to the gentle Bishop of
Coventry with a letter which must have awakened in the mind of that
prelate something of the ungovernable wrath which belonged to his time.
He says: “The Bishop of Ely [Longchamp], one beloved by God and men,
a man amiable, wise, generous, kind, and meek, bounteous and liberal
to the highest degree, had by the dispensations of the Divine favour,
and in accordance with the requirements of his own manners and merits,
been honoured with the administration of the State, and had thus gained
the supreme authority. With feelings of anger you beheld this, and
forthwith he became the object of your envy. Accordingly, your envy
conceived vexation and brought forth iniquity; whereas he, walking in
the simplicity of his mind, received you into the hallowed precincts of
his acquaintanceship, and with singleness of heart, and into the bonds
of friendship and strict alliance. His entire spirit reposed upon you,
and all your thoughts unto him were for evil.” (_Roger de Hoveden_,
Riley’s trans., vol. ii. p. 238.)

We have not to determine the guilt or the innocence of the Chancellor;
it is enough to learn that there were opposite views.

The Barons and Bishops were headed by John, Earl of Mortain,[2] brother
of the King.

It was notorious that of all those who went out to fight the Saracen,
few returned. Richard, in the Holy Land, was not sparing himself;
it was therefore quite likely that he would meet his death upon the
battlefield. Then, as the heir to the crown was a child, and as a man,
and not a child, was wanted on the throne, John had certainly every
reason to believe that his own accession would be welcomed. He prepared
the way, therefore, by joining the popular cause, and put himself at
the head of the malcontents.

And now, at last, the citizens saw their chance. They offered to use
the whole power of the City for John and the barons, but on conditions.
J. H. Round, in his _Origin of the Mayoralty of London_, p. 3, says:—

 “It was at about the same time that the ‘Commune’ and its ‘Maire’
 were triumphantly reaching Dijon in one direction, and Bordeaux in
 another, that they took a northern flight and descended upon London.
 Not for the first time in her history, the Crown’s difficulty was
 London’s opportunity, and when in October, 1191, the administration
 found itself paralysed by the conflict between the King’s brother
 John, and the King’s representative, the famous Longchamp, London,
 finding that she held the scales, promptly named the concession of
 a ‘Commune’ as the price of her support. The chroniclers of the day
 enable us to picture to ourselves the scene, as the excited citizens
 who had poured forth overnight, with lanterns and torches, to welcome
 John to the capital, streamed together on the morning, of the eventful
 8th October, at the well-known summons of the great bell, swinging
 out from its campanile in St. Paul’s Churchyard. There they heard
 John take the oath to the ‘Commune,’ like a French King or Lord, and
 then London for the first time had a municipality of her own. What
 the English and territorial organisation could never have brought
 about, the foreign Commune, with its commercial basis, could and did

 And as London alone had her ‘Commune,’ so London alone had her Mayor.
 The ‘Maire’ was unquestionably imported with the ‘Commune,’ although
 it is not till the spring of 1193 that the Mayor of London is first
 mentioned. But already in 1194 we find a citizen accused of boasting
 that ‘come what may the Londoners shall never have any King but their

“Not for the first time.” Remember that in 1066, after the battle of
Hastings, London only admitted William as King on conditions. London
elected Henry the First King on conditions. London made Stephen King
on conditions. London received the Empress on conditions; a week later
the Queen also on conditions; and now, once more, London saw its
chance—such a chance as might never occur again—for getting what it
wanted—on conditions.

Let us, however, enter more fully into the details of this victory, and
into the causes which led to concession.

Longchamp gave the barons an opening by his attempted exclusion of
Geoffrey, Archbishop of York (natural brother of the King), from the
kingdom, and his forcible seizure of the Archbishop from the very
horns of the Altar. Geoffrey complained to John, who gave orders that
the Chancellor should stand his trial for the injury he had done to
the Archbishop. Remembering the position of Longchamp, as the actual
representative of the King, this summons was in the nature of an
ultimatum. As regards the City, Longchamp had alienated many of the
citizens by his exactions and by the great works which he carried on at
the Tower, a point on which the citizens were always extremely jealous.


From a wax cast in Guildhall Museum.]

A day was named for the hearing of the case. The Court, or the Council,
sat at Reading. There were present: John, Earl of Mortain; the
Archbishop of York as plaintiff; the Archbishop of Rouen—his appearance
is most significant, with the bishops and the principal barons of the

But no Chancellor appeared, nor did any message or reply come from him.

The Court being broken up, the barons marched from Reading to Windsor,
while the Chancellor retired from Windsor to the Tower of London.

On the day following, the barons marched from Windsor into London. By
this statement we may clearly understand that everything had already
been arranged with the citizens, otherwise the gates would have been
shut. The barons, with their following, were admitted into the City;
they held another meeting at the Chapter House of St. Paul’s; and here
John, the Archbishops of York and Rouen, and nearly all the bishops
and barons of the realm, received the principal citizens, and solemnly
granted to the City of London its long-sought Commune, and swore to
maintain it firmly so long as it should please the King.

The words of Roger of Hoveden are quite clear; it is extraordinary that
there could be any doubt about what was done:

 “On the same day, also, the Earl of Mortaigne, the Archbishop of
 Rouen, and the other justiciaries of the King, granted to the citizens
 of London the privilege of their commonalty; and, during the same
 year, the Earl of Mortaigne, the Archbishop of Rouen, and the other
 justiciaries of the King, made oath that they would solemnly and
 inviolably observe the said privilege, so long as the same should
 please their lord the King. The citizens of London also made oath that
 they would faithfully serve their lord King Richard, and his heirs,
 and would, if he should die without issue, receive Earl John, the
 brother of King Richard, as their King and Lord.” (_Roger de Hoveden_,
 Riley’s trans., vol. ii. p. 230.)

This done, they proceeded without any trouble to depose the Chancellor,
who fled, and, after many adventures, got across to Normandy in safety.

Observe the very great importance attached to this step. It was the
condition in return for which London joined the barons in getting rid
of a rapacious Viceroy; the concession was not lightly, but solemnly,
granted, as a measure of the greatest weight, in presence of the chief
persons of the kingdom; all present set their hands to the Act; all
present swore to maintain it.

One of the chroniclers, Richard of Devizes, a very strong Conservative,
shows us what was thought of the step by his party:

 “On that very day,” he says, “was granted and instituted the Commune
 of the Londoners, and the magnates of the whole realm, even the
 Bishops of the province itself, were compelled to swear to it. London
 learned now for the first time, in obtaining the Commune, that the
 realm had no King, for neither Richard nor his father Henry would ever
 have allowed this to be done, even for a million marks of silver. How
 great those evils are which spring from a Commune may be understood
 from the common saying that it puffs up the people and it terrifies
 the King.”

Ralph de Diceto says more succinctly, “All the before-mentioned
_magnates_ [_i.e._ John, the archbishop, the bishops, earls, and
barons] swore [that they would maintain] the _Commune_ of London.” It
is he who tells us what the others do not tell us, that this parliament
was holden in the Chapter House of Saint Paul, London.

Giraldus Cambrensis says:—

“In crastino vero convocatis in unum civibus, communione, vel ut Latine
minus vulgariter magis loquamur, commune seu communia eis concessa et
communiter jurata.”

It is therefore abundantly plain that the citizens desired, and
obtained from John, the concession of the Commune.

Another chronicler informs us that the Commune was granted to the whole
body of citizens gathered together. This means that it was announced
at a Folk Mote specially summoned at Paul’s Cross. I cannot but think
that the importance of the concession called for the assemblage of the
whole people. Mr. Round must be right in his picture. After the meeting
in the Chapter House, the Great Bell of St. Paul’s was rung; the people
flocked together; the bishop stood up at Paul’s Cross and told them the
great news: that they had at last won their community; that for the
first time they were one City; that they had for the first time their
leader and their speaker.

The City got its Commune. The first Mayor, Henry FitzAylwin, or Henry
of London Stone, was elected. Two years afterwards, he is spoken of as
the Mayor of London. He held the office for five-and-twenty years: it
was twenty-four years after his election that he was recognised by the
King. John’s recognition, when he was no more than Earl of Mortain,
heir to the Crown, was not official. As we have heard already, Richard
never recognised either the Commune or the Mayor.

Mr. H. C. Coote, in a paper published by the London and Middlesex
Archæological Society, argues that so great a change as that from the
former to the later constitution demanded a Charter; that therefore
this Charter must have been granted; and that it must have been lost.
It is sufficient to note the fact that there is no such Charter.
Considering the circumstances, it does not seem as if a Charter could
have been granted. The Commune was conferred so long as it should
please the King. It did not please the King, who never recognised the
Commune. Therefore, one would infer there was no Charter.

In 1215 the citizens obtained from John their right to elect their own

As for the meaning of the Commune, Stubbs says:—

 “The establishment of the ‘Communa’ of the citizens of London which
 is recorded by the historians to have been specially confirmed by the
 Barons and Justiciar on the occasion of Longchamp’s deposition from
 the Justiciarship is a matter of some difficulty as the word ‘Communa’
 is not found in English town-charters, and no formal record of the act
 of confirmation is now preserved. Interpreted, however, by foreign
 usage and by the later meaning of the word ‘Communitas’ it must be
 understood to signify a corporate identity of the municipality which
 it may have claimed before and which may even have been occasionally
 recognised but was now firmly established: a sort of consolidation
 into a single organised body of the variety of franchises, guilds, and
 other departments of local jurisdiction. It was probably connected
 with, and perhaps implied by, the nomination of a _Mayor_ who now
 appears for the first time. It cannot, however, be defined with
 certainty.” (Stubbs’s _Select Charters_.)

Now Round[3] points out that the words “concessa est communæ
Londinensium,” agree exactly with the granting of the French Communes.
The same words were used for the Communes of Senlis, of Compiègne,
of Abbeville, and of Poitiers. The Commune again, in France, did not
necessarily imply the election of a Mayor. At Beauvais and Compiègne at
first there was no Mayor.

Round next shows, which is very remarkable, that the long struggle of
the citizens to hold the City and County at the _firma_ of £300, which
the Crown persistently strove to raise to £500 and more, was terminated
in 1191, the year when the Commune was granted, by a return to the old
sum of £300. This is a very important fact. Entries of the years 1192
and 1197 show that this yearly sum was maintained at the lower figure.
Three points, therefore, are certain:—

 1. A Commune was granted to London in 1191.

 2. The Firma of City and County was simultaneously lowered from over
 £500 to the old sum of £300.

 3. The Mayor of London first appears in 1193.

It is at this point that an almost contemporary document, discovered by
Mr. Round, in the British Museum, which is nothing less than the oath
of the Commune, throws a flood of light on the situation.

 “_Sacramentum commune tempore regis Ricardi quando detentus erat
 Alemaniam (sic)._

 Quod fidem portabunt domino regi Ricardo de vita sua et de membris
 et de terreno honore suo contra omnes homines et feminas qui vivere
 possunt aut mori et quod pacem suam servabunt et adjuvabunt servare,
 et quod communam tenebunt et obedientes erunt maiori civitatis
 Lond[onie] et skivin[is] ejusdem commune in fide regis et quod
 sequentur et tenebunt considerationem maioris et skivinorum et aliorum
 proborum hominum qui cum illis erunt salvo honore dei et sancte
 ecclesie et fide domini regis Ricardi et salvis per omnia libertatibus
 civitatis Lond[onie]. Et quod pro mercede nec pro parentela nec pro
 aliqua re omittent quin jus in omnibus rebus p[ro]sequentur et teneant
 pro posse suo et scientia et quod ipsi communiter in fide domini regis
 Ricardi sustinebunt bonum et malum et ad vitam et ad mortem. Et si
 quis presumeret pacem domini regis et regni perturbare ipsi consilio
 domine et domini Rothomagensis et aliorum justiciarum domini regis
 juvabunt fideles domini regis et illos qui pacem servare volunt pro
 posse suo et pro scientia sua salvis semper in omnibus libertatibus
 Lond[onie].” (Round, p. 235.)

Compare this oath with that of a freeman of the present day:—

 “I solemnly declare that I will be good and true to our Sovereign
 Lord King Edward, that I will be obedient to the Mayor of this City,
 that I will maintain the franchises and customs thereof, and will
 keep this City harmless in that which in me is; that I will also keep
 the King’s peace in my own person, that I will know no gatherings
 nor conspiracies made against the King’s peace, but I will warn the
 Mayor thereof or hinder it to my power; and that all these points and
 articles I will well and truly keep according to the laws and customs
 of this City to my power.”

Again, to quote from Round:—

 “For the first time we learn that the government of the City was then
 in the hands of a Mayor and _échevins_ (_skevini_). Of these latter
 officers no one, hitherto, had even suspected the existence. Dr.
 Gross, indeed, the chief specialist on English municipal institutions,
 appears to consider these officers a purely continental institution.
 But in this document the Mayor and _échevins_ do not exhaust the
 governing body. Of Aldermen, indeed, we hear nothing; but we read of
 ‘alii probi homines’ as associated with the Mayor and _échevins_. For
 these we may turn to another document, fortunately preserved in this
 volume, which shows us a body of ‘twenty-four’ connected with the
 government of London some twelve years later (1205-6).

 _Sacramentum xxiiij^{or} factum anno regni regis Johannis vij^o._

 Quod legaliter intendent ad consulendum secundum suam consuetudinem
 juri domini regis quod ad illos spectat in civitate Lond[onie] salva
 libertate civitatis et quod de nullo homine qui in placito sit ad
 civitatem spectante aliquod premium ad suam conscientiam reciperent.
 Et si aliquis illorum donum aut promissum dum in placitum fatiat illud
 nunquam recipient, neque aliquis per ipsos vel pro ipsis. Et quod illi
 nullum modum premii accipient, nec aliquis per ipsos vel pro ipsis,
 pro injuria allevanda vel pro jure sternendo. Et concessum est inter
 ipsos quod si aliquis inde attinctus vel convictus fuerit, libertatem
 civitatis et eorum societatem amittet.” (Round, pp. 237-238.)

  “Of a body of twenty-_four_ councillors, nothing has hitherto been
  known. To a body of twenty-_five_ there is this one reference (_Liber
  de Antiq. Leg._ Camden Soc. p. 2):

 Hoc anno fuerunt xxv electi de discretioribus civitatis, et jurati pro
 consulendo civitatem una cum Maiore.

 The year is Mich. 1200-Mich. 1201; but the authority is not
 first-rate. Standing alone as it does, the passage has been much
 discussed. The latest exposition is that of Dr. Sharpe, Records Clerk
 to the City Corporation (_London and the Kingdom_, i. 72):

  Soon after John’s accession we find what appears to be the first
  mention of a court of Aldermen as a deliberate body. In the year 1200,
  writes Thedmar (himself an Alderman), ‘were chosen five-and-twenty of
  the more discreet men of the City and sworn to take counsel on behalf
  of the City, together with the Mayor. Just as, in the constitution of
  the realm, the House of Lords can claim a greater antiquity than the
  House of Commons, so in the City—described by Lord Coke as _epitome
  totius regni_—the establishment of a Court of Aldermen preceded that
  of a Common Council.’”

But they could not have been Aldermen of the wards, simply because the
number do not agree.

To find out who they were, we must turn to the foreign evidence. At
Rouen the advisers of the Mayor were a body of twenty-four annually

This oath on election was as follows. It will be seen how closely it
resembles that of the English Commune—

  “(II). De centum vero paribus eligentur viginti quatuor, assensu
  centum parium, qui singulis annis removebuntur: quorum duodecim
  eschevini vocabuntur, et alii duodecim consultores. Isti viginti
  quatuor, in principio sui anni, jurabunt se servaturos jura sancte
  ecclesie et fidelitatem domini regis atque justiciam quod et ipse
  recte judicabunt secundum suam conscienciam, etc.

  LIV. Iterum, major et eschevini et pares, in principio sui
  eschevinatus, jurabunt eque judicare, nec pro inimicitia nec pro
  amicitia injuste judicabunt. Iterum, jurabunt se nullos denarios nec
  premia capturos, quod et eque judicabunt secundum suam conscienciam.

  LV. Si aliquis juratorum possit comperi accepisse premium pro aliqua
  questione de qua aliquis trahatur in eschevinagio, domus ejus ...
  prosternatur, nec amplius ille qui super hoc deliraverit, nec ipse,
  nec heres ejus dominatum in communia habebit.

 The three salient features in common are (1) the oath to administer
 justice fairly; (2) the special provisions against bribery; (3) the
 expulsion of any member of the body convicted of receiving a bribe.

 If we had only ‘the oath of the Commune,’ we might have remained
 in doubt as to the nature of the administrative body; but we can
 now assert, on continental analogy, that its twenty-four members
 comprised twelve ‘skevini’ and an equal number of councillors. We can
 also assert that it administered justice, even though this has been
 unsuspected, and may, indeed, at first arouse question.” (Round, p.

We conclude, therefore, from continental analogy, that the twenty-four
of London comprised twelve “skevini” and an equal number of
Councillors. What became of this Council?

Round is of opinion, in which most will agree, that this Council
was the germ of the Common Council, and he points out that the oath
of a member of the Common Council, like that of the ancient Council
of twenty-four, still binds him—(1) not to be influenced by private
favour; (2) not to leave the Council without the Mayor’s permission;
(3) to keep the proceedings secret.

Now the oath of an Alderman (_Liber Albus_, Riley’s translation,
p. 267) is quite different. It is the oath of a Magistrate and
superintendent of a ward—

 “You shall swear, that well and lawfully you shall serve our lord the
 King in the City of London, in the office of Alderman in the Ward
 of N, wherein you are chosen Alderman, and shall lawfully treat and
 inform the people of the same Ward of such things as unto them pertain
 to do, for keeping the City, and for maintaining the peace within the
 City; and that the laws, usages, and franchises of the said City you
 shall keep and maintain, within town and without, according to your
 wit and power. And that attentive you shall be to save and maintain
 the rights of orphans, according to the laws and usages of the said
 City. And that ready you shall be, and readily shall come, at the
 summons and warning of the Mayor and ministers of the said City, for
 the time being, to speed the Assizes, Pleas, and judgments of the
 Hustings, and other needs of the said City, if you be not hindered
 by the needs of our lord the King, or by other reasonable cause; and
 that good lawful counsel you shall give for such things as touch the
 common profit in the same City. And that you shall sell no manner of
 victuals by retail; that is to say, bread, ale, wine, fish, or flesh,
 by you, your apprentices, hired persons, servants, or by any other;
 nor profit shall you take of any such manner of victuals sold during
 your office. And that well and lawfully you shall (behave) yourself
 in the said office, and in other things touching the City.—So God you
 help, and the saints.”[4]

Again, for English evidence. The City of Winchester shows also the
existence of a Council of twenty-four, which continued until 1835:

 “Il iert en la vile mere eleu par commun assentement des vint et
 quatre jures et de la commune ... le quel mere soit remuable de an en
 an.... Derechef en la cite deinent estre vint et quatre jurez esluz
 des plus prudeshommes e des plus sages de la ville e leaument eider e
 conseiller le avandit mere a franchise sauver et sustener.” (Round, p.

 “There shall be in the City a Mayor elected by common consent of
 the twenty-four ‘Jurats’ and the Commune.... The which Mayor is to
 be removeable from year to year. Further, in the City there must be
 twenty-four ‘Jurats’ elected from the most notable and the wisest of
 the City, both loyally to aid and to counsel the aforesaid Mayor to
 protect and to maintain the franchise.”

At Winchester the twenty-four retained their distinct position, and it
was not till the sixteenth century that the Aldermen were interposed
between the Mayor and the Council.

Thus did London get the recognition of its Commune—its community,—and
with it the Mayor. There was certainly reason for the suspicion
and hostility of the old-fashioned Conservatives towards the new
constitution. Some of the citizens, we are told, in the first exuberant
joy over their newly-acquired liberties thought that henceforth there
would be no need of a King at all. They pictured to themselves a
sovereign State like that of Genoa, Pisa, or Venice, in which the City
should be independent and separate from the rest of the country. I dare
say there were such dreamers. Three years later, in 1194, we hear of
citizens who boasted that “come what may, the Londoners shall never
have any King but their Mayor.” Fortunately, the Mayor himself observed
wiser counsels.

And now we may ask what it was that the City got with its new form
of government. The Mayor took over the whole control of trade, which
had been in the hands of the mysterious Guild Merchant; but with this
vast difference, that he was provided with powers to enforce his
ordinances. He took over, in addition, the administration of justice,
the maintenance of order in the City, the subjection of all the various
Courts and Ward Motes under one Central Court, with its Magistrates,
its Bailiffs, its Officers, and its Servants. London as a corporate
body actually began in 1191. The Sheriffs lost a great part of their
importance; the Aldermen became, but not immediately, Magistrates of
the City and not of the Wards only; the citizens themselves began to
elect their representatives to rule the City; the regulations of the
various crafts passed under the licensing authority of a Judge and
his Assessors, who enforced their commands by penalties. In a word,
the Commune abolished the ancient treatment of the City as an
aggregate of private properties, each of which had its own Lord of the
Manor, or Alderman, and substituted one great City, presided over by
a representative possessed of power and authority, and backed by the
strong arm of the law.


After the painting by Ernest Normand in the Royal Exchange, London. By
permission of the Artist.]

The step, in fact, made the future development of London possible
and natural. Wherever there is self-government there is the power of
adjusting laws and customs to meet changed conditions. Where there is
no self-government there is no such power. A long succession of the
wisest and most benevolent Kings would never have done for London what
London was thus enabled to do for herself, because, to use the familiar
illustration, it is only the foot which knows where the shoe pinches.

We must not claim for the wisdom of our ancestors that London
advanced at once, and by a single step, to the full recognition of
the possibilities before her. I admit that there were many failures;
we know that there were jealousies and animosities; that there were
times when the Mayor was unable to cope with the difficulties of
the situation—for example, when Edward the First suppressed the
Mayoralty altogether, and for eleven years ruled the City strongly and
wisely,—but we can claim for the City that there was continuous and
steady advance in the direction of orderly and just administration,
and that the unity of the City, thus recognised and conceded, became a
most powerful factor in the extension and expansion of the City and its

To return to the changes made possible. The chief officer of the City
was called a Mayor, after French custom; the Mayor was not appointed
by the King; he was elected by the citizens from their own body; his
powers were at first indefinite and uncertain; thus, the first act of
Edward the Third, a hundred years later, was to make the Mayor one of
the Judges of Oyer and Terminer for the trials of criminals in Newgate;
the citizens’ right of electing the Mayor was always grudgingly
conceded and continually violated. I suppose, next, that the practice
of electing the Aldermen, which came in gradually, was accelerated by
the natural desire of the citizens to elect all their officers. Another
cause was undoubtedly the fact that the manors, or wards, of the City
did not continue in the hands of the original families. The holders
parted with their property; perhaps they retained certain manorial
rights, which were afterwards bought out. The wards in which this
happened began to elect their Aldermen; by the year 1290 there were
only four wards still named after the Lords of the Manor. And it seems
reasonable that, as soon as the City had a recognised head and chief
under the King, he would be considered first, so that the Bishop’s
Aldermanry naturally fell into abeyance. Certainly we find no more
Charters addressed to the Bishop. The first Mayor remained Mayor for
twenty-five years; that is to say, for life. It is natural to suppose
that he was at first put forward on occasion as the City’s spokesman,
as well as its chief officer. It is not absolutely certain that the
Mayor was first appointed in 1191, when John granted the “Commune.” In
some French towns the Mayor, as we have seen, came after the Commune,
but he is mentioned in 1193. In 1194 Richard’s Charter makes no mention
of the Mayor; he existed, certainly, but he was not yet acknowledged.
In 1215—May 8th—John conceded the citizens the privilege of electing
their Mayor.

This concession to London was followed by the same concession to other
cities and towns of England. The Commune or municipality of London
became the model for all other municipalities granted to other towns.
It is also the model for all municipalities created wherever our race
settles itself, and wherever an English-speaking town is founded.
This fact makes the history we have just considered of the most vital
interest and importance to every citizen or burgess in whatever town is
governed by Mayor, Aldermen, and the Court of Common Council.

I cannot do better than sum up these notes on the changes effected by
the Commune with another quotation from Dean Stubbs:—

 “The Communa of London, and of those other English towns which
 in the twelfth century aimed at such a constitution, was the old
 English guild in a new French garb; it was the ancient association,
 but directed to the attainment of municipal rather than mercantile
 privileges; like the French communa, it was united and sustained by
 the oaths of its members and of those whom it could compel to support
 it. The mayor and the jurati, the mayor and jurats, were the framework
 of the communa, as the aldermen and brethren constituted the guild,
 and the reeve and good-men the magistracy of the township. And the
 system which resulted from the combination of these elements, the
 history of which lies outside our present period and scope, testifies
 to their existence in a continued life of their own. London, and the
 municipal system generally, has in the mayor a relic of the communal
 idea, in the alderman the representative of the guild, and in the
 councillors of the wards, the successors to the rights of the most
 ancient township system. The jurati of the Commune, the brethren of
 the guild, the reeve of the ward, have either disappeared altogether,
 or taken forms in which they can scarcely be identified.”

We have spoken of the first Mayor of London, and what we know about him
has been summed up by Round for the _Dictionary of National Biography_.
We do not know his parentage. It has been conjectured that he was the
grandson of Leofstan, Portreeve of London before the Conquest. But
there were three or four Leofstans. It is suggested by Stubbs that he
was descended from Ailwin Child, who founded or endowed Bermondsey
Abbey in 1082. It is also suggested that he was an hereditary Baron
of London. In the “Pipe Roll” of 1165, a Henry FitzAylwin, Fitz
Leofstan, with Alan his brother, pay for succeeding to land in Essex or
Hertfordshire. Now FitzAylwin the Mayor did hold land in Hertfordshire
by tenure of serjeantry. The name appears in four documents as Henry
Fitz Ailwin, or Æthelwine, before he was Mayor, and in many documents
after he was Mayor. In the former name the latest date is 30th November
1191, and under the latter the first is April 1193. It would therefore
seem as if the Mayoralty was not established at first on the concession
of the grant. It may well be that it took time for the citizens to
assume their full organisation. We may fairly assume that his office,
if not his election, dates from the day of that concession.

FitzAylwin was one of the Treasurers for the King’s ransom in 1194.
He was also called Henry of London Stone, because his house stood on
the north side of Candlewick Street, near St. Swithin’s Church, over
against London Stone. He presided over a meeting of citizens on 24th
July 1212, and died a few weeks later. He left children from whom
many persons can still trace descent. Among them, as the two living
representatives of the first Mayor, are, I believe, Lady Beaumont and
the Earl of Abingdon. Fifty years ago a learned antiquary, Stapleton,
drew up a list of all the descendants of Henry FitzAylwin.

King Richard took no hostile proceedings against the Mayoralty. He
never recognised it; but he never tried to abolish it, and as the
enemies of the Commune observed that nothing disloyal to the King,
nothing dangerous to the Church, was set up in the City, they learned
to regard the institution without disfavour or suspicion, so that when
the Mayoralty was at last recognised by King John, there was no longer
any hostility, or even any misgiving. The old order had passed, giving
way to the new. How necessary this new order was; how it fitted in
with the old order, so that there was revolution without dislocation,
is proved by its adoption in all our towns and cities, by its long
continuance, and by its present vitality.



The large area included by the Roman Wall was parcelled out, after
the Saxon occupation, into manors, socs, or estates, held by private
persons. Some of them passed into the possession of the Church; some
into possession of the City; some changed hands. That these manors
included the most densely populated parts of the City, or Thames
Street, and the streets north of that main artery, proves that the
first allotment took place very early in the Saxon occupation, when
the City was still deserted; this fact, indeed, affords another proof
of that desertion, because we cannot believe that a populous quarter,
covered with warehouses and merchants’ residences, should have been
assigned to one man or to a dozen men. The value of the manor,
comprising gardens lying among ruined foundations, shut off from the
river and its fish by a high and thick stone wall, could have been no
more than that of a manor lying beside the north wall, on which corn
was growing and orchards were planted. Just as the Bedford Estate in
London began with the fields of Bloomsbury; just as the Westminster
Estate began with the marshes round Thorney Island, so the original
manors of London, at first gardens and wastes, became built over or
sold for building purposes. What, then, were manorial rights? Let us
read the instructions of Archdeacon Hall on this point. He says:—

  “Manorial property was a possession differing in many respects
 from what is now called landed estate. It was not a breadth of
 land, which the lord might cultivate or not as he pleased, suffer
 it to be inhabited, or reduce it to solitude and waste; but it was
 a dominion or empire, within which the lord was the superior over
 subjects of different ranks, his power over them not being absolute,
 but limited by law and custom. The lord of a manor, who had received
 by grant from the crown, saca and soca, tol and team, was not merely
 a proprietor, but a prince; and his courts were not only courts of
 law, but frequently of criminal justice. The demesne, the assised,
 and the waste lands were his; but the usufruct of the assised land
 belonged, on conditions, to the tenants, and the waste lands were not
 so entirely his, that he could exclude the tenants from the use of
 them. It was this double capacity, in which the lord stood, to his
 tenants, as the arbiter of their rights, as well as the owner of the
 land, which rendered it necessary to the due discharge of the duty
 of his station, that the lord of a manor should be such a person as
 Fleta describes: Truthful in his words, faithful in his actions, a
 lover of justice and of God, a hater of fraud and wrong, since it
 most concerns him not to act with violence, or according to his own
 will, but to follow advice, not being guided by some young hanger-on,
 some jester or flatterer, but by the opinion of persons learned in
 the law, men faithful and honest, and of much experience. Manors were
 petty royalties; the court and household of the lord resembling in
 some degree that of the King. In Fleta an account is given of the
 officers of the royal household, the Senescallus Hospitii Regis, who
 held his court in the palace; the Marescallus, the Camerarius, the
 Clericus panetarii; but in the latter part of the book, which treats
 of the management of manors, we find the lord of the manor attended by
 the Senescallus, who held his courts, by the Marescallus, who had the
 charge of his stud, and by the Coquus, who rendered an account of the
 daily expenditure to the Senescallus.”


Drawn by Schnebbelie and engraved by Warren for Dr. Hughson’s
_Description of London_.]

Some of these manors belonged to the Bishop or to a Church or to
a religious foundation, but the rights and the government and the
management of all were alike. Again to quote Archdeacon Hall:—

 “Manors, whether royal and baronial, or episcopal and ecclesiastical,
 were to their owners sources of wealth, derived from two distinct
 sources—the exercise of a legal jurisdiction and the rent of
 cultivation of land. The Ecclesiastical Manors differed in no respect
 from those which were in lay hands. They were the sources of income,
 not the field of spiritual labour. They contributed to the support
 of the Bishop or of the Chapter, and of the religious household of
 the Cathedral, by profits and revenues no way different from those
 derived by the Sovereign and the Lords from other Manors. It is
 remarkable that neither the Exchequer Domesday, nor the Domesday of
 St. Paul’s contains any evidence, that the Ecclesiastical Manors had
 any superior religious privileges, or were the centres from which
 religious knowledge was diffused to the neighbourhood. The Manors of
 the religious houses were in reality secular possessions; and their
 history, as shown in the Domesday of St. Paul’s, is valuable as
 illustrating the social, rather than the religious, condition of the

It must be noted, however, that none of the City manors were royal;
nor did any of their manors at any time belong to any noble great or
small. The nobles had their town houses, many of them large and stately
palaces covering a broad area, but they were never Lords of any London
Manor. And the Church property in the City included, after a time, only
the site of the various religious foundations and the house property
which they happened to possess. The Ward of Portsoken, of which mention
has already been made, is the only exception to this rule.

The manors, then, became the wards of the City.

The earliest list of the wards is contained in a document found among
the archives of St. Paul’s, entitled: “The measurements of the land of
St. Paul’s within the City of London.” The date is early in the twelfth

The list is not, unfortunately, complete; nor can all the wards be
identified. But it is most valuable for what it does contain. A
facsimile is published in J. E. Price’s _Guildhall_. Thus, the first
ward is “Warda Episcopi,” the Bishop’s Ward, Cornhill. Then we have
_Warda Haco_, _i.e._ of St. Nicholas of Acon, in Lombard Street; _Warda
Alwold_ (Cripplegate); _Warda Fori_—of the Market-place—Chepe; _Warda
Ralph, son of Algod_; _Warda Osbert Dringepinne_; _Warda Hugh, son of
Ulgar_; _Warda Brocesgange_; _Warda Liured_; _Warda Reimund_; _Warda
Herbert_; _Warda Edward, son of Wizel_; _Warda Sperling_; _Warda
Brichmar the Moneyer_; _Warda Brichmar the Cottager_; _Warda Godwin,
son of Esgar_; _Warda Alegate_; _Warda Rolf, son of Liviva_; _Warda
Algar Manningestepsunne_; _Warda Edward Parole_.[5]

There are twenty wards in all. It will be observed that they are all
named after single persons except the Ward of the Market Place and the
Ward of Alegate. These single persons were the proprietors, the barons,
the owners of the land; the wards were the private manors into which
the City was divided. (See Appendix I.)

It is impossible to say how many wards there were in the whole City.
The owners were barons of right, a rank which afterwards descended to
their successors, the elected Aldermen. The first governing body of
London consisted of the owners of these estates, to whom were added the
more important merchants. In the changes and chances of fortune, the
estates changed hands; families died out and were replaced; we find,
in the fourteenth century, for instance, that all the old families,
whose names we know, had by that time disappeared, left the City, or
become merged in the general population. But the manors themselves
seem to have remained for the most part unbroken. It is difficult even
at the present day to cut up a manor. The Lord of the Manor, called
the Alderman, formed part of the ruling body by virtue of possession.
In other words, the government of London, despite the survival of the
Folk Mote, was a territorial aristocracy. In the _Liber Albus_ (p. 30),
Carpenter calls attention to the fact that although in his day—the
beginning of the fifteenth century—the wards were known by their own
names, they had formerly borne the names of their Aldermen. Thus, he
says that the Ward of Candelwyk Street was formerly the Ward of Thomas
Basyng; the Ward of Castle Baynard was the Ward of Simon Hadestok;
Tower Ward was the Ward of Henry le Frowyk; Vintry Ward was the Ward of
Henry le Covyntre; Farringdon Ward Without was the Ward of Anketill de
Auvern. So also, as W. J. Loftie points out, the Ward of the Bridge was
at one time that of John Horn; the Cordwainers’ Ward was that of Henry
le Waleys; Langbourne Ward that of Nicolas de Winton; Aldgate that of
John of Northampton; Walbrook of John Adrian; Broad Street of William
Bukerel; Aldersgate of Wolman de Essex; Bread Street of William de
Denham. Not one of these names can be found in the list just quoted.

By the time of Carpenter, the wards were clearly defined. Up to the
reign of Edward the First their boundaries were unsettled.

The Ward Mote has been held from time immemorial, according to Stow.
That is to say, whenever a manor became settled and populated, it was
the interest of the Alderman to have a court of Assistants who could
act as his Police, his Constables, his Detectives.

At what period the Aldermen ceased to be hereditary and were elected by
the citizens, I know not. The election of Aldermen is not contemplated
in the Charters of Henry the First, Henry the Second, Richard the
First, or John. In the second Charter of Henry the Third, the Barons
(_i.e._ Aldermen) of the City are appointed to elect the Mayor. In the
Charter of Edward the Second it is provided that the Aldermen shall be
“removable yearly and be removed on the day of St. Gregory (the 12th of
March) and in the year following shall not be re-elected, but others
shall be elected in their stead.” (_Liber Albus._)

In the year 1354 the old order was restored, and the Aldermen remained
in office for life.

The following is a list of the twenty-four wards into which London was
divided before the end of the thirteenth century, with the names of the
respective Aldermen:—

  Warda Fori                       Alderman.   Stephen Aswy.
    „   Ludgate and Newgate            „       William de Farndon.
    „   Castle Baynard                 „       Richard Aswy.
    „   Aldersgate                     „       William le Mazener.
    „   Bredstrete                     „       Ducan de Botevile.
    „   Quenehythe                     „       Simon de Hadestucke.
    „   Vintry                         „       John de Gisors.
    „   Dougate                        „       Gregory de Rockesley.
    „   Walbrook                       „       Thomas Box.
    „   Coleman Street                 „       John Fitz Peter.
    „   Bassishaw                      „       Radulpus le Blound.
    „   Cripplegate                    „       Henry Frowick.
    „   Candlewyk Street               „       Robert de Basing.
    „   Langeford                      „       Nicholas de Winton.
    „   Cordewene Street               „       Henry le Waleys.
    „   Cornhill                       „       Martin Box.
    „   Lime Street                    „       Robert de Rockesley.
    „   Bishopsgate                    „       Philip le Taylour.
    „   Alegate                        „       John de Northampton.
    „   Tower                          „       William de Hadestock.
    „   Billingsgate                   „       Wolman de Essex.
    „   Bridge                         „       Joseph de Achatur.
    „   Lodyngebery                    „       Robert de Arras.
    „   Portsoken                      „       Trinity.

In this list we observe that Cheap Ward is still called Ward Fori;
Langbourne Ward appears as Langeford; Broad Street Ward is Lodyngebery;
Farringdon is Ludgate and Newgate Ward; Aldgate is Alegate. Forty years
later there is found another list of wards in which the modern names
appear with the exception of Alegate which is written Algate. The names
of the wards are in four cases derived from the trades carried on in
them: in four cases from the chief families in them: in the rest from
buildings or monuments belonging to them. The names of the Aldermen
show sixteen belonging to the old ruling families: seven belonging to
new families or to trades, and one, the Prior of Holy Trinity, as an
official Alderman.

The date of this list of wards and Aldermen is probably somewhere
about 1290, nearly two hundred years after the first list. We have,
then, the old City families still represented among the Aldermen. Were
they elected? It is impossible to say how long the hereditary system
was maintained, and when it was replaced by the elective system. The
revolution was a peaceful and bloodless one, since there is no record
of it. William Farringdon, who bought his ward, and his son Nicholas,
were successive Aldermen of the ward for no less than eighty-two years.

The change of the names in the wards seems to have been carried out
between the year 1272, when Riley’s _Memorials_ begin, and 1314, when
a list of wards appears with the names that belong to the street or

Thus we have[6]:—

  1272.  Ward of Thomas de Basinge (Bridge Ward).
  1276.   „   „  Castle Baynard.
  1277.   „   „  William de Hadestok (Tower Ward).
    „     „   „  Portsoken.
    „     „   „  Henry de Coventre (Vintry Ward).
    „     „   „  Anketill de Auverne (Farringdon Ward Without).
    „     „   „  Henry le Waleys (Cordwainers’ Ward).
  1278.   „   „  John Adrien (Walbrook Ward).
    „     „   „  Chepe.
    „     „   „  William Bukerel (Broad Street Ward).
    „     „   „  John de Blakethorn (Aldersgate Ward).
    „     „   „  Henry de Frowyk (Cripplegate Ward).
    „     „   „  Ralph le Fever (Farringdon Within).
  1283.   „   „  William de Farndon (Farringdon Within).[7]
  1291.   „   „  Walbrook (see above).
    „     „   „  Cornhill.
  1295.   „   „  Broad Street (see above).
    „     „   „  Bishopsgate.
  1300.   „   „  Bassieshaw.
    „     „   „  Coleman Street.
  1303.   „   „  Crepelgate.
    „     „   „  Langeburne.
    „     „   „  Tower Ward (see above).
  1310.   „   „  Without Ludgate (Farringdon Without).
  1311.   „   „  Dowgate.
    „     „   „  Vintry (see above).
    „     „   „  Aldersgate.
    „     „   „  Cordwainer Street (see above).
    „     „   „  Bread Street.
    „     „   „  Lyme Street.
    „     „   „  Candelwick Street.
    „     „   „  Bridge Ward (see above).
  1312.   „   „  Queen Hythe.

From this list, it appears that between 1272 and 1283, of fourteen
wards named in the _Memorials_, three only have the name of their
street or quarter, the rest being all named after their Aldermen. But
from 1283 to 1314 there are nineteen wards mentioned, and they are
all named after their street or district. It is therefore safe to
conclude that within these forty years the aldermanry had ceased to be
proprietary or hereditary. We may connect this fact with the story of
Walter Hervey’s election in 1272 (see p. 52), which proves that the
oligarchy had already lost much of their power.


To repeat. The City consisted originally of a certain number of manors
or private estates: the proprietors of these estates were the so-called
barons of the City: some of the estates remained in the hands of
their proprietors for many generations: these proprietors constituted
themselves, without any law other than immemorial custom, the ruling
council of the City. The boundaries of the manors remained after the
property had been cut up and divided among many proprietors. Perhaps
the Aldermen remained with the representative of the old family. When,
one by one, the original proprietors had disappeared, died out, or
parted with their property, the ancient boundaries of the ward were
retained, and the inhabitants elected a chief, whom they still called
Alderman, in place of the hereditary Alderman. It was ordered, in
the thirteenth century, that the Alderman, like the Mayor, should be
elected every year, and should go out after serving his year of office.
But, as the new method was found to make difficulties, after half a
century they went back to the old plan of electing an Alderman for
life, and so the custom has remained ever since. The Alderman of the
ward represents the Lord of the Manor, and is its principal magistrate
for life.

Attention has been directed to the “Warda Episcopi.” Was, then, the
Bishop of London formerly an Alderman? He was. He took his seat among
the Aldermen in right of the property of the Church. He did not,
therefore, take part in the temporal government of the City as Bishop,
but as Alderman. This right he delegated to a Provost. So, also, the
Prior of the Holy Trinity was an Alderman, not as Prior, but as Lord of
the Manor of Portsoken.

When the Bishop ceased to preside over a ward I know not. It is
certain, however, that it was of incalculable advantage at that time
for the City of London to be partly governed in its temporal affairs
by one who was a great churchman, a great lord, a person often with
the King, a scholar and a statesman, one who had nothing to gain by
encroaching on the liberties of the people, and, therefore, one who
might be trusted. In certain cases it is known that he acted not by his
Provost, but personally. It was no doubt the Bishop who persuaded the
citizens into admitting William into the City as King on conditions
which involved no dishonour, but quite the contrary—namely, that
nothing was to be changed, but that all the rights and liberties which
the citizens had enjoyed under Edward the Confessor, or Alfred himself,
should be continued.

It must be borne in mind that parish boundaries and ward boundaries are
by no means the same. One instance there is where a parish and a ward
are conterminous, it is that of St. Michael Bassishaw.

Maitland gives the list of the wards in 1393 with their rateable value
at one fifteenth. Thus:—

 “The Wards in the West of Wallbrook.

 The Ward of Cheap, taxed in London at £72: 16s. and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £72.

 The Ward of the Vintry, in London at £36 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £35: 5s.

 The Ward of Queenhithe, in London taxed at £20 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £20.

 The Ward of Baynard-Castle, taxed in London at £12 and in the
 Exchequer accounted for £12.

 The Ward of Cordwainers-Street, in London at £72: 16s. and in the
 Exchequer accounted for £72.

 The Ward of Bread-Street, taxed in London at £37 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £36: 10s.

 The Ward of Faringdon Without, in London taxed at £35 and in the
 Exchequer accounted for £34: 10s.

 The Ward of Faringdon Within, in London taxed at £54 and in the
 Exchequer accounted for £53: 6: 8.

 The Ward of Aldrychgate, taxed in London at £7 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £7.

 The Ward of Cripplegate, taxed in London at £40 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £39: 10s.

 The Ward of Cripplegate Without, in London taxed at £10 and in the
 Exchequer accounted for £10. _N.B._—This was not a separate ward,
 but only a liberty, or part of the former, under one Alderman, as at

 The Ward of Bassyngshawe, taxed in London at £7 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £7.

 The Ward of Coleman-Street, taxed in London at £19 and in the
 Exchequer accounted for £19.

 The Wards on the east side of Wallbrook.

 The Ward of Wallbrook, taxed in London at £40 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £39.

 The Ward of Dowgate, taxed in London at £36 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £34: 10s.

 The Ward of Brydge, taxed in London at £50 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £49: 10s.

 The Ward of Byllingsgate, taxed in London at £32 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £31: 10s.

 The Ward of the Tower, taxed in London at £46 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £45: 10s.

 The Ward of Portsoken, taxed in London at £9 and in the Exchequer
 accounted at £9.

 The Ward of Aldgate, taxed in London at £6 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £5.

 The Ward of Lyme-Street, taxed in London at 40s. and in the Exchequer
 accounted for 40s.

 The Ward of Byshopsgate, taxed in London at £22 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £21 10s.

 The Ward of Broad-Street, taxed in London at £27 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £25.

 The Ward of Cornhill, taxed in London at £16 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £16.

 The Ward of Langbourne, taxed in London at £21 and in the Exchequer
 accounted for £20: 10s.

 The Ward of Candlewick-Street, taxed in London at £16 and in the
 Exchequer accounted for £16.”

  (Maitland, vol. i. p. 181.)

Outside the wards and not belonging to them, or within their
jurisdiction, were certain socs, liberties, or vacant spaces. Such were
the Precinct of St. Paul’s, the Precincts of the Religious Houses, the
Sanctuary of St. Martin’s le Grand, and the “Roomlands” or open spaces
of West Chepe, East Chepe, Tower Hill, and other places which were
afterwards absorbed into the wards.

The names of those who owned the manors, together with the names found
in contemporary documents, sufficiently prove how the Norman kings kept
their promise and left the London merchants in possession of their
property and their land. For with a few exceptions they are all Saxon
names. The first, Mayor, Henry of London Stone, was FitzAylwin: Basing,
Batt, Rokesby, Durman, Pountney, Bukerel, Billing, Faringdon, Thetmar,
Orgar, Leofwin, Brechmar, Alwold, Algod, Esgar, Algar, Liured are all
Saxon. Becket, it is true, is a name from Caen in Normandy. Blunt is
Blond; Anketill de Auverne proclaims his origin.

We remark also that lads from the country had already begun to seek
their fortune in London. We find Henry de Covyntre, Wolmar de Essex,
John de Northampton, and many others.

We are considering in this place the City only. But we cannot avoid
connecting the land all round the City, especially the land of
Middlesex, held in farm by the citizens, with the City itself.

The City was surrounded by a broad belt of manors. These were very
largely held by the Bishop, the cathedral, and certain abbeys and
religious houses: in addition to these proprietors there were also a
few nobles and private persons. The Abbey of Westminster owned a great
estate, including the Strand and the lands between the river and Oxford
Street: the De Veres held the manor of Kensington, but passed it over
to the Abbey of Abingdon. The Chapter of St. Paul’s possessed manors
at Willesden, Brondesbury, Brownswood, Chamberlain Wood, Mapesbury,
Marden, Harlesden, Twyford, St. Pancras, Rugmere (St. Giles’s),
Tottenhall, Kentish Town, Islington, Newington, Holborn, Portpool
(Gray’s Inn), Finsbury, Hoxton, Wincock, Barn, Mora, and Fald Street;
“covering a belt of land extending from St. Pancras on the west to the
episcopal Manor of Stepney on the east.”

This being the case, the question arises as to the advantages accruing
to the City in obtaining the Farm of Middlesex at £300 a year. It is
certain that they would not have welcomed the privilege so eagerly but
for the advantages it offered. These advantages may be summed up by the
simple fact that the King’s rights over Middlesex were farmed out to
the City. To begin with, the shire could no longer remain, as Southwark
continued to be, a refuge or safe asylum for criminals whom it was
difficult to catch, and still more difficult, in the conflict of royal
and manorial rights, to bring to justice: next, it was a great step,
though not at first understood, to creating the unity of the City.
Other advantages in the grant are set forth by Archdeacon Hall:—

 “The Sheriffs of Middlesex—every London burgher, that is—henceforth
 found themselves in possession, so to speak, when disputes arose
 between king and people; there was also a certain income from the
 courts which may eventually have been greater than the rent; the
 military protection of the City was rendered more easy when its civil
 jurisdiction extended so far beyond the walls, and the right conceded
 to the citizens to hunt in the surrounding forests formed the outward
 symbol of the completeness of their rule—a symbol which signified
 more under a Norman king than at any time since. To recognise the
 customs and laws of the City itself; to allow the ancient assemblies,
 the husting and the folkmote; to sanction the election of magistrates
 by the still unincorporated burghers; all these things were of
 importance, but the grant of Middlesex was more than any of them.”

It has been said that these manors made the growth of the suburbs
impossible. But not in all directions. There was no obstacle to the
growth of the riverside suburb called the Strand; here a long line of
stately houses displaced the fishermen from Blackfriars to Westminster
stairs: there was no obstacle to the extension of London along the
river to the east, yet it did not extend in that direction. How the
Church, which was the principal owner of the suburban manors, affected
the successive settlements is described by Archdeacon Hall:—

  “The suburbs, as I have said, owe their present condition not so
 much to the City as to the Church. By the time Henry I. made his
 grant of the county to the City, the broad lands of Middlesex had,
 almost wholly, passed into the possession of the great ecclesiastical
 foundations. What St. Paul had left, St. Peter acquired; and St.
 Martin, St. Bartholomew, and a little later, Holy Trinity at Aldgate,
 were watching to pick up fragments that the others had overlooked.
 Therefore, we must ascribe the modern suburbs, with their curious
 anomalies of local government, the so-called ‘metropolitan area’
 with its imaginary boundaries, its districts and precincts, its
 boards and its vestries, answering to the sokes and liberties, the
 sanctuaries and wards within the walls, more to the clergy than to
 the municipality. The City supplied the population to colonise the
 wastes and woods; but the Church supplied the houses for them to dwell
 in, marked out their streets, and controlled the direction of each
 fresh stream of emigrants. When the first settlers along Holborn, or
 in Norton, or by the White Chapel, went forth from the City gates,
 it might have been expected that the rulers who had sway within the
 walls, and to whom Middlesex now belonged, as much as it had belonged
 to Earl Leofwine in the good days of King Edward, would have guided
 their steps and continued to govern their actions. But, where the
 citizens formed ‘wards without’ the walls, it was only by the leave,
 or in spite of the prohibition, of the Church. The King, when he gave
 to London the jurisdiction he had exercised in Middlesex, could give
 no land with it. At the time of the Survey, the royal estates had
 passed already to the Church, and William hardly owned an acre in the
 county. The estates of the Norman nobles had nearly all gone into the
 same hands by the time of Henry’s accession; and an enumeration of the
 Middlesex manors which never, at any time, were held ‘in mortmain’
 would not comprise half-a-dozen names. The citizens could not protect
 their public meeting-place, their parade-ground, their markets within
 the walls, from the grasp of the ‘dead hand’; much less could they
 protect the new colonies of citizens in Kensington or Chelsea, in
 Hackney or Tyburn, far out in the open country.”



The long struggle between the oligarchic and the popular party, which
was carried on without cessation for at least two hundred years, was
at its acutest and its worst in the thirteenth century. It must be
noted here because it exercised great influence in the development
of municipal institutions. To this point I will return after we have
considered the leading features of the faction struggle complicated by
the machinations of the King.

We must note, at the outset, that the various Charters conferring and
confirming old and new rights did not lay down laws for the government
of the City; nor was it contemplated that the City was to be governed
by the craftsmen. By Saxon custom every man was a lord or a dependant
upon a lord; yet there was a Folk Mote: by Norman rule every townsman
was under an over-lord and every countryman was under the Lord of the
Manor; yet the Folk Mote was continued. That the craftsmen of the town
were to be the rulers of the town; that they were to have a voice,
as we understand it, in the management of the City was considered by
the “Barons” of the City, the Aldermen, the wealthy merchants and the
notables as a thing to be resisted in every way possible. Yet, to
repeat, there was the Folk Mote with the lingering memory of a time
when the people were summoned and shouted their approval or their

Again, we have been accustomed for so long to consider London as one
of the greatest and most important cities of the world that we fail to
realise her position in the twelfth or thirteenth century, as compared
with certain other cities of Western Europe, long since sunk into decay
and insignificance.

At that time the cities of Bruges, Ghent, and Ypres, now so shrunken
and so deserted, were, in point of population, at least twice as great
as London, while their trade and wealth were very much greater, even
in proportion, and the liberties enjoyed by their citizens were such
as London did not dream of until fired by their example. The trade
between the Port of London and these towns, especially Bruges, made the
citizens acquainted with these liberties as well as this wealth. It is
difficult not to connect the newly-born ambitions and aspirations of
the craftsmen of London with the liberties acquired by those of the
Flemish towns.

London was governed, as we have seen, by the owners of the land; they
were presently joined by the richer merchants; but they remained few in
number. And they ruled the City in their own interests. We have seen
how valuable was the Charter of Henry the First, how it assisted the
City to advance, how it enabled the merchants to conduct their trade
with greater security and ease, how it gave the citizens the right of
electing their own sheriffs and their own justiciar, who were to be
appointed by the citizens. What this meant, I take it, was that the
Aldermen nominated the sheriffs, and their election by the people took
the form of an assent declared at a noisy and tumultuous Folk Mote. It
certainly could not be, and was not, an election by the citizens as
we understand it. That the governing body had the power of election
was a concession of the highest importance to them. The privileges of
freedom from toll, etc., were again of enormous value to the merchants,
but only indirectly to the craftsmen; now craftsmen understand direct
advantage only. In a word, the Charters did not interfere with the
government of the City, which remained in the hands of the small
company of Aldermen. The Charters were intended to advance the trade
and the prosperity of the City, not to confer new liberties upon the
working man. Yet the craftsman began to understand the possibilities
open to him.

The struggle begins, so far as history knows of it, with the brief and
stormy episode of William Longbeard, shortly before the granting of the
Commune. His is the first articulate voice heard among the murmurs of
popular discontent. Perhaps there were other Hampdens before him whose
dust lies beneath our feet, and whose blood like his tinged the earth
of Smithfield, but we do not know of them.

Towards the close of the twelfth century change was impending. Guilds
there were. As yet, they were not, as a rule, trading, but religious
societies. As we have seen, in 1186, Henry the Second fined as many as
eighteen for having been incorporated without license. What can this
indicate but that the regulation of trade was contemplated by these
guilds as well as the charitable and religious objects for which such
associations were at first founded?

Even more important than the regulations of trade is the great fact
that by means of their guilds the people, who had hitherto been
inarticulate and powerless, were now becoming able to speak and to
listen and to act.

Their grievances seem to have been at first founded rather on suspicion
than on proof. When the City was taxed, the assessors were the
Aldermen; the craftsmen had to pay what they were ordered to pay; no
one knew what the Aldermen themselves paid. They were therefore, very
naturally, accused of shifting the whole burden of taxation from their
own shoulders to those of the craftsmen. But a grievance of suspicion,
among a rude and ignorant people, is as dangerous as a grievance
founded on fact. Another grievance was the poll tax, in which the poor
men paid as much as the rich men. And a standard grievance in every
industrial city, and in every age, is the question of wages and hours.

Presently the Deliverer arose—who yet was to prove no Deliverer.

William, called FitzOsbert, and sometimes William Longbeard, was the
grandson of a certain Osbert, one of the Aldermen who, in 1125, had
given to the Priory of the Holy Trinity, with the King’s permission,
the lands belonging to the Cnihten Guild.

He was, therefore, by birth one of the governing class, whose abuses he
attacked. He was also, it would seem from the first episode in his life
which has come down to us, of a nature easily moved and imaginative,
and, like his grandfather, disposed to piety. Such a mind belongs to
the man who instinctively hates injustice and oppression.

Most of the chroniclers who tell the story belong to the other side,
and, therefore, charge him with everything that they dare: the crimes,
however, are so vague, such as obscurity of origin, meanness of
appearance, ingratitude to a brother, that they mean nothing and may
be neglected. I prefer to take the evidence of the historian, Roger de
Hoveden, who says as follows:—

 “The rich men, sparing their own purses, wanted the poor to pay
 everything. But a certain lawyer, William FitzOsbert by name, or
 Long-beard, becoming sensible of this, being inflamed by zeal for
 justice and equity, became the champion of the poor, it being his wish
 that every person, both rich as well as poor, should give according
 to his property and means for all the necessities of the State; and,
 going across the sea to the King, he demanded his protection for
 himself and the people.” (Roger de Hoveden’s _Annals_, vol. ii.)

The facts are few as they have come down to us. But we can learn
something about the man. He was, to begin with, a visionary; now it is
out of visionaries that martyrs, confessors, and enthusiasts are made.
I know that he was a visionary from a little story related of him. He
was one of those who took the cross and the vow when King Richard went
on his crusade, and sailed in the fleet which contained the London and
the Dartmouth Crusaders whose intention was to fight the Infidels. This
fact points in the direction of an emotional temperament easily moved
to enthusiasm. The fleet was becalmed in the Bay of Biscay. Thereupon,
William FitzOsbert, with one Geoffrey, a goldsmith, prayed to St.
Thomas à Becket—the newly canonised saint—already considered as the
natural protector of London. St. Thomas, to the eyes of faith, answered
their prayers in person. He appeared to them. He bade them be of good
cheer; he promised a favourable breeze in the morning, after which they
should accomplish their vows and return in safety. It must have been a
visionary who would actually see the saint and receive his message. In
the morning the promised breeze sprang up; the ships proceeded on their
course and put in at a Portuguese port. Here they learned that the King
of Portugal was in dire straits, being besieged by the Moors with a
vast army. The Crusaders resolved upon going to his assistance; among
them marched William FitzOsbert, rejoicing in the promise made him by
St. Thomas à Becket, that he should perform his vows and should return.
In these days he would have said that St. Thomas had need of him in his
native town.

The Moors being defeated, the London Crusaders thought they had done
their duty in fighting the Infidel, and so returned home.

After this crusade, William made the discovery above described. Now he
was not of obscure birth, because he belonged to one of the great City
families; his grandfather had been an Alderman, probably his father as
well; he was a scholar—one Chronicler calls him a lawyer; he was a man
of eloquence; he could persuade and carry with him the rude craftsmen
of London, whom he gathered together at Paul’s Cross in the name of the
old Folk Mote. He found out irregularities of all kinds on the part
of the governing class. When there was neither audit nor scrutiny,
irregularities were inevitable. He imparted these discoveries to the
King, who listened with attention, and doubtless communicated his views
on the subject to the Archbishop of Canterbury, then justiciary. It may
be understood, also, that his communications rendered him peculiarly
hateful to his own class, the governing body, whom he had deserted.
His nickname, Longbeard, denotes his desertion of that class, which
affected Norman customs, and either wore no beard or a very small
beard. He himself went back to the old Saxon custom, which seems to
have been retained by the craftsmen, and grew a long beard.

He left, then, his own people; he was no longer one of the governing
class; he joined the party of the craftsmen; to show his change of
opinion and of plan, he grew a beard. And we find him a great orator,
haranguing the people on their wrongs; calling them together at Paul’s
Cross; followed by a crowd who waited on his words; going to the King
with proofs of the evil-doing of the Aldermen; getting, at first, the
ear of the King, until Richard was set against the reforms by reports
against FitzOsbert, such as that he was continually exciting the
populace to further discontent. The historians, as has been stated,
differ as to William’s real character. Stow, copying some of the
Chronicles, says that he was “poor in degree, evil-favoured in shape
... a counterfeit friend to the poor ... a man of evil life, a murderer
... who falsely accused his elder brother of treason....”

[Illustration: THE TOWER OF LONDON ABOUT 1480

From MS. Roy. 16.]

Holinshed says that he was a “seditious person and of a busie nature.”
Fabyan’s account is much more favourable. I subjoin his account of the
whole episode:—

  “And Wyllyam with ye longe berde shewyd to ye kynge the owtrage of
 the ryche men, whiche, as he sayd, sparyd theyr owne, and pylled the
 poore people. It is sayde that this Wyllyam was borne in London, and
 purchased that name by use of his berde. He was sharpe of wyt, and
 somedeale lettred, a bolde man of speche, and sadde of his contenance,
 and toke upon hym gretter dedys than he cowde weld: and some he usyd
 cruell, as apereth in appechynge of his owne brother of treason, ye
 whiche was a burges of London, and to hym had shewed great kyndenesse
 in his youthe. This Wyllyam styred and excyted ye common people to
 desyre and love fredam and lybertye, & blamed the excesse and owtrage
 of ryche men: by syche meanys, he drewe to hym many great companyes,
 and, with all his power, defendyd the poore mannys cause agayne the
 ryche, and accused dyuerse to ye kyng, shewinge that by theyr meanys,
 ye kyng loste many forfaytes and encheatis. For this, gentylmen and
 men of honoure, malygned agayne hym, but he had suche comforte of ye
 kyng, that he kept on his purpose. Then ye kyng beyng warned of the
 congregacions that this Wyllyam made, commaunded hym to cease of such
 doyngys, that the people myght exercyse theyr artis and occupacions;
 by reason whereof it was lefte for a whyle: but it was not longe or
 ye people followed hym, as they before hys tyme had done. Then he
 made unto them colacions or exortacions, & toke for his anteteme,
 ‘Haurietis aquas in gaudio de fontibus saluatoris,’ that is to meane,
 ye shall drawe, in joy, waters of ye wellys, of our savyour: and to
 this he added, ‘I am,’ sayd he, ‘ye savyoure of poore men; ye be
 poore and have assayed ye harde handis of ryche men; now drawe ye
 therefore holefull water of lore of my wellys, and that with joy, for
 ye tyme of youre vysytacyon is comyn. I shall,’ sayde he, ‘departe
 waters from waters. By waters I understande the people; then shall I
 departe the people which is good and meke, from the people that is
 wyckyd and prowde, and I shall dissevyr the good and the ylle, as the
 lyght is departyd from the derkenesse.’ When the bysshop was brought
 to ye archebisshop of Canterbury, he, by counceyll of the lordis of
 the spyritualtye, sent unto this Wyllyam, commaundynge hym to appere
 before the lordis of the kyngys counceyll to answere unto suche
 maters as there shulde be layed unto hym. At which day this Wyllyam
 appered, havynge with hym a multytude of people, in so moch that the
 lordys were of hym adrad, for ye which cause they remyttyd hym with
 pleasaunt wordys for that tyme, and commaundyd certeyn personys, in
 secrete maner, to espye when he were voyde of his company, and then to
 take hym, and to put hym in sure kepyng, the which, accordyng to that
 commaundment, at tyme convenyent, as they thought, sette upon hym and
 to have takyn hym; but he, with an axe, resysted them, and slew one of
 theym, and after fled to Saynt Mary Bowe Church, of Chepe, and tooke
 that for his savegarde, defendynge hym by strength, and not by ye
 suffragis of ye church: for to hym drewe, shortly, great multytude of
 people; but in short processe, by mean of the hedys and rulers of ye
 cytie, the people mynysshed, so that, in short tyme, he was left with
 fewe personys, and after, by fyre, compellyd to forsake the church,
 and so was taken, but not without shedying of blode. After which
 takyng, he was arreygned before ye jugys, and there, with ix. of his
 adherentis, cast and judged to dye, and was hanged, and they with hym
 the day folowynge. But yet the rumor ceased not; for the common people
 reysyed a great cryme upon the archbisshop of Cantorbury, and other,
 and sayd that, by theyr meanes, Wyllyam, which was an innocent of
 suche crymes as were objecte and pute agayne hym, and was a defendor
 of the pore people agayne extorcioners and wronge doers, was by them
 put wrongfully to deth: approuyng hym an holy man and martyr, by
 this tale folowyng: sayinge, that a man, beyng seke of the fevers,
 was curid by vertue of a cheyn which this Wyllyam was bounde with in
 tyme of his dures of enprysonement, which, by a preest of the allye
 of the sayd Wyllyam was openly declared & prechyd, wherby he brought
 the people in such an errour, that they gave credence to his wordys,
 and secretly, in the night, conveyed away ye jebet that he was hangyd
 upon and scrapyd awey that blode made there an holow place by fetchyng
 away of that erthe, and sayde that syke men and women were cured
 of dyverse sykenesses by vertue of that blode and erthe. By theyse
 meanes, and blowyng of fame, that place was the more vysyted by women
 and undyscrete persones, of ye which some watchyd there ye hoole nyght
 in prayer, so that the lenger this contynuyd, ye more disclaunder
 was anotyd to the justyces, and to suche as put hym to deth:
 notwithstandynge, in processe of tyme when his actys were publysshed,
 as ye sleigne of man with his owne hande, and uysyng of his concubyne
 within seynt Mary Church, in tyme of his there beynge, as he openlye
 confessyd in the owre of his deth, with other detestable crymes,
 somewhat keyld ye great flame of ye hasty pylgrymage; but not clerely
 tyll ye archebisshop of Canterbury accursed ye preest that brought up
 the firste fable, and also causyd that place to be watchyd, that suche
 idolatry shuld there no more be used.” (Fabyan’s _Chronicles_, p. 306.)

The mention of the woman is also made by Holinshed. He adds a single
line which contains a world of love and pathos, the words, “who never
left him fearing danger might betide him.” Fabyan’s words “not without
shedding of blood” are by Holinshed shown to mean that one of his
assailants thrust a knife into William’s body, so that he was carried
to the Tower. One pictures the faithful, loving creature—was she his
wife?—watching by the wounded man all night, giving him such solace in
the agony of his wound as she could, and going out in the morning to
see him die—or haply, to die with him. The manner of his death was that
which was ordered for William Wallace, a hundred years later. William
Longbeard and his friends were dragged by the heels to Smithfield and
then hanged. The distance from the Tower to Smithfield is a mile and
a quarter. It is a long way for the body of a man to be dragged: first
the head and arms and back were bruised by the roughness of the road;
then the clothes were torn to rags; when the sufferer arrived at the
gibbet he was already senseless from the blows and buffets of his head
against the stones and rough places in the road; when he was hoisted
up on the gibbet, his body, stripped of the clothes, was bleeding and
torn. Was that poor woman present? Perhaps they took her to Smithfield
in a cart and burned her alive.

The case, as I said, is one of a Reformer before his time. One knows
not all the reforms he desired and advocated. The example of his life,
however, and the tradition of his teaching, remained. The Archbishop
might curse the priest, or anybody there who defended him. But the fact
remained that this man died a martyr for the cause of justice against
oppression and despotic rule. Such a life is not wasted.

Then came the Commune with the struggle, begun by Longbeard, of the
craftsmen against the governing class, caused by their resolve to
obtain their share in the administration. It was in one sense fortunate
for the City that the factions and the struggles which divided the City
were continually complicated by the dissension of King and Barons. The
issues were thus to a great extent obscured, and what might have been
civil war in the City became part of the civil wars between the King
and the Barons.

The reign of Henry the Third is filled with the King’s displeasure
against the City as well as with the quarrels and dissensions which
rent the City in twain. Let us run rapidly through the main incidents
of the time, and then consider how the growth and development of the
Commune were affected by those factions.

In the year 1221, or 1223, the tumult for which Constantine FitzArnult
was hanged awakened the jealousy and suspicion of the young King,
because it revealed the existence or the survival of a French party in
the City. I cannot but think that this foolish rising was the first
cause of that hatred towards his rich city which Henry entertained
throughout his reign. The conspiracy, says Fabyan, was so “heinous and
grievous to the King that he was mynded and purposed to throwe downe
the wallys of the Citie.” However, for the time he was appeased, and
presently issued his Charter of Confirmation to the City with the grant
of a common seal.

In 1229 the Aldermen, with the consent of the people, agreed that a
sheriff should not continue in office for more than one year, because
charges had been brought against previous sheriffs of taking bribes
from victuallers, and also of various extortions. On referring to the
list we find that the continuance in office of the sheriffs had become
of recent years a common practice, as the following list (_Stow_)

  1218.  Sheriffs.   John Viel[8] and John Le Spicer.
  1219.     „        John Viel     „  Richard Wimbledon.
  1220.     „        John Viel     „  Richard Renger.
  1221.     „        Thomas Lambart, Richard Renger.
  1222.     „        Thomas Lambart, Richard Renger.
  1223.     „        John Travars, Andrew Bokerel.
  1224.     „        John Travars, Andrew Bokerel.
  1225.     „        Roger Duke, Martin FitzWilliam.
  1226.     „        Roger Duke, Martin FitzWilliam.
  1227.     „        Stephen Bokerel, Henry Cocham.
  1228.     „        Stephen Bokerel, Henry Cocham.

In 1240, the Aldermen were elected and changed yearly, “but,” says
Stow, “that order lasted not long.” (See Appendices II. and III.)

In the same year, following Fabyan’s Chronology, the King began to
side with the popular party, intending in this manner to break up the
privileges of the City.

At this point it is necessary to seek more closely into the reasons
of the weakness which made London an almost unresisting prey to the
exactions of this insatiate and insatiable King. The City, which could
lend Simon de Montfort a fully equipped army of 15,000 men, might
surely at any moment close its gates, keep the mouth of the Thames
clear, and defy the King. But for many years it offered no resistance
at all. The reason will immediately appear. A change so slow and
gradual that it only at this juncture became important was passing over
the City of London and its institutions, or to put it more accurately,
the institutions themselves remained unchanged, yet assumed new
meanings. It was, as has been already advanced, the happiness of London
that, except for a very brief episode, its over-lord was the King and
none other. The reeve of the borough was the bailiff or steward of
this lord. In the name of the lord he was the magistrate; he collected
rents, tolls and dues; he called the burgesses to their mote; he took
care that the rights of the lord were properly executed. These duties
observed, the burgesses were left at liberty to govern themselves.
Naturally, when the town became prosperous it began to buy out the
privileges of the over-lord. Thus, the Charters of the City of London
are the recognition by king after king, that a certain portion of the
rights of the over-lord have been bought out or conceded. And the reign
of such a king as Henry the Third is a continual disregard of these
concessions or purchases, by the assertion over and over again of the
rights and powers of the over-lord, never, however, going so far as to
give the City to any other over-lord. Thus Henry, as we shall see, in
spite of the Charters, held courts in the City by his own justiciar,
and called the citizens to plead their own cases at Westminster.

These Charters, then, granted their liberties to the citizens. But who
were the citizens? “Land was from the first the test of freedom, and
the possession of land was what constituted the townsman.... In England
the landless man who dwelled in a borough had no share in its corporate
life: for purposes of government or property the town was simply an
association of the landed proprietors within its bounds.” (Green’s
_History of the English People_.)

These words explain the whole position. In the twelfth century the
government of London was entirely in the hands of certain families who
held the land. As we have seen, the wards were their own property,
named after them: the heads of these families were hereditary Aldermen
of the wards. The members of this corporation or association were
themselves, for the most part, engaged in trade. They were the
wholesale traders—mercers, drapers, merchant adventurers. They would
not admit within their body the craftsmen, who began, however, to form
guilds for themselves. And the efforts of the governing body were
directed against the formation of the craft guilds which, they plainly
saw, would lead to the destruction of their own power. In the reign
of Henry the Third this struggle of the _Prud hommes_ or the “wise
men”—the men of the ruling class—against the craftsmen was at its
fiercest. In the reign of John, they had secured the suppression of the
comprehensive weavers’ guild. Slow and difficult is the process and
many are the lessons which must be learned, great are the oppressions
which must be endured, before men so far overcome their suspicion of
each other as to unite for the common good. The Londoner—the man of
the commonalty—of Henry the Third could unite for fighting purposes;
he could trust his brother to stand by him shoulder to shoulder; what
he could not do was to trust his brother-craftsman not to overreach
him, or to undersell him. Do we not see the same thing to-day? We think
we are better educated and wiser; and we are even now exhorting men
to do exactly what these popular leaders of the thirteenth century
exhorted them to do, namely—to combine. The commonalty, at first, were
galled, not so much by having no share in the administration, for they
had never looked for any, but by the suspicion that the real burden
of taxation fell upon themselves instead of on the wealthy. The names
of the Mayors of this reign sufficiently indicate the side on which
the power lay from time to time. Thus Basing, Blunt, Bukerel, Frowyk,
FitzWalter are names of the old families: Le Fullour and Grapefig are
the names of craftsmen.

Early in the long reign of Henry the Third we find a certain Symon
FitzMary, whose name perhaps indicates an origin so obscure that it was
only derived from his mother, yet he was one of the Aldermen, one of
the popular party, and—which is significant—in the service of the King.
Henry, therefore, was playing off the popular against the aristocratic
side. Symon was elected Sheriff in the year 1233, but in the first term
of his shrievalty he was charged with “wasting the property that formed
the issues of the Sheriffwick.” He was, therefore, set aside,—surely a
very strong step,—and his clerks were ordered in his place to collect
the money that formed the _Firma_. Six years later, in 1239, Symon
presents himself at the election of sheriffs. He has letters from
the King commanding the City to elect him. Here we have a deliberate
attempt of the King to trample on the Charters. The City refused to
obey, and repaired to Court in hopes of conciliating the King’s favour,
but could not, “so that,” says FitzThedmar, “the City was without a
Mayor for three months, when Gerard Bat, one of the aristocratic party,
was elected.” At the next election he was again chosen. Then follows
a very curious story. With him “certain of the citizens proceeded to
Wodestok, for the purpose of presenting him; and his lordship the King
declined to admit him [to the Mayoralty] there, or before he had come
to London. And on the third day after, upon the King’s arrival there,
he admitted him; and after the oath had been administered to him, that
he would restore everything that had before been taken and received,
and would not receive the forty pounds which the Mayors had previously
been wont to receive from the City, the Mayor said, when taking his
departure:—‘Alas! my Lord, out of all this I might have found a
marriage portion to give my daughter.’ For this reason the King was
moved to anger, and forthwith swore upon the altar of Saint Stephen, by
Saint Edward, and by the oath which he that day took upon that altar,
and said:—‘Thou shalt not be Mayor this year, and for a very little
I would say, Never. Go, now.’ The said Gerard, hereupon, not caring
to have the King’s ill-will, resigned the Mayoralty, and Reginald de
Bunge was appointed Mayor of London.” (Riley’s edit. FitzThedmar’s
_Chronicles of Old London_, p. 9.)

At the same time we find this oppressive King calling the citizens
together at Paul’s Cross, and asking their leave to pass over-seas to

On his return, the King took the City into his own hand for harbouring
a certain Walter Bukerel without warrant, yet it was proved that
Bukerel had been pardoned. He “took the City into his own hand,” _i.e._
he suspended all the Charters and Liberties; but he gave it to the
Mayor, Ralph Aswy, for safe keeping. He then marched north to fight
the Scots, but on his return he forbade the sheriffs to perform any of
their functions. The City bought their pardon by paying a fine of £1000.

Again we find Symon FitzMary active at the election of the Sheriffs.
It was in 1244. Now in 1229 the Aldermen had all taken oath that at no
time would they allow the same man to be Sheriff for two consecutive
years. Symon, therefore, understanding that it was proposed to re-elect
Nicholas Bat, rose in his place and called him a perjurer. Reading
between the lines, we understand that the self-denying ordinance of
1229 was a concession to the popular party, and the re-election of
Bat in 1244 was due to the return to power of the other side. There
was certainly a warm debate, and in the end Symon had to resign his
Aldermanry, and Nicholas Bat was re-elected. The case, however, was
taken before the King, who refused to admit Nicholas Bat.

To this time belongs a series of determined attacks upon the liberties
of the City by the King. There was first the case of Margery Vyel;
then the claims of the Abbot of Westminster; and thirdly, the Fair
of Westminster. The Fair was granted to the Abbot of Westminster for
fifteen days, to be held in Tothill Fields. During its continuance,
trade of all kinds was to cease in London. Consider the intolerable
nature of this enactment. The City bought off the latter regulation
for the sum of £2000. As regards the claims of Westminster Abbey, they
were complicated by questions of mediæval law and rights; for a long
time they were advanced as a means of worrying the City. Thus, in 1249,
the King appointed a “day of love” (_i.e._ reconciliation) between the
City and the Abbot of Westminster. The meeting was held at the Temple.
The Mayor, being accompanied by a “countless multitude,” met the Abbot,
who had with him certain of the King’s Justices. But there was no
conference; the whole of the people, with one consent, declared that
they would have no conference, but would abide by their Charters. The
case was taken before the King, but nothing seems to have been decided.

This brings us to the claim of Margery Vyel. It is related by Arnold
FitzThedmar. Let us use his own words as far as possible.

“In the same year”—A.D. 1246—“on the Monday next after Hockeday
[Hocking day was the second Tuesday after Easter] it was adjudged in
the Guildhall that a woman who had been endowed with a certain and
specified dower may not, nor ought to have of the chattels of her
deceased husband beyond the certain and specified dower assigned to
her, unless in accordance with the will of her husband. And this befel
through Margery, the relict of John Vyel the elder, who, by numerous
writs of his Lordship the King, demanded in the Hustings of London, the
third part of the chattels belonging to her said husband.”

In the next year (A.D. 1247) “on the Monday after St. Peter Chains
[St. Peter ad Vincula, August 1st] Henry de Ba, a Justiciar sent by
his Lordship the King, came to St. Martin’s-le-Grand, where the record
which had been given upon complaint of Margery Vyel was, to which
judgment the said Margery had made complaint to his Lordship the King,
and had found judges to prove that the same was false. Whereupon the
Mayor and citizens meeting them, the record having been read through,
and all the writs of his Lordship the King which the said Margery had
obtained having been read and heard, the Justiciar said, ‘I do not say
that this judgment is false, but the process thereof is faulty, as
there is no mention made in this record of summons of the opponents of
the said Margery, and seeing that John Vyel, her husband, made a will,
it did not pertain to your Court to determine such a plea as this.’
To which the citizens made answer ‘There was no necessity to summons
those who had possession of the property of the deceased for they were
always ready, and preferred to stand trial at suit of the said Margery
in our Court: and besides, we were fully able to entertain such plea
by assent of the two parties, who did not at all claim or demand the
Ecclesiastical Court and seeing that his Lordship the King by his writ
commanded us to determine the same.’

At length after much altercation had taken place between the Justiciar
and the citizens, the Justiciar said that they must show all this to
the King and his Council and so they withdrew. Afterwards, however,
and solely for this cause, the King took the city into his own hands
and by his writ entrusted it to the custody of William de Haverille
and Edward de Westminster, namely, on the vigil of St. Bartholomew
(Aug. 24th): whereupon the Mayor and citizens went to the King at
Wudestok and showed him that they had done no wrong: but they could not
regain his favour. Wherefore, upon their arrival at London, William
de Haverille exacted an oath of the clerks and all the serjeants who
belonged to the Shrievalty, that they would be obedient unto him, the
Mayor and Sheriffs being removed from their bailiwicks. Afterwards, on
the Sunday before the Nativity of St. Mary (Sept. 8th) the Mayor and
Sheriffs, by leave of the King, received the City into their hands and
a day was given them to make answer as to the aforesaid judgment before
the King and his Barons, namely, the morrow of the Translation of St.
Edward [June 9th] at Westminster, and on the morrow of St. Edward,
the Mayor and citizens appeared at Westminster to make answers to the
judgment before mentioned, that had been given against the aforesaid
Margery Vyel and so on from day to day till the fourth day, upon which
last day, the King requested them to permit the Abbot of Westminster
to enjoy the franchises which the King had granted him in Middlesex in
exchange for other liberties which the citizens might of right demand.
To which the citizens made answer that they could do nothing in such a
matter without the consent of the whole community. The King on learning
this, as though moved to anger, made them appear before him and after
much altercation had passed as to the said judgment (Henry de la Mare a
kinsman of the before named Margery Vyel constantly making allegations
against the citizens) counsel being at last held before the King
between the Bishops and Barons, the Mayor and citizens were acquitted
and took their departure.” (Riley’s edition, FitzThedmar’s _Chronicles
of Old London_.)

It will be observed that the King broke the Charters, first by sending
his own Justiciar into the City to hear an appeal; next, by making the
Mayor and citizens go to Westminster to have a City case tried; and
thirdly, by granting the Abbot of Westminster rights or privileges in
the County of Middlesex which was held and farmed by the City.

The City, at the price of surrendering its liberties, won the case,
evidently a case considered as of the very highest importance. The
reward bestowed upon Symon FitzMary is related by FitzThedmar:

“It should be observed, that when Symon FitzMary, for his offence,
had delivered his Aldermanry into the hands of the City, as above
noticed, by assent of the whole community the Mayor returned him his
Aldermanry, upon condition of his conceding that if at any future
time he should again contravene the franchises of the City, the Mayor
might, without plea or gainsaying, take back his Aldermanry, into the
hands of the City, and wholly remove him therefrom. Wherefore, in this
year, because the said Symon had manifestly sided with Margery Vyel in
the complaint which she had made to his lordship the King as to the
judgment given by the citizens—as to which, as is already written, she
herself was cast—as also, for many other evil and detestable actions of
which he had secretly been guilty against the City, the Mayor took his
Aldermanry into his own hands, and wholly removed him therefrom; and
the men of that Ward, receiving liberty to elect on the Monday before
Mid-Lent chose Alexander le Ferrun, and that too in his absence; but
he, afterwards appearing at the Hustings, was on the Monday following
admitted Alderman.” (_Chronicles of Old London_, pp. 16-17.)

And so Symon vanishes. One would like to hear more of his political
career. As regards his private history, his will, by which he founded
the House of St. Mary of Bethlehem, survives, so that he is the
originator of the Royal Bethlehem Hospital, which has served the City
so well and so long. He may have been of humble origin, in which case
he is an early example of the rise of a poor lad to wealth, an example
that after his time became well-nigh impossible until the eighteenth

In 1257 occurred another of the many strange stories of this time. A
sealed Roll was found in the King’s wardrobe at Windsor. No one knew
who wrote it, or how it came there. The Roll contained “many articles
against the Mayor, to the effect that the City had been aggrieved by
him and his abettors beyond measure, as well as in respect of tallage
and of other injuries that had been committed by them.” In other
words, the Roll contained a statement, no doubt highly coloured, of
the discontented. The King, pretending to be resolute that the poor
should not be treated unjustly, sent John Maunsell, Justiciar, to
London with orders to hold a Folk Mote and to inquire into the truth
of the allegations, which was done. Then the Aldermen were ordered
to convene their ward motes, and to cause the people in each ward to
elect six-and-thirty deputies, _the Aldermen being absent_; and these
six-and-thirty men were ordered to appear in the hall of the Bishop of
London. They were there put on oath; but they refused to make oath,
alleging that by the laws of the City they ought not to make oath
except upon a question of life or limb, or where land was to be lost
or gained. The next day, at the Guildhall, the deputies still refused
to take oath. Whereupon the King sent word that all he desired was
to learn the truth; that he was willing to leave their franchises
unimpaired, and that he desired to ascertain how his faithful people
had been aggrieved in tallages and by whom. Then John Maunsell spoke
pleasantly to the people, asking if they were not content with the
promise of the King. And they shouted, “Yea, Yea,” “in disparagement,”
says the Chronicler, who belonged to the City Barons, “of their own
franchises, which, in fact, these most wretched creatures had not been
the persons to secure.”

John Maunsell then proceeded to seize the City for the King, and to
depose the Mayor, Sheriffs, and City Chamberlain. There was a trial
at Westminster before the King; there was another Folk Mote, at which
the people were persuaded by the silver-tongued John Maunsell to shout
for the destruction of their own liberties, of which they understood
little indeed. The Chronicler, in indignation, calls them “sons of
divers mothers, many of them born without the City, and many of servile
condition.” At that time, one observes, they were very far from the
possibility of a democracy.

The popular cause never fails, in any age, to attract to itself leaders
from the other side. William FitzOsbert, whose rise and fall we have
already chronicled, had attempted to do for the commonalty, in King
Richard’s reign, what Thomas FitzThomas attempted with greater success
seventy years later. He was Sheriff during the sealed Roll business;
his brother, Sheriff Matthew Bukerel, was deposed, and was replaced
by a person whose name has already been mentioned, William Grapefig.
William FitzRichard, another of the popular party, was made Mayor. In
1261-62, and in 1262-63, Thomas FitzThomas was elected Mayor, certainly
by the people, as the names of the Sheriffs for the year imply that
they had the upper hand for the time. His first year of office was
marked by the stout resistance which he made to the Constable of the
Tower, who attempted to take “prisage” of ships in the river. Now, one
of the most important privileges of the City was the command of the
river, so that no duties or tolls should be levied on ships coming up
or going down the river except by themselves. FitzThomas was elected
for a second year of office. And now you shall hear, what in the
thirteenth century was thought by a merchant of the old school, of a
man who could encourage the combination of trades and crafts.

“Be it here remarked[9] that this Mayor, during the time of his
Mayoralty, had so pampered the City populace that, styling themselves
the ‘Commons of the City,’ they had obtained the first voice in
the City. For the Mayor, in doing all that he had to do, ruled and
determined through them, and would say to them, ‘Is it your will that
so it shall be?’ and then if they answered, ‘Yea, Yea,’ so it was done.
And, on the other hand, the Aldermen or chief citizens were little or
not at all consulted in such matter; but were, in fact, just as though
they had not existed. Through this that same populace became so elated
and so inflated with pride that during the commotions in the realm, of
which mention has been previously made, they formed themselves into
covins and leagued themselves together by oath, by the hundred and by
the thousand, under a sort of colour of keeping the peace, whereas
they themselves were manifestly disturbers of the peace. For whereas
the Barons were only fighting against those who wished to break the
aforesaid statutes, and seized the property of each and that too by
day, the other broke into the houses of the people and of other persons
in the City who were not against the said statutes and by main force
carried off the property found in such houses, besides doing many other
unlawful acts as well. As to the Mayor, he censured these persons in
but a lukewarm way.” (_Chronicles of Old London_, p. 59.)

Further, the barons, wishing above all things at this juncture to
conciliate the citizens, desired that they would put in writing
anything they might desire in augmentation of their liberties, and
undertook, if the thing were reasonable, to bring it before the King
and Council. Then this Mayor called upon the craftsmen and ordered
them to make such provisions as should be to their own advantage.
“Accordingly, after this, from day to day, individuals of every craft
of themselves made new statutes and provisions, or rather such as may
be called ‘abominations’—and that solely to their own advantage, and to
the intolerable loss of all merchants coming to London and visiting the
faire of England and the exceeding injury of all persons in the realm.”

This was the first trades union. Their rules were drawn up by the
working men themselves. The memory of the old frith guilds had by this
time perished, but there were fraternities, or religious associations,
which would help them to some knowledge of the rules which they should
lay down. Such as they were, the Chronicler tells us, they were not
carried into effect.

In 1263-64 Thomas FitzThomas was again elected Mayor; but the King
refused to receive him, being “for many reasons greatly moved to anger
against the City.”

In the same year began the Barons’ War, in which the Londoners
played a conspicuous, if not a noble, part. They reduced the castle
of Rochester; they destroyed the palace at Isleworth, belonging to
Richard, the King’s brother; they murdered five hundred Jews; they
pillaged the property of the foreign merchants; and at the battle of
Lewes they ran away.

Peace being made in the following year, Henry, now a prisoner, was
made to hold a Court in St. Paul’s, where the Mayor, again Thomas
FitzThomas, and the Aldermen swore fealty to him. A marginal note of
the Chronicle completes the history of this oath. “Then those who were
present might see a thing wondrous and unheard of in this age: for the
most wretched Mayor, when taking the oath, dared to utter words so rash
as these, saying unto his lordship the King in presence of the people,
‘My lord, so long as unto us you will be a good lord and King, we will
be faithful and duteous unto you.’” The Mayor was four hundred years
before his time.

After the defeat and death of Simon de Montfort at Evesham, there was
great alarm in the City. Some proposed to close the gates and call
together the adherents of the Barons’ cause; others proposed immediate
submission. The latter course prevailed. Letters of submission were
drawn up and sent to the King at Windsor. The messengers on the way met
Sir Roger de Lilbourne, who told them that he was sent to declare the
King’s pleasure to the citizens. The King’s pleasure was immediate and
complete submission: the removal of all chains and posts in the streets
as a mark of submission, and the despatch of the Mayor and principal
men of the City to Windsor under letters of safe conduct. They went.
FitzThomas, unluckily, was once more Mayor. The King disregarded the
letters of safe conduct and clapped them into prison. All of them,
except FitzThomas, were shortly afterwards released. Henry remembered
the words by which FitzThomas had sworn a limited loyalty. FitzThomas
never again appeared. He vanished. Perhaps the King ordered his
execution; perhaps he caused him to languish for the rest of his life
in prison. However that may be, FitzThomas was no more seen.

Henry came to London, his chief enemy in custody; he gave away sixty
houses belonging to the principal citizens; he fined the City 20,000
marks. On the 6th of December of the same year (1265) John de la Linde,
knight, and John Wallraven, clerk, were made seneschals, the Tower of
London being delivered into their hands. On the same day there came to
Westminster four-and-twenty citizens, who swore faithfully and safely
to keep the City in the King’s behalf under their two seneschals.

The King gave, further, London Bridge, with its tolls, to Queen
Eleanor, who allowed it to fall into decay. She then gave it back to
the City.

FitzThedmar here remarks that some of the persons who had sided with
the Earl of Gloucester took to flight, and there were among them some
who, in the time of the late Mayor, FitzThomas, styled themselves the
“Commons of the City.” On the election of a citizen “to attend to
the duties of Sheriff of Middlesex and Warden of London,” the people
clamoured for FitzThomas, who was probably by this time lying in his

The citizens petitioned, but in vain, for the right of electing their
Mayor and Sheriffs. In the following year, 1266, John Adrian and Luke
de Battencurt were chosen Bailiffs instead of Sheriffs.

Out of the confusion and trouble of the time we can gather that the
trade of London was brought to a standstill; that there were massacres
of Jews; that there were riots in the streets, quarrels between trades,
in one of which as many as 500 men went out armed and fought in the
streets; that the trades continued to combine and to form companies,
but without rule and supervision, so that they claimed work belonging
to other trades, and caused ill-feeling; that there was no order kept
in the wards, and no authority of the Aldermen. The Mayors, during the
period following the Battle of Evesham, were appointed by the King.
Fabyan says that there is uncertainty about this time, some being of
opinion that there were no Mayors but only _custodes_. Fabyan also says
that Thomas FitzThomas was released. He enters his name as Mayor for
1269-70. But his dates do not agree with those of Stow. In the latter
year Prince Edward took the City into his own hands and appointed Hugh
FitzOtho Constable of the Tower and Custos of the City. A few months of
despotic and military rule smoothed the troubled waters of faction and
restored order to the distracted City. The last years of King Henry’s
reign were years of peace and rest. But he had done what he wished to
do—he had deprived the proud City of its wealth, its liberty, and its

The first phase of the contest between the oligarchy and the populace
comes to an end. The former party is greatly broken up; the wards cease
to be called by the names of their Aldermen.

In December 1269 an order was issued by the King that all those persons
who, on the restoration of the City to him, had withdrawn, should be
proclaimed publicly, and should be forbidden ever to return to the City
under pain of life and limb. Their names were read out in the Guildhall
and afterwards cried in the streets. There were fifty-seven of them;
the list has been preserved by FitzThedmar. All, with a few exceptions,
were craftsmen. Cofferer, Baker, Cook, Goldsmith, Ironworker, Fuller,
Plumer, Broker, Butcher, Armourer, Chaloner, with a few mercers and
others belonging to wholesale trades.

This act of justice accomplished, the citizens were once more granted
the right of electing their Mayor and Sheriffs, but with the increase
of the _firma_ from £300 to £400.

They proceeded to exercise this right, apparently, with sadness and
soberness, and with a compromise. The Mayor was John Adrian, of the
aristocratic party; the Sheriffs were two craftsmen. The following year
Walter Hervey, a man of the people, was Mayor, and two of the other
side were Sheriffs.

The election of the Mayor of the following year is a most interesting
and instructive story. Fabyan, we may observe, puts the election in the
second year of Edward’s reign; Arnold FitzThedmar, one of the Aldermen
concerned, and therefore an eye-witness, assigns it to the last days of
King Henry and the earliest days of King Edward.

On the 28th of October, the Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, the
citizens met at the Guildhall for the election of the new Mayor. The
Aldermen and the more “discreet” citizens—it is one of them who tells
the tale—proposed the name of Philip le Tayllor. According to usage,
their nominee ought to have been accepted; but the people in the body
of the Hall refused to accept him, and cried out with a great tumult,
“Nay, nay, we will have no one but Walter Hervey,” and against the will
of the Aldermen—one pictures a good deal of hustling and pushing—they
placed their own man in the seat of the Mayor.

It is not surprising that the same kind of accusations, which had
formerly been brought against William Longbeard and Thomas FitzThomas,
were now brought against Walter Hervey. He is said to have persuaded
and promised the people that he would keep them free from all tallages,
extortions, and tolls, and that they believed his word, and followed
him by thousands, even in multitudes, without number. We remember that
50,000 are said to have followed Longbeard. The charge of gaining
over the people by grand promises is very likely true; the demagogue
has always resorted to the same methods of persuasion; in the end to
the detriment or the ruin of the cause. One understands that the more
popular leaders of London between 1190 and 1272 were men who desired,
above all things, to render impossible the burden of unequal taxation,
and to give the commons a voice in the management of their own affairs.
This twofold aim is really one, because it was believed that the
people, if they had the power, would exercise it wisely and justly. The
leaders, however, did not realise that the average man understands by
justice the shifting of his burden to the shoulders of some other man,
and he is quite careless who that other man is.

Hervey, however, had the people with him.

The Aldermen, finding themselves thrust, in this rude way, out of
power, repaired to Westminster to lay the matter before the King’s
Council. They were followed by Hervey himself, accompanied by a vast
multitude of his supporters. The case of the Aldermen was put with much
ability: it was not the loss of their own power which they so much
minded, as the chance that another civil war might be caused through
the unruly pride of the populace.

 “The Aldermen and their adherents, on coming before the King’s
 Council, as already written, showed unto them, with grievous
 complaints, how that this populace by force had violently and unjustly
 impeded their election, by those to whom the election of Mayor and
 Sheriffs in the City of right more particularly belongs than to any
 one else, and has always been wont to belong. They also duteously
 besought his lordship the King and his Council, that the King would be
 pleased to set his arm and his hand thereto, that so this populace,
 calling itself the ‘Commons of the City,’ and excluding the Aldermen
 and discreet men of the City, might not upraise itself against his
 peace and against the peace of his realm, as had happened in the
 time of the Earl of Leicester; namely, when Thomas Fitz-Thomas and
 Thomas de Pullesdon had so exalted the populace of the City above the
 Aldermen and discreet men of the City, that, when it was necessary so
 to do, they could not make such populace amenable to justice; through
 which, as a thing notorious to the whole world, a deadly war arose in
 England.” (Riley’s edit., FitzThedmar’s _Chronicles of Old London_,
 pp. 154-155.)

The people, without caring to answer these arguments, raised the cry:
“We are the Commons. To us belongs the Election. We elect Walter

It was a time of great anxiety. The King was ill; he was now old—for
that time, very old; the heir was in the Holy Land; it was most
desirable that the peace should be maintained.

The Aldermen went on arguing. The same arguments were used before
the passing of every successive Reform Act. The Aldermen pointed out
that they were the heads, the people being only the inferior members,
arms and legs; the Aldermen were also, by right of office, those who
pronounced judgment in pleas moved within the City; they had a stake
in the country; the populace, on the other hand, for the most part had
neither lands nor houses, were of obscure and lowly origin, followed
humble occupations, were rude and ignorant, and cared nothing about
the City’s welfare. The people, however, kept up their bawling, which
reached the ears of the King on his sickbed.

The Council, therefore, put the matter off. Hervey was told to go away
and to return with no more than ten or a dozen followers. So for that
day he went away.

On the morrow, after dinner, Hervey called all the people together,
and, with them at his heels, went again to Westminster, and there,
setting forth no reason, they kept up the same cry. The Aldermen were
there before them. The Council told both parties that they must agree
upon a Mayor, and that when they were agreed the King would admit him.

But they could not agree; there was no chance of an agreement. So, day
after day, for a whole fortnight, viz. till the 11th of November, the
people became more excited every day, and the Aldermen more dogged, and
the same tumultuous scene was enacted in Westminster Hall.

As for Hervey, he affirmed—very likely he spoke the truth, for the
situation was full of peril, and one could not forget the vanishing of
FitzThomas—that he did not desire to be Mayor for his own sake, but
solely for the love of God and from motives of charity; he was willing
to endure that burden and that labour, that so he might support the
poor of the City against the rich, who sought to oppress them in the
matter of the tallages and expenditure of the City.

It speaks a great deal for the veracity of the historian that one who
stood among the Aldermen and took part in the offices, seeing his
authority and power suddenly taken from him, should have penned these
words without casting a doubt upon the motives which actuated his enemy.

On the 11th of November the Council, who appear to have acted with
strange weakness and irresolution, decided that as they could not
agree, the King would take the City into his own hands and would
appoint a Custos or Warden. Accordingly, Henry de Frowyk, one of the
Aldermen (his Ward was afterwards called Cripplegate) was appointed

It was then agreed that each side should appoint five persons, and that
this Committee of ten should elect the Mayor, both sides promising to
abide by the decision.

The death of the King caused this agreement to be set aside. There
was a fear lest the populace should take advantage of the confusion
caused by the absence of the new King; FitzThedmar converts a vague
anxiety into the discovery of a conspiracy against the property of the
Aldermen. The Archbishop of York, with the Earl of Gloucester and other
nobles, met the citizens at Guildhall, and, seeing the enormous number
of Hervey’s followers, exhorted the Aldermen to elect him. They still
refused; they would not, of their own free will, lay down their powers;
they told Gloucester that the matter was referred to the Committee of

The Earl, however, disregarding this arrangement, ordered a Folk
Mote to be called for the next day at Paul’s Cross, met the Aldermen
separately in the Chapter House, and begged them to yield and to
suffer Hervey to be Mayor for one year, lest trouble should fall upon
the City. They therefore gave way, and Hervey, after taking oath that
he would not aggrieve or allow to be aggrieved, any who had been
against his election, was presented to the people, amid their joyous
acclamations, as their Mayor.

His year of office proved uneventful. FitzThedmar says that he took
bribes from the bakers, so that they might make loaves under weight,
but we need not believe this story; and that he would not allow any
pleading, or very rarely any, in the Hustings of Pleas of Land. “The
reason being that he himself was impleaded as to a certain tenement
which Isabella Bukerel demanded of him by plea between them moved.”
Arnold, we observe, still harbours resentment.

At the following election the Aldermen carried their own man, Henry
Waleys, or le Waleys. He was one of the richest and most important
merchants. He was again Mayor from 1280 to 1283. He had been Mayor of
Bordeaux in 1275.

We have seen how, according to the Chronicler, the craftsmen made
covins and combinations—in other words, trade unions, being exhorted
thereto by Thomas FitzThomas. It appears that when Walter Hervey was
Mayor he confirmed these combinations by Charters of his own granting
regulation of trade for the common benefit. Now we have the first
instance of a blackleg. One of the persons who had obtained, for
his own benefit probably, such a Charter, came before the Mayor and
citizens in the Guildhall with the complaint that a certain person of
his trade was working in contravention of the statutes contained in the
Charter, which he and his trade had obtained. From whom, he was asked,
had they obtained that Charter? From Walter Hervey, when he was Mayor.
“And here it is,” he said, producing a copy of the document. “It is
true,” said Walter Hervey; “I granted that Charter by my authority as
Mayor.” Then arose Gregory de Rokesley, Alderman, and one of the most
“discreet” men in the city. “Such Charters,” he said, “have no force
beyond the Mayoralty of the man who may grant them. Moreover, these
Charters were only made for the benefit of the rich men in every craft,
not for that of the poor: and they lead to the loss and undoing of the
poor men as well as the loss of all other citizens and the realm.”
Whereupon Walter Hervey sprang to his feet and there ensued a warm
and personal discussion. Finally, Walter Hervey retired to St. Peter’s
Church, Cornhill, where he convened the people and exhorted them to
keep their Charters, which he would take care should be enforced; and
the whole of that day and the next he went through the City haranguing
the people, so that the Barons of the Exchequer and the King’s Council
feared a popular tumult. Therefore they sent the Royal command to the
City to take care lest, through the action of the said Walter Hervey
and others, mischief should ensue. The City Magistrates interpreted
this order to mean the arrest of Hervey. Which was done, but on the
surety of twelve men he was released. This happened just before
Christmas. After Christmas, the Mayor called a meeting in the Guildhall
and ordered Hervey’s Charters to be brought to him. A fortnight later
he caused them to be read, and explained that they would lead to the
detriment and ruin of trade; that the Charters carried no weight
and were worthless; that the men of every craft should resume their
former liberty to follow their trade wherever and in whatever way they
pleased; only that their work must be good and true. In other words,
the Charters which Hervey had given them were intended to teach the
people the necessity of order and discipline in order to gain their
rights; and this Mayor led them gently back, under pretence of giving
them liberty, to resume their old dependence. But they had not done
yet with Walter Hervey. It remained to deprive him of his dignity
as Alderman of Chepe. This was done full craftily. The greater part
of the Ward of Chepe consisted of a market-place filled with sheds,
selds, and shops. The sheds are explained by Stow to mean small, open
shops, each with a “solar” or small upper chamber over them. One such
“shed” remained till the other day close to Clare Market.[10] The selds
were wooden warehouses with shops. The tradesmen of this market, the
greatest and most important in the kingdom, were the special friends
of Hervey, his constituents, who had made him Alderman. Whereupon,
in order to get rid of Hervey, these people must also be got rid of.
The King’s Coronation suggested an expedient. Although the traders,
butchers, fishmongers, and those of other callings, had paid large
sums of money for the rent or permission to set up their shops in the
market, the Mayor sent word that in order to clean the place of all
refuse, when the King should ride through Chepe, they must all go and
sell their wares in other places. Then, in the words of the Chronicle—

  “On the morrow of Holy Trinity, the Mayor and citizens coming
 into the Guildhall to plead the common pleas, there came certain
 fishmongers, and more especially those who had been removed from
 Chepe. To whom answer was made by the Mayor, that this had been done
 by the Council of his lordship the King, in order that there might
 be no refuse remaining in Chepe on his arrival there. Walter Hervi,
 however, to the utmost of his power, supported the complaints of the
 said fishmongers against the Mayor and Aldermen: by reason whereof
 a stormy strife arose, in presence of all the people, between the
 said Mayor and Walter aforesaid. Hereupon the Mayor, moved to anger,
 together with some of the more discreet of the City, went to the
 Council of his lordship the King at Westminster and showed him what
 had then taken place in Guildhall. Accordingly, on the morrow, when
 the Mayor and Aldermen had come to the Guildhall, to determine the
 pleas which had been begun on the preceding day, a certain roll was
 shown and read before the said Walter and all the people, in which
 were set forth many articles as to the presumptuous acts and injuries,
 of most notorious character, which the said Walter had committed
 while Mayor, against the Commons of the City and in contravention of
 his oath: whereupon the said Walter was judicially degraded from his
 aldermanry and he was excluded from the Council of his City. Command
 was also given to the men dwelling in that aldermanry to choose a fit
 and proper man to be Alderman of Chepe in his place and to present him
 at the next Court in the Guildhall, which was accordingly done.”

So vanishes the form of Walter Hervey. He takes off his Alderman’s
gown; he steps down among the folk, a plain citizen, and I daresay that
the craftsmen, next day, had forgotten all that he had tried to do for
them. But the memory of those Charters survived.

And so they made a political end of this reformer. To him, however,
belongs the credit of creating or reviving the spirit of union and
incorporation of the trades. I say reviving, because one must not
forget the “adulterine” guilds of Henry the Second’s time; and because,
wherever there was a guild for religious and charitable purposes, the
other trade guild for commercial and practical purposes was not far off.

We have seen how, within forty years from this time, the wards ceased
to be named after their Aldermen and their proprietors. In this
interval there took place a silent revolution, the steps of which it
is now difficult, or even impossible, to follow. The nature of the
revolution is indicated by the rapid rise of the companies in the next
few years. The authority of the aristocratic party was broken, though
not yet destroyed; the shadow of their old power in giving their names
to the wards vanished also. We shall now find the government of London
transferred from the Aldermen to the trades.

The memory of the three early reformers, William Longbeard, Thomas
FitzThomas, and Walter Hervey, should be better known to those who
care about the origin and the history of civic liberties. They appear
to me to bear a striking resemblance to each other. All three belonged
to the aristocratic class; all three deserted their own people, and
were bitterly reviled in consequence; all three surrendered their own
interests; all three were filled with that overwhelming passion for
justice which makes martyrs and carries on a cause. It is to be hoped
that while the first was dragged by the heels to the gallows, while the
second was murdered in a dungeon, while the third was put out of office
and deprived of the right to speak and the power to act, some vision of
the future was vouchsafed to them; some voice whispered in their dying
ears that their life’s work was not lost, but would yet bear fruit in
the coming freedom of the people for whom they had worked and for whom
they suffered.


Reproduced from the picture in the Royal Exchange by permission of the
Artist, Sigismund Goetze, Esq., by whom the copyright is reserved.]

The long continuance of these factions, the civil wars, the disorders
of the last reign, could not fail to produce the worst effects in the
condition of the City. The streets were full of murders, robberies,
house-breaking, and violence of all kinds. The first attempt to restore
order seems to have been the recognition that a strong and permanent
hand was wanted. Accordingly, we find the office of Mayor filled for
twelve years by two men taking the post each for two or three years
together. They were merchants of the aristocratic party; they were
personal friends holding the same views, and those not of a democratic
kind; they were wealthy; they bestowed large benefactions upon the
City; they were trusted by the King. Yet they did not succeed. Loftie
is of opinion that they were too much occupied with their own affairs,
and were compelled to leave much of their proper work to subordinates.
On the other hand, they may have been very great merchants, yet not
good administrators. The earlier pages of Riley’s _Memorials_ are
filled with cases of murder and violence. There were excellent laws
made for the preservation of peace. Nothing could have been better than
the following:—

(1) Every trade to present the names of persons practising that trade,
where they dwell and in what ward. This ordinance proves that all the
trades had their guilds or unions.

(2) The Aldermen to inquire as to lodgers in hostelries.

(3) To provide security for suspected persons.

(4) Two serjeants to stand at each gate to watch persons entering or
leaving the City.

(5) Curfew to be rung in every parish church, taking the time from St.

At Curfew all the gates to be closed; the taverns to be shut; no
persons to walk about the streets; six persons to watch in every ward.

(6) No one to cross the river at night.

(7) The serjeants of Billingsgate and Queen Hythe to guard the river,
each with his boat and crew of four men.

Yet, in spite of these regulations, the condition of the City became
worse instead of better. The case of Lawrence Duket in 1284, which
ended in the hanging of seven men of good family, and the burning of
one woman, caused general discontent and murmuring. Finally, Edward
resolved upon taking the conduct of the City into his own hands. The
way in which this was effected shows that the comedy was agreed upon
beforehand, so that everybody’s dignity should be respected.

The Mayor was Gregory de Rokesley. He was ordered by the King’s
Lieutenant to repair with the Aldermen and Sheriffs to the Tower, there
to answer certain questions concerning the condition of the City. He
obeyed, but left behind him in the Church of Allhallows Barking, the
gowns and chains of office, excusing himself on the ground that the
citizens only pleaded or answered pleas within their own boundaries.
He was arrested and kept in the Tower, with the other officers, for a
day or two. Meantime, as the City was technically without a Mayor, the
King used the fact as a pretext for taking it into his own hands. He
did so, appointing Sir Ralph Sandwich as Custos or Warden. The City was
kept under the rule of Sandwich and his successor, Sir John Breton, for
twelve years. They were, in fact, permanent Mayors, who could not be
displaced by the citizens, yet who took the Aldermen into counsel. The
rule of these two Wardens was remarkable for many reforms, including
the definition of the wards, the cleansing of the Walbrook, the
suppression of night fairs, the repair of bridges, the restoration of
order. Trade was carried on freely and prosperously, the trade guilds
had leisure to consolidate themselves, so that they became, long before
they got their Charters, necessary for the business of the City; London
had assumed a new face when, in 1298, Edward gave back the Mayor, and
Henry Waleys once more assumed office. Not that violence altogether
ceased, but that violence was less frequent and more likely to be

We have seen how the opinions of Lollardy were wide-spread among
the people during the fourteenth century. The history of John of
Northampton and that of his rival, Nicholas Brembre, belong to the
close of that century, and to the conclusion of the struggle between
the employers and the craftsmen.

John was born at Northampton of respectable parentage, as is proved by
the fact that he was received into the Drapers’ Company, always one of
the most exclusive of the City Guilds; he was Alderman in 1376, Sheriff
in 1377, one of the City members in 1378; in 1380 he was a Commissioner
for the erection of some kind of tower; and in 1381 he was Mayor. The
first thing he did as Mayor showed what his opinions were. He took into
his own hands a great part of the duties belonging to the Bishop’s
Court. He caused all those persons, men and women, who had committed
acts of unchastity to have their hair cut short, and then to be carried
in public through the City, preceded by trumpets and drums, for an open
shame, the men being placed in pillory, the women in thewe. A second
offence demanded a similar punishment. For a third offence they were
expelled the City altogether. Next, he cut down the fees of the parish
clergy. A mass for the dead was to be charged no more than a farthing;
a baptism not more than forty pence; marriage not more than half a
mark. Multiply these figures by twenty, at least, to represent modern
values: we have then, a mass sung for five pence; a baptism for £3:
4: 8; and a marriage for very nearly seven pounds. Does the cheapness
of the mass indicate an unbelief in its efficacy? He also signalised
his Mayoralty by a persecution of the fishmongers, whose monopoly he
suppressed. Their offence, one supposes, was the high price at which
they retailed their fish. We must again remind ourselves that quite
one-fourth of the year was a time of fasting, so that it was most
important that fish should be cheap, abundant, and fresh. John not
only took away these privileges from the fishmongers, but he degraded
them. They were forbidden to sell fish in the country at all; they were
forced to sell it in town at a price fixed by the Mayor; and they were
not to be eligible for any office. John was re-elected Mayor in the
following year, 1382-83, which passed quietly. His successor, 1383-84,
was his enemy, Nicholas Brembre, by whom all the reforms of John were
swept away. In January 1384, John was bound over to keep the peace
in the sum of £5000; in the following month he was arrested by the
Mayor. It was said that he went about followed by four hundred of his
adherents; it was also said that he created a tumult. One of his men,
Constantyn, a cordwainer, was hanged for his share in a riot, and John
was sent to Corfe Castle. Thence he was brought to London, tried before
a Council called by the King at Reading, and sentenced to death by
the King. The sentence was commuted, at the Queen’s personal request,
to imprisonment. So he was sent back to Corfe Castle. Then, for some
unknown reason, he was brought to the Tower, and again informed that
he was to be hanged, drawn, and quartered; and again reprieved. He was
then sent to Tintagel Castle, reflecting, no doubt, that while there is
life there is hope, and that he had a friend in John of Gaunt who would
not forsake him.

John of Gaunt did not forsake him. He renewed, from time to time, his
efforts to effect his release; and he promised that John should not
return to London if he were released. Then Nicholas Brembre, Mayor
for four years running, asked the opinion of the Aldermen and Common
Council as to the expediency of releasing this terrible prisoner. They
all agreed that it would be dangerous to let him loose, even if he
lived a hundred miles from the City. In 1389, however, he was allowed
to return, and his property was restored to him. But the Mayor strictly
forbade any discussions as to the quarrel between John of Northampton
and Nicholas Brembre.

To go back for a while and trace the career of Sir Nicholas Brembre
is now necessary. He was a wealthy grocer, son of Sir John Brembre,
a knight and country gentleman of Kent. One of the many examples
which the City affords of the country lad who was not a rustic, but a
gentleman, coming to London to make his fortune (see vol. i. p. 216).

As he purchased estates in Kent in 1372, and became an Alderman in
1376, it seems reasonable to suppose that he was born about the year
1322. He joined the aristocratic party in the City, which strove to
deprive the Craft Companies of any voice in the City, and was as
strenuous a supporter of Courtenay as he was an enemy of John of

In 1377, when Staple, the Mayor, was deposed, Brembre was appointed
in his place. The year after Brembre was charged at the Parliament of
Gloucester by Thomas of Woodstock, the King’s uncle, with negligence
of duty on the occasion of a riot, when—

 “Upon Cornhille in London, the men of that vicinity made assault upon
 the servants of the said Earl, and beat and wounded them, and pursued
 them, when flying to his hostel, and broke and hewed down the doors
 of the same with axes and other arms, the said Earl being then within
 and lying in his bed, and, by reason thereof, no little alarmed; to
 the grievous damage of the said Earl, and so pernicious an example to
 the whole realm; and all this, he alleged, had happened through the
 inexcusable slothfulness of the said Nicholas, and he requested that
 redress should be made to him for the same.” (Riley’s _Memorials_, p.

Brembre, however, offered a full and complete reply to the charge, and
returned, says the contemporary authority, to his hostel with honour.

Thomas of Woodstock, however, neither forgot nor forgave, although
Brembre gave him a hundred marks by way of conciliation. And there
follows a very pretty passage, showing the spirit with which the City
liberties were regarded:—

 “Which transactions being thus related in order before the Mayor and
 the Common Council, each one of them gave hearty thanks to the said
 Nicholas; knowing for certain that it was for no demerits of his own,
 but for the preservation of the liberties of the City, and for the
 extreme love which he bore to it, that he had undergone such labours
 and expenses. Wherefore, with one accord, by the said Mayor, Aldermen,
 and all the rest of the Commoners, it was faithfully granted and
 promised, that the City should keep the said Nicholas indemnified as
 to the said 100 marks, and also all other expenses by reason of that
 matter by him incurred. And that the same might be kept in memory,
 orders were given to the Common Clerk that it should thus be entered.”
 (Riley’s _Memorials_, p. 428.)

Brembre then became one of the two collectors of customs for the Port
of London, Geoffrey Chaucer being his comptroller. On the rising of the
Commons, Brembre, with Philpot and Walworth, rode to Smithfield with
the King, and was knighted for his services on that occasion.

It was after this that the great struggle between himself, as the
leader of the aristocratic party, and therefore of the great companies,
and John of Northampton, as the leader of the popular cause, took
place. We have seen how John of Northampton acted as Mayor (1381-1383).
In the latter year Brembre was elected Mayor, but it was by force of

In January 1384 John was arrested, and, as we have seen, his follower,
Constantyn, was hanged by Brembre. In 1386, petitions were presented
to Parliament by ten of the City Companies, charging Brembre with
tyrannical and oppressive conduct, and especially in securing the
re-election by violence. For he filled the Guildhall with armed men,
who ran upon those of the opposite faction with great noise, shouting,
“Kill! kill! lour poursuyvantz hydousement.” Thomas of Woodstock,
mindful of the old grudge, charged Brembre with plotting in favour of
Suffolk. Yet he escaped, and was admitted by the King into his Council.
In November 1387 he was again accused by Thomas of Woodstock with
treason. The other four of the King’s Council were also charged with
treason, viz. the Archbishop of York; Sir Robert Vere, Duke of Ireland;
Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk; and Tressillian, the Lord Chief


From Froissart, vol. iv.]

The King replied that he had taken them into his own protection.
Nevertheless, they all thought it prudent to fly in different

The King sent for the Mayor. “How many archers and men-at-arms would
the City provide in case of necessity?” The Mayor returned an evasive
reply; he said that the citizens were only soldiers in defence of their
City, as for himself, he begged permission to retire from office.

The King left Windsor and took up his residence in the Tower,
thinking to have the City between himself and the Lords. But Thomas
of Woodstock, now Duke of Gloucester, with the Earls of Arundel,
Nottingham, Warwick, and Derby, hastened to London and demanded
admission into the City. The citizens hesitated; at last, however, they
yielded, and the Lords, with all their array, entered the City. It is
significant of the condition of the City that the Lords offered to
mediate in the trade disputes, but their offer was not accepted.


Meantime Brembre, who had fled into Wales, was captured and brought to

His trial took place as soon as Parliament met. There were thirty-nine
charges brought against him as one of the King’s Council. He asked for
delay to prepare his reply. This being refused, he offered wager of
battle. All the Lords and Commons present threw down their gauntlets,
but it was ruled that it was not a case for the ordeal by battle.

The trial was resumed the following day, the King, who was present,
showing himself entirely in favour of the prisoner. The case was placed
in the hands of a commission of Lords, who brought in a verdict of not
guilty. But they were not going to allow Brembre to escape. They sent
for the Mayor and Aldermen. Thus (I quote R. R. Sharpe):—

 “One would have thought that with Nicholas Exton, his old friend and
 ally, to speak up for him, Brembre’s life would now at least be saved,
 even if he were not altogether acquitted. It was not so, however. The
 Mayor and Aldermen were asked as to their _opinion_ (not as to their
 knowledge), whether Brembre was cognisant of certain matters, and
 they gave it as their _opinion_ that Brembre was more likely to have
 been cognisant of them than not. Turning then to the Recorder, the
 lords asked him how stood the law in such a case? To which he replied,
 that a man who knew such things as were laid to Brembre’s charge, and
 knowing them failed to reveal them, deserved death. On such evidence
 as this, Brembre was convicted on the 20th February, and condemned
 to be executed. He was drawn on a hurdle through the City to Tyburn,
 showing himself very penitent, and earnestly desiring all persons
 to pray for him. At the last moment he confessed that his conduct
 towards Northampton had been vile and wicked. Whilst craving pardon of
 Northampton’s son, ‘he was suddenly turned off, and the executioner
 cutting his throat, he died.’” (_London and the Kingdom_, vol. i. p.


MS. Harl. 1319.]

The history of Brembre shows that he was a strong man, at least, and
fearless in a time when charges of treason were easily concocted and
ruthlessly applied, when the King, his protector, was young and weak,
and when the other side, which had with them the craftsmen of London,
was strong and well-organised.

In looking upon the long struggle of the craftsmen against their
employers, there are certain considerations which we must not forget.

It was really inevitable that the masters, the employers, would have
the control, such as I have pointed out, in every trade. The men,
quite ignorant of the very rudest principles of political economy,
living from week to week, asking at most nothing but the weekly wage
and cheap food, presently began to question. Why should the masters
rule everything? Why should not the men command their own wages and
their own hours? The questions, which we hear all around us at the
present day, were asked six hundred years ago. The working men formed
combinations, or unions, of their own; they kept on trying to form
these combinations; the number of cases that have been recorded, which
were certainly not the whole number, or anything like it, prove a deep
and widespread discontent, and a sullen resolve of the working men to
take, if possible, the management of their work into their own hands.
They failed, however, and their failure was absolute and complete.
They were brought before the Mayor and Aldermen; their combinations
were dissolved; they were sent back to their company; no union, or
association, or combination of working men was permitted to London
outside the company. Let me take one case in illustration, that of
David Brekenhof. This man, with half-a-dozen others, was brought before
the Mayor, charged with rebellion against employers. They had broken
off from the company; they had left the dwelling-places assigned to
them; they had taken a house in another parish; here they had set up
workshops for themselves; they called assemblies of other working
men; they settled their own wages; they hustled and wounded one of
the masters who went to expostulate with them; they rescued their
companions from arrest when they were seized by the serjeants of the
City. This, you will observe, was a very determined effort, coupled
with assemblies of other working men, and backed by the appeal to arms.
The sentence of the Mayor shows how seriously the danger was regarded.
He did not dare to arouse a spirit of revenge among the working men.
These offenders were left unpunished; they were simply told to give
up their house; to go back to their company, and to resume work in
obedience. And so David Brekenhof and his rebels vanish again and we
hear no more of them. And until the nineteenth century there were no
more combinations of working men in London.

With the ideas of the present day, this refusal to allow the craftsmen
to combine seems tyrannical. We must go back, however, to the ideas
of the thirteenth century. The assumption, the theory, the belief,
that the working classes ought to have any voice in the management of
their own affairs, if it lingered anywhere in London of the thirteenth
century, was a survival of the Folk Mote, the Citizens’ Parliament,
of Paul’s Cross. The Folk Mote still continued; it was used for party
purposes; it had no real power, but it kept alive the memory of power.
It ceased to be held after the thirteenth century; it died out when a
Court of Common Council was formed, and it is significant that when
the old Folk Parliament ceased to meet we hear no more of the revolt of
working men against the companies.

What a citizen like Whittington thought and said was something
like this: “In a great city the governing class should be wealthy,
enlightened, and instructed. It should know the ports of trade, the
demand for imports, the markets for exports, the limits of production,
the figures which are needed to arrive at wages and retail price. It
must also, in an age of artificial courtesy, understand good manners,
and not be afraid to stand before kings. As for the men of the other
class, who have no knowledge, save of a single trade, it is best for
the State that they should be under rule and governance.” And to the
best of his ability, Whittington, who was a stern Magistrate yet a just
man, did keep the people under rule and governance. I believe that the
mediæval masters were, as a rule, and up to their lights, benevolent;
they did look after their people; they gave them wages which allowed a
higher standard of living than was possible for any other working men
in the world; they looked after the old, and they brought up the young.

For myself, I cannot but think that had the craftsmen then obtained
their desire, the result would have been disastrous to the fortunes of
the City. London would have become another Ghent or Bruges; it would
be, now, a city of deserted trade. The time was not yet ready for the
rule of the people by the people. They wanted education, experience,
suffering, before they were able to rule. As yet they understood
nothing, absolutely nothing, about liberties; they wanted nothing but
the control over their own work. I think, in a word, that Whittington’s
views were right for a man of Whittington’s time.



Whether the Mayor was elected immediately after the concession of the
Commune, or a year or two later, as happened in certain French towns,
matters very little. The point of importance is that even after his
election, and that of the Council, his powers were ill-defined. During
the reign of Richard the First, while he was not even recognised by the
King, we can understand that a wise Mayor would not seek to magnify his
office; it would be safer to allow the Commune to go on quietly, so as
to accustom the King to its existence. This, I take it, was the policy
of Henry FitzAylwin, the first Mayor, during his three-and-twenty
years’ tenure of office.

It may be assumed that the duties and the authority of the Guild
Merchant were at once transferred to the Mayor and his Council. But
what were the duties of that body? What were its powers? What were its
limits? In order to show the uncertainty on this subject, remember that
when Walter Hervey was Mayor he gave Charters to certain trades. It was
not contended that the Mayor had no right to grant Charters, but that
these Charters had no effect after his Mayoralty came to an end. The
powers of the Mayor were as yet uncertain; it was not thought desirable
to limit or to define them too closely. Therefore the right of the
Mayor to grant Charters was not questioned. At the same time, it was no
doubt felt, and quite rightly, that for any one Mayor to grant Charters
without consulting the Aldermen and the more “discreet” citizens might
impose intolerable mischiefs upon the City.

Yet, a hundred years later, we find the trades drawing up ordinances
for the regulation of their own crafts, and praying that they might be
accepted and placed under the protection of the Mayor and Aldermen. In
the meantime, it is obvious, the power and the authority of the Mayor
had been more clearly defined. The statutes placed under his protection
were also placed under the protection of the Court of Aldermen.

One more point to illustrate the uncertainty introduced by the new
order. In the year 1200, according to the book which will form the text
of this chapter, a Council of twenty-five “of the more discreet men of
the City” were sworn to assist the Mayor. Round, as we have seen (p.
18), shows that the number was not twenty-five, but twenty-four; he
has discovered their oath, which did not in any way resemble the oath
of an Alderman; and he has adduced other instances of such a Council.
So that there can be no doubt whatever as to its existence. Now in the
same book, which records its creation and carries the chronicle of
the City down to the year 1273, there is not a single word said about
this Council. We hear of the Aldermen, the more discreet citizens, and
the principal citizens. But not one word about the Council. Either,
therefore, which one can hardly believe, the Council was allowed to
drop out of existence, or, which is much more likely, it was a purely
civic body, not recognised by the Charters and with no legal powers; a
body which acquired its importance from the Mayor of the year, and was
more in evidence a kind of private advisory committee with which the
Mayor could take counsel if he wished, or which he could neglect if he

The book, which I have called the Text-book of the present chapter,
is the Chronicle printed by the Camden Society from the _Liber de
Antiquis Legibus_, by Arnold FitzThedmar. This book is, of all the
mediæval documents connected with the history of London, perhaps the
most important. For it is the work of a contemporary, one who took part
in the events which he describes, a strong partisan yet fair to his
enemies; evidently a man of the highest honour and principle, and as
much a condemner of the common people as any old Tory of 1832.

His family history shows the ease with which foreigners were admitted
in the twelfth century to reside in, to trade in, and to become
citizens of, the City of London.

His grandfather, named Arnald, or Arnold, or Arnulf, was a merchant
of Cologne. He married one Ode, of the same town, with whom he lived
for some years without children. Hearing, however, of the miracles
performed daily by St. Thomas à Becket, the pair crossed the seas and
made a pilgrimage to the shrine at Canterbury, imploring the favour of
the Saint in the matter of offspring. This done, they went on to visit
the famous City of London. Here the wife found that St. Thomas had
heard, and had granted her prayers. The pair accordingly remained in
London until the child was born. Then they bought a house and remained
altogether in London. They had eleven children, of whom six died young.
One of the surviving daughters was Juliana, who married a native of
Bremen, also a resident merchant in London. The youngest son, Arnold,
was the author of the Chronicle before us. A miraculous dream, he
proudly tells us, accompanied his birth. Most mediæval families were
able to point with pride to miraculous interpositions and dreams. In
this case, as Arnold himself says, the difference between the log of
wood and the slab of marble which formed the dream was known to God
only. And so we may leave it.

Arnold became a man of considerable wealth. He was an Alderman, and
when the City was fined 20,000 marks by Henry and 1000 marks for his
brother, Richard of Almaine, his tallage amounted to 132 marks, or
nearly a hundred and fifth part of the whole. The way of assessment was
as follows:—He first paid four marks and forty pence for his house;
then 20 marks “by inquisition of his neighbours”; then an increase of
five marks; after that an assessment of 100 marks in a lump sum by John
Waleran, Constable of the Tower, and William Hazelbech, commissioner,
for the assessment appointed by the King. After that, half a mark, and
then fifteen shillings on his rent. From this assessment it appears
that the principal part of the fine must have been paid by the wealthy
sort. Arnold had a good deal of trouble over the business, being
annoyed by Walter Hervey and by Henry Waleys in succession for not
having paid enough. However, he obtained protection from King Henry
first and King Edward next.

Let us now proceed to show, from Arnold’s book, the “uncertain steps”
of the City during the century of the new order.

The office of Alderman was passing out of the hereditary stage; there
was a strong sense among the people that the City offices were to be
held during good conduct only. Thus, in 1216, Jacob Alderman (had he
no other designation either of trade or of birth?), being Mayor, was
turned out by the King and another Mayor appointed. We have seen that
in 1233 Symon FitzMary was turned out of his Shrievalty for wasting the
City property. In 1248 the same citizen was deprived of his Aldermanry
for siding with Margery Vyel. In 1254, on account of the escape of a
criminal, the Sheriffs were deprived of office. In 1257 eight of the
Aldermen were deposed for alleged malpractices.

The list of sixty-two names given in Appendix III. rescues from
oblivion almost as many Aldermen of the thirteenth century. If we look
into the names we can pick out with some degree of certainty those
which belong to the aristocratic party, including the old City families
and some of those which had become naturalised. Thus, we have Aswy,
Basing, Blunt, Bukerel, Farndon, or Farringdon, Fulk, Gisors, Hardel,
Haverhill, de Lisle, Renger, Sperling, Rokesley, Tovy, Tidmar (one
Arnold FitzThedmar), Vyel, etc., about one-third of the whole.

We then find certain names without surnames at all, such as Adrian,
Edmund, Geoffrey, Matthew; we are surely justified in concluding that
they belonged to crafts; names such as FitzMary and FitzAlice, which
indicate a mother but not a father; names where the father’s is also a
Christian name, as Thomas FitzThomas, who, we know from FitzThedmar,
belonged to the popular party; names of trades, as Cordwainer, Ferrun,
and Potter. These may all be assigned to the popular party, and they
account for nearly another third. There remain about twenty-five names
which are local, as William de Hereford, of whom it is difficult to
pronounce with any certainty. It is, however, certain that in the
thirteenth century a good deal had been already effected in the
breaking down of the oligarchy and the entrance upon office of the
popular side.


From the Arundel Society’s reproduction of a contemporary painting at
Walton House.]

There can be little doubt that Henry throughout his whole reign was
bitterly hostile to the City. On the other hand, the City, it must
be acknowledged, with its turbulence and its claims of privilege and
liberty, gave a despotic monarch a great deal of annoyance. Henry’s
principal weapon of retaliation was to take the City into his own
hands, _i.e._ to depose Mayor and Sheriffs, to deprive the Aldermen
of their powers, and to appoint a Warden. In 1245, on a charge of
harbouring a traitor, Henry took over the City, restoring the Charter
after inflicting a fine of £1000. In 1247, during the famous case of
Margery Vyel, the King again took the City into his own hands (see
p. 46). Also in 1249, after the tumult of the populace against the
Abbot of Westminster; in 1254, on the plea of mal-observance of the
assize of bread, really in consequence of the quarrel between Richard
of Almaine and the City; in 1259, when the City refused to pay the
“Queen’s Gold”; in 1257, when the “Green” roll gave an occasion to make
inquisition into the tallages; in 1263, after the Battle of Evesham;
in 1265, the reason not stated; in 1266, after Gloucester had held the
City. This is a considerable list of offences and punishments.

As regards the election to the City offices, there was a great deal of
uncertainty with many changes. In 1265 only one Sheriff was allowed.
In 1267 the City was ordered to elect, and to present to the King, six
persons, from whom the King would choose two for Sheriffs.

The Folk Mote was used throughout this period as a weapon against the
aristocratic party. The popular leaders, William Longbeard, Thomas
FitzThomas, Walter Hervey, all made use of the Folk Mote. The King made
use of it, notably after the Green Roll business, when he sent Maunsell
to persuade the people as he pleased. It was at a Folk Mote in 1241,
and at another in 1259, that the King took formal leave of the City
before going to Gascony. It was charged against Thomas FitzThomas that
he pampered the people, calling them the “Commons of the City,” calling
them together at Folk Mote asking them what was their will without
consulting the Aldermen at all. So that the people leagued themselves
together, broke into the houses of usurers, removed encroachments,
threw open rights of way; and in many other ways showed a rude, but
resolute, desire to obtain justice. Again, in 1271, on the disputed
election of Walter Hervey, the people raised the cry, “We are the
Commons of the City. To us belongs the election of the Mayor.”

With all this apparent tyranny, it is quite certain that the King
always recognised the importance of London. He stood by the City in
their determination not to allow the Thames fisheries to be ruined; he
granted their very reasonable request that Jews, “held in warranty by
Writ of Exchequer,” should plead before citizens as to tenements in
London, and that Jewish “cheirographs,” _i.e._ keepers of “starrs,”
or deeds and covenants of Jews, should be tallaged like any other
people. His brother Richard, although continually at variance with the
City, wrote a most friendly and interesting letter on his reception in
Germany. When the King introduced his new gold coinage, he took the
advice of the City on the measure, and because they were opposed to it,
he made it optional whether the people took the gold coinage or not. He
granted the prayer of the City that pleas of the citizens relating to
debt should be heard in the City only and before the Sheriffs. In 1268,
when the King granted to his son Edward customs on everything that came
into England or went out, and Edward had leased the grant to certain
Italians, the City petitioned the Prince against a continuance of this
burden. The Prince resigned the privilege, and so eased the City.

A great deal more might be extracted from this short chronicle. Enough,
however, has been taken to show the uncertainty of the City during
the first century of the new order: the people always ready to assert
their rights, fancied or real, as the Commons; the Aldermen standing,
as a rule, for the old rights; the King taking offence, often, one
acknowledges, deservedly, and revenging himself by taking the City
into his own hands, by fines, by depositions, by refusals to receive
Mayor or Sheriffs; nothing settled as to the rights and methods of
procedure in elections, or in continuance of office, or in the power
and authority of the Mayor, while of the new Council of twenty-four, as
I have said, not one single word.

In the next chapter we shall have to consider the City under its new
form of government, after the powers of the various offices have been
defined and the manner of election has been settled.



In the year of our Lord 1419, John Carpenter completed his great
work on the temporal government of the City of London, the _Liber
Albus_. It is in this work that we find the only complete description
of the administration of the City as it was at the beginning of the
fifteenth century, with all the officers, their duties, and their
responsibilities, and the laws which governed the citizens.

The author was Town Clerk from the year 1417 to 1438. He was twice
Member of Parliament for the City; he was executor to Whittington; and
he was buried in the Church of St. Peter, Cornhill.

The book itself, and a copy made in 1582, are preserved in the Crypt of
the Guildhall. Riley, who looked through the copy, says that it abounds
in errors which have never been corrected. His own translation was
made from the original, which has long since lost the purity of aspect
from which it derives its title. Some one has written on the cover the
following Latin lines:—

    “Qui ‘Liber Albus’ erat, nunc est contrarius albo,
      Factus et est unctis pollicibusque niger.
    Dum tamen est extans, istum describite librum;
      Ne, semel amisso, postea nullus erit.
    Quod si nullus erit—nonnulla est nostraque culpa—
      Hei! pretii summi, perdita gemma, Vale!”

The design of the work is thus laid down by John Carpenter himself:—

“Forasmuch as the fallibility of human memory and the shortness of
life do not allow us to gain an accurate knowledge of everything that
deserves remembrance, even though the same may have been committed
to writing, more especially, if it has been so committed without
order or arrangement, and still more so, when no such written account
exists; seeing, too, that when, as not unfrequently happens, all the
aged, most experienced, and most discreet rulers of the Royal City
of London have been carried off at the same instance, as it were, by
pestilence, younger persons who have succeeded them in the government
of the City have, on various occasions, been often at a loss from
the very want of such written information; the result of which has
repeatedly been disputes and perplexity among them as to the decisions
which they should give; it has long been deemed necessary, as well by
the superior authorities of the said City as by those of subordinate
rank, that a volume—from the fact of its containing the regulations
of the City, it might be designated a ‘Repertory’—should be compiled
from the more noteworthy memoranda that lie scattered without order or
classification throughout the books and rolls, as well as the Charters
of the said City. And forasmuch as such design—for some cause unknown,
unless, indeed, it be the extreme laboriousness of the undertaking—has
not been heretofore carried into effect, a volume of this nature, by
favour of our Lord, is now at length compiled, in the Mayoralty of that
illustrious man, Richard Whityngton, Mayor of the said City; that is to
say, in the month of November, in the year of our Lord’s Incarnation
one thousand four hundred and nineteen, being the seventh year of
the reign of King Henry, the fifth of that name since the Conquest;
containing therein not only those laudable observances, which, though
not written, have been usually followed and approved in the said City,
to the end that they may not be lost in oblivion hereafter, but also
those noteworthy memoranda which have been committed to writing, but
lie scattered in disorder in manner before mentioned; that so, by their
being ascertained, the superior authorities of the said City, as well
as those of subordinate rank, may know henceforth with greater accuracy
what in rare and unusual emergencies should be done.”


From a small stone statue in Guildhall Museum.]

I purpose in this chapter to make such extracts, quotations, and
abridgments from the book as shall serve to explain in general terms,
avoiding the minute details with which the book is crowded, the nature
of the government of the City in the time of Whittington.

The author treats first of the offices of Mayor, Alderman, and Sheriff.
The office of Mayor, he says, ignoring the subtleties of shire law
and commune, was originally called Portgrave or Portreeve; he was
the King’s representative in the City, Escheator, Chamberlain, and
Justiciar, as well as Portreeve. By the Charter of Henry III., the
Barons of the City[11] were confirmed in the Privilege of electing
their own Mayor every year. The election of the Mayor was an event
greatly feared on account of the danger of a riot if the people were
allowed to rush tumultuously into the Guildhall. A custom grew up,
therefore, for the Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs to meet together some
days before the election, and so order things as to meet the danger.
They therefore selected certain discreet citizens, so many from each
ward, and summoned them by name to be present at the election on the
Day of St. Edward, King and Confessor, and on that day no one was
allowed in the Guildhall who had not been summoned.


From MS. 1421 in the possession of the Mercers’ Company.]

Disputes arose between the Aldermen and the commoners thus selected,
the latter claiming the nomination of the Mayor. The Aldermen, however,
refused to allow this claim, on the ground that they, too, were
citizens, and therefore entitled to vote. They therefore arrived at a
compromise by which the commoners, one end of the Hall, nominated two
Aldermen who had already served as Sheriffs, and presented their names
to the Mayor and Aldermen at the other end, who proceeded to elect one
of them.

In the early years of the Mayoralty the same Mayor was often
re-elected; the reason why this custom obtained, was that at first the
office brought with it no expenses; when, however, the Mayor had to
give liveries, to conduct ridings, to maintain servants, and to hold
feasts, the expense was generally too great for one man to support for
more than a year. When the practice had become common for the Mayor
to retire after one year, then, and not till then, the Aldermen went
through the form of offering him a second term as a compliment.

“The feast of the Apostles Simon and Jude being now come, about the
tenth hour by the clock, it was the custom for the Mayor, all the
Aldermen—arrayed in cloaks of violet,—and numerous commoners, to meet
together at the Guildhall. Silence and attention being then enjoined
by the Common Crier, in other words, the Serjeant-at-arms, and duly
made, the Recorder, seated at the right hand of the Mayor, announced
to the people that, in conformity with the ancient usage of the City,
upon that day he who was to be Mayor for the then ensuing year was
to take the oath. Then it was the custom also for him to compliment
the outgoing Mayor upon such points as deserved commendation; and the
Mayor, too, if he had anything to say, was duly heard. This done, the
outgoing Mayor vacated his seat, and the Mayor-elect took his place;
the past Mayor, however, sitting next to him, on his left hand. Then
the Common Serjeant-at-arms, holding before him the book with the
Kalendar, with the effigy of Him crucified on the outside thereof,
and he in the meantime placing his hand upon the book, the Common
Clerk read to him the oath that he was about to make on the morrow in
the King’s Exchequer. When he had made the promise and duly kissed
the book, the old Mayor delivered to him the Seal of the Statute
Merchant, together with the Seal of the Mayoralty, enclosed in two
purses. The new Mayor was also heard, if he had anything to say, by
way of entreating the aid of his fellow-Aldermen during his time, as
also the Sheriffs and substantial men of the community, for the better
government of the City.”

On the day after, the Mayor took the oath at the Exchequer:—

“On the morrow of the Feast of the Apostles Simon and Jude, provided
such day was not Sunday—in which case the ensuing Monday was
substituted,—it was the custom for both the new and the past Mayor,
and the Aldermen as well, in a like suit of robes, attended by the
Sheriffs, and as many as were of the Mayor’s livery and of the several
mysteries, arrayed in their respective suits, to meet on horseback upon
the place without the Guildhall about nine by the clock, the sword
being borne upright before the person nominated as Mayor. Departing
thence, they rode together along Chepe, through the gate of Newgate,
and then, turning into Flete-street, passed on to Westminster.

Upon their arrival there, the Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs alighted
from their horses, and, preceded by the mace-bearers and Mayor’s
sword-bearer, ascended to the room of the Exchequer, where were the
Chancellor, Treasurer, Keeper of the King’s Privy Seal, and Barons of
the Exchequer. The Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs then standing at the
Bar, the Recorder stated how that the City of London, in accordance
with its ancient customs and liberties, had chosen N. as Mayor for the
year then next ensuing, requesting the Barons, on behalf of the City,
to accept the individual so elected, who then and there appeared in
person. Answer being made by the chief Baron, or his representative,
that it was their pleasure so to do, the book was presented to the
Mayor, placing his hand upon which, he was charged with the same oath
that he had made at the Guildhall.”

This oath is given in full in _Liber Albus_, and we may compare it with
that of an Alderman on p. 78.

“You shall swear, that well and lawfully you shall serve our lord the
King in the office of the Mayoralty in the City of London, and the same
City you shall surely and safely keep to the behoof of the King of
England, and of his heirs, Kings of England; and the profit of the King
you shall do in all things that unto you belong to do, and the rights
of the King, in so far as unto the Crown they belong within the said
City, you shall lawfully keep. You shall not assent unto the decrease,
or unto the concealment of the rights or of the franchises of the King;
and where you shall know the rights of the King or of the Crown, be it
in lands, or in rents, or in franchises, or in suits, to be concealed
or withdrawn, to your utmost power you shall do to repel it; and if
you cannot do it, you shall tell it unto the King, or unto them of his
Council, of whom you shall be certain that they will tell it unto the
King. And that lawfully and rightfully you will treat the people of
your bailiwick, and right will do unto every one thereof, as well unto
strangers as to denizens, to poor as to rich, in that which belongeth
unto you to do; and that neither for highness, nor for riches, nor for
promise, nor for favour, nor for hate, wrong you shall do unto any one;
nor the right of any one shall you disturb, nor shall you take anything
whereby the King may lose, or by which his right may be disturbed. And
that in all things which unto the Mayor of the said City it pertaineth
to do, as well in the regulation of victuals as in all other things,
well and lawfully you shall behave yourself.—So God you help, and the

This done, it was the custom for the chief Baron of the Exchequer, on
behalf of the King and the Lords, to charge the Mayor in especial to
preserve peace and tranquillity in the said City; and then, to the
best of his ability, so to exercise surveillance over the sellers
of all kinds of provisions, as not to allow the public to suffer
from excessive prices. And after this, it was the usage for the late
Mayor there to present himself as ready to account for his office as
Escheator; whereupon he also was sworn to render a good and faithful
account of the said office, appointing there such person as he might
think proper to act as his attorney in passing his accounts.

The Mayor also and Aldermen, in behalf of the City, appointed a member
of the Exchequer as attorney of the said City, to challenge and claim
their liberties, as and when necessity might demand; after which, upon
receiving leave from their lordships, they withdrew. In like manner
also, in the Common Bench, they appointed a member of that place to act
as attorney for the City. But in the King’s Bench it was the custom
for them to appoint two attorneys, jointly and severally, to claim the
liberties and ancient customs of the said City, as and when necessity
might demand. Which done, they returned, the commons preceding on
horseback in companies, arrayed in the suits of their respective
mysteries. Those, however, who were members of the mystery to which the
Mayor belonged, as also those who were of his livery, proceeded next
before the Mayor. No person, however, moved so close to the Mayor but
that there was a marked space between, while the serjeants-at-arms,
the mace-bearers, and his sword-bearer, went before him, with one
Sheriff on his right hand, and the other on his left, bearing white
wands in their hands. The Recorder and the other Aldermen followed
next in order, and accompanied him through the middle of the market of
Westchepe to his house, after which they returned home, as many, that
is, as had not been invited to the feast.

[Illustration: CROSSBOWMAN]

On the same day, after dinner, it was the custom for the new Mayor to
proceed from his house to the Church of Saint Thomas de Acon, those of
his livery preceding him; and after the Aldermen had there assembled,
they then proceeded together to the Church of Saint Paul. Upon arriving
there, at a spot, namely, in the middle of the nave of the Church,
between the two small doors, it was the custom to pray for the soul
of Bishop William, who, by his entreaties, it is said, obtained from
his lordship, William the Conqueror, great liberties for the City of
London; the priest repeating the _De Profundis_. They then moved on
to the churchyard, where lie the bodies of the parents of Thomas,
late Archbishop of Canterbury; and there they also repeated the _De
Profundis_, etc., in behalf of all the faithful of God departed, near
the grave of his parents before mentioned. After this, they returned
through the market of Chepe (sometimes with lighted torches, if it
was late) to the said Church of Saint Thomas, and there the Mayor and
Aldermen made an offering of one penny each; which done, every one
returned to his home, and the morning and the evening were one day.

We come next to the office of Alderman. The Aldermen had of old not
only the style and title of Barons, but were buried with baronial

“For in the church where the Alderman was about to be buried, a
person appeared upon a caparisoned horse, arrayed in the armour of
the deceased, bearing a banner in his hand, and carrying upon him the
shield, helmet, and the rest of his arms, along with the banner, as
is still the usage at the sepulture of lords of baronial rank. But by
reason of the sudden and frequent changes of the Aldermen, and the
repeated occurrence of pestilence, this ceremonial in London gradually
died out and disappeared. From this, however, it is evident what high
honour was paid to the Aldermen in ancient times.”

The election of an Alderman was after the manner following:—

 “It is the custom for the Mayor to proceed to the Ward that is vacant,
 and, at the place where the Wardmote of such Ward is usually held,
 to cause to be summoned before him by the bedel all the Freemen who
 inhabit such Ward, should he think proper: and there forthwith, if
 they are willing and able, or else on a given day, the Alderman is
 to be elected by the greater and more substantial portion of them,
 provided always, that fifteen days do not expire before making such
 election; for in such case, the Mayor is bound, and has been wont,
 with the counsel of his fellow-Aldermen, to appoint some man who is
 honest, rich, and circumspect, to be Alderman of such Ward. It is the
 duty also of the men of such Ward, when they have made their election,
 in manner already stated, to present the person so elected to the
 Mayor and Aldermen for admission.

 And if the person elected, after he has been admitted, shall refuse
 to accept or undertake such charge, by custom of the City he shall
 lose his freedom; and he is not to be readmitted to the same without
 making a notable fine and ransom. But if the person so elected is
 duly admitted, in such case he shall take the oath that is entered
 in the Second Part of Book III. of the present volume, folio 125;
 provided always, that if the Mayor and Aldermen, for some notable
 cause, shall not think proper to admit the person elected, the Ward
 shall proceed again to make a more suitable election. But if the
 Wardsmen shall refuse to do this, or if, from malevolence and pride
 of heart, they shall elect some other person whom the Court, taking
 into consideration the advantage and honour of the City, cannot so
 far demean itself as to accept, it is the usage for the Mayor and
 Aldermen, as in the former case, after waiting fifteen days, to elect
 and admit another.” (_Liber Albus_, pp. 35-36.)

This is the form of oath taken by the newly elected Alderman:—

“You shall swear, that well and lawfully you shall serve our lord the
King in the City of London, in the office of Alderman in the Ward of N,
wherein you are chosen Alderman, and shall lawfully treat and inform
the people of the same Ward of such things as unto them pertain to do,
for keeping the City, and for maintaining the peace within the City;
and that the laws, usages, and franchises of the said City you shall
keep and maintain, within town and without, according to your wit and
power. And that attentive you shall be to save and maintain the rights
of orphans, according to the laws and usages of the said City. And that
ready you shall be, and readily shall come, at the summons and warning
of the Mayor and ministers of the said City, for the time being, to
speed the Assizes, Pleas, and Judgments of the Hustings, and other
needs of the said City, if you be not hindered by the needs of our lord
the King, or by other reasonable cause; and that good lawful counsel
you shall give for such things as touch the common profit in the same
City. And that you shall sell no manner of victuals by retail; that
is to say, bread, ale, wine, fish or flesh, by you, your apprentices,
hired persons, servants, or by any other; nor profit shall you take of
any such manner of victuals sold during your office. And that well and
lawfully you shall (behave) yourself in the said office, and in other
things touching the City.—So God you help, and the Saints.” (_Liber
Albus_, p. 267.)

Formerly, says the author, the wards were called after their Aldermen,
as the Ward of Anketill de Auvern, the Ward of Henry le Frowyk, and
others; but afterwards the Aldermen were called after their wards.

The person of the Alderman was sacred. If a man struck an Alderman he
had his hand struck off; if he defamed an Alderman he was pilloried and

The Alderman held his office for life. He was the magistrate, almost
despotic, of his own ward; he had his officers or serjeants to attend
him; and he presided at the Court called the Ward Mote, by which
inquiry was made into the condition of the ward.

The Sheriffs were elected on the Day of St. Matthew, the 21st of

 “As concerning the election of sheriffs,—the Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen
 and Commons, are to be assembled on the day of Saint Matthew the
 Apostle [September 21], in such manner as is ordained on the election
 of the Mayor; and in the first place, the Mayor shall choose of his
 own free will, a reputable man, free of the City, to be one of the
 Sheriffs for the ensuing year; for whom he is willing to answer as
 to one-half of the ferm of the City due to the King, if he who is so
 elected by the Mayor shall prove not sufficient. But if the Mayor
 elect him by counsel and with the assent of the Aldermen, they also
 ought to be answerable with him. And those who are elected for the
 Common Council, themselves, and the others summoned by the Mayor for
 this purpose, as before declared, shall choose another Sheriff, for
 the commonalty; for whom all the commonalty is bound to be answerable
 as to the other half of the ferm so due to the King, in case he shall
 prove not sufficient. And if any controversy arise between the commons
 as to the election, the matter is to proceed and be discussed in such
 manner as is contained in the article upon the ‘Common Council’ in the
 13th Chapter of this First Book.

 And if any one of those then chosen to be Sheriffs shall refuse or
 absent himself, so as not to be ready at the Guildhall in the Vigil
 of Saint Michael next ensuing, at ten by the clock, there to receive
 his charge, there shall be levied forthwith from the goods, lands,
 and tenements of him who so absents himself, one hundred pounds;
 one-half to the use of the Chamber, and the other half to the use of
 him who shall be then suddenly elected and charged by reason of such
 default. And if the second person elected shall refuse the charge, all
 his goods, lands, and tenements, shall be arrested, for all expenses
 touching that office.

 And the old Sheriffs shall come to the Guildhall, at eleven by the
 clock at the very latest, and shall deliver to the Mayor (at the
 latest, at the Mayor’s general Court that is held after the Feast of
 the Epiphany) all records of pleas touching freeholds pleaded before
 them in their time, with all other memoranda touching recoveries
 suffered by any person, under a penalty of one hundred shillings,
 to be levied from each of them and to be paid to the use of the
 Chamber. To do which, the Mayor shall warn them the day on which they
 shall receive their charge. And then the Mayor shall deliver the
 Cocket[12] to such Sheriff as he himself shall have chosen, and the
 records to the Chamberlain for safe custody.” (_Liber Albus_, Riley’s
 translation, pp. 39-40.)

The following was the oath of the Sheriffs:—

“You shall swear, that you shall be good and true unto N, the King of
England, and his heirs, and the franchise of the City of London you
shall save and maintain, within the City and without, according to
your power; and that well and lawfully you shall keep the Counties of
London and of Middlesex, and the offices which unto the same Counties
appertain to be done, well and lawfully you shall do, according to
your wit and power; and that right you shall do as well to poor as to
rich; and that no good custom you shall break, or evil one maintain.
And that the assizes of bread, and of ale, and all other assizes which
unto you pertain, within the franchise of the City and without, well
and lawfully you shall keep and shall cause to be kept. And that the
judgments and executions of your Court you shall not delay without
reasonable cause, nor any right disturb; and that the Writs which unto
you shall come, touching the state and the franchise of the City, you
shall not return before you have shown them unto the Mayor, for the
time being, and unto the Council of the City, and of them have advice.
And that ready you shall be, at reasonable warning of the Mayor, for
keeping and maintaining the peace and state of the City. And that all
other things which pertain unto your office and the keeping of the said
Counties, lawfully you shall do, by you and yours, and the said City
shall keep from harm, according to your wit and power. And that the
County of Middlesex or the keeping of the Gaol of Newgate you shall
not let to ferm.—So God you help, and the Saints.” (_Liber Albus_, pp.

When the Sheriffs were sworn all their servants had to take oath: their
serjeants, clerks, valets, bailiffs of the customs and of Middlesex,
and the gaoler of Newgate and his clerk; and the same day the Sheriffs
were to go to Newgate and to take over the prisoners there; observe, by
the terms of their oath, that they were not allowed to let the gaol “to
ferm” nor the County of Middlesex.

Other officers were the Recorder, who was to be, on appointment, a
barrister of less than sixteen years’ standing, the Chamberlain, the
Common Serjeant-at-Law, and the Common Clerk. And there were inferior
officers, clerks and serjeants.

Leaving the officers, John Carpenter goes on to show how the Barons
and the community must behave towards the King and his Justiciars: in
other words, he speaks of the method of receiving the King’s Writs and
the Pleading of the Pleas of the Crown. Let us pass over these points,
which are curious to the antiquary, and come to the methods of hearing
criminal cases:—

“It is to be observed that, in accordance with the ancient liberties
and customs of the City of London, there are three purgations in Pleas
of the King’s Crown, by means whereof persons appealed, charged, and
accused, are in duty bound to acquit themselves. The first of these
is employed in cases of homicide or murder; such purgation being
called the ‘Great Law.’ The second kind of purgation bears reference
to mayhem, and is known as the ‘Middle Law.’ The third purgation
is employed in cases of assault, battery, rapine, wounding, blows,
bloodshed, and other injuries of a like nature, inflicted at the season
of Our Lord’s Nativity and in the weeks of Easter and Pentecost; such
purgation being styled the ‘Third Law.’

When a person is bound to clear himself by the Great Law, the mode of
proceeding according to such law is as follows:—He who is so appealed,
charged and accused, has to make oath in his own behalf six times, in
his own proper person; to the effect, that is to say, on each occasion,
that he is innocent and guiltless of felony and breach of the peace of
his lord the King, as also of all crime so laid to his charge,—‘So God
may help him and those holy Gospels.’ After this, six men are to make
oath that, to the best of their conscience and understanding, the oath
that he has so sworn is a sound oath and a safe,—‘So God may help them
and those holy Gospels.’ And this proceeding shall be repeated until
the number of six-and-thirty jurors is exhausted; due care being taken
that on each occasion the person accused makes oath first, in form
before stated, and then, after him, six men, until the number before
mentioned is completed.


After the picture by Sir John Gilbert in the Guildhall Art Gallery. By
permission of the Artist.]

In selecting these six-and-thirty men, the procedure, according to
the ancient usage of the City of London, is wont to be, and should
be, as follows:—The person accused being absent, eighteen men must be
chosen from the East side of Walebroke and eighteen men from the West
side of Walebroke, persons who are not kinsmen, cousins, or members
of the family of the accused, nor yet connected with him by marriage
or in any other way, but only trustworthy men of the franchise of the
City. The names of these persons are to be read to the accused; who,
upon hearing them, shall show unto the Mayors and Barons of the City
the names of such among them as he holds suspected. And if he shall
show reasonable cause against them, the names of such persons shall be
struck out of the written list, and others shall be chosen in their
stead, to complete the aforesaid number and duly to be read before
him. And when the accused shall be content with the names so entered,
and shall have put himself upon them for clearing himself of the said
accusation, then, by counsel of the City, he shall appear before the
Justiciars of his lordship the King, at a certain time and place, to
wage and make his law. But in accordance with the ancient usage of the
City, such person shall have respite for making his law for a term of
forty days at the least complete. And the names of the six-and-thirty
men so chosen shall be delivered unto the Justiciars of his lordship
the King.

In making the Middle Law, the procedure is as follows:—The person,
namely, who is charged and appealed of mayhem has to take oath in
his own behalf three times, in his own proper person; to the effect,
that is to say, on each occasion, that he is innocent and guiltless
of that felony, and of breach of the peace of his lord the King, as
also of all crime so laid to his charge,—‘So God may help him and
those holy Gospels.’ After him also, six men are to make oath that the
oath that he has so sworn is a lawful oath and a safe, to the best
of their conscience and understanding,—‘So God may help them and the
holy Gospels.’ And this proceeding shall be repeated until the number
of eighteen jurors is exhausted; due care being taken that on each
occasion the person accused makes oath first, in form before stated,
and then, after him, six men, until the number before mentioned is

In selecting such eighteen men, the same procedure is to be observed
as is set forth above in all matters relating to the Great Law before

In making the Third Law, the procedure is as follows:—A person accused
of assault, battery, rapine, wounding, blows, bloodshed, and other
injuries of a like nature, inflicted at the holy seasons before named,
has to make oath once in his own behalf, in his own proper person; to
the effect that he is innocent and guiltless of the misdeed laid to his
charge, and of breach of the peace of his lord the King at the holy
seasons above mentioned,—‘So God may help him and those holy Gospels.’
After him also, six men are to make oath that the oath that he has so
sworn is a lawful oath and a safe, to the best of their conscience and
understanding,—‘So God may help them and those holy Gospels.’ And be
it known, that these six men should be chosen of the venue in which
the person so accused is dwelling; provided always, that they are not
cousins, or kinsmen, or members of his family, nor yet connected with
him by marriage, or in any other way, but only trustworthy men of that
venue and of the franchise of the City. And the names of such persons
shall be read to the accused, etc., as above stated under the Great

The old custom of holding the Folk Mote was still kept up though the
Common Council now performed its most important functions:—

 “There are three principal Folkmotes in the year. One is at the
 feast of Saint Michael, to know who shall be Sheriff, and to hear
 the charges given. The second is at Christmas, to arrange the Wards.
 The third is at the feast of Saint John (24th June), to protect the
 City from fire, by reason of the great drought. If any man of London
 neglects to attend at one of these three Folkmotes, he is to forfeit
 forty shillings to the King. But, by the Law of London, the Sheriff
 ought to enquire after him whom he shall think proper, that is to say,
 whether he is there or not. And if there be any one who is not there,
 and he is there enquired after, such person ought to be summoned to
 the Hustings, if he is bound to abide by the law of the city. If the
 good man says that he was not summoned, the same must be known through
 the bedel of the Ward. If the bedel says at the Hustings that he was
 summoned, even where it is proved that the bedel has no other witness,
 no witness needs he have, save the great bell that is rung for the
 Folkmote at St. Paul’s.”

The most important Court was that called the Hustings:—

 “Be it made known, that all lands, and tenements, rents and services,
 within the City of London and the suburbs thereof, are pleadable at
 the Guildhall in the same city, at the two Hustings; of which the one
 Hustings is called ‘Hustings of Pleas of Land,’ and the other Hustings
 is called ‘Hustings of Common Pleas’; which Hustings are holden in the
 said Guildhall, before the Mayor and Sheriffs of the same city, upon
 the Monday and Tuesday in each week; that is to say, upon Monday, for
 demanding appearance of demandants, and for the award of nonsuits, and
 the allowing of essoins; and upon Tuesday, for the award of defaults,
 and for pleading—certain seasons and Feast-days excepted, as well
 as other reasonable causes; at which times no Hustings can be held,
 by usage of the city aforesaid. It should also be known, that the
 Hustings of Pleas of Land must be held one week apart by itself, and
 that of Common Pleas the next week apart by itself, upon the days
 aforesaid; but the enrolments and titles of the said Hustings make
 mention of Monday only.”

I am indebted to Dr. R. Sharpe’s Introduction to his _Calendar of
Wills_ for the following additional notes on the “Court of Husting.”
(1) To begin with, it was the single institution which the Saxon
borrowed from the Dane. “Husting” = Hus-thing, the cause or case
pleaded in the House, instead of in the open air.

The Court of Husting is mentioned in the Laws of Edward the Confessor
as the place where the Court of the King is held every Monday. It is
the oldest Court of record in the City, and at one time constituted the
sole court for settling disputes between citizen and citizen. After the
establishment of the Mayor’s and Sheriff’s Court for the settlement of
actions merely personal, all actions affecting laws were heard in the
Court of Husting. It was a Court of appeal for the Sheriff’s Court,
while appeal from the decisions might be heard by certain commissioners
at St. Martin-le-Grand. There was, after this, final appeal to the
House of Lords.

The Court sat for a long time on Monday only. Thus it became the
custom to sit on Monday for purposes of demanding the appearance of
defendants, the award of nonsuits and the allowing of essoins, _i.e._
excuses for non-appearance. The sitting of Tuesday was for the award
of defaults and for pleading. Eventually the Monday sitting was

During the fairs of Boston and Winchester, and during harvest-time, the
Court did not sit.

The judges in the Court of Husting were the Mayor and Sheriffs, the
Recorder sitting as assessor for the examination of witnesses and for
preliminary judgment. As the Court could not be held in the absence of
the Mayor, and great inconvenience was sometimes so caused, an Act was
passed in 1584 providing that, if the Lord Mayor was prevented from
attending by sickness, any Alderman who had passed the Chair might act
for him. But as early as the thirteenth century it had become a custom
for any Aldermen to be present in the Husting and to act as Judges.

It was the custom for the officer who summoned the Aldermen to the
Court to show his respect for them and for the Court by riding a horse
valued at a hundred shillings at least.

The Town Clerk was Registrar.

The Counsel employed in the Court were the four City pleaders; the
attorneys were those of the Mayor’s clerk.

The reader is referred to Dr. Sharpe’s pages for details of the Common
Pleas and Writs used in this Court.

Aliens could be admitted to the freedom of the City only by this Court.

Disputes as to building were decided by this Court.

It was even a place for public penance. Perjury was punished by
imprisonment until the next Husting, when the offender was placed upon
a high stool before all the people while his crime was read aloud.
After this, he was set at liberty.

In this Court deeds and wills were enrolled.

In this Court land was conveyed by a method “described by Blackstone
as a kind of real contract, whereby the bargainer for some pecuniary
consideration bargains and sells, that is, contracts to convey the land
to the bargainee, and becomes by such bargain a trustee for, or seised
to the use of the bargainee, and then the Statute of Uses completes the
purchase; in other words the bargain first vests the use, and then the
statute vests the possession.” (_Calendar of Wills_, i. 23.)

Probate of Will naturally belonged to the Court which enrolled Wills.

The Court undertook the guardianship of orphans. The citizen of London
had the right of devising part only of his property; a certain part
of it going, with or without his wish, to his widow and children.
This restriction was only removed by the 2nd Act of George the First.
The widow, for instance, by the custom of the City, was entitled to
one-third of his estate, the children to another third, the residue was
at the free disposal of the testator and was known as the legatory or
the dead man’s portion.

Among the wills enrolled in the Court of Husting, Sharpe mentions the

 “1. John de Kyrkeby, Bishop of Ely, who endowed his see with houses,
 vines, and gardens situate at Holborn, whose gift is remembered at
 the present day by the names of Ely Place, Vine Street, and Kirby
 Street, and whose gardens, part and parcel of the gift, call to mind
 the well-known lines put into the mouth of the Duke of Gloucester by
 Shakespeare (_Richard III._, Act iii. sc. 4):—

    ‘My Lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn,
    I saw good strawberries in your garden there.’

 2. William de Farndon, Alderman of Farringdon Ward, to which he gave
 its name, and Nicholas [le Fevre?], who married his daughter, took his
 name, and became Alderman of his Ward, which he afterwards disposed
 of by will to John de Pulteneye, although the latter appears never to
 have been _de facto_ Alderman of the Ward.


From _Coopers’ Company Illustrations_.]

 3. William de Elsing, the founder of Elsing Spital, on the site of
 which was afterwards built Sion College with its almhouses, one of the
 few picturesque relics of Old London which till lately remained to us,
 but now vanished.

 4. William Walworth, whose prowess when Mayor against the rebel Wat
 Tyler at Smithfield is sufficiently well known.

 5. Sir John Philpot, who was appointed joint treasurer with Walworth
 for receiving the subsidy granted to Richard II. on his accession, and
 who received the honour of knighthood with Walworth, Nicholas Brembre,
 and others.

 6. John Northampton and Nicholas Exton, so long rivals of one another,
 the latter supporting Nicholas Brembre in his endeavour to sustain the
 monopoly enjoyed by the free fishmongers of the City, in opposition to
 the former.

 7. Richard Whityngton, four times Mayor of London, whose munificent
 gifts and charitable acts need not be recorded here, as they are
 already household words.

 8. John Colet, Dean of St. Paul’s, Sir Andrew Judde, Sir Andrew
 Laxton, and many others whose names are associated with the cause of
 education, not only within the City of London, but in all parts of the

 9. Sir Martin Bowes, the wealthy and charitable goldsmith, whose
 almhouses at Woolwich still bear witness to his generosity, and who
 bequeathed to the Mayor of the City of London for the time being and
 his successors a goodly cross of gold set with pearls and precious
 stones to hang at the collar of gold worn by the Mayor at high feasts,
 ‘as mentioned in the Repertory.’

 10. And, lastly, Sir Thomas Gresham (not to mention numerous others),
 the founder of the College within the City which still bears his name,
 and to whose munificence the merchants of the City were indebted for
 their first bourse, or Royal Exchange.” (_Calendar of Wills_, ii. 2-4.)

The Courts of the City, therefore, were the Folk Mote and the Court of
Husting, which gave the City a sense of unity though as yet there was
no collective governing body and no Head or Chief to stand for the City.

There was, next, the Ward Mote, for the local business of each ward.

“The Wardmote is so called as being a meeting together by summons of
all inhabitants of a Ward, in presence of its head, the Alderman,
or else his deputy, for the correction of defaults, the removal of
nuisances, and the promotion of the well-being of such Ward. The
meetings that we call ‘Wardmotes,’ the Romans called _plebiscita_; the
same in fact that were styled _folkesmot_ by the Saxons in ancient
times. The Aldermen were in the habit also, by virtue of warrants by
the Mayor for the time being to them directed, to hold their Wardmotes,
twice at least, or oftener, in the year; on which occasions enquiry
used to be made as to the condition and tranquillity of the Ward, and
such defaults as were presented were corrected by the Alderman, as
hereafter will be shown.

The process of holding a Wardmote in London has customarily been as
follows:—The Alderman, after receipt of the warrant, is to command
his bedel to summon all such men as are householders, as well as all
hired servants, in his Ward, to appear before him at a certain day and
hour on the morrow of such summons, in a certain place within the same
Ward, for the purpose of holding such Wardmote. These names, after
the persons have been duly summoned, the bedel is to have entered
in a certain roll, those of the freemen, namely, of the City who
dwell in that Ward, by themselves, and those of the hired servants
and non-freemen, by themselves. And when at the hour appointed they
have duly met together, the Alderman having taken his seat with the
more opulent men of the Ward, each in his proper place, the clerk of
the Alderman is to enjoin the bedel, in behalf of such Aldermen, to
command attention; which done it is the clerk’s duty to read aloud the
warrant before mentioned, and then to read to the bedel the names that
are entered in the roll; while the bedel in his turn proclaims aloud
that every person who shall not, there present, answer to his name,
and shall make default therein, shall be put down and amerced in the
sum of four pence at the least. After this, the bedel is to present
to the Alderman a panel, arrayed by the Constables of the Ward, of
those reputable men of such Ward by whom Inquisition should be made;
which array, if the Alderman shall deem it expedient, he shall be at
liberty to amend. This done, the jurors are to have read to them all
the articles touching such Wardmote. After this, a certain day for
making their presentment is to be given by the Alderman to the jurors.
On which day the jurors are to present their verdict indented, one part
of it to remain in possession of the Alderman, and the other with the
Ward. It is the duty also of the Alderman to present his part to the
Mayor, at the sitting of his next General Court; to the end that, after
it has been seen and enquired if there is any matter the correction of
which pertains unto the Mayor and City, the aforesaid indenture may be
redelivered to him, to be acted upon in other respects, etc.

And at the said Wardmote, there ought to be elected by the Alderman
and reputable men of the Ward, as also by the jurors, the Scavagers,
Ale-conners, Bedel, and other officials; who, at the General Court
before mentioned, shall take the oaths befitting their respective
offices. The Alderman also used to be specially certified by the bedel
as to the names of such hostelers, brewers, bakers, cooks, victuallers,
and auctioneers as dwelt within the Ward. Bakers also were to have
their stamps there, the impressions of which were to be entered upon
the Alderman’s paper; for doing which, every baker had to pay the
Alderman four pence, unless it so happened that he had previously paid
for an impression being taken of his stamp before the same Alderman
of the Ward, no change of Alderman having taken place. It was the
usage also for the Aldermen to seal the measures and weights in their
respective Wards, and to condemn such as were not sealed, receiving
a remuneration for such sealing to their own proper use, in the same
way that the City Chamber now receives it. For every Ward had its own
measure, made of brass, and corresponding with the royal standard of
the City. At such Wardmote also, those persons who are not free of the
City, and who have not previously been sworn there to that effect,
ought to be put upon frank-pledge, notwithstanding that in other Wards
they have been already received therein; on which occasion they are to
take the oath for persons about to be admitted to frank-pledge. Every
person also who is about to be so received is to give one penny to the
clerk for his entrance; and if any such person shall absent himself at
such Wardmote, he shall pay four pence to the Alderman; unless indeed
such person be a Knight, Esquire, female, apprentice-at-law, or clerk,
or some other individual who has not a permanent abode in this City.

The Alderman ought also, in his own person, to supervise and correct
all defaults and nuisances presented by the jurors at the Wardmote
aforesaid, unless perchance any matters of difficulty should arise,
and of a nature bearing reference to the Chamber; matters of which
description the Mayor and Chamberlain, aided by the Sheriffs and other
officials, shall take in hand. Also, if the Alderman shall find the
officers under him remiss or negligent, he shall warn them to amend
their conduct; which if they neglect to do, he shall reasonably punish
and chastise them, or else report the same to the Mayor, whose duty it
is to provide a condign remedy for the same.” (_Liber Albus_, Riley’s
translation, pp. 32-35.)

The Common Council—of which we have seen the beginning in the election
of the Twenty-four—was now a fully organised body with definite duties,
and methods of procedure laid down and established.

“The manner of holding a Common Council is as follows:—The day before
the meeting thereof, the Mayor and Aldermen are to cause summons to be
made by the serjeants of the Chamber, for sixteen, twelve, eight, or
four (according as the Ward is great or small) of the wisest and most
wealthy persons of each Ward to appear on the morrow at the Guildhall;
and [further, to give notice] that no one is to appear unless summoned,
or presume to be present at such Council, under pain of imprisonment,
according to ancient usage, as also, by recent enactment, under a
certain penalty and chastisement named in an ordinance made in the
Mayoralty of Nicholas Wottone. All the commoners, too, that are
summoned are to be called over one by one, by a serjeant of the Chamber
standing aloft; and as to those who make default, they are to be noted
by a clerk of the Chamber in a roll which he holds in his hands, in
which are entered the names of those who have been summoned.

And as to those who duly appear, they shall then form a congregation;
and if any matter of great difficulty or doubt shall arise, upon
which they cannot agree, they shall be severally examined by the
Serjeant-at-Law of the Common Clerk and of the Common Serjeant-at-Arms,
upon the oath by which they are bound unto the City, etc. And observe,
that the business of the City is not to be delayed for the arrival of
the men of a Ward or two, supposing that they have been duly summoned;
but it must be proceeded with, the presence of the persons so absent
not being waited for. Every one, too, of the persons so summoned who
does not appear is to be amerced in the sum of two shillings on each
occasion, etc.

The oath of the men elected to the Common Council is as follows:—

You shall swear that you shall be trusty unto our lord the King N,
and unto his heirs; and shall quickly come, when you are summoned to
the Common Council of this City, if you be not reasonably excused;
and good and true counsel you shall give, after your wit and cunning;
and that for favour of any man you shall maintain no singular profit
against the public or common profit of the said City; and that after
you come to the Common Council, you shall not from thence depart,
without reasonable cause or the Mayor’s license, until the Mayor and
his fellows shall have departed; and that what shall be spoken in the
Common Council you shall not disclose,—So God you help, and God’s Holy

In the Mayoralty of John Warde, the after-mentioned ordinance was
entered as to the election of Commoners for the Common Council of the
City, to the effect that, whereas heretofore such Commoners had been
elected by the Wards, in future the Commoners for the Common Council
of the City should be elected by the respective Mysteries, and not by
the Wards; that is to say, six by some of the Mysteries, by some four,
and by some two. And for the purpose of so doing, bills were sent by
the Mayor, not to the Aldermen, but to the rulers of the respective
Mysteries. But so long as this ordinance continued in force, tumults
increased among the people, and the great were held in contempt by
the small. Consequently, great disputes and divisions arose among
the citizens, as was seen at the elections of Nicholas Brembre,
John Northamptone, and other Mayors, etc. After this, however, the
more discreet and more worthy persons of the said City being called
together, a long discussion was held as to the amendment of the said
ordinance; and at length it was determined that, in accordance with the
approved and established practice of ancient and praiseworthy usage,
the Common Council should thenceforth be formed by the Wards only,
and not by the Mysteries. And this usage, in reference to the great
meetings in Common Council, is continued and observed to the present
day.” (_Liber Albus_, Riley’s translation, pp. 36-37.)

Upon the Sheriff’s Court was laid a great quantity of work and

There was also the Bishop’s Court for questions connected with Church
property and the claims of the Church.

The officers of the City consisted of the following:—

First the principal officers—

Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs.

The Court of Common Council.

The Recorder, the Chamberlain, the Common Serjeant-at-Law, the Common

The Common Serjeant-at-Arms or the Common Crier, the Clerks of the
proceedings, the Serjeants of the Mayor and the Chamberlain, the
Constables, the Scavagers, the Bedels, the Brokers, the Ale-Conners,
the Under-Sheriffs and the Clerks of the Sheriffs, the Sheriffs’
Serjeants, the Serjeants’ Grooms, the Bailiffs of the Market, the
Wardens and Bailiffs of the Bridge, etc.

There was great jealousy as to admission to the freedom of the City.

“Also, because as well in times past, out of memory, as also in modern
times, the City aforesaid is wont to be defended and governed by the
aid and counsels as well of the reputable men of the trades-merchant as
of the other trades-handicraft; and from of old it hath been the usage,
that no strange person, native or alien, as to whose conversation
and condition there is no certain knowledge, shall be admitted to
the freedom of the City, unless first, the merchants or traders of
the City following the trade which the person so to be admitted
intends to adopt, shall be lawfully convoked; that so, by such his
fellow-citizens, so convoked, the Mayor and Aldermen, aforesaid, being
certified as to the condition and trustworthiness of the persons so
to be admitted, may know whether such persons ought to be admitted or
rejected; the whole community demands, that the form aforesaid, so far
as concerns the more important trades and handicrafts, shall in future
be inviolably observed, that so no person in future may against the
provision aforesaid be admitted to the freedom of the City.” (_Liber
Albus_, p. 425.)

On the post and duties of the Coroner, Dr. Reginald Sharpe (_Letter
Book B_) furnishes valuable information.

The functions of Coroner were exercised by the Chamberlain and
Sheriffs. The King’s butler, to whom the office of Coroner belonged,
was generally made City Chamberlain. In December 1302 the King’s Writ
notified the Mayor and Sheriffs that William Trente, his Chamberlain,
to whose bailiwick the office of Coroner in the City belonged (_ad
cujus ballivam officium Coronatoris ... pertinet_), being busy on
affairs of State, had deputed John le Clerk to act as Coroner.

More than once the citizens endeavoured to get the appointment of
Coroner into their own hands. It was Edward the Fourth who, in
consideration of a sum of £7000, gave the City a Charter which, among
other things, enabled the citizens to appoint their own Coroner.

“The customary procedure of holding an inquest on the body of any one
who had died in the City, otherwise than by his rightful death (_ex
alia morte quam recta morte sua_), was as follows:—After receiving
notice of such a death having occurred, and of the body of the deceased
lying in a certain house in a certain ward, the Chamberlain (or
Coroner) and Sheriffs proceeded thither, and having summoned a jury
(drawn partly from the ward in which the body was found, and partly
from two, or sometimes three, of the nearest wards), set to work to
diligently inquire (_diligenter inquisiverunt_) how the deceased
came by his death. If the Chamberlain and Sheriffs failed to hold an
inquest, or held an insufficient one, in cases where the Justices
Itinerant thought an inquest necessary, they were amerced.

The jurors were practically both judges and witnesses, and gave
evidence as to all the facts connected with the deceased’s death, so
far as they could be ascertained. The corpse was then viewed, and if
its appearance tallied with the evidence given, and the jury were
decided as to who caused the death, a precept was issued for the arrest
of the felon (if not already in custody), and his goods were valued,
for which the Sheriffs were answerable. The discoverer of the corpse,
as well as those who witnessed the felony, and two or four neighbours,
were usually attached by sureties to appear, if required, before the
Justices Itinerant at their next coming to the City.

Not only was the discoverer of the corpse bound to raise the hue and
cry so that the neighbours (_patria_) might come and assist in the
capture of the felon, but every one who saw the felony committed was
bound to do the same, and to lose no time in giving notice to the
Chamberlain and Sheriffs, or risk imprisonment on the appearance of the
Justices.” (_Letter Book B_, p. xii.)

The custom of deodand, which was kept up until very recently, was
curious. The thing which caused the death of any person by misadventure
became forfeited to the King by way of deodand, or gift of God. In
course of time not the thing itself, but its value, was the deodand.
Thus, if a horse, a boat, a beam, caused the death of any one, its
value was forfeited and paid to the Sheriffs for the Mayor and


The laws by which London was governed are too long for quotation;
they are explicitly set forth in _Liber Albus_. In the year 1191 it
was provided that a body of twelve Aldermen should be elected in full
Husting, in order to decide all questions that might arise over the
enclosure of land; they also had the power to prevent the erection of
any wooden house; the walls, either party wall or outside wall, were
to be sixteen feet high at least, and three feet thick; and the roofs
were to be of tiles or slate instead of thatch. The law, like so many
mediæval laws, was sensible and necessary. It fell through, as did
all mediæval laws, for want of police to execute it. In London there
were thousands of houses at that moment built of wood with roofs of
thatch. There does not appear to have been any attempt made to replace
wood with stone. That, indeed, would have been impossible on account
of the cost; but, at least, as houses fell down, and many of them in
the narrow courts were only wattle and daub, an attempt might have
been made to replace them with more substantial houses having roofs of
tiles. The mediæval way was to understand very clearly what ought to
be, then to pass a law commanding that thing to be, and then to sit
down, with the feeling that duty had been done.

The general regulations which governed the daily life are given under
the heading of “Inquisitions at the Ward Motes”:—

  “You shall present if the peace of his lordship the King has been
 broken, or any affray made within the Ward since the last Wardmote,
 and by what person or persons the same was done: or if any covin or
 assemblage against the peace of his lordship the King has been made.

 Item, if there is any one resident or harboured within the Ward, who
 is not a lawful person, or not of good fame, or not under frank-pledge.

 Item, if any woman of lewd life, or common scold, or common bawd, or
 courtesan, is resident within the Ward.

 Item, if there is any oven, furnace, or defective reredos within the
 Ward, whereby it is likely that there may arise misadventure by fire;
 or if any persons use other fuel than wood or charcoal, against the
 Ordinance of the City.

 Item, if any taverners, brewsters, hostelers, or chandlers, sell
 without measures sealed with the seal of the Alderman or of the
 Chamber of the Guildhall; and if any one of them sells against the
 Assize made thereon by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council of
 the City; and if any one of them receives gamesters or other riotous
 persons after the hour forbidden by the Ordinance of the City; and if
 there are any persons in the Ward who are outlawed.

 Item, if there is any huckster in the Ward.

 Item, if any house in the Ward is covered with any other roofing than
 tiles, lead or stone, and none with reeds or straw.

 Item, if there is any one whose practice it is to place filth in any
 streets and lanes within the Ward, and offensively before the doors of

 Item, if any swine or cows are reared within the Ward, to the
 annoyance of the neighbours.

 Item, if any leper is resident in the Ward.

 Item, if any bargain of usury has been made within the Ward since the
 last Wardmote.

 Item, if any purprestures are made in the streets or lanes, or upon
 the walls or fosses, of the City, or upon the Thames or other common
 soil within the Ward.

 Item, if any baker of tourte bread bakes white bread, or the converse.

 Item, if there are any persons in the habit of wandering within the
 Ward after forbidden hours, and in manner forbidden by the Common
 Council of the City.

 Item, if any officer of the City has made extortion or affray within
 the Ward under colour of his office, to the wrong and detriment of any
 person; and what it is that has been so done, and how done; or if any
 person is a maintainer or champertour of litigation that is carried on
 within the Ward.

 Item, if any person pays, or gives as wages unto, masons, carpenters,
 daubers, tilers, or any other labourers whatsoever, more than is

 Item, if the ale-stake of any tavern is longer or extends further than
 is ordained.” (_Liber Albus_, Riley’s translation, p. 290.)

Then follows the regulation of various trades. The baker comes first,
subject to so many rules and prohibitions that one is surprised to find
any one willing to practise the mystery. Millers, brewers, and sellers
of ale, are also taken under paternal surveillance. Usury is strictly
forbidden—the frequency of the prohibition shows how powerless the law
was to prevent it. The companies had Hall Motes, or meetings of their
members, twice a year, at which their ordinances were to be read. No
one was to take more than two or three apprentices, and then for a term
of at least seven years. No one was to be wandering on the streets
after curfew, unless he was a man of repute or his servant. No one was
to carry arms in the City. Every Alderman was to keep a good watch on
his Ward. None but free men were to be admitted to the freedom of the
City. Wager of battle does not lie between persons free of the City,
unless they consented thereto.

In addition to the Courts already mentioned, there were the Courts
of the Sokes; that is to say, of those places which were outside the
jurisdiction of the City; such were the places called afterwards

The Iter, or Eyre, was a holding by the Justices Itinerant of the
Pleas of the Crown, at which the citizens received, and had to answer
a series of questions on, their Privileges, Customs, Liberties, and
Rights. It was a Court which could be held in a day or two, without
giving much trouble, or it was a Court which could be vexatious and
oppressive to the highest degree.

John Carpenter is as full and explicit on the subject of the Iter as
can be desired. He contemplated that it would be got through in a day
or two. But it was a solemn and important function. The Justices sat
in the Great Hall of the Tower; on the day appointed, all the laymen
of the City were bound to meet at All Hallows at Barking, properly
arrayed—“all the laymen”—does this mean the whole body of merchants,
traders, and craftsmen? That might mean a company of 40,000 men! During
the holding of the Pleas, no shop, seld, cellar, or solar was to be
kept open, and nothing was to be sold. Evidently, therefore, the Iter
was not expected to take long:—

“Also, upon the same day, by sanction of the Common Council of the
City, there should be sent from Berkyngecherche six or more of the more
serious, honourable, and discreet Barons of the City; who are to enter
the Tower for the purpose of saluting and welcoming his lordship the
King, his Council, and his Justiciars, on behalf of the City; begging
of them that, if it so please his lordship the King, they may safely
appear before them in the said Tower, saving all their liberties and
customs unto the Mayor and all other citizens. For his lordship the
King and all his predecessors, Kings of England, and their Justiciars,
have always preserved unto all the citizens their liberties safe and

And further, the men before named should show unto his lordship the
King, and unto his Council and his Justiciars, that, on behalf of
his lordship the King, they ought to forbid any person to presume
to keep ward at the doors or gates unless he be one of their own
fellow-citizens, and by them thereunto appointed. Nor should any
marshal or crier appear among their fellow-citizens unless he be one
of their number, and acting by desire of the said citizens. For, in
accordance with the liberties of the City, they ought, and of usage
are wont, to have no porter, usher, marshal, or crier, except of their
own number, and such persons as they shall think fit. All the gates
and doors are to be kept open to the Barons and to all the citizens,
so long as the Pleas of the Crown are being holden, to the end, that
they may have free ingress and egress. For so it ought, and of usage is
wont, to be.

After this, three men, discreet and moderate, should be chosen; one of
them is to present unto his lordship the King, and unto his Council and
Justiciars, in due order, such haps and mishaps concerning the Crown
of his lordship the King as have occurred within the City, from the
time when the pleas were last holden down to the present time: while
the other two men are to remain standing by the said presenter, the one
namely on his right hand and the other on his left. And if it should
so happen that while thus making the presentment he becomes fatigued,
one of these is to continue such presentment. And if by any chance he
should commit an error in making the presentment, he must in a low
voice be corrected by the two who are standing by, it being understood
that no other person shall in any way presume to disturb or to correct
such presenter, but only the two who are standing by him, in manner
already mentioned. No tumult, no murmur, no strife, no debate with one
another, is to be going on among the people while such presentments are
being made; but all persons are to keep themselves quiet and without
litigation, as they would preserve the honour and the liberties of the
City, and to the end that the presenter may be heard by all and duly
understood in peace.

It should also be known and kept in memory that, in the case of all
things charged against the Barons and the community of the citizens,
the answer to be made by the City is this—That although they may be
fully instructed and certified how to make answer, still, they will
not advisedly make answer thereto; but, after holding counsel and
conference together thereupon, they will make answer by the Common
Council, saving always the liberties of the City. And for the purpose
of preparing such answers, four-and-twenty persons or more must be
chosen from the Common Council, who shall forthwith proceed to hold a
Common Council of the City for ensuring the safety and protection of
the whole body of the citizens. And no stranger shall thrust himself
among them, to hear the counsels of the City, so long as they shall be
thus holding conference together thereon.

After the Justiciars of his lordship the King shall have handed and
shown unto the Mayor and Barons of the City the articles pertaining
unto the Crown, they shall immediately demand a fitting day, for the
purpose of making due preparation and taking counsel thereon, to the
end that they may be able safely to make answer to the said articles
upon the day so granted unto them by the Justiciars; and that in the
meantime they may be enabled discreetly to enrol and brief the same
articles and their answers thereto.

From the four-and-twenty men or more before mentioned, four persons
or more should be selected, of the Common Council of the City, to be
associated with the Mayor for the purpose more especially of making
answer to the charges and articles aforesaid. Also the Mayor’s Clerk,
together with the Common Clerk of the City and the Sheriffs’ Clerks,
shall be seated before them for the purpose of noting by way of
memorial all such charges that are made; lest the same, through default
of being so noted, should be lost in oblivion. And one of such persons
must act as prothonotary; from whose notes all the others are to take
copy, in setting down as well the King’s charges as the answers made by
the community.

Also, as concerning the Sheriffs and Aldermen, provision must be made
as follows:—The Sheriffs are to have their serjeants there present,
and all the Aldermen the bedels of their Wards, becomingly and fairly
arrayed and shod, prompt and ready to perform and fulfil the commands
of the Mayor and Barons of the City, according to such injunctions as
may be given to each; their capes, too, and cloaks laid aside, they
are to be fairly arrayed in coats and surcoats, bearing straight white
wands in their hands. Of these, too, four or more, as may be necessary,
must be assigned to the office of keeping the gates and doors; as
also two criers, and certain others who are to act as marshals, in
fulfilling such duties as may be enjoined them. And if perchance any
one of these should be an aged man, weak or infirm, or have sore eyes,
then, at the common expense, another person must be substituted in his
place, and of the same ward, efficiently to perform such duties. And as
to such men, due precautions should be taken that they be seemly and
proper persons, newly shaven and shorn.”

The following are “Articles touching his lordship the King”:—

“Of default made in appearing before the Justiciars. Of those who are
at the King’s mercy, and have not been amerced. Of old Pleas of the
Crown which have been formerly holden before the Justiciars, and have
not been determined. Of new Pleas which have since arisen. Of youths
of high parentage and of damsels, who are, and who ought to be, in the
wardship of his lordship the King: in whose wardship they are, and
through whom, and what is the value of their lands. Of escheats of his
lordship the King; what such lands are, and who hold them, and through
whom, and what is the value thereof. Of demesnes which are in the gift
of the King, what they are, and who hold them, and through whom, and
how much the lands thereof are worth. Of churches which are in the
gift of the King, whether the same are vacant or not; which are such
churches, and who holds them, and through whom. Of purprestures made
upon the King, by land or by water, or elsewhere; what they are, and
who has made them, and through whom. Of measures made throughout the
realm; whether the same are observed in such manner as was commanded,
and if any one has given reward to the wardens of such measures, that
by measures they may sell or buy; and this is to be understood of all
measures, as well of wine as of corn, and all measures (of length).
Of wines sold contrary to the assize, and who has sold the same. Of
treasures-trove, what they are, and who found the same. Of Christian
usurers who have died, who they were, and what chattels they had. Of
chattels of French or of Flemings, or of enemies of the King, that have
been seized; what the chattels are that have been so seized, and who
holds the same. Of chattels of Jews who have been slain, and of their
debts, and deeds, and securities; who such Jews were, and who holds
their securities or deeds. Of those who hold of the Honour of Pevrel in
London and of Pevrel in Dover; who they are, and what land they hold,
and by what service. Of outlaws, and burglars, and fugitives, and other
malefactors, and of those who have harboured them. Of the seaports;
if the same have been well-guarded, and if any one has carried corn
or other things to the territories of the King’s enemies for sale. Of
those who have taken lack of the thirteenths; who they are, and how
much they have taken, and from whom. Of serjeants of hundreds or others
who have taken reward from men on account of the thirteenths; who they
are, and how much, and from whom. Of those who are wont to do injury
in parks and piscaries; who they are, and where they have done so, and
in what parks and piscaries. Of fugitives, if any one has returned
since his flight. Of prises taken by Sheriffs or Constable, or by any
Bailiff, against the will of those whose chattels were to be taken. Of
forgers and clippers of the coin.”

But in the Iter of 4 Henry the Third there were only eighteen questions
put to the citizens. Both questions and answers turn on points of law.
It will readily be understood that such an inquisition was at all
times irksome, and might be made tyrannical and intolerable. The Iter
of 1321 was such an occasion. It was made to last for six months. One
cannot suppose that shops were shut and nothing bought and sold for
the whole of that time. The articles and questions submitted to the
citizens were more than a hundred in number, and many of them required
an investigation of more than twenty years back. In a word, the
Justices had come to the Tower with instructions to make themselves as
disagreeable as possible, to prolong the inquiries, raise objections,
and make difficulties. They carried out these instructions, the
citizens becoming more and more indignant. It was intended to prove
that the City had been guilty of irregularities, such as to warrant the
King’s taking it into his own hands.

Six months after the commencement of these proceedings, however, an
insurrection was threatened in Wales. This made it desirable not to
exasperate the Londoners any more, and the Iter was brought to a sudden

Let us, at this point, consider briefly the relations of London with
the King. London, as we know already, except for a very brief period,
had no over-lord except the King himself. This, one of her greatest
privileges, caused the personal character of the Sovereign to be even
more strongly felt by the citizens of London than by the rest of the
Kingdom. In London, far more than in the rest of the country, the
cause of order and authority rested upon the personal character of the
King. If he were strong, the City was well-ordered; if he were weak,
the City fell into disorder and confusion. Edward the First, when the
City was manifestly beyond the control of the officers, deposed the
Mayor for a time and governed the City by his own Warden till order was
re-established. This power of the King over the City was not considered
usurpation; it was part of the recognised order of things; every
citizen knew that he was a servant of the King. On this point let me
quote certain wholesome words of Cunningham (_Hist. of Trade_, p. 131):—

 “Of all the cant which is current in the present day about history,
 none is more pernicious than that which despises the story of real
 personages and real events and busies itself about abstractions, which
 tells us that it is not concerned with kings and battles, but with the
 life of the people. It is true indeed that in modern times the life of
 the people can be treated apart from the consideration of the personal
 character of George IV. or William IV. But in the Norman reigns this
 was not the case; security for person and property, intercourse with
 other nations and commercial advance were directly connected with the
 personal character of the King; the life of the people was most deeply
 affected in every way by the strength or weakness of his disposition.”

The King’s revenue was made up of many distinct branches: (1) there
were the Royal domain, manor, and estates scattered about the country
and let to tenants; (2) there were the fines paid on great occasions;
(3) pre-emption, that is, the right of buying what he pleased at his
own price; when his purveyors bought goods exposed for sale this was
called “prise”; (4) military tenures, by which for each five tithes of
land the King might demand a knight’s services for forty days; (5) aids
and fines, as on great occasions, such as the marrying of the King’s
daughter; (6) the wealth of the Jews who were the King’s property; he
was heir to their estates, and could without question seize on all
they had; (7) Danegeld, which William continued; its name was changed
but the tax remained; (8) tallages, which were aids in time of special

All the taxes were at first on estate. Henry the Second introduced
taxation on movables. Sometimes it was a fifteenth. The nature of this
tax may be imagined by supposing it to be imposed upon a trader’s stock
at the present day. His stock is worth, suppose, £9000; he would pay
£600 upon it. But he has a house with furniture, plate, pictures, and
books which have accumulated for two or three generations. The contents
of the house are worth, say, £3000. He would have to pay £200 on this
account. He has £12,000 invested; he must pay £800 on the investments.
He would have, then, to pay at one call £1600 in taxes. These taxes
were not imposed all at the same time, nor on the same class; one year
the clergy were called upon, another the knights, on another occasion
the City of London would be taxed. It seems to us an arbitrary method;
but then we have lost the sense of kingly authority. To our ancestors,
whom we must not consider as prophets, it was a right and proper thing
that a man should be called upon by the King at any moment to surrender
a great slice of his property.

It was the first proof of a bad King that he demanded these aids too
frequently. It was another proof that in spite of his aids he allowed
the country to fall into disorder. At such times the hapless trader
found it impossible to carry on his business in a country infested by
robbers and over seas infested by pirates. Yet, even then, the King was
still demanding more and more. The best, the only hope of the citizens
was, not to be free from the King, but that the King should make his
authority felt over them as well as over the country. They wanted a
King like Henry the First, Henry the Second, or Edward the First. It
was the greatest blessing to London that their Kings were, with one or
two exceptions, strong and clear-headed men.

The King also exercised authority over the Moneyers and the Mint.
Formerly there were mints in many places; we have seen how Henry the
First treated those who debased the coin. Henry the Second kept the
Mint in London, where he could control it more effectually. He also set
up an office in the Mint for the exchange of foreign money: a great
convenience to foreign merchants.

In the year 1312, letters were sent by the King, Edward the Second, to
the City of London concerning the safe keeping of the City. The method
of reception of a Royal Communication by the Mayor and Aldermen may be
learned from Riley’s _Memorials_ (p. 93). The following is the letter:—

“Edward, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord, etc., to the
Mayor, and Aldermen, and all the commonalty of our City of London,
greeting. Forasmuch as we do confide very much in the loyalty that is
among you, and the affection which you have towards ourselves, such as
you ought to have for your liege lord; and, more especially, for the
love which we have, and at all times have had, towards you, as you well
know; we do pray you affectionately, and do command and charge you,
strictly enjoining, on the fealty which unto us you owe, and as you
wish to save your bodies, and your heritages, and whatsoever you have,
from penalty of negligence as regards us, that you cause our City of
London right safely and surely to be kept, in behalf of ourselves and
of our heirs; that so no damage or peril may befall it—the which God
forbid—for default of good and sufficient guard; and that our lordship
and our estate be there saved in all points, without any manner of
blemish, as we do especially trust in you, and as you would eschew
peril unto yourselves. And understand so well this our command, and
have it so tenderly at heart, that we may be able to praise you for the
same, and that nought of our right, or of our lordship, in our City
be lost, on peril of losing whatsoever unto us you may forfeit. Given
under our Privy Seal, at York, the 21st day of January, in the 5th year
of our reign.”

In addition to this general letter, the following letter was sent
separately to the leading citizens, viz.:—

“To John de Gisorz. To John de Lincoln. To Thomas Romain. To Henry de
Durham. To William Servat. To John de Wengrave. To William Trente. To
Richer de Refham. To William de Leyre. To John de Burford. To Simon
Corp. To William de Forneis. To William Walrain. To William Bidik. To
Robert de Keleseye. To Stephen de Abyndone. To Ralph le Balancer. To
Hamond Godchep. To Robert le Callere. To Edmond Lambyn.”

“Edward, etc., to our well-beloved John de Gisorz, our Mayor of London,
greeting. As we have sent word unto you, to the Aldermen, and to the
Commonalty, of our City of London, that among you and them, in whose
loyalty we do greatly trust, for the affection which you have towards
ourselves, as towards your liege lord, especially for the love which
we have, and at all times have had, towards you and those of the said
City; and as you would yourselves save your bodies, your heritages,
and whatsoever you have to save, from penalty of negligence as regards
ourselves, you do cause our said City right safely and surely to be
kept in our behalf; that so no damage or peril may befall it—the which
God forbid—and that our lordship and our estate may there be saved in
all points, without any manner of blemish; and as we do know that you
are the man in London by whose counsels is guided the manhood thereof,
and are persuaded that the manhood of our said City will charge itself
with the safe-keeping of the same our City, and most willingly would
save it to the use of us and of our heirs, as is right; we do command
and charge you, on the fealty which unto us you owe, and as you would
wish to eschew the penalty aforesaid, that you use all diligence and
all counsel as towards the said manhood of the City, and towards
all those of our said City, who shall be most available towards the
safe-keeping thereof, that they undertake such safe-keeping, and cause
the same our City so safely and surely to be kept, in behalf of us
and our heirs, that nought of our right, or of our lordship, be lost
therein; and that so we may be able to perceive the diligence that
you shall have employed herein; for the which we may be the more
especially beholden to you. Given under our Privy Seal, at York, the
21st day of January, in the 5th year of our reign” (pp. 94-95).

In consequence of these letters, John de Gisors, the Mayor, called
together the Aldermen and some of the commonalty of each ward on the
Saturday after the Purification, _i.e._ on the 2nd of February. It is
remarkable that only seventeen Aldermen are named in the list; that
eight did not appear at the meeting; and that, of those to whom the
separate letters had been written, only three obeyed the King’s special

However, at the meeting certain ordinances were passed for the repair
and the safety of the walls and the gates and the quay. Elsewhere these
and similar orders have been set forth.

These regulations passed, the Mayor sent a letter to the King:—

“Whereas, Sire, you have demanded of us by your letters that we should
cause to be guarded and safely kept your said City in behalf of
yourself and your heirs, according as is in your mandate contained;
know, Sire, that of the same wish we ourselves are, and at all times
have been, and always will be, to the best of our lawful power, if
God so please. And we do let you know that your said City is in good
condition, may God be thanked; and your people set in good array,
according as the times demand; and that ordinance has been made to
strengthen and to repair the gates, and the defaults in the walls, and
divers other things which pertain to the safe-keeping of the said City,
so speedily as ever the same may be properly done. Unto God, our most
dear Lord, we commend you, and may he save you and keep you; and may he
grant unto you a good life, and a long” (p. 97).

To this letter was appended a very singular and suggestive rider, which
the bearer was instructed to lay before the King:—

“Under the first head:—that the murage which our Lord the King has
granted to the City, and wherewith the old walls of the City ought to
be repaired, strengthened and amended, is now spent upon the new wall
behind the Friars Preachers at Castle Baynard, towards the Thames, by
your command and nowhere else.

[Illustration: S.W. VIEW OF GERRARD’S HALL

 (Gisors’ Hall, Basing Lane, otherwise denoted Gerrard’s Hall Inn,
 the residence of Sir John Gisors, Mayor of London in 1245, 1246, and
 1259; it descended to another Sir John Gisors, Mayor and Constable of
 the Tower, in 1311-1314; and was possessed by several of that family
 until 1386, when it was alienated by Thomas Gisors.) From _Londina

Also, that such outlays and costs, which are great, and are hastily
expended upon so many repairs, whereas in justice they ought to be
levied from all those who have rents, and tenements, and moveables,
within the City, commonly fall upon one part of the citizens only,
and not upon persons of the religious Orders, and others who have
franchises by charter and in almoigne[13]; to the amount indeed of the
third part of the rental of the said City. And such persons are not
willing to give any portion thereof, or any aid or contribution, or any
assistance, thereto, although they are saved just as much throughout
the said city as the rest of the citizens. And if the King shall see
fit, and deem it good that they should aid therein, the people of the
City will be the better comforted, and the better strengthened, and the
more speedily will they have the City put in due repair.”

So that the new piece of wall outside the Black Friars, and between
their House and the Fleet, was not built by the Friars at all as is
sometimes stated, but out of the murage granted by the King, and it
will also be observed that so early as 1312, before the new ideas had
been started, there were grumblings at the exemption of the Religious
from taxation and a complaint that their property amounted to a third
part of the rental of the whole City.


From Young’s _Annals of the Barber Surgeons_.]

The comparative wealth of London at the time of the Conquest is shown
by the fact that the City was assessed for Danegeld at 1200 hides: that
Westminster was assessed at 118 hides; and Middlesex at 853½ hides;
that London paid £120, Middlesex £85: 0: 6; and, one supposes, on the
same scale, Westminster £11: 16s.

Though London was never separated in feeling or in fact from the
country, though the sons of the country gentlemen came up to London
and were there apprenticed, trade was carried on between London and
the country with as many laws, restrictions, and regulations, as if
the towns were in a foreign state. This was not due to jealousies of
the City or the towns, but mainly in consequence of the authority of
the over-lord. For instance, the customs of Chester with reference to
“foreign” merchants—those of London were foreign—show three separate
jurisdictions in the City: that of the King, that of the Earl, and that
of the Bishops. Trade with the interior was chiefly conducted at the
fairs. During the fair, the people came from all the country round,
including those who, like the Friars in later years, roamed about the
villages and farms selling small things.

Let us make a special inquiry into the contribution of London to the
Royal treasury. There were the customs dues of the Port; the customs
tolls of the City Gates and the City Markets, the “Stallages” of the
tradesmen, the fines of foreigners, the dues of Billingsgate and Queen
Hithe; some of these were paid to the Corporation and some to the
King’s officers. Whenever the money was paid into the Exchequer, it was
weighed and assayed. Thus, on one occasion the Sheriffs paid in £245
odd on account of money due. The coin was assayed and found 13d. in the
pound short. On a second trial it was found 12d. in the pound short.
Thereupon the Sheriffs demanded a third trial. The accounts were kept
by means of tallies, and for counters they used Venetian shillings and
gold besants.

Apart from the customs and the Crown lands, the King’s revenues were
largely increased by Fines, Amercements, “Misericordia,” Aids, Scutage
and Tallage, all of which were methods of profound interest to the
City. As regards fines, there were fines for everything. They were
inflicted in the shape of money, horses, wine, hawks, dogs, lampreys,
robes, Flemish caps and other things. In the pages of Madox one may
read how men paid fines for becoming an Alderman, for the right to
succeed to a property, for the King’s help in recovering debts from
the Jews, for permission not to plead except in a certain manner,
for permission to plead at all, for permission to summon a man, for
permission for a jury of matrons to inquire whether a certain woman has
or has not borne a child, for an inquiry whether a man was out with
John in rebellion, to examine into a pedigree, to inquire into old
customs, for permission to move that certain persons ought not to sit
on a Jury, for an inquiry whether a certain man was accused unjustly or
not, for petitioning the King that the Itinerant Justices might visit
a town, for speeding a cause, for delaying a cause, for leave to hold
office, for leave to quit office, for leave to marry, for leave (for
a woman) to remain unmarried if she pleased (for life, or for five
years—a very great number of widows desired to remain unmarried), for
leave to marry a certain woman (Geoffrey de Mandeville paid a fine of
£20,000, certainly equal to half a million of our money, for leave to
marry Isabel, Countess of Gloucester, with all her estates), for leave
to form a Guild, to import and export, for the concord of a duel, for
leave to have a servant.


  _The Photochrom Co. Ltd._


Now and then the list of fines makes one wonder what story is hidden
behind them. For instance, why was the wife of Hugh de Nevill fined for
permission to stay one night with her husband? Was he in prison? Again,
Reginald de Tewarden is fined twenty marks for permission to keep his
lands after he had undergone the ordeal of hot iron unsuccessfully,
and had abjured the country. He was proved guilty apparently. And was
the fine of twenty marks thought the kind of penalty that would meet
the case? William de Thievespathe—ominous name!—makes the same request
for the same cause and with the same result. The iron, therefore, was
sometimes hot. Another man, one Gospatric, pays twenty marks as a
fine to escape the ordeal of hot iron. William of Sixteen Tale pays
the large fine of £80 for wounding a priest: Robert, son of Hugh, gets
off with £7: 2: 9—enough, however, to break a craftsman—for wounding
“a man”; observe the difference between a man and a priest. Lawrence
the Priest has to pay twenty marks “pro homine ementulato.” Who,
again, was “Jeremy of London”? He took sanctuary, he refused to come
out, they fined him a hundred shillings, and then? There is no more.
Margaret FitzRoger has to pay a fine of £1000 before she can get at
her inheritance, to wit, her father’s estate, her husband’s, her own
dower, which her son has got, and be released from certain debts to the
Jews. Sometimes the fine took the form of a bribe, as when Nathaniel
Leveland, hereditary keeper of the King’s houses at Westminster and on
the banks of the Fleet, sent in a fine of sixty marks for permission
to keep that office, and Osbert de Longchamp paid the same fine for
permission to take over those offices.

Every fine, whatever the amount, was either increased by a small sum or
contained that small sum, which was called Aurum Reginæ, the Queen’s
Gold. Thus when Thomas FitzAnther was forgiven his fine of ten marks,
the Aurum Reginæ was at the same time remitted. In the year 1253 the
City of London was called upon to pay up the Aurum Reginæ, part of the
fine for receiving back their liberties, and in 1254 the Sheriffs were
ordered to distrain for the amount.

Now the method of promoting virtue and filling the coffers was by
the _misericordia_ or amercement. I cannot understand the difference
between the two. But that matters little, they both meant a fine. By
studying the long list of cases furnished by my authority, Madox,[14]
I arrive at a theory, not a conclusion, that the amercement was a
punishment for offences which could not be tried in a criminal court,
yet were real offences. Thus, for false or unjust accusations or
plaints, a man was amerced, or for unjust detainer, for offences in
the forests, trespass, etc., for making a man fight two duels in one
day, a thing manifestly unfair, for “ill keeping” a duel, _i.e._, not
observing all the rules respecting duels, for claiming to be a free man
when one was but a villein, for detaining sheep, for harbouring a man
who was not in frank-pledge, for making again a dyke which the King
had caused to be levelled, for using twice in ordeal an iron which had
been heated only once, gross injustice to the second man, for burying
a drowned man without the view by the King’s servant, for putting a
man to the ordeal of water (was it then forbidden?), for trespass, and
in the case of a rebellious bride, for not coming to be married on the
day appointed. For these, and similar offences, the citizens suffered
amercement and _misericordia_.

More formidable than any of these, more dreaded than fine, amercement,
or _misericordia_, were the Aid, the Relief, the Scutage, and the

There were three principal kinds of aid. (1) The aid _pur fille
marier_, or the occasion of the marriage of the King’s daughter.
Henry the First took for his daughter’s marriage three shillings on
each hide. Henry the Second, for his part, imposed a tax under this
name of one mark for every knight’s fee. As great lords might hold
many knights’ fees, the tax was considerable. (2) The aid _pur faire
chevaler_, on the occasion of conferring knighthood on the King’s son.
This tax was the same in amount as the preceding. The third kind of aid
was the raising of money if necessary for the King’s ransom.


Reliefs were simply arbitrary sums exacted by the King. The relief of
the knight’s fee in the reign of Henry the Second was five pounds; that
of a baron one hundred pounds. Scutage was, as its name denotes, an
assessment of the knights’ fees.

Tallage corresponded more closely with our modern taxes. The City,
ordered to make up so much money, assessed its lands separately at
so much, which the Aldermen of each portion was bound to collect
by assessing all the free men in his ward. In some cases, private
merchants, those known to be wealthy, were separately assessed. Thus
in one tallage Hugh de Basing is assessed at twelve marks, Thomas
de Plaines at ten marks, William FitzAdam at a hundred shillings.
Sometimes the King’s officers are separately assessed, as when the
moneyers of London, Archard, Lefwine Besant, and Ailwine Finch, were
ordered to pay respectively a hundred shillings, five marks, and two


From Welch’s _History of the Pewterers’ Company_.]

The tallage of the City in the year 1226 has been preserved. I copy it
here from Thomas Madox (_History of the Exchequer_):—

“William filius Benedict, r. c. de xxxv. marcis, de Warde Fori. Andrew
Bukerel, r. c. de xxx l. xvii s. viii. d., de Warde sua. Michael de
Sancta Elena, r. c. de C & vii. s. & x. d., de Warda sua. Joceres Fitz
Petri, xxxii. l. xviii. s., de Warda sua. Robertus filius Johannis
(debet), iiij l. xvij s. & iiij d., de Warda sua. Johannes Viel
(debet), xxj l. & xiij s., de Warda sua. Ace le Mairener, r. c. de
xxvij l. & xx. d., de Warda sua. Rogerus Blundus, r. c. xxviij l. xi.
s. & v. d. & ob., de Warda sua. Stephanus le Gras Waleran (debet), xi.
l. & xij. s. de Warda sua.

Warinus filius Nicholai, r. c. de xiiij l. & xiij s., de Warda sua.
Ricardus de Russye (debet), xj l. & iiij s., de Warda sua. Ricardus
Raynger, r. c. de xiiij l. x. s. & iiij d., de Warda sua. Radulfus
Sperling, r. c. de ix. l. & viij s., de Warda sua. Radulfus Steperingg,
r. c. de vj l. & vj s., de Warda sua. Gilbertus filius Fulconis
(debet), xix. s., de Warda sua. Walterus de Insula, r. c. de L xxiiij
s., de Warda sua. Portsoken (debet), xxiiij s., de Warda sua. Johannes
Travers, iiij l. xvj. s., de Warda sua. Petrus filius Rogeri, iiij l.
xviij s., de Warda sua. Jacobus Blundus, viij l. xj s. & x. d., de
Warda sua. Bassushag, xxxiij s., de Warda sua. Rogerus Burserius, r. c.
de L s., de Warda sua. Johannes de Solarijs (debet), xxviij s. & iiij
d., de Warda sua.” (_Note_ 5, vol. i. p. 709.)

We also find the City disputing the right of the King to tallage them.
Madox relates the story:—

 “In or about the 39th year of King Henry III. it was provided by the
 King’s Council at Merton, that the King should tallage his Demeanes in
 England towards the great Expenses he had been at in foreign Parts.
 The citizens of London being called before the King and his Council at
 Merton about tallaging the City, Ralf Hardell, the Mayor, with several
 others came, and the King demanded of them a Tallage of three thousand
 Marks. When they had consulted with their Fellow-citizens, they came
 and offered two thousand Marks by way of Aid, saying, They could not,
 nor would give more. Upon this the King sent his Treasurer, Philip
 Lovell, with others to St. Martin’s to receive of the City a fine of
 three thousand Marks for Tallage, in case they would enter into such
 Fine, and if they would not, then they were ordered to assess the
 Tallage _per Capita_. The City refusing to enter into that Fine, the
 Treasurer and the other Commissioners were about to assess the Tallage
 _per Capita_, ordering the Citizens to swear concerning the Value of
 each other’s Chattells. The Citizens refused to make such Oath, or to
 declare upon the Faith they owed to the King the Value of each other’s
 chattells. So the Treasurer and other Commissioners came back _re
 infecta_. Afterwards the Citizens came before the King and his Council
 at Westminster on the Sunday after Candlemas. It was there disputed
 whether this should be called a Tallage or an Aid. The King ordered
 Search to be made, whether the Citizens had formerly paid Tallage to
 the King or his Ancestours. Upon Search, it was found both in the
 Rolls of the Exchequer and of the Chancery, that in the 16th year of
 King John, the Citizens were tallaged at two thousand Marks, to have
 the Interdict taken off; that in the 7th year of King Henry III. they
 were tallaged at one thousand Marks; that in the 26th year of the same
 King, they paid one thousand Marks by way of Tallage; and that in the
 37th year, they gave one thousand Marks and xx Marks of Gold by way
 of Tallage. Afterwards, on the Morrow, the Mayor and Citizens came
 and acknowledged, that they were talliable, and gave the King three
 thousand Marks for Tallage.” (Vol. i. p. 711.)

In this chapter I have shown, by the aid of John Carpenter, that by
the end of the fifteenth century the days of “Uncertain Steps” were
passed away. The New Order, which gave the power and authority of the
City more and more into the hands of the Commonalty, has now become
well defined and established; it is the constitution of the City;
the old feuds have vanished; the old City families have disappeared;
the craftsmen no longer go about bellowing that they are the Commons;
they are reduced to order every one in his own Company, and every man
knowing his place in his Company; the place of the craftsman is one
of obedience; he has been educated by the Company, apprenticed by the
Company, made a freeman of the Company; he works in accordance with
the rules of the Company; he is paid according to its rules; when he
is old he will be a pensioner in the Company; should he die young his
widow and children will be the care of the Company. And instead of the
former government of the City by hereditary right, the City is now
governed by the forms of popular election, with safeguards, by elected
Aldermen, elected Sheriffs, elected Common Council, and elected Wardens
as Masters of the Companies. And as to the share which the craftsmen
possessed in the elections the less that question was raised the better
it was for the order and the security of the City.



We have next to consider the origin, growth, and development of the
City Companies.

On the origin and antiquity of Guilds I have already spoken (vol.
i. p. 204). It is impossible to conceive of any time, after men had
begun to live in villages and towns, after arts and crafts had arisen,
after some attempt at order had been made, when there were no such
associations as those we call guilds. Those of the same trade were
compelled to band together for the use of tools, for instruction, for
the regulation of the output, for protection of all kinds. In the fifth
century there were “consuls” or chiefs, of the Locksmiths; the bakers
of Paris act as a body in the reign of King Dagobert; in Lombardy they
had colleges of artisans; in Ravenna in the tenth century there was a
college of fishermen; there was a chief of the Corporation of Traders;
a chief of the Corporation of Butchers. In Paris in the year 1162
there were dues payable by the Corporation of Tanners, Shoemakers, and

The oldest Guild-Statutes extant in this country are the laws of
three Guilds, those of Abbotsbury, Exeter, and Cambridge. The general
principles of the three are thus summed up by Brentano:—

 “According to the latest investigation into the origin of Gilds, the
 drawing-up of all these statutes took place in the beginning of the
 eleventh century. In the case of one of these Gilds, there is no doubt
 whatever as to the accuracy of this date. This Gild was founded and
 richly endowed by Orcy, a friend of Canute the Great, at Abbotsbury,
 in honour of God and St. Peter. Its object, according to the statutes,
 appears to have been the support and nursing of infirm Gild-brothers,
 the burial of the dead, the performance of religious services, and the
 saying of prayers for their souls. The association met every year,
 on the feast of St. Peter, for united worship in honour of their
 patron saint. Beside this, there was a common meal: and in order that
 the poor might also have their share in the joys of the festival,
 they received alms on the day of the feast; for which purpose the
 Gild-brothers were obliged to furnish, on the eve of the day,
 contributions of bread ‘well boulted and thoroughly baked.’ Guests
 were only admitted to the common meal by permission of the Master
 and Steward. Insults offered in a malignant spirit by one brother to
 another, were punished on the part of the Gild, and had also to be
 atoned for to the insulted. He who had undertaken an office, but had
 not properly discharged its duties, was severely punished.

 The Exeter Gild, whose statutes have likewise been preserved, was of
 altogether the same character. Here, however, association for the
 purpose of worship and prayer stands out more prominently as the
 object of the brotherhood than in the former case. Three times a year
 the Gild-brothers assembled to worship together for the well-being of
 their living and dead fellow-members. Here, also, every such service
 was followed by a meal in common. When any brother died, every member
 was obliged to perform special devotions for the departed soul.
 The mutual care of the Gild-brothers was, moreover, shown by money
 contributions in case of death, and in the support of those who went
 on a journey, as well as of those who had suffered loss by fire.
 Punishments were decreed for insults offered by the Gild-brothers to
 each other, as well as for not fulfilling the duties imposed on them
 by the Gild.

 The statutes of the Gild at Cambridge show that its main object was
 altogether different from that of the two already mentioned. At the
 very outset, in the oath which every member had to take on the relics
 of the patron Saint of the Gild, they swore faithful brotherhood
 towards each other, not only in religious, but also in secular
 matters; and though the statutes secured for the Gild-brothers the
 same support in case of sickness and death as those of Exeter and
 Abbotsbury—and, like those, contained regulations with reference
 to alms, divine worship and feasts—yet all these objects were but
 insignificant in comparison with the measures for the protection
 of the members of the Gild against criminals, and even against the
 evil consequences of their own wrong-doings. The following may be
 considered a first principle: ‘If one misdo, let all bear it; let
 all share the same lot’; and for carrying this out, a complete
 organisation existed. If one of the Gild-brothers required the help of
 his fellow-members, the inferior officer of the Gild living nearest
 to him had to hasten to his aid; should the officer neglect this,
 he became liable to punishment, and in like manner the head of the
 society, should he be remiss in affording help. If a Gild-brother was
 robbed, the whole Gild had to assist him in obtaining compensation
 from the law-breaker. So also every Gild-brother was obliged to
 help, if a member himself had to make atonement for killing a man.
 If, however, he had no justifiable motive for committing the act, if
 he had not been provoked to it in a quarrel, if he was not under an
 obligation to execute vengeance, but had slain the man merely from
 malice, he himself had to bear the consequences of the deed. If one
 Gild-brother killed another, he had first to reconcile himself with
 the kinsmen of the murdered man, and had moreover to pay eight pounds
 to all those belonging to his larger family, namely, the Gild; failing
 which, he was shut out of the society, and the members of the Gild
 were forbidden to hold friendly intercourse of any kind with him. In
 like manner, an insult offered by one Gild-brother to another was
 severely punished. The solidarity of the society was even shown in
 the case of violence and damage to property, which one member might
 have suffered from the servant of another; the master of the servant
 was answerable for him, and was sued by the society for compensation.
 It was, moreover, a leading principle of the society, to which every
 member had to bind himself by oath, always to support him who had
 right on his side.

 The essence of the manifold regulations of the statutes of these three
 Gilds appears to be the brotherly banding together into close unions
 between man and man, sometimes even established on and fortified by
 oath, for the purpose of mutual help and support. This essential
 characteristic is found in all the Gilds of every age, from those
 first known to us in detail, to their descendants of the present day,
 the Trade Unions. According to the variety of wants and interests at
 various times, the aims, arrangements, and rules of these unions also
 varied. As a rule, the Gild-brothers periodically assembled together
 for common feasts.” (_English Gilds_, p. lxv, Toulmin Smith’s edit.)

Stubbs divides the English Guild into three kinds—the Religious Guild,
which had a social side; the Frith Guild; and the Merchant Guild.

I. Let us set forth the ordinances, already summed up, of the Exeter
Guild, which belongs to the first kind.

  “First, this Society is assembled in Exeter for God’s love and their
 souls’ profit, both in regard to the prosperity of this life and the
 future, which we wish for ourselves in God’s judgment.

 1. There shall be three meetings in the year, the first at Michaelmas,
 the second at the feast of Our Lady after midwinter, and the third at
 the feast of All Saints after Easter.

 2. Each brother shall contribute two _sextarii_ of malt, and each
 cniht one and a portion of honey.

 3. The priest shall celebrate two masses, one for the living friends,
 the other for the dead, at each meeting; and each brother of lay
 estate shall recite two psalters, one for the living friends, the
 other for the dead. This altogether will make six masses and six
 psalters, there being three general meetings.

 4. At each expedition ordered by the King every brother shall
 contribute five pence.

 5. At a house-burning each brother shall contribute a penny.

 6. If any brother neglect an appointment for a meeting on the first
 occasion he shall pay for three masses, on the second occasion for
 five, and on the third occasion no allowance shall be made for the
 neglect unless it be through infirmity or his lord’s business.

 7. If any brother neglect the appointment of paying his subscription
 or contribution let him compensate for it two-fold.

 8. If any man of this fellowship revile another, let him compensate
 for it with thirty pence. In conclusion the document prays ‘for God’s
 love, that every man of this assembly justly observe what we have
 justly ordained. God assist us therein.’”

[Illustration: A BAGPIPE-PLAYER

From Nichol’s _Some Account of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers_.]

As, formerly, each family was a company allied against the world, so a
Guild was the extension of that principle, and was the association of
many families to form one. Thus, to quote Brentano once more (p. 5):—

 “The family was, according to these historians (Waitz and Lappenberg),
 a community of all-comprehending importance, and its care provided
 completely for nearly all the wants of the individual. This it was
 able to do in consequence of the then simplicity of life. The minor
 found in it his protection; the insulted, the natural friends who
 sympathised with him most keenly in every injury inflicted, and who
 helped him to procure satisfaction. He who would engage in those
 pursuits which alone in that age were worthy of a freeman, and which
 at the same time promised riches and fame—in chase, feuds, and
 war—found in the family his natural allies. Naturally, he who fell
 into poverty, or sickness, or any other kind of distress, obtained
 from the family the necessary help; and it provided of course for the
 burial of the dead, whose heir it was. These are indeed the first, and
 are even nowadays the practical results of the family union. For the
 murdered, there arose from the midst of his family an avenger; to the
 robbed it gave the necessary help to prosecute and punish the thief,
 and to obtain restitution of the plunder. Further consequences of
 the nature of the family compact were, that the members were obliged
 to maintain peace amongst themselves; that they were not entitled to
 appear against each other in a court of justice; and, on the other
 hand, that they were called upon to punish members, especially women,
 who had violated the right of the family. Before the community, too,
 it became answerable for its members. The payment of the forfeited
 _wergild_ was, in all cases of offence—which according to ancient
 usage and custom claimed revenge—the concern of the whole family.
 The family appeared as such an intimate union of its members, that
 this responsibility of the whole body for the individual member
 commended itself to the sense of justice of the people as a matter of
 course. But as it answered for the compensation, and took part in the
 payment thereof, and assisted the guilty in order that he might not
 forfeit life and limb to his antagonist, so it supplied the accused
 also with compurgators from among its members to ward off an unjust
 condemnation. In former times this family bond comprehended all
 relatives without limitation of degree; but in later days it became
 restricted to the nearer kinsfolk.”

The regulations of the Guilds resembled each other. Every Guild
provided for its own masses and church services, and for the burial of
its members, bringing the body to be buried, and providing wax lights,
alms, and masses. Such of the Guilds as could afford it maintained
their own Chaplain; women as well as men were admitted to membership.
Sometimes the Guilds were composed of quite plain and simple folk;
Worcester, it is known, had Guilds of Joiners and Carpenters, and
perhaps of others; Bristol, among others, those of Fullers and Ringers;
Holbeach, of Shepherds; Lynn, of Shipmen; Norwich, of “Peltyers”;
Ludlow, of “Poor Men.” On the other hand, the Town Guild, or Merchant
Guild, contained all the wealthier traders in the town. Sometimes it
happened that men of different trades belonged to the same Guild. Thus

    “An Haberdasher and a Carpenter
      A webbe, a Deyer, and a Tapiser,
    Were all y-clothed in liverie
      Of a solempne and grete fraternite.”

[Illustration: From Zeller’s _La France Anglaise et Charles VII._]

Some of the Guilds were very popular, and had an immense roll of
members. That of the Corpus Christi, York, is said to have numbered
more than 14,000 members. Its popularity, however, is accounted for
on the ground of the important part it took in the pageants of the
City. The members took an oath of obedience on entrance. There was
an entrance fee and an annual subscription of “housefee,” the amount
varying from place to place, and from time to time. There were also
calls upon the members for burials or for help in case of a member
falling into poverty, and there were legacies. There were special
days appointed for meeting together; the members were summoned by the
Dean or by the common bellman. On the day of meeting they appointed
officers, made agreements, and did other necessary things. On one day
in the year, their Saint’s day, they all put on red hoods and livery,
assembled together, marched to Church, bearing wax tapers, heard mass,
made offerings, and going to the Guild house, or to the house of a
brother, they feasted together in love and good fellowship.


From Nichol’s _Vintners’ Company_.]

On this day the richer Guilds got up processions, shows, ridings,
pageants, and miracle plays. The internal administration of the Guilds
was by a Master—“Gruuman” or Alderman, stewards or warders, Dean,
and Clerk, the two latter being paid officers. Every Guild had its
own livery. Those Guilds which were purely religious were, like the
Corpus Christi of York, whose purpose was the conduct of a great and
solemn procession, to celebrate one of the most important of Church
doctrines. There were also Guilds for the performance of religious
plays, as the Guilds of St. Elene, of St. Mary, and Corpus Christi at
Beverley. There were Guilds for the repair of bridges and the building
of chapels. There were Guilds of priests, especially the wide-spread
Guild of Kalenders, so called because they, the members, met on the
Kalend or first of every month. This Guild in some places, as at
Bristol, maintained a school. Other Guilds, as that of St. Nicholas in
Worcester, and that of Ludlow, maintained schools. All these Guilds
were eventually swept away with the Dissolution of the Religious Houses.

II. The second kind of Guild was the old Saxon Frith Guild. There
remains the complete code of a Frith Guild of the reign of Athelstan.
In this

 “May be recognised a distinct attempt on the part of the public
 authorities to supplement the defective execution of the law by
 measures for mutual defence ... if it be indeed the act of a voluntary
 association, it forms a serious precedent for the action of the
 Germanic leagues and the Castilian hermandad of later ages.” (Stubbs.)

After the ordinary rules of the Religious Guild there follow others
connected with the distinct objects of the Society. Every member pays
fourpence, which constitutes an insurance against theft; the Guild
provides one shilling toward the pursuit of the thief. The members
are arranged in bodies of ten, one of whom is the head man; these
again are classed in tens under a common leader, who, with the other
head man, acts as treasurer and adviser of the hundred members. The
objects of the Society are the pursuit and capture of criminals and the
exacting of compensation. As regards the body called the Cnihten Guild,
it is dealt with elsewhere.

III. We next come to the Merchant Guild. This was simply the whole body
of merchants organised for regulation of trade. In a mercantile city
such a Society would of course be extremely powerful.


The statutes of the London Guilds were reduced to writing in the time
of King Athelstan. From them Brentano thinks that the Guilds in and
about London were united into one Guild, and to have framed common
regulations for the better maintenance of peace, for the suppression
of violence—especially of theft, and the aggressions of the powerful
families,—as well as for carrying out rigidly the ordinances enacted by
the King for that purpose.

It has already been stated that there are grave difficulties concerning
the Merchant Guild of London. We find all the other towns in the
country petitioning for the Merchant Guild unless they have already
such an institution. But there are no documents at all which show
the operation or the functions of the Merchant Guild of London. Some
historians are of opinion that the Merchant Guild ruled the whole trade
of the City, and that it was a body apart from the Portreeve or the
Mayor and his Aldermen.

Whatever it was before the creation of the Mayor, there can be no
doubt that after that important step all the functions of a Merchant
Guild were discharged by the Mayor and Aldermen. These functions
were, in brief, the regulation of trade. Now, in Riley’s _Memorials_
we have a great number of trades approaching the Mayor and Aldermen
with petitions not to regulate their trade for themselves; but that
the Mayor and Aldermen would be pleased to regulate it in a certain
manner; to bestow upon them certain powers; and to allow them to hale
offenders, not before any court of their own, but before the Mayor and
Aldermen. What is this but the authority of the Merchant Guild?

We have seen the rules of the Religious Guild. Let us now consider the
ordinances submitted to the Mayor and Aldermen by a Craft Company. The
following are those of the Pewterers. They are not the Articles of
Association framed when the Company was founded, but the rules by which
the Company regulated its own work:—

“Unto the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London pray the good folks,
makers of vessels of pewter in the same City, that it may please
them to hear the state and the points of their trade; and as to the
defaults, for the common profit, by good discretion to provide redress
and amendment thereof; and the points which are proper for folks
who are skilful in the trade, and are duly ordained, to support and

[Illustration: COOPERS’ MARKS, A.D. 1420

From _Coopers’ Company Illustrations_ in Guildhall Library.]

In the first place—seeing that the trade of pewtery is founded upon
certain matters and metals, such as copper, tin, and lead, in due
proportions; of which three metals they make vessels, that is to say,
pots, salt-cellars, _esquelles_,[15] _platers_, and other things by
good folks bespoken; which works demand certain mixtures and certain
alloys, according to the manner of vessel so bespoken; the which things
cannot be made without good knowledge of a pewterer, well taught and
well informed in the trade; seeing that many persons, not knowing the
right alloys, nor yet the mixtures or the right rules of the trade,
do work and make vessels and other things not in due manner, to the
damage of the people, and to the scandal of the trade; the good folks
of the trade do pray therefore that it may be ordained that three or
four of the most lawful and most skilful in the trade may be chosen to
oversee the alloys and the workmanship aforesaid; and that by their
examination and assay, amendment may speedily be made where default has
been committed. And that if any one shall be found rebellious against
the Wardens and Assayers, the default may be shown, with the name of
the rebellious offender, unto the Mayor and Aldermen; and that by them
he may be adjudged upon, in presence of the good folks of the trade,
who have found such default. And be it understood, that all manner
of vessels of pewter, such as _esquelles_, salt-cellars, platters,
chargers, _pichers_ squared, and _cruetz_ squared, and chrismatories,
and other things that are made square or ribbed, shall be made of fine
pewter, with the proportion of copper to the tin as much as, of its
own nature, it will take. And all other things that are wrought by the
trade, such as pots rounded, _cruetz_ rounded, and candlesticks and
other rounded vessels that belong to the trade, ought to be wrought of
tin alloyed with lead in reasonable proportions. And the proportions
of alloy are, to one hundred weight of tin 22 pounds of lead; and
these are always called ‘vessels of pewter.’ Also, that no person
shall intermeddle with the trade aforesaid, if he be not sworn before
the good folks of the trade lawfully to work according to the points
ordained; such as one who has been an apprentice, or otherwise a lawful
workman known and tried among them. And that no one shall receive
an apprentice against the usage of the City. And those who shall be
admitted therein, are to be enrolled, according to the usage of the

Also—that no person, freeman, or stranger, shall make or bring such
manner of vessel of pewter into the City for sale, or offer it for
sale, before that material has been assayed, on peril of forfeiture
of the wares. And if the material be allowable upon assay by the
Wardens made, then let the wares be sold for such as they are and not
otherwise. And that no one of the trade shall make privily in secret
vessels of lead, or of false alloy, for sending out of the City to
fairs and to markets for sale, to the scandal of the City, and the
damage and scandal of the good folks of the trade; but let the things
be shown, that shall be so sent to sell without the City, to the
Wardens of the trade before. And no one shall do any work in the trade,
if he will not answer as to his own workmanship, upon the assay of
his work, in whatever hand it be found. And if any one shall be found
from henceforth carrying such wares for sale, to fairs or to markets,
or elsewhere in the kingdom, before it has been assayed, and, before
the Mayor and Aldermen, shall be convicted thereof, let him have his
punishment at their discretion, according to his offence, when he shall
be so convicted at the suit of the good folks of his trade.


Also—if any one shall be found doing damage to his master, whether
apprentice or journeyman, privily in the way of larceny, under the
value of ten pence, the first time, let amends be made unto the master
by him or by his surety in the trade; and if he offend a second time,
let his punishment be inflicted by award of the trade; and if he offend
a third time, let him be ousted from the trade.

Also—as to those of the said trade who shall be found working in the
trade otherwise than is before set forth, and upon assay shall be found
guilty thereof; upon the first default let them lose the material so
wrought; upon the second default let them lose the material, and suffer
punishment at the discretion of the Mayor and Aldermen; and if a third
time they shall be found offending, let them forswear the trade for


And also—the good folks of the trade have agreed that no one shall be
so daring as to work at night upon articles of pewter; seeing that
they have regard among themselves to the fact that the sight is not so
profitable by night, or so certain as by day—to the profit that is,
of the community. And also—that if any one of the said trade shall be
found in default in any of the points aforesaid, he shall pay forty
pence for the first default; for the second, half a mark; and on the
third default, let it be done with him at the discretion of the Mayor
and Aldermen; and of these payments let there be given one-half to
the Chamber, to maintain the points aforesaid, and the other half to
the Wardens of the said trade, for their trouble and their expenses.
And that no one of the trade, great or small, shall take away the
journeyman of another man, against the assent and the will of his first
master, before he shall have fully served his term, according to the
covenant made between them, and before the said journeyman shall have
made amends to his master for the offences and misprisions committed
against him, if he has in any way so offended or misprised, at the
discretion of the Wardens of their trade; and whosoever shall do to the
contrary of this ordinance, let such person have his punishment at the
discretion of the Mayor and Aldermen.

Also—that no one of the said trade shall be so daring as to receive
any one to work at the same trade, if he have not been an apprentice
or if he be not a good workman and one who can have the testimony of
his master, or of good folks of good condition; and can show that well
and lawfully he has served his trade for the time assigned among them.
There were chosen and sworn to oversee the Articles aforesaid—Stephen
Lestraunge and John Syward, _peautrers_.

On Thursday next after the feast of Allhallows (1st November) in the
23rd year of the reign of King Edward the Third, etc., it was witnessed
before Walter Turk, Mayor, and the Aldermen, that Stephen Lestraunge
was dead, and that John Syward could not work; wherefore the reputable
men of that trade chose Nicholas de Ludgate and Ernald Schipwaysshe,
pewterer, who were sworn to keep the Articles aforesaid.” (Riley’s
_Memorials_, p. 241.)

These are the main points. No one can complain that they are drawn up
in the interests of the masters only. It is, however, to be remarked
that the regulation of wages, hours, and prices is not attempted. The
omission was doubtless designed as leaving such points fluctuating from
day to day by arrangement between masters and men.

In the chapter on City Factions it is shown that, a hundred years
before the date of their ordinances (1348), Thomas FitzThomas, the
Mayor, had allowed the trades to draw up statutes for themselves,
and had given them Charters which the following Mayors disallowed.
These statutes, we are told in contemporary authority, had caused
“intolerable loss” to merchants frequenting London. It is reasonable
to conclude that they were drawn up by, and in the interests of, the
craftsmen, and not by those who were able to take a wider view of trade
than protection and high wages.

I have drawn up a list of the trades whose ordinances, as given by
Riley, were submitted to the Mayor and Aldermen in the fourteenth
century, with the dates of the regulations so drafted, and the
subsequent date of the corporation as claimed by the present companies.

This document, like others in Riley’s _Memorials_, is most interesting
as marking a definite stage. The trades have now learned, after a great
deal of quarrelling, vague jealousies and suspicions, to formulate what
they call the “points” of their craft. That their careful and judicious
regulations, such as those I have quoted, were drawn up by the leading
men of the craft, the masters and employers, cannot be doubted. They
are not the work of ignorant men: they bear the impress of shrewd and
experienced employers, whose conclusions and recommendations were drawn
up for them by clerks skilled in the arrangement.

What is it that the Pewterers ask?

 1. That the Mayor and Aldermen will consider the points of their
 trade, and that they will provide redress for faults.

 Observe that they have no authority of their own such as they
 afterwards obtained as a company.

 2. An assay of the material.

 3. Admission, by apprenticeship, “according to the usage of the City.”

 4. Protection against “foreigners,” _i.e._ persons not freemen of the

 5. No secret profits by making vessels of false alloy for export to
 country fairs and markets.

 6. The responsibility of every workman for his own work.

 7. Penalties for damaging a master’s goods and for infringing the
 rules of the craft.


In the Guildhall Library, showing the Arms of the twelve principal City

  |                                                |Submitted|          |
  |                                                |   to    | Date of  |
  |                                                |Mayor and| Company. |
  |                                                |Aldermen.|          |
  |                                                |         |(Grocers).|
  | Ordinances of the Pepperers of Sopere-lane     |  1316   |   1345   |
  | Regulations made by the Armourers of London    |  1322   |   1422   |
  | Ordinance of the Tapicers                      |  1331   |    —     |
  | Ordinances of the trade called “Whittawyers”   |  1346   |    —     |
  |     „      of the Pewterers                    |  1348   |   1474   |
  |     „      of the Glovers                      |  1349   |   1639   |
  |     „      of the Shearmen                     |  1350   |    —     |
  |     „      of the Braelers                     |  1355   |    —     |
  | Regulations for the trade of Masons            |  1356   |   1411   |
  | Ordinance of the Waxchandlers                  |  1358   |   1484   |
  | Regulations for the trade of the Alien Weavers |         |          |
  |            in London                           |  1362   |    —     |
  | Ordinances of the Plumbers                     |  1365   |   1612   |
  |     „      of the Pelterers, or Pellipers      |  1365   |    —     |
  |     „      of the Tawyers                      |  1365   |    —     |
  | Regulations for the Taverners                  |  1370   |    —     |
  | Ordinances of the Court-Hand Writers, or
  |            Scriveners                          |  1373   |   1617   |
  |     „      of the Barbers                      |  1376   |   1461   |
  |     „      of the Fullers                      |  1376   |    —     |
  |     „      of the Hurers, as to fulling        |  1376   |    —     |
  |     „      of the Cheesemongers                |  1377   |    —     |
  |     „      of the Cooks and Pastelers, or      |         |          |
  |            Piebakers                           |  1378   |   1473   |
  |     „      of the Cutlers                      |  1380   |   1413   |
  |     „      of the Founders                     |  1389   |   1615   |
  |     „      of the Blacksmiths                  |  1394   |   1578   |
  |     „      of the Hurers                       |  1398   |    —     |
  | Ordinance  of the Fletchers                    |  1403   |   1570   |
  |     „      of the Writers of Text-letter,      |         |          |
  |            Limners, and  others who bind       |         |          |
  |            and sell books                      |  1403   |    —     |
  |     „      of the Forcermakers                 |  1406   |    —     |
  | Ordinances of the Brasiers                     |  1416   |    —     |

The triumph of the crafts was completed in the reign of Edward the
Third. At the same time it was a triumph which needed constant
watchfulness. This necessity is shown by the case of the rich
Pepperers, who seceded in 1345 and set up a company of their own. They
were so rich that they commanded the Market. A petition was presented
to the King complaining that—

 “Great mischief had newly arisen, as well to the King as to the great
 men and commons, from the merchants called Grocers (grossers), who
 engrossed all manner of merchandize vendible, and who suddenly raised
 the prices of such merchandize within the realm; putting to sale
 by covin, and by ordinances made amongst themselves, in their own
 society, which they call ‘the Fraternity and Gild of Merchants,’ such
 merchandizes as were most dear, and keeping in stores the others until
 times of dearth and scarcity.” (L. Brentano, _History and Development
 of Gilds_, 1870.)

It was, therefore, ordered that in future all “artificers and people of
mysteries” should choose each his own mystery, and should then practise
no other.

What was the power of the incorporated Company? The keynote of the
difference between the Company and the Fraternity was that the former
had authority and the latter had none.

By their new powers, the Companies took over into their own hands the
complete control of their trade. Henceforth the function of the Mayor
was to compose disputes and settle differences between the Companies,
especially in those cases where trades overlapped. The wardens, or the
master and wardens, called meetings of the Livery; at these meetings
regulations were passed; it was the duty of the wardens to enforce the
execution of their own laws. They had the right, which the Fraternities
had obtained of the Mayor, to examine the work and to destroy all that
was “false.” In all matters concerning the Guild the master and wardens
formed the only court: there was no Court of Appeal; their decision
was final. There were certain exceptions to their power; the Mayor
and Aldermen kept in their own hands the sale and the price of bread,
meat, drink and fuel. The punishments were, for light offences, fines,
either of money, of wax, or of beer and wine. For serious offences
expulsion from the Guild was the worst and last punishment. A man so
expelled could not any longer practise his trade in the City. We hear
also of ’prentices being flogged for acts of dishonesty or immorality.
Every man who practised any trade in the City must needs belong to
the Company of this trade. There would have been no power, otherwise,
to enforce their laws. What would be the good of calling order for
the execution of good work if a colony of workmen set up in the City
and refused to obey those laws or to enter their company? It was for
self-preservation that this rule was enforced. Afterwards it became a
weapon of oppression when the number of members was limited.

The care with which the Companies provided for good work was equalled
by the jealousy with which they regarded the admission of new members.
They looked to the moral character of a workman as well as his mastery
over the craft. They made him serve an apprenticeship varying from
seven to ten years. They received the boy in a manner calculated to
impress upon his mind the importance of the duties upon which he
was entering. At the close of his time he was, with like solemnity,
received as a member of the Company, and, therefore, a free man of the

Next to looking after the young men, the Company looked after the
tools. These were to be inspected regularly; they were to be “testified
as good and honest.” The hours were fixed: no one was to work longer
than from the beginning of the day till curfew, nor at night by
candle-light. One Company, that of the weavers, forbade any work
between Christmas and the Purification (Feb. 2). No one was to work
on Sunday, or on festivals, or on the eve of a double feast, or on
Saturday afternoons. The working men lost their Saturday half-holiday
by the Reformation; it has taken them 300 years to get it back again.

As for the ordinances which regulated the conduct of members toward
each other, I may pass them over. They were wise; they did what was
possible to prevent over-reaching, underselling, taking good servants
from a brother member, selling to one member indebted to another
member, and, in a word, creating and keeping alive the feeling of
brotherhood. Provision was made for those who fell into poverty. As
long as any member remained out of work no member was allowed to employ
any non-member; and the wife and children of a member might work at the
trade with the husband or the father.


From Welch’s _History of the Pewterers’ Company_.]

In course of time, very speedily in fact, abuses crept in. The trades
began to limit the number of members; the richer members seceded and
formed other companies—the shoemakers left the cobblers, the tanners
left the shoemakers; masters withheld their wages from the workmen;
journeymen were not allowed to work on their own account; nor could
they become masters; there were strikes among the men, especially
in the building trade; the journeymen formed companies of their own
which they used for the purpose of raising wages; in the year 1383 a
proclamation forbade the combination of workmen. Among the combinations
so suppressed were those of the “yomen” saddlers and the “yomen”

The ground thus cleared, the masters could use the Companies entirely
for their own profit and advantage. They endeavoured more and more to
restrict the number of members, and to make the handicrafts of London
the monopoly of a few families; in this attempt they were only too
successful; in the sixteenth century Bacon calls the City Companies
“fraternities of evil.” The masters made the apprentices swear that
they would not carry on trade on their own account without the masters’
consent. The weakness of the law is shown in the failure of Henry’s law
(1537); fixing the entrance fee of an apprentice at 2s. 6d., it rose to
40s., to £10; in the time of James the First to £20, £60, and £100; and
in 1720 to £500 and more.

As to the further degeneration and the final ruin of the Craft Guilds,
I refer again to Luigo Brentano.[16]

  “As the Craft-Gilds everywhere had sunk down to mere societies
 for the investment of capital, and as their dividends depended
 entirely on the exclusion of competition, it was unavoidable that
 the spirit of gain should lead them to restrictions which became
 always more oppressive for the public. The annoyances they caused
 were considerably increased by a process which, after the sixteenth
 century, was of frequent occurrence in all countries; those
 Craft-Gilds namely, which had hitherto comprised kindred crafts,
 split up into several, according to the individual trades. These
 then watched each other with the utmost jealousy in order to prevent
 encroachments on their mutual rights, and continually fought each
 other in endless lawsuits. Thus, for instance, the Fletchers and
 Bowyers in London separated themselves into two corporations in the
 reign of Elizabeth. One might wonder that, on the one hand, the
 workmen, whose position was so much deteriorated by the degeneration
 of the Craft-Gilds, did not at once overthrow their dominion, as
 the Craft-Gilds had formerly superseded the degenerated Gilds of
 the patricians, and that, on the other hand, the State did not, in
 the interest of the public, take any steps towards the abolition of
 the Gilds, which had already been desired so often. But as to the
 working-men, though their position, and especially their prospects,
 had been greatly deteriorated by this degeneration of the Craft-Gilds,
 their interest was rather a reformation, than the abolition, of those
 bodies. The Craft-Gilds maintained a number of regulations, which
 protected the working-men, and in consequence of which their material
 position appears comfortable and free from cares, if compared with
 that of the factory hands at the beginning of this century, when these
 regulations no longer existed. Uprisings of working-men are therefore
 to be found in those days only in consequence of infringements
 of Gild-regulations. But as for a reformation of the Craft-Gilds
 according to the interests of the working-men, the latter were not
 powerful enough to carry it out against their masters. These still
 held strongly together in their Gilds, and did not yet, as in later
 times (and as formerly the patricians), rival each other in weakening
 competition. The State also had changed, and no longer consisted,
 as before, of an organisation of many smaller states. As, after the
 sixteenth century, the State became in all countries continually more
 centralised by its kinds, it was not possible for the journeymen
 to act with the same facility as the craftsmen had acted in former
 times in the towns. Moreover, owing to the men’s isolated method of
 working, they had not yet acquired the same feeling of solidarity, or
 the same consciousness of the power of masses, as our factory hands
 since have. And as to the State abolishing the Craft-Gilds, Kings
 used the bourgeoisie as a support; first, as Henry VII. in England,
 against the nobility; and then, because they needed them for pecuniary
 reasons.... The causes of the overthrow of the Craft-Gilds arose in
 the bourgeoisie itself. These causes were, the rise of large capital,
 and its investment in manufacture. The 2nd and 3rd Philip and Mary
 already indicates the commencement. After stating that ‘the rich
 clothiers do oppress the weavers, some by setting up and keeping in
 their houses divers looms, and maintaining them by journeymen and
 other persons unskilful; some by engrossing of looms into their hands,
 and letting them out at such unreasonable rents as the poor artificers
 are not able to maintain themselves by, and much less their wives and
 families; some again by giving less wages for the workmanship of cloth
 than in times past, whereby they are forced utterly to forsake their
 occupations, etc.; it is enacted that no clothier, living out of a
 city, burgh, or market-town, shall keep more than two looms, nor more
 than two apprentices,’ etc. In short, the Act endeavours to protect
 the small masters against the competition of the rich capitalists. But
 neither this Act nor all the other attempts of the corporations could
 restrain the process of development, which, especially in consequence
 of a series of technical discoveries, threw manufacture altogether
 into the hands of the large capitalists. Handicrafts, and the
 corporations together with them, lost continually in importance, and
 only made themselves hated and despised in their endeavour to arrest
 the natural progress of event.”

Let us sum up the origin and development of the Guild.

1. We have the family united for the protection of all its members,
standing by each other, liable for each other.

2. Next we have the association of neighbours together, of many
families, to form guilds of religion and brotherly love and mutual

3. The crafts are found uniting for trade purposes, regulating the
production, jealously watching the standards of work, fixing hours of
work and prices, excluding foreigners, and importing raw material.
These trade unions had no powers other than those obtained by common

4. The formation of a Merchant Guild.

5. The rise of a City aristocracy who usurp the power, own the City
land, impose taxes, and are insolent towards the craftsmen.

6. The revolt of the crafts against the aristocracy and their ultimate
victory after a long struggle.

7. The creation of trade or craft companies, not guilds, solely for
trade purposes, under ordinances approved by the Mayor.

8. The conquest of power by the new companies.

9. The complete subjection of the craftsmen for five hundred years to
their own companies.





If churches and religious houses make up religion, then London of the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries surely attained the highest point
ever reached in religion. The Church was everywhere. In Appendices IV.
and V. will be found a list of the Parish Churches and their patronage.
The abbeys, priories, nunneries, and friaries contained a vast army of
ecclesiastics from archbishop to Franciscan friar: hermits, anchorites,
pardoners, limitours, somnours, church officers of all kinds, were
everywhere in evidence. No street but reminded the citizens by the
sight of a spire or a wall, that the Church was with him always, to
rule his life and to shorten his period of purgatory, on the simple
condition of his obedience. Religion endeavoured to rule the whole of
society: religion claimed to control the whole conduct of politics and
political economy: but the power of religion has never been equal to
her ambition: religion could not put a stop to war, or to the violences
and outrages of war. Had she been able to do so, the world would now
be held and bound in chains and slavery. Yet it was well that there
should be the Church to restrain men in some degree. She kept in her
own hands, so far, all learning, all science, all the arts, all the
professions. The forms, duties, and rules of the Church attended all
men from infancy to the grave. At the bidding of the Church the whole
nation, from the King downwards, renounced meat for a fourth part of
the whole year. This fact alone marks the enormous power of the Church.
For hundreds of years the Church preached respect for human life and
self-restraint with more or less vigour, and with more or less success.
Sometimes the Church has fallen upon evil times; her ecclesiastics have
been ambitious, worldly, licentious, avaricious; but they have always
been, as a whole, superior to the world around them. Thus it may be
said that the Church might always have been better, but that the world
was always worse.

Let us, then, briefly examine into what was meant by the Religious Life
of London in the fourteenth century.

There were a hundred and twenty-six parish churches in London. This
seems an enormous number for a population of not more than 120,000
or thereabouts. But we have to remember what the Church did for the
people. The daily services; the chanting of the daily masses for
living and for dead; the funerals, the weddings, the baptisms, the
visitation of the sick, the direction of Fraternities, the countless
observances and customs of religion, for all these things the Church
was the centre, and the parish clergy were the directors.

The boundaries of a parish were not at first rigidly laid down; they
overlapped the ward boundaries; they were matters of agreement: it
was not until the Poor Law made the definition necessary, that the
boundaries were finally and exactly laid down.

The multiplication of parishes was partly due, no doubt, to the desire
of expiating sins by building, endowing, and decorating a Church for
the good of the Founder’s soul. The census of the City, taken at any
time between the ninth and the fifteenth centuries, would certainly
show an almost stationary figure, lowered upon a visitation of plague,
or raised after a long interval without plague, pestilence, fire, or
famine. The average represented about a thousand souls to every church.
The origin of the City churches cannot, as a rule, be ascertained.
The oldest dedications of the churches seem to show that the London
parishes were settled before the Norman Conquest: most of the London
churches were probably built in or about the eighth century during that
strange outburst of religious enthusiasm, the first of so many which
have swept over the country.

London was a city of churches: one could not escape the sight of the
green churchyard, the trees standing over the graves, and the little
church among them. Nor could one get away from the sound of the church
bells. All day long, from daybreak until night, the bells were ringing,
not only from the churches, but also from the monastic houses. High
above the stroke of anvil, and the multitudinous roar of the industrial
city, rolled and clanged and resounded the continual clash of the
bells. What the boy Whittington heard at Highgate was not the chime of
Bow Church alone; it was the sound of the bells of all the churches and
all the convents of London ringing together.

I have estimated roughly that, with the parish churches and their
property, a full quarter of the City was occupied by the religious
houses and the places they owned. As for the proportion of the
population which was supported by the Church, we may form an idea by
taking the case of St. Paul’s Cathedral alone:—

In the year 1450 the Society, a Cathedral body, included the
following: the Bishop, the Dean, the four Archdeacons, the Treasurer,
the Precentor, the Chancellor, thirty greater Canons, twelve lesser
Canons, about fifty Chaplains or chantry Priests, and thirty Vicars.
Of inferior rank to these were the Sacrist and three Vergers, the
Succentor, the Master of the Singing-school, the Master of the
Grammar-school, the Almoner and his four Vergers, the Servitors, the
Surveyor, the twelve Scribes, the Book Transcriber, the Book-binder,
the Chamberlain, the Rent-Collector, the Baker, the Brewer, the
Lavenders (washermen), the Singing-men and Choir Boys, of whom priests
were made, the Bedesmen, and the poor folk. To these must be added
the servants of all these officers—the brewer, who brewed, in the
year 1286, 67,814 gallons, must have employed a good many; the baker,
who ovened every year 40,000 loaves, or every day more than a hundred
large and small; the sextons, grave-diggers, gardeners, bell-ringers,
makers and menders of the ecclesiastical robes, cleaners and sweepers,
carpenters, masons, painters, carvers, and gilders—one can very well
understand that the Church of St. Paul’s found a livelihood for a
thousand at least.

  _The Photochrom Co. Ltd._


The same equipment was necessary in every other religious foundation.
Not a monastery but had its great and lesser officers and their
servants. In every one there were the bell-ringers, the singing-men
and boys, the vergers, the gardeners, the brewers, bakers, cooks,
messengers, scribes, rent-collectors, and all of them were complete in
themselves, as was St. Paul’s, though on a smaller scale. Then if we
consider the Parish Churches. In some cases two priests were attached
to each Church for the daily services: if there were, say, fifteen
chantries, and in some there were many more, belonging to each, we have
over 2000 priests for the parish churches alone; there were, next, the
people belonging to each church: the choir, the sacrist, the organist,
the beadle, the sexton, the anchorite or ankress, say an average, in
all, of a hundred, including the families of those who were married.
This makes some 12,000 souls living upon the endowments and revenues of
the City Churches.

If there were eighty monks at St. Peter’s, Westminster, there were at
least a hundred people, all of them married and with families, in their
service. Now there were, large and small, about twenty-five Religious
Houses in and outside London. If we take an average of seventy people
of various trades attached to and living by each House, and an average
of thirty brethren and sisters, we have nearly 7000 people belonging to
them. To sum up, therefore, there were nearly 20,000 people in the City
of London and its suburbs engaged in working for, and living by, the
Churches and the Religious Houses. About one-fifth of the population of
London lived by the Church. This is a moderate estimate. The proportion
of ecclesiastics and their servants to the general population was
probably much higher.

The Bishop, in the eyes of London, was the greatest person in the
country next to the King: he lived among the people and was their
natural protector: he had his Palace within the precinct, in the
north-west of the Cathedral; he attended the Church on all the great
Festivals—Christmas, Easter, Ascension, Whitsunday, the Festivals
of St. Paul and St. Erkenwald, and also on Maundy Thursday and Ash
Wednesday (see Appendix VI.). He observed the greatest state possible
when he rode forth: there went with him, as he journeyed from one to
the other of his country houses, forty persons at least, including his
squires, his chaplains, the young monks entrusted to his care, and his
servants: he was profuse in charity: he was stately in his carriage and
splendid in his dress. As in the days of William the Conqueror, so in
those of Edward the Third, the Bishop of London, with the Mayor, stood
for the City, but the Mayor stood behind the Bishop.

The Cathedral, in the midst of the City, belonged to all alike: its
splendid services, the singing of the choir, the rolling of the organ,
the procession of priests with their white and gold copes, the ringing
of the bell every day seven times from daybreak till curfew for as many
services, the shrines of the saints, flaming with gold and precious
stones and rich embroideries, especially those of St. Erkenwald, St.
Ethelburga, and St. Mellitus, all these things appealed to the citizen
and kept him loyal to the faith.

[Illustration: THE PRIORESS

From the Ellesmere MS.]


There were, after the Cathedral dignitaries, the parish priests and
the chantry priests, with the great army of those who lived by the
altar; the anchorites and the hermits, the monks and friars, the nuns
and sisters, all the people who formed the service of the monastic
houses, the hospitals for the sick, the houses for the insane, the
lepers’ houses, the schools, and the colleges. The last named were
not places of education, but colleges of priests, of which All Souls,
Oxford, and the College of Dulwich are two survivals. In London there
were the Colleges of St. Thomas of Acon, in Cheapside, where is now
Mercers’ Hall; that of St. Spirit and St. Mary founded by Whittington
for a Master and four Fellows with clerks, conducts, choristers, and
an almshouse; St. Michael’s, Crooked Lane, for a Master and nine
Fellows; Jesus’ Commons for priests; and St. Augustine’s Papey for
old and infirm priests. Quiet and pleasant places all, where life
gently glided along; where there were no duties but the daily mass, no
Rule, no Austerities—the ideal life for the scholar among the books
of the library; and for those who loved to sit apart and meditate
among the trees and flower-beds of the garden in summer, or in the
glazed cloisters sheltered from the cold wind and frost of winter.
Outside, in the work-a-day world, what did the people think and
believe? The history of religion, or of religious thought, in London,
cannot be separated from that of the whole country. It is a history
of enthusiasms in successive waves. When the whole of England—in the
eighth century—understood, with a new and overwhelming sense, the
reality of Christianity; when Kings and Queens, Earls and Thanes
and noble ladies crowded into the monasteries, there to prepare for
the next world, compared with which this present world is not worth
considering, then the people of London for their part rebuilt the Abbey
of Westminster, and founded the House of St. Martin-le-Grand; they
divided London into parishes and erected parish churches; they created
guilds for the spiritual nourishment of those who could not enter the
Religious House.

During the two hundred years of struggle with the Danes and Normans,
these Houses were destroyed, or, if they survived, were carried on with
fewer brethren and a more slender endowment.

When order returned, and a strong King made it possible for men to
live without the weapons of war at hand, the mind of the people,
always a profoundly religious people, turned again to the realities
of the unseen world. Once more there awakened the sense of change
and decay and the worthlessness of things fleeting. The Court
Jesters—converted—founded hospitals; the City Fathers handed over the
lands of the City to the newly founded House of the Holy Trinity.
Monasteries, nunneries, and colleges sprang up everywhere. The new
foundations satisfied the people for another hundred years or so.
Then they woke up once more in the old way. The religious life, they
discovered, is not always found in the Religious House; the hood does
not make the monk. The Friars came over to the country; they showed the
people a new kind of religious life; one not separated from the world,
but moving and living in the world; one that saves the soul by losing
it and mounts to Heaven by the prayers and gratitude of men and women
whom it has lifted from the mire and slough of sin and disease and
misery. No more noble form of Christianity can be presented. Francis
discovered the very mind of the Founder.

For a hundred years and more the Friars kept alive the new religion.
This fell off; but their early teaching survived, and was the
foundation of Lollardy. When the Religious Houses were suppressed, the
people of London looked on without a protest; their work was done; the
City was again waking up to a new enthusiasm. The Reformation, the many
sects of the new Faith, the fanaticism of the seventeenth century, the
enthusiasm of the eighteenth, the Evangelical domination, the return of
High Church doctrine, the development of Ritual, all these things are
but manifestations of the same spirit which caused the Revival under
Henry the Fourth and the Puritanism of the Civil Wars. Many changes
pass over the face of London, but deep down lies, unchanged, the
ancient spirit of religion.

From Grangerised Edition of Brayley’s _London and Middlesex_ in
Guildhall Library.]

In the Parish Church, generally a small building erected by some
citizen who got a bit of the City carved out for his parish, there was
little splendour. Every day mass was said in the morning, and vespers
in the evening, by the Parish Priest: every morning the Chantry priests
before the side altars sang mass for the souls of their founders.
On All Souls’ Day the Parish Priest sang mass for the souls of all
Christian men and women. There was many a poor faithful woman who could
not find the money to pay for a Chantry or an obit, or an Annual, for
the soul of her husband or her son—though well she knew, poor creature,
how much he wanted that assistance. But she took comfort in the thought
that so long as the world should last that yearly mass would be said
for the benefit of all poor souls in pain.

The endowment of a Chantry generally provided for one priest, but often
for two, in some cases for three, and in one, that of Adam de Bury in
1364, for seven priests. In the fourteenth century there were more
than 70 chantries in St. Paul’s alone. There were also 111 obits or
foundations for occasional masses—making altogether an income of £183:
18: 3-1/2.

In the reign of Richard the Second, Bishop Braybroke found that some of
the chantries had fallen into decay, the endowments having been lost
or wasted. He united some of the poorer ones. He also ordained that
no beneficed priest should hold a chantry, and laid down regulations
for the chantry priests. They were to attend the choir offices day and
night; they were to take part in processions, funerals, and they were
to live in Houses provided for them or in the chambers of Chantries.
These priests seem to have given a great deal of trouble by the
scandals which they caused. It must be remembered that they were not
persons, as a rule, of scholarly habits; that their sole duty consisted
in the daily mass for the soul of their Founder; and that they had the
whole day to get through in idleness. They were also extremely poor,
the average stipend being £5 a year, equivalent to something like £75.
Archbishop Sudbury, in 1378, spoke of them in the strongest terms of
reproach, summing up his enumeration of their vices by saying that
their lives tended “in virorum ecclesiasticorum detestabile scandalum,
et exemptum perniciosissimum laicorum.”

It is not possible, I think, to make out how far the London craftsman
assisted at the Functions of the Church. At least once a year he must
go to Confession. The Pope made that rule in 1215. The craftsman
probably went to Confession at one of the greater festivals. Every
Sunday morning he must be present at mass. That duty was then, as now,
imposed on every faithful child of the Church. This law, doubtless,
he did obey. There were dues to be paid: he had to pay them; there
were friars who came begging: he contributed of his poverty; and he
must fast in Lent and on Fridays and on certain other days—about a
hundred days in all. In this point he must needs obey, because the
butchers’ shops were closed, and he could buy no meat. He had to get
married; to get the children baptized; to pay dues for the Vigil of
the Dead. Another important function performed by the clergy was the
reconciliation of enemies and the settlement of disputes by “love
days.” There are many references to the love days. _Piers Plowman_
constantly talks about them, and with bitterness, as if the Church made
the office of Peacemaker a means of enriching herself. Riley quotes an
ordinance forbidding people to make disturbances by getting up love


Harl. MS. 1319.]

The memory of one of these love days has been preserved ever since
the year 1484, when a dispute between two Companies of the City of
London was finally adjusted. It was on the 10th of April 1484 that
the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen decided a long-standing dispute
between the Company of Merchant Taylors and the Company of Skinners as
follows:—“The said Mayor and Aldermen, the day and year above said
taking upon them the rule, direction, and charge of arbitrament of, and
in the premises, ‘for norishing of peas and love between the Masters
Wardeyns and Fellashipps aforesaid’ adjudged and awarded that the
Masters and Wardens should dine each year together at their respective
Halls; the Taylors with the Skinners on the Vigil of Corpus Christi;
and the Skinners with the Taylors on the Feast of Nativity of St. John
Baptist; and as to precedency each Company was to take that on each
alternate year save that a Mayor of either should give that Company
precedence in his year of office.”

So the Decree has been observed 414 years, while “peas and love” have
reigned between the two Fellowships.

In the twelfth century we find the London clergy married, and married
into families of the highest position. Their marriage, therefore, was
not looked upon by the people, although forbidden by the Church, as in
any way blameworthy. In the Synod of 1108, and in that of 1125, both
held in London, the most stringent rules were laid down against the
marriage of priests. The title of wife was denied their wives, who were
called concubines; yet the priests continued to marry. Even in the
sixteenth century, when Skelton took Sanctuary against the wrath of
Wolsey, he brought his wife and children with him.

In the thirteenth century a renewed effort was made to enforce celibacy
as rigidly as could be done. The clergy of the towns, of London at
least, were compelled to keep celibate, but not those of the country
where the arm of the Bishop was weak. Holinshed, for instance, speaks
of the methods adopted in the year 1225 (ii. 358):—

“This yeare also, there came foorth a decree from the archbishop
of Canterburie, and his suffragans, that the concubines of preests
and clearkes within orders (for so were their wives then called in
contempt of their wedlocke) should be denied of Christian buriall,
except they repented whilest they were alive in perfect health, or
else showed manifest tokens of repentance at the time of their deaths.
The same decree also prohibited them from the receiving of the pax
at masse time, and also of holie bread after masse, so long as the
preests kept them in their houses, or used their companie publikelie
out of their houses. Moreover, that they should not be purified when
they should be delivered of child, as other good women were, unless
they found sufficient suertie to the archdeacon, or his officiall,
to make satisfaction at the next chapter or court to be holden after
they should be purified. And the preests should be suspended, which
did not present all such their concubines as were residant within
their parishes. Also, all such women as were convict to have dealt
carnallie with a preest were appointed by the same decree to doo
open penance. Where the question may be asked, whether this decree
was extended to preests’ wives or no? Whereunto answer may be made,
that as a quadrangle in geometrie compriseth in it a triangle, and
a quaternion in arithmetic conteineth a ternion; so in logike a
universall proposition comprehendeth a particular. But it is said here,
that all such women as had carnal knowledge with a preest, were to be
punished, therefore some, and consequentlie all preests’ wives. But
yet this seemeth not to be the meaning of that decree, for preests
were allowed no wives, naie Sericius the pope judged that all such of
the cleargie as had wives could not please God, bicause they were in
carne, which words he and the residue of that litter restreined to
marriage, admitting that in no case churchmen should injoy the rights
of matrimonie. Wherein they offer God great injurie, in seeking to
limit that large institution of wedlocke, wherein all estates are

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries we find the natural harvest
and fruit of this enforced celibacy.

It is not my desire to bring railing accusations against the morals of
the clergy. It is, however, quite certain that if a large body of men
without much learning or love of learning, to whom is assigned work
which occupies them for a very small portion of the day, are forbidden
to marry, and if they live for the most part among the lower classes in
the City, drinking freely, and as much as they can afford, the result
will be, must be, the prevalence of immorality among them. There are
plenty of examples and proofs of this condition of things. There is
the case in 1385 of Elizabeth Moring, who received girls nominally
as apprentices, but really to live a lewd life, and “to consort with
friars, chaplains, and other such men.” In 1406 we read of one William
Langford, chaplain, taken in adultery with Margaret, wife of Richard
Dod. In 1255 a certain Chaplain and Parish Priest took Sanctuary in St.
Paul’s and confessed to having stolen sixteen silver dishes. In 1320 a
Chaplain is taken up for being a Night Walker and carrying arms against
the peace. In 1416 William Cratford, a priest, is reported as a common
and notorious thief and hawker on the roads. In 1408 Riley reports that
the Letter Book about this time (Henry IV.-Henry VI.) contains “some
dozens of similar charges,” viz. of fornication and adultery. The way
they tried to check the vice and punish the offender was by forbidding
any one to pay or engage the incriminated clerk. This was done in 1413,
when two priests of St. Bride’s, Fleet Street, were taken in adultery
at the same time with two women in the Church. How far can William of
Langland be trusted in setting forth the truth without exaggeration?
One knows not. In _Piers Plowman_, however, the figure of Sloth is a
priest. He confesses (Skeat’s Edition, B. Passus v. p. 168):—

    “I have be prest and parsoun passynge thretti wynter,
    Gete can I neither solfe [Sol-Fa] ne synge ne seyntes lyues rede,
    But I can fynde in a felde or in a fourlonge [furrow] an hare,
    Better than in _beatus vir_ or in _beati omnes_
    Construe oon clause wel and kenne it to my parochienes.
    I can holde lovedays and here a reve’s rekenynge,
    Ac in canoun ne in decretales I can nought rede a line.”

Many other things point to the scandalous lives of the religious. Thus,
the Bishop of Lincoln—not London,—in the reign of Henry III., visiting
the religious houses in his diocese, searched the bedrooms and the
beds of the monks and friars, and caused examination of the closest
possible kind to be made in the nunneries. This would hardly be done
without grave suspicions and reports.

Another crying scandal in the Church was the appointment of foreigners
to high offices and benefices.

In the year 1245 an inventory was compiled of all benefices held by
foreigners and appointed by the Pope. It was found that the sum of
60,000 marks was annually paid to these foreigners. This means almost
a million of our money. The bitterness that this caused was so strong
that in many parts the people refused to pay their tithe or their
dues. There are other indications of hostility to the pretensions of
the Pope. A certain Carthusian of London was brought before the Legate
for teaching that Gregory was not the true Pope. The monks of Durham
refused to obey the Papal ordinance, which commanded every one who was
appointed as Abbot to proceed to Rome, there to receive the Pope’s
blessing. And the Archbishop of York, refusing to bestow the revenues
of his diocese on Italians and foreigners, was cursed by the Pope with
bell, book, and candle. This resistance, however, was before its time;
it was, in fact, two hundred years too soon.

In the year 1222 we hear of certain cases of cruel death inflicted for
religious reasons. They did not occur in London, but at Oxford. A man
was brought before the Council at that City charged with personating
Christ Himself—Holinshed says two, but Matthew of Westminster says
one, and it is impossible that two persons should both at the same
time pretend to be Christ. The impostor showed the stigmata upon his
hands and feet and in his side: he is said to have preached against
the abuses of the ecclesiastics. Indeed, there was never any time when
these abuses were more flagrant than in the reign of Henry the Third.
The man was clearly an enthusiast, one who had gradually become mad
with religious fervour, until he actually persuaded himself that he
was the Christ whose religion he tried to preach. The other was the
enthusiast’s follower and disciple. With them were two women,—when was
there ever enthusiast without a pious woman at his side? One of these
poor creatures had been assured by the leader that she was the Virgin
Mary, and the other that she was Mary Magdalene. Both of them, of
course, firmly believed the assurance. The whole four were tried, the
leader was actually crucified, in mockery of his pretensions, and the
women were “condemned,” most likely, to be burned.


The Devil with a Monk on his shoulders. A carving in wood supporting
one of the seats of the Knights of the Bath in Henry VII’s Chapel. It
is much mutilated.

A Monk at his prayers.
In the Chapel of S^t. Paul.

Philippa duchess of York died Anno 1433.
S^t. Nicholas Chapel.

Head which supports a large Beam
in the Chamber under the Roof at
the east end near Henry VII’s Chapel.

A Woman beating a Monk with her distaff. A carving in wood under one of
the seats of the Knights of the Bath in Henry VII’s Chapel.

The Coronation Chair.]

Against these examples of crime and ignorance may be set the fact that
there was never any such violent and unanimous attack upon the secular
clergy as we find against the friars. And we may fairly conclude that
Chaucer’s portrait of the Parson was drawn from the life, and that
there were among the London clergy many who might have sat for models:—

    “A good man was ther of religioun,
    And was a povre PERSOUN of a toun;
    But riche he was of holy thoght and werk.
    He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
    That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
    His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche.
    Benigne he was, and wonder diligent,
    And in adversitee ful pacient;
    And swich he was y-preved ofte sythes.
    Ful looth were him to cursen for his tythes,
    But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute,
    Un-to his povre parisshens aboute
    Of his offring, and eek of his substaunce.
    He coude in litel thing han suffisaunce ...
    This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
    That first he wroghte, and afterward he taughte;
    Out of the gospel he tho wordes caughte;
    And this figure he added eek ther-to,
    That if gold ruste, what shal iren do?
    For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
    No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
    And shame it is, if a preest take keep,
    A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep.
    Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive,
    By his clennesse, how that his sheep shold live.”

    “A bettre preest, I trowe that nowher noon is.
    He wayted after no pompe and reverence,
    He maked him a spyced conscience,
    But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve,
    He taughte, and first he folwed it him-selve.”

Chaucer makes the wife of the miller of Trumpington daughter of a
priest and brought up in a nunnery. On this fact Skeat has a note[17]
of comment.

“The statement, that the parson of the town was her father, has caused
surprise. In Bell’s _Chaucer_ the theory is started that the priest
had been a widower before he took orders, which no one can be expected
to believe; it is too subtle. It is clear that she was an illegitimate
daughter; that is why her father paid money to get her married to a
miller, and why she thought ladies ought to spare her (and not to avoid
her), because it was an honour to have a priest for a father, and
because she had learnt so much good-breeding in a nunnery.”

The Religious Life of a Mediæval City largely consisted of the monastic
life, and this again was divided between the monks and the friars.

The references to Monks and Monkery in London are, on the whole,
good-humoured, from which we may infer that there was little in the way
of serious scandal as regards their lives. The easy-going citizens did
not expect the most ascetic life in the world from the monks and nuns,
who were their own cousins, brothers, or sisters; they recognised it,
however, when they found it: for instance, they held the Carthusians
in the highest possible reverence, as a body of Religious who adhered
strictly to an austere Rule: never ate meat, and never went outside the
walls of the House. As regards the other monks, those of Holy Trinity,
those of St. Bartholomew’s, those of Westminster, those of St. Mary
Overies, it seems certain that they were latterly all of good family;
that the austerity of the Rule had been very much relaxed; that the
life of the Monastery was, as a rule, decent and dull; that it was very
far from being conducive to the development of genius or learning; that
it offered place and encouragement to piety of the gentler as well as
the more austere kind; that it formed a home for younger sons; that
it did not provoke animosity or indignation among the citizens. The
well-known case of St. Alban’s, quoted by Froude,[18] had it happened
in London, would surely have become known by the people. Chaucer, who
reflects the general feeling, has no bitterness at all towards the
monk. He depicts him as fond of hunting; he is an “out-rider,” one who
can go abroad on the business of the House; he rides a good horse—

    “And whan he rood, men might his brydel here
    Ginglen in a whistling wind as clere
    And eek as loude as doth the Chapel belle.”

He kept hounds; all his “lust” was in “priking and in hunting of the
hare”; he was dressed as a layman; he was fat and in good point; “he
was not pale as a for-pyned ghost,”—a picture of a man whose thoughts,
indeed, were not wholly set on things spiritual. Chaucer certainly
compared the man with the austere monk designed by the Rule he
professed, but without bitterness. He grants the old proverb,

    “That a monk when he is cloistreless
    Is lykened til a fish that is waterless”

(a proverb also quoted by William of Langland), but in order to show
that the contemporary monk was not of that opinion he adds:—

    “Thilke texte held he not worth an oistre.”

The rich clothing and unclerical garb of the monks outside the
cloister, and their fondness for hunting, are the principal charges
brought against them in the fourteenth century.


Drawn by Schnebbelie and engraved by Warren for Dr. Hughson’s
_Description of London_.]

Let us consider the actual life of a monk, a Benedictine monk. To begin
with, it is a great mistake to suppose that an Abbey was always and
for choice planted in some remote and secluded spot. As the people
of the eleventh and twelfth centuries no more acted without good and
sufficient cause than we their descendants, there must have been a
very good reason to justify the foundation of so many Religious Houses
within and without the walls of the City of London. Dear to many were
the quiet meadows beside the rushing stream, beneath the hanging woods,
far from the noise of men, of Tintern, of Fountains, of Dryburgh,
or of Blanchland: dearer to others the thought of the life close to
those walls, which held so much of violence, passion, ambition, and
crime, which their very presence would calm and shame and admonish;
of the men broken and ruined, of the women disgraced, to whom these
quiet cloisters offered a resting-place; why, to the very worst, the
most hardened of murderous ruffians, to such as Chaucer’s shipman,
pirate and murderer, the daily prospect of these walls, the ringing
of the bells, the voices chanting Litany and Laud, the sight of the
friars going about among them, the knowledge that these men and women
lived in abstinence from all that the world called pleasure; that they
possessed no property; that they desired none of the things which the
world desires; this reflection, the obtrusion of these facts, acted
as a continual admonition and call to repentance. Of course there was
the danger, the continual danger, always present in human affairs,
of the relaxation of the Rule; the loss of the first enthusiasm; the
decay of the first intention. A Benedictine who rides abroad dressed
like a knight with hawk and hound, for whom a hundred manors send up
their rent, their wheat and their game; who keeps a splendid table;
who admits to his order only young men well born; to whom the place
is like the College of All Souls, a House of Fellows with no duties,
ceases to be regarded with reverence on account of reputed piety. When
not even the memory is left of the early piety; when the air is thick
with stories of incontinence and greed; when the land is everywhere
parcelled out among the religious; then they become intolerable, and
must be swept away. We shall have to return to this subject. Meantime
let us consider the monastic life at a time when the monasteries
were at their wealthiest, and when the ancient Rule, although very
far relaxed, had not yet become an object of common contempt, when
the monks and friars had not yet quite fallen from their ancient
reputation. The time chosen for this view of the monastic life is that
before the Wars of the Roses, which greatly impoverished the Religious
Houses and at the same time deprived them of novices. Just as the first
incursions of the Danes emptied the Anglican and Saxon Monasteries, so
the long Wars of the Roses called out the younger as well as the elder
sons to the wars. Now, by this time, the rich monasteries were entirely
recruited from the younger sons of the gentry. Great nobles placed
their children in monasteries. Thus, Ralph, Earl of Westmoreland, had
twenty children, and three of his daughters became nuns. Edward the
Fourth made one of his daughters a nun. One of the children of Owen
Tudor and Katherine of Valois was placed in Westminster Abbey as an
infant, and there remained for life as a monk. Edward the First had
one daughter a nun. Thirteen daughters of nobles were in Ambresbury at
the same time. The fact that the Abbey was for gentlefolk is clearly
brought out by the list of names of the Westminster monks given in the
Podelicote case. This occurred in the year 1303. It was the robbery
of the royal Treasury or the Chapel of the Pyx at Westminster. Here
were kept many of the things required for the assay of new coins, and
at the time of the robbery the chapel contained an altogether unusual
amount of specie, about £100,000, equal to perhaps a million of money
in our time. The robber was Richard de Podelicote, who got into the
Abbey from the palace, which, as the king was away, was probably less
strictly guarded than usual. He climbed through one of the Chapter
House windows, and so into the Refectory. He carried away many of the
silver cups and managed to escape safely. However, he returned another
time and attacked the Treasury. For this he had to cut through solid
stone walls, and conceal his work; night after night he returned,
and in his confession he makes no mention of any confederates. His
perseverance was successful, and he took the money and all the gold and
silver things which could be conveniently melted down away with him,
but left behind the large jewels that he could not easily have got rid
of. However, the stuff was afterwards traced, not only to Podelicote
himself but to many others. Such is the story, and most amazing it
is. There is no doubt that the chief actors were hanged, though there
is no actual record of such a hanging. All the monks, forty of them,
were sent to the Tower, presumably for their carelessness in guarding
the Treasury. They were released after two years. In a letter from
the king we have a record of their names, and these names show almost
in all cases gentle birth. In effect, it wants no proof to understand
that the desirable endowments of a Religious House, whose Brethren were
like the Fellows of a College richly founded, would not be bestowed
upon the children of rustics and servants. Here and there, no doubt,
a rustic’s son might get advancement by the promise of exceptional
ability; but this was in the ranks of the secular clergy rather than
in the Religious Houses. The future monk was brought in, appointed
by interest, as to a very good thing, when a boy. It was extremely
difficult to procure such an appointment.

Founder’s kin, Benefactor’s kin sometimes helped; generally it was by
private interest that lads were admitted as novices. The monks were
not, as a rule, anxious to enlarge their numbers: rather to keep them
down, so that the revenues of the House should provide amply for all.
Sometimes admission was obtained by gifts or the conveyance of land.
I have said that during the Civil Wars the number of monks decreased
enormously; at Westminster it declined from eighty to thirty; at
Canterbury from a hundred and fifty to fifty-four; at Gloucester from
a hundred to thirty-six. This decrease was due, no doubt, partly to
the disastrous influence of the War on rents; partly to the demand
for fighting men; partly, I believe, to an increasing distaste for
the monastic life. The child fortunate enough to be appointed was
formerly presented in the Church as a novice; his parents first cut
off his curls, offering his long hair to the Abbey. They then placed
the chalice and the Host in his hand and led him to the priest at the
altar. Here they wrapped his hands in the pall of the altar, and heard
read a written engagement that they would not tempt the boy from the
House. After this the Abbot consecrated a hood for the boy and laid it
on him. He was then taken out, shaved after the fashion of the Order,
robed, and brought back, after which he was received with prayers.
It took long years to break in a novice, to teach him obedience, to
crush his will, to take the fighting spirit out of him, and the love
instinct out of him; in fact, if stories are true, the success of the
system was often incomplete in every point. The novice had to sit in
silence for hours, with down-cast eyes; he was never left alone to play
at freedom; he had to do everything in a manner prescribed by rule,
even the lifting of a cup at meals, even the carriage of the hands
when seated; things had to be said in a certain form; services were
frequent, and the singing of Psalms went on all day long and half the
night. The Church ceremonies were involved and elaborate. By the time
the novice was admitted he already knew every Function in the book, and
all the Psalms and Prayers by heart. By this time, also, the House was
all the world to him. What went on outside he knew not, the House was
everything—father, mother, brothers and kin; he had no ambition except
to rise to monastic honours. He had completed his education. If he
were a Benedictine, that education was liberal: he was taught grammar,
logic, Latin, philosophy, writing and illuminating, music, singing, and
the history of the Order. After his profession, the Benedictine theory
was that he continued his studies. If he did they were, in most of the
English Houses, sterile of results. At eighteen the novice made his
profession. There was then no retreat possible for him, he was a monk
for life. At first he was a Junior, and as such he read the Gospel and
the Epistle for the day; he carried a taper in processions; he read the
martyrology in the Chapter.

The services began at two in the morning with Matins; this finished,
the Choir went to bed; the rest sang Lauds for the dead; they went to
bed again and slept till daybreak or five, when they got up and had
Prime; at 9 A.M. there was Tierce; at 11 A.M. there was Sext; at 2 P.M.
there was Nones; at 6 P.M. there were Vespers. The monks went to bed
at eight, having given up eight hours at least out of the twenty-four
to services in the church. Eight hours were spent in sleep. One
hour was spent in the daily gathering in the Chapter House, leaving
seven for meals, exercise, recreation, and study. The rules were in
some cases relaxed for scholars, but, even making allowance for such
relaxation, it is clear that the monk, who was a student, was at a
great disadvantage compared with the student who lived outside.

The church was, of course, the most important part of the buildings
of a monastery. South of the nave was the cloister, with its four
walks, in which the monks spent their time when not in church; on
the east of the cloister was the Chapter House; on the south, the
Refectory; on the west, the Abbot’s House. Beyond the cloister were
the dormitories, the Scriptorium, the Misericordia, the Infirmary, the
Guest House. Beyond these were the Kitchen, Buttery, Pantry cellars,
Brewery, Bakehouse, Laundry, offices for making and mending, orchards,
gardens, vineyards, fishponds etc., and stables. An important House
had a great establishment to keep up. This was presided over in its
various departments by the Brethren themselves, whose offices will be
enumerated presently. This work occupied a good many of the Seniors. In
fact there were so many offices that it is difficult to discover how
they could find time for purposes of study. If they wanted to study,
or if they wanted to meditate, there was the cloister, but no other
place. Desks were set out there; but as the novices’ school was also
carried on there with, as sometimes happened, mechanical work by some
of the Brothers, it would seem impossible, according to modern ideas,
to carry on serious study amid such interruptions. It is a commonplace
to speak of the monotony of a Religious House. Considering that most of
the inmates knew no other kind of life, they hardly felt the monotony;
and, besides, we must remember that the House was filled with its own
ambitions, its envyings, its disappointments, which relieved it of
monotony. Who would not desire to be Abbot and to rank with an Earl?
The Abbot enjoyed that rank: when he rode abroad he was followed by a
retinue of a hundred persons; he could create knights; in some cases
he could coin money; he was guardian to many noble children who became
his pages; he administered a splendid estate. Or one might laudably
desire the office of Prior: he went first after the Abbot; he had his
own stall; he put on his hood before the others. Or there was the
sub-Prior: he sat among the monks and saw that every one behaved
properly; he also, at five o’clock in the evening, shut up the House.

Then there were administrative offices. These were the Altarer, the
Precentor, the Director of Ceremonies, the Kitchener, the Seneschal,
the Bursar, the Sacrist, the sub-Sacrist, the Almoner, and the Master
of the Novices. There were also the offices of less honour, but which
still conferred responsibility and even power; such as those of the
Infirmarer, Porter, Refectorer, Hospitaller, Chamberlain, Keeper of the
Granary, Master of the Common House, Orcharder, Operarius Registrar,
Auditor, Secretary, Butler, Keeper of Baskets, Keeper of the Larder,
apart from the mere service of the House, which required Baker, Brewer,
Carpenter, Carver, Sculptor, Bookbinder, Copyist, etc. As for the
morality of the monks, I am inclined to believe that the Religious
Houses maintained much more of their early piety than we have been
accustomed to believe. That they grew luxurious in their living, and in
some cases immoral in their lives, seems to have been due to the cause
assigned by Wyclyf and the Lollards—their great wealth. While they were
poor they lived simple lives; they practised the Rule; they worked at
copying Gospels and Mass Books; some of them kept Chronicles of their
own age—an invaluable service; they received the sick and the poor. In
the very worst times that the country ever experienced, the monasteries
stood up here and there over all the land to witness for justice, and
righteousness, and mercy. Bad as these times were, they would have been
far more ferocious and more cruel but for the existence and the example
of the monasteries.

At the same time, there were always scandals. Who could expect in a
monastery that all the younger monks should retain their purity? And
when there was nothing else to think about, who could expect men not
to think about their food? In the time of Henry the Second, Giraldus
Cambrensis relates that the monks of Canterbury had sixteen covers, or
more, with an abundance of wine, “particularly claret, mulberry wine,
mead, and other strong drinks.” And it is related by the same authority
that the monks of St. Swithin’s complained to Henry the Second that the
Bishop had reduced their dishes to ten. Upon which the King swore that
the Bishop should reduce the number to what suited himself, namely,
three. The monastic life expected of those who followed it, not a mere
obedience to the Rule, but a total absorption in the spirit of the
Rule, so that the Brethren should not look constantly for possible
relaxation and for indulgences, but should desire more and more all the
austerity possible under the Rule. And because there was everywhere
a falling-off from the austerity of the Rule, new branches were
continually founded, and new Orders continually sprang up, in order to
return to the ancient Rule with new austerities. When the Brethren fell
to relaxing any portion of the Rule, the downfall of the House began.
Then the spirit went out of the services, the meaning went out of the
offices, the sense went out of the Rules; the Brethren became either
like Rabelais, weary to death with the daily iteration of services, or
they became careless and sensual, evading and breaking vows as well as
the Rule; or they became dry sticklers for order and jealous for minor
customs, though the essentials had long been lost. This was already
the case in the fourteenth century. Decay was active in most of the
Monastic Houses; things were whispered; but still the bequests poured
in upon them from citizens rich and poor; people were loth to part
with the belief in the godly monks. And that there were still saintly
hearts in the cloister, still pious women in the nunnery, even in the
worst times of any, there can be no doubt. But, further, there can
be no doubt, also, that there was never any considerable or notable
body of scholars in the English Monasteries from the time of their
foundation to their Dissolution, and that no Monastic Rule ever devised
was calculated to create a love of learning or a school of students,
theologians, or philosophers.

The monasteries possessed a vast amount of property in lands and
houses. The lands were cultivated, and the houses held, in the usual
manner. I gather, from what is said on the subject, that monks made
good landlords, just, if exacting. In their schools they gave free
education, but not to all-comers. They also taught certain trades, but
not all; not those of a mere menial kind. Thus they taught carving,
painting, weaving, embroidery, damask work, enamelling, lapidary work,
music, and making musical instruments, illuminations, copying of
MSS., medicine, surgery, the making up of drugs and the composition
of cordials. Every Religious House had within itself a library, a
reading-room, a school, a burial-ground, a cloister, gardens, and
walks. Every novice brought some property. Everything, as I have said,
points to the fact that the mediæval monastery in England belonged to
the gentry and not to the lower class.

The monastic life in London was at its best in the twelfth century;
later on, besides the scandals, which perhaps were false or
exaggerated, we hear of relaxations, monks obtaining license for
residing outside the House, for “cutting chapel,” for indulgences in
wine and other things.

Let us turn to the Friars. There were five Orders of Friars in London:
the Franciscans, who came to London in 1224; the Dominicans, who
settled first in Oxford, 1221; the Austin Friars, whose London House
was founded in 1253; the Carmelites, or White Friars, in 1341; and
the Crutched or Crossed Friars in 1244. The most numerous and most
important of these, the most deeply loved and reverenced, were the
Franciscans, or Grey Friars.

The first appearance of the Franciscans in London was in the year 1224,
when a small company of them appeared and asked for a place wherein to
build themselves a humble lodging. They were granted a place in the
least desirable part of the City, close beside the Shambles, next to
“Stinking Lane.” Here they stayed. For many years after their arrival
they worked among the poorer classes of the people, silently and
without attracting much attention. Presently it began to be noised
abroad among the citizens that there was an extraordinary band of
Brethren who had no money and would take none; who had no food except
what was given to them; who went into the poorest and the worst
streets, who prayed with the dying murderer and comforted the dying
harlot, and attended the sick robber in a spirit of divine forgiveness
and love. Then the hearts of all went out towards the Franciscans.
Never was any Religious Order so reverenced, never were any religious
men so loved and worshipped by the good people of London. All the world
brought them gifts; they were ruined by the gifts; since they would not
receive estates, they must have gold and jewels; with the gold they
built a church, magnificent even in that age of magnificent churches;
since they must remain poor, they spent all their money on the church
and its decorations and furniture.

And then the inevitable decay set in; with so great a Church and so
noble a House the old begging for daily bread became a form; boxes
were put up in shops and houses, and the collectors came round at
regular intervals and cleared them; not a citizen of any substance but
left money in his will to the Franciscans; they received endowments
of chantries and obits; they took money for burying great persons
in the Church. The Friars grew careless and self-indulgent; the old
zeal for the poor died away; they were no more seen in the hovels of
the poorest. The Franciscan Rule, in fact, proved too severe to be
maintained in all its rigour. Yet the Dissolution of the Religious
Houses shows that in some particulars it was kept up. For instance, the
only property possessed by the Grey Friars when they left their House
was the rent of a few houses built within their precinct. They had no
estates. The great House, with its splendid church, was maintained by
the gifts of nobles and rich merchants; by the endowment, as mentioned
above, of chantries; and by the masses daily bought and said, or sung,
“for the intention” of the purchaser. It is the modern custom in some
Catholic countries to buy a mass before undertaking any enterprise;
even before beginning some necessary work, such as haymaking. This mass
is sung “for the intention” of the purchaser. There is, therefore,
reason to believe that the faithful purchased formerly, as they do
still, masses for “good luck.”

The rise, the extent, and the gradual decay in the respect held for
Friars is illustrated very remarkably by the _Calendar of Wills_. From
this valuable book, which may be accepted as a perfectly trustworthy
guide so far as it goes, I have extracted the following tables of
bequests to the five Orders of Friars. These bequests were sometimes
made collectively, so much each to all the Orders of Friars; sometimes
singly, so much to the Austin Friars, or the Preaching Friars. It will
be seen how the fashion of bequeathing money to the Friars grew and
increased and how it died away, as the popular respect for the Friars
decreased, and the new ideas spread.

Up to the year 1311 there are recorded in the _Calendar of Wills_ in
all five such bequests.

  Between 1311 and 1324 there are three                       bequests
     „    1324  „  1332   „    „  five                           “
     „    1332  „  1339   „    „  eight                          “
     „    1339  „  1355   „    „  fifty                          “
     „    1355  „  1400   „    „  one hundred and thirty-five    “
     „    1400  „  1412   „    „  seventeen                      “
     „    1412  „  1436   „    „  six                            “
     „    1436  „  1530   „    „  fourteen                       “

As for special and separate bequests, the Grey Friars, formerly the
most popular of all, obtained only one bequest between 1396 and 1436;
after that, _none at all_. The Black Friars got no legacies at all from
1413 to 1503; in the latter year one fell to them. The White Friars got
none between 1395 and 1503, when they got one. The Austin Friars got
none after 1395; the Crutched Friars none from 1460 to 1518. That is to
say, in the bequests, few and small, given during this period to the
various Orders, they get their share, but there is no special gift made
to any.

While considering the subject of wills and bequests, I ran through
the volume edited by Dr. Furnivall called _The Fifty Earliest English
Wills_. These were from 1389 to 1439. A brief analysis shows that
in most cases bequests are made to the parish church, either to the
High Altar, or to the “Works,” either of vestments, or of money to
the priests and clerks, or of money for masses, a rental of masses
or “the year’s mind” for twenty, seven, or five years. In seventeen
cases, or perhaps more, provision is made for the poor; in three cases
for prisons and prisoners; in three cases for nuns; in one case for
an “ankeress”; in one for mending the ways; in one for repairing a
bridge; and in nine cases for friars, either the recognised Orders, all
together, or one or other of them. But four of these cases belong to
the country; there are, therefore, only five belonging to London. The
period covers that when Lollardy was at its highest, and this result
confirms the conclusion arrived at by an analysis of the _Calendar of
Wills_; that, namely, as to the decay of respect for the Religious.

Then there are those wills published by the Camden Society (_Wills from
Doctors’ Commons_) which belong to the time before the Reformation,
viz. those of Cicely, Duchess of York, 1495; Dame Maude Parr, 1529;
Archbishop Warham, and Charles Brandon.

The Duchess of York leaves bequests to certain colleges named, to the
House of Sion, of which her daughter was prioress, and to certain
parishes, but nothing to the Friars.

Dame Maude Parr gives forty shillings each to the four Orders of Friars
in London, and twenty shillings each to the Friars of Northampton.

Archbishop Warham gives nothing to the Friars.

Engraved by J. Greig, from a drawing by J. Whichelo.]

Again, of bequests to the various Orders, between 1356 and 1412, there
are 110, between 1412 and 1544 there are only 7. The contemplation
of these figures, the amazing falling-off of such bequests in the
beginning of the fifteenth century, when Lollardy was rife, the failure
of the Friars to recover their old position of reverence, goes far
to show why in London the suppression of the Religious Houses was
effected with so little opposition. The people had ceased to believe in
the holiness of the Friars; as for that of the monks, it was perhaps
different, as we shall see in another place.

Since we have spoken of the decay of belief in the Friars, let us also
speak of the respect actually paid to them when their popularity was at
its height.

Shortly after the Black Death, a letter was sent by the Mayor and
Aldermen to the Pope, asking that a certain John de Werthyn, a
Dominican Friar, might be appointed Penitentiarius to the City. The
office itself was important. In Confession there were continually
occurring certain cases not provided for in the instructions of the
ordinary priest. In such a case the priest could only grant conditional
absolution. He referred it to his Bishop, who either decided it
himself, or, if it was one of an unusual and difficult kind, passed
it on to the Penitentiarius. If he, too, found the case too grave for
his decision, he referred it to the College or Court of Penitentiaries
at Rome, on whose official report the Pope generally acted. The Mayor
and Aldermen, after a preamble to the effect that their City had been
of late grievously afflicted by a dreadful mortality, so that the
merchants were not able to wait in person upon his Holiness, proceeded
to petition the Pope that he would “grant unto the venerable and
religious man, Brother John de Werthyn, his chaplain, a man of honour,
of approved life and manners, and also of learning, sprung from the
high blood of the realm, who alone of all others strengthens us with
the word of Christ, that he and he only, within the City may be able to
absolve the people being penitent.” They go on to ask that the office,
at his death, may be continued in the Order of the Dominican Friars.

The satires against the Religious Orders began within the very century
of their foundation in England. One, for example, given in Thomas
Wright’s _Political Poems_, belongs to the reign of Edward the First.
It is the poem called “The Order of Fair Ease.” The Order of Fair
Ease takes a point from every Order, of course it takes the weak
point in every case. To begin with, the Order is entirely confined
to gentlefolk—one wonders whether Rabelais had read this satire, and
whether any part of it suggested the Abbey of Thelema.

    “Quar en l’Ordre est meint prodhoume,
    E meinte bele e bone dame.
    En cel ordre sunt sanz blame,
    Esquiers, vadletz, e serjauntz;
    Mès à ribaldz e à pesauntz
    Est l’ordre del tot defendu
    Qe jà nul ne soit rescu.”

As at the Abbey of Sempringham, the Order is to receive both men and
women; but whereas at Sempringham there are walls and ditches to
separate the Brethren from the Sisters, in this Order there is to be
no wall or ditch or anything to separate them. Three times a day, at
least, they are to eat, and if they do it in company the Order will be
none the worse.

From Beverley they are to take the custom of eating and drinking well
at dinner, at supper, and at collation; and after collation every one
is to have a piece of candle as long as from the elbow to the finger
ends; and to go on drinking so long as the candle lasts.

From the Hospitallers they will take their long and sweeping robes.

From the Canons they will take the custom of eating meat three times a
week, and if on Fast Days they find themselves without fish, then they
are to eat whatever is in the larder.

From the Black Monks (the Benedictines) they are to borrow the habit of
getting drunk every day.


After a miniature from the “Statutes of the Order of the Holy Ghost”
at Naples. MS. of the fourteenth century in the Louvre. From Lacroix’
_Military and Religious Life in the Middle Ages_.]

From the Secular Canons, who willingly serve the ladies, the new Order
is to take that point and to be constant companions of the Sisters,
both before and after matins, so that the Order may not on that account
fall into discredit.

In the Order of Silence, each brother shuts himself up in his cell; the
new Order shall have the same rule, provided that a sister be locked up
with a brother.

In the Friars Minor the Brethren are ordered to take whatever
hospitality is offered them; but they take care never to rest at the
house of a poor man, so in the new Order the Brethren will on no
account take up their quarters unless where the owner is a rich man.

As for the Black Friars—the Preaching Order,—they may wear sandals if
they please and ride if they please. The new Order will always wear
sandals and will always ride.

    “Atant fine nostre Ordre,
    Q’à touz bonz ordres se acorde,
    Et c’est l’Ordre del Bel-Eyse,
    Qe à pluzours tro bien pleyse!”

To this we may add Chaucer’s description of a Friar. Now Chaucer
was of London town. This Friar was “a wanton and a merry”; he was a
“limitour,” that is to say, he had his “beat” in which he exercised
his craft. “He had made full many a marriage of young women at his own
cost”—that is, whom he had first seduced. He was greatly respected
as a Father confessor, on account of the easy terms on which he gave
absolution, so long as the services gave to the Order:

    “For many a man so hard is of his herte,
    He may not wepe al thogh him sore smerte.
    Therefore instide of weping and preyeres,
    Men moot yeve silver to the povre freres.”

He carried knives and pins in his tippet, because the Friars had now
become pedlars and carried knives, pins, purses, girdles, silk, etc.,
to sell in the country places. He knew all the taverns and every
hostler and barmaid (tapster); he was the best beggar ever known; he
could sing and play right well:

    “And in his harping whan that he had songe
    His eyen twinkled in his heed aright,
    As doon the sterres in the frosty night.”

Chaucer’s company contained other functionaries, but for our purpose
this is enough.

We need not suppose that the widespread hatred of friars indicated
any disbelief in their doctrines. That would come later, but as yet
there seemed no desire for change in doctrine. The people made songs,
and told stories, about the luxury, the greed, the concupiscence,
the license of the friars, but the convents remained, and the people
continued to cling to the supposed sanctity of the place. A man who one
day cursed the whole crew of monks, friars, and pardoners, the next day
begged for a letter of fraternity, by which he might participate in the
spiritual advantages of Carmelite or Augustine; he arranged for burial
in the Convent Church; he would be buried in a friar’s robe; he would
found a chantry, a trental, an obit, an anniversary.

It is difficult to understand the roving life of the friar. One
supposes that he was always attached to his Friary. Had he a license
to roam and beg? Was he a limitour, _i.e._ a friar licensed to hear
confessions and grant absolution over a certain district? Was he a
wandering preacher? Were the “simple priests” sent out by Wyclyf
mendicant friars? Did the wandering preachers, whether sent by Wyclyf
or not, all preach the same vague socialism? Some of these questions
may be answered with some degree of certainty. The Friars of the street
and road were nearly all sprung from the lower classes; even the
villeins sent their sons to become Friars and Priests. A very little
consideration of the vast army required for Ecclesiastical purposes,
poorly paid, with slender learning, with no prospects of promotion,
will show that the scholars of both Universities must have amounted
to an immense number, consisting chiefly of poor scholars, with a
license to beg. The Commons, in the reign of Richard the Second,
complained of the way in which the sons of villeins thus bettered their
condition by “advancement par clergie.” The clerks who issued from the
universities obtained episcopal orders, and in some cases took upon
them the vows and robes of the Mendicants. They then began to wander
about the country, preaching and teaching, living on charity, received
into certain houses; and so continued for the rest of their lives. For
the most part, they were careful not to ask for a license from their
Bishop; they had no papers; they were not attached to any House; they
roamed about from village to village, from town to town; in London
they preached in the streets, in the markets, at street corners; they
preached not only concerning things religious, but concerning things
social; and belonging themselves to the people, knew what the people
wanted, and preached accordingly.

One of them, John Ball, whose preaching has been thought worthy of the
historian, probably because he was considered to be so mischievous a
person, taught a kind of rough socialism. “At the beginning we were
all created equal: it is the tyranny of perverse men which has caused
slavery to arise in spite of God’s Law: if God had willed that there
should be slaves, He would have said at the beginning of the world who
should be slave and who should be lord.” A poor argument, because,
notoriously, we are not created equal, but unequal in every respect.
Also, there is nothing to show that the Creator did not say at the
beginning who should be slave and who should be lord. Froissart also
speaks of John Ball:—

 “This preest vsed often tymes on the sondayes after masse whanne the
 people were goynge out of the mynster, to go into the cloyster and
 preche, and made the people to assemble about hym, and wolde say
 thus: A ye good people, the maters gothnot well to passe in Englande,
 nor shall not do tylle euery thyng be common, and that there be no
 villayns not gentylmen.... What haue we deserued or why shulde we be
 kept thus in seruage? we be all come from one father and one mother,
 Adam and Eve: wherby can they say or shewe that they be gretter lordes
 than we be, sauynge by that they cause vs to wyn and labour, for that
 they dispende ... they dwell in fayre houses, and we haue the payne
 and trauele, rayne and wynde in the feldes: and by that that cometh
 of our labours they kepe and mayteyne their estates.... Lette vs go
 to the kyng, he is yonge, and shewe hym what seruage we be in....
 Thus Johan (Ball) sayd on sondayes whan the people issued out of the
 churches with another in the feldes and in the wayes as they want
 togyder, affermyng howe Johan Ball sayd trouthe.”

That many of the friars held and preached similar doctrines is proved
by the story of Jack Straw, who would have kept no other ecclesiastics
upon earth except the Mendicants. Their popularity, of course, was
advanced and preserved by the social doctrines they preached. But in
London they seem to have lost their popularity very early. In the reign
of Edward the Second the Preaching Friars had to fly before the rage
of the people, “on account of their proud behaviour. And Richard the
Second, in 1385, issued a proclamation against certain persons who,
instigated by the Evil Spirit, “do openly and secretly stir up our
people to destroy the houses of the said friars, tearing their habits
from them, striking them, and ill-treating them against our peace.”

The greatest enemies of the mendicant were the parish priest and the
monk. The former found himself abandoned; no one confessed to him; no
one listened to him. They were all running after the mendicant friar,
who spoke to them in their own patois, was one of themselves, who knew
their ways and their wants, and confessed them easily. And Jack Straw’s
rebellion showed what had been the teaching of these wanderers. Since
there were so many of them that alms were not always to be obtained,
some, as we have seen, became pedlars:—

    “They wandren here and there,
    And dele with divers marcerye,
    Right as thai pedlers were,
    That dele with purses, pinnes and knyves,
    With gyrdles, gloves, for wenches and wyves.”

Walsingham, a monk of St. Alban’s, says of them, “The friars, unmindful
of their profession, have even forgotten to what end their Orders were
instituted; for the holy men their law-givers desired them to be poor
and free of all kinds of temporal possessions, that they should not
have anything which they might fear to lose on account of saying the
truth. But now they are envious of possessions, approve the crimes of
the great, induce the commonalty into error, and praise the sins of
both: and with the intent of acquiring possessions ... call good evil
and evil good.”

And a popular song of the fourteenth century says of them:—

    “Full wisely can they preach and say;
    But as thei preche no thing do thei,
    I was a frere ful many a day,
    Therefore the sothe I wate.
    But when I saw that thair lyvyng
    Accordyd not to thair preching,
    Of I cast my frer clothing,
    And nyghtly went my gate.
    Other leve ne took I none
    Fro ham where I went.
    But took ham to the devil ye none
    The prior and the convent.”

From Froissart’s _Chronicles_.]

And see _Political Songs_, Edw. III.—Rich. III. vol. ii. p. 17, edited
by Thomas Wright:—

    “But the felliest folke
    that ever Antichrist found,
    been last brought into the church,
    and in a woonder wise;
    for they been of diverse sects of Antichrist,
    sown of diverse countries and kindreds.
    And all men knowne well that
    they bee not obedient to bishops,
    ne leege men to kings;
    neither they tillen ne sowen,
    weeden ne reapen,
    wood, corn, ne grasse,
    neither nothing that man should helpe,
    but onely themselves,
    their lives to susteine,
    And these men have all manner power
    of God, as they seyn,
    in heaven and in yearth,
    to sell heaven and hell
    to whom that them liketh;
    and these wretches weet never
    where to been themselves.
    And therefore, freer, if thine order and rules
    been grounded on Goddis law,
    tell thou mee, Jacke Upland,
    that I aske of thee,
    and if thou be or thinkest to be on Christes side,
    keepe thy paciens.”

And these are the questions asked of the Friar:—

    How many Orders are there?
    Which is the most perfect Order?
    Is there any Order more perfect than that of Christ?
    Since there is but one religion, how is a man an apostate who
      leaves his Order?
    Does the habit mean religion?
    Why do you stick out for your colours?
    Why do you eat flesh in one house and not in another?
    Why are you silent in one house and not in another?
    Why at initiation and profession do you pretend to be dead?
    Why do you build such splendid houses?
    Why are you not made Bishops?
    Can your prayers make any man better than his own prayers can do?
    Why do you preach that a man buried in your habit shall never
      go to hell?
    Why do you steal children for your sect?
    Why do you hear confessions of rich men?
    Why do you hate the preaching of the gospel?
    When you take a penny for a mass, what is it you sell? God’s body?
      Prayer? or your trouble?
    Since God knows everything, why write name of donor on your tablets?
    Why beg for yourself instead of poor men?
    Why do you not keep the Rule of St. Francis?

In the restoration of the City life of the fourteenth century, remember
that in every street we find the mendicant friar; at dinner-time he
walks into any house he chooses: “Peace be unto this house,” he says,
after which, by the Franciscan rule, it is lawful for him to eat of
all meats that are set before him; at the corner of the street there
is a wandering preacher denouncing the luxury and sloth of the rich;
his audience is composed of craftsmen in leather jerkins listening
with eager ears and intelligent faces. He is fat and well nourished;
he has a full, rich voice and a certain rude oratory that lays hold
of the people and constrains them to listen. There passes along the
street, in a ragged gown, a lean and hungry chantry priest; he looks
at the crowd round the preacher; he hears him talk the rough, strong
East Saxon dialect which has always been the language of the London
craftsman. He sighs, it is his own native patois, but he cannot talk
as this man talks; he is a poor scholar, once a licensed beggar, and
now a ragged, half-starved priest, having nothing but his little
chantry endowment. Yet, being a scholar, he could prove that this man
is all wrong. So he sighs and passes on his way. There comes next a
Pardoner with his box hung round his neck; that precious box in which
he has a finger-nail of St. Luke, the feather with which St. Matthew’s
Gospel was written, a piece of a stone thrown at St. Stephen, the last
footstep of the Prophet Elijah embedded in the rock, a piece of St.
Peter’s fishing-net—you can see for yourself that it is a fishing-net,
and other very precious relics. The box also contains pardons and
indulgences which this good man sells to the faithful. At sight of the
preacher, however, the Pardoner says nothing. In vain would he open his
box of relics and offer his parchment indulgences in the presence of
this preacher and his listeners. Lollards all! Lollards all!

There rides along the narrow street a monk with hawk on fist bravely
dressed. Behind him walk his men leading the dogs. They are going
to cross London Bridge and gain the wild heath country lying beyond
the Southwark and Lambeth marshes. He regards preacher and crowd
alike with scorn ineffable. It is the hour of Angelus—and from every
parish church, from every monastery church, from every Chapel, from
every College, and from the Cathedral, the bells call the world to
silent prayer. For a few moments all are hushed; the roar of London
is stilled; it was not the roar of wheels so much as the sound of ten
thousand hammers. The preacher is silent for a moment; his audience
take off their caps; the monk who goes hawking crosses himself; the
Pardoner stands bare-headed: it is but a moment, then the noise begins

The support of the church by the taxes or offerings of the parishioners
is a singular story of conservatism and of gradual development. It
was customary for the congregation on Sundays and Apostles’ days to
make offerings or oblations at the celebration of the mass. This usage
became regulated not by law but by custom, more binding than law, into
a payment of one halfpenny by every citizen who paid a rent of 20s.,
and one farthing by every citizen who paid a rent of 10s. The number of
days so observed amounted to 60, so that in the former case the citizen
paid 2s. 6d. a year, and in the latter case 1s. 3d. a year. Observe
that this custom amounted to an eighth part of the rent; applied to
modern custom, for an office in the City rented at £100 a year, the
citizen would now have to pay £12:10s.

Bishop Roger Le Noir converted this custom into law in 1228. In 1389
Archbishop Arundel interfered and increased the number of Apostles’
days to be so observed by 22 more, making the 2s. 6d. into 3s. 9d. An
appeal to the Pope was answered by his support of the Archbishop; but
the citizens continued to grumble. In 1535, probably with the desire
of making the Londoners pleased with his ecclesiastical changes, Henry
reduced the 3s. 5d. to 2s. 9d. And so the tax remained, until the Fire
of 1666 necessitated a revision of the law.



The furniture of a London church was elaborate to a degree which
astonishes those accustomed to a simple Anglican ritual. It would also,
I believe, astonish the modern Catholic priest when he thinks of his
own village church. The Book of the _Visitation of Churches belonging
to St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1297 and in 1458_ (Camden Society, edited
by W. Sparrow Simpson, D.D.) enables us to understand the extent and
the wealth of these churches. The font, of which many specimens still
remain, was generally of stone, but sometimes of marble, and sometimes
of wood. It was kept locked lest the consecrated water should be used
for superstitious purposes. The water was changed every week. The altar
was sometimes of stone; when it was of wood a superaltar of marble or
stone or jasper, with feet of silver, was placed upon it. An altar
frontal was generally found, sometimes of carved wood, sometimes of
embroidered work. On the altar were two chalices, one of silver or
silver-gilt, and one of tin; there was a small cross, called _crux
parva_, to distinguish it from the rood; there were _phialæ_ and a
_ferrum_ or stamp for stamping the altar bread with the letters XPC,
IHC, DS. There was a _pix_ or tabernacle for the reservation of the
Eucharist. This was sometimes a very beautiful casket of glass, ivory,
copper, silver, or enamel, hanging over the altar with canopies.
There was the _crismatorium_, with its oil for the sick; there were
the carpets before the altar; the curtains and the veils. There were
various kinds of candlesticks and candelabra of copper, brass, pewter,
or even of wood. The expenses of the lights were defrayed by a kind
of rate. A tenant who had a cow paid 12d. a year, one who had an ewe
paid 2d., one who had a wether 1d., and the possessor of a sow 2d. Of
bells there were those hanging in the tower, and the small hand-bells
rung at funerals and at masses. There was a processional cross; there
were banners; the lectern had its hangings; there were chests for the
reception of the robes and relics; there were seats for the clergy, but
none for the people, who either stood or knelt on their own cushions.
The _pax_ or _osculatorium_ was a tablet of wood, or other material,
which was kissed by the celebrant. At only two of the churches in
the Visitation were there any organs. Then there were the robes and
veils; the dalmatic, the chasuble, the choir cope, the surplice,
the canopy held over the newly-married pair, the Lenten veil which
covered everything during Lent, etc. Then came the books—the _Legenda_,
_Antiphonare_, _Gradale_, _Psalterium_, _Troparium_, _Ordinale_,
_Missale_, _Manuale_, _Epistolarium_, _Processionale_. Many of these
books were kept in duplicate: we can very well understand how the books
would be constantly wearing out by daily use. To replace them in a
poor parish was a work of great expense and trouble. Yet these things
were considered necessaries in every church, however humble. What was
to be expected of the great churches endowed and furnished by princes,
nobles, and rich merchants?

Engraved from the original.]

The following is a list of the treasures belonging to the Church of St.
Laurence Jewry:—

  “Five great bells and two small bells.

 One auter cloth with a nether part and a border of whit damaske
 imbrodered upon the same flowers and imags.

 One payer of certens of whit sarcenet with frenges.

 One awter cloth with a nether part and a border of cloth of golde.

 One payer of certens of sylke stayned.

 One auter cloth with a nether part and a border of red velvet with
 koges and one payer of sylk certyns stayned.

 One nether part of an awter cloth and a border of satten with flowers
 wrought upon the same and one payer certyns of sarcenet.

Harl. MS. 1319, page 12.]

 One awter cloth with a nether part and a border of damaske and one
 payer of certyns of sylk.

 One cope of cloth of gold the grownde beeinge red.

 One cope of cloth of gold the grownde beeinge blew.

 One cope with a vestment of whit damaske wroght upon red flowers of
 golde and fflanmells pertayninge to the same.

 One cope with a vestment of koges and fflamels to the same.

 One cope of red velvet imbrodered with buds and cards of golde.

 One cope of blew velvet imbrodered with golde and images and also

 One vestment of red velvet with fflowers of golde.

 One vestment of dornyx bodkyn.

 One awter cloth of red velvet with fflowers of golde and y borders
 pertayninge to the same.

 One awter cloth with a nether part of blewe sarcenet imbrodered with
 garters and iiij certins of sarcenet.

 xvij awter clothes of linen cloth ix borders and xx certyns all

 ij awter clothes of lynne stayed with half-pencers.

 ij borders of stayed cloth.

 j awter cloth of ginger collered velvet with a border to the same.

 j clothe of blewe velvet that went abowt the sepulchre.

 viij lynnen clothes used in the tyme of Lent and vj certins of lynen
 clothe pertayninge to the same.

 ij copes of grene silk demyn and j cope of red velvet imbrodered with
 gold and images.

 iij borders and a font clothe all stayned.

 iij certyns of blew and yellow buckram.

 iiij certyns of sarcenett red and greene.

 iiij certyns of saye yellow and red.

 iiij certyns of red say and ij vayle clothes.

 j curten of blak sarcenett with silk frenges.

 xli gaulbez and xxx hed cloths all lynen cloths.

 j corporas case of cloth of golde.

 vj corporas cases of dyvers sorts and v corporas cloths.

 A box of coper otherwise called the pix-box with a cower of sarcenett.

 ij pewter dyshes.

 j gilt cup with a patten all gilt.

 i chalis all gilt without a patten.

 ij chalices parcell gilt with ij patens.

 iiij crosse staves ij of wode and ij of coper.

 j clothe of hear (_i.e._ hair) to laye upon an auter.

 xvij cosshens of sylke.

 ix candlesticks of latten smale and great.

 ij sencers of latten.

 iiij stoks of latten for water.

 j greate deske of latten.

 iiij rods of irone and a fier sholven (_sic_, _i.e._ shovell).

 Certayne olde leade iiij paxes.

 xx dieper towells and xv dieper auter clothes.

 x playn awter clothes.

 xi players cotts of lynnen cloth stayned.

 ij bere clothes to cast upon a coffyn the j bodkyn sylke and the other
 of lynen cloth stayned.

 xvij banners and strements of silke stayned.

 viij banners of cloth stayned.

 viij banner staves.

 j Bible.

 ij payer of organs.”

Among the minor offices of the Church, that of the blessing of the
widow may be mentioned. The _Benedictio Viduæ_ accompanied the vow of
future chastity.

Between the Gospel and the Epistle the widow knelt before the
Bishop sitting on a fald stool. He asked her in the presence of the
congregation if she were willing to become the spouse of Christ and to
give up the lusts of the flesh. She then read, or caused to be read,
the following profession:—“I, A. B., avow to God perpetual chastity
of my body from henceforward, and in the presence of the Honourable
Father in God, My Lord by the Grace of God, Bishop of C., I promise
steadfastly to live in the Church a widow. Then the Bishop blessed the
ring, sprinkled it with holy water, and put it on the widow’s finger as
a sign of her marriage with Christ, saying:—

“Accipe, Famula Christi, annulum Fidei signum, connubii indicium,
quem devota deferas, casta custodias, quo ad amplexus divini sporsi
coronanda perficias. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Oremus.”

He then said certain prayers, and the ceremony was completed. Of
this ceremony Furnivall quotes a remarkable instance. In the year
1231 Eleanor, sister of Henry the Third (and widow of William, Earl
of Pembroke, who died 15th April 1231), took the vow before Edmund,
Archbishop of Canterbury, and Richard, Bishop of Chichester. Seven
years later, however, she married Simon de Montfort. The Archbishop
protested, and a dispensation was obtained from the Pope.

In 1351 Philippa, widow of Guy, son of Thomas, Earl of Warwick, took
the vow in these words:—

“En le nom de le Seint Trinitie, Piere, Fils et Seint Esprit jeo
Philippa que fu la feme Sire Guy de Warwyst face puriment et des queor
et voluntie entierement, avow a Dieu et Seint Eglise, et a la benure
Virgin Marie et a tout le bel compaigne delestine et a vous reverent
Piere en Dieu Sir Reynaud per le Grace de Dieu Evesque de Wircester que
jeo ameneray ma vie en chastitee defoie en avant, et chaste ferra de
mon corps a tout temps de ma vie.”



The influence of the Church on the daily life of London may be
illustrated by a brief Calendar of the Ecclesiastical Year and of the
observances of the people. It is needless to remind ourselves that
these observances included an immense collection of old traditions,
ancient pagan customs, and superstitions grafted on the association of
these days with Church history and doctrine. (See Appendix VI.) The
year began with the holy season of Advent, when the Wednesdays and
Fridays were days of that complete Fasting which allowed of one meal
only in the day, and that without meat. On Christmas Eve, and also
on St. Agnes’ Eve, girls practised certain divinations to see what
husbands they would get. Thus, they wrote the names of men on onions
and laid them by the fire: the part to sprout or burst was that which
contained the name of the coming lover; and since it was important to
know what kind of husband he would be, the maiden went to the woodstack
and pulled out a stick: if it were a straight and even stick, with
no knots, he would be a kind and gentle husband; if it were crooked
or knotty, resignation must be cultivated. At Christmas there were
mummings and feasts and merrymakings; the rooms were decked with holly
and all kinds of green branches; there were pageants, masques, and
moralities. In the church was acted the Nativity, with the angels and
the shepherds and the Child in the cradle; in some places children
danced before the altar. On the day of St. Stephen horses were made
to gallop about, and were bled to keep them well throughout the year.
On the day of St. John the people bought of the priests manchets made
with hallowed wine as a preventive against storms. At Childermasse—28th
December,—Innocents’ Day, they whipped the children so that they might
remember the slaughter of the Innocents. Then came the New Year:—

    “Then giftes the husband gives his wife and father eke the child
    And master on his men bestows the like with favor milde:
    And good beginning of the year they wish and wish again,
    According to the ancient guise of heathen people vaine:
    Then eight days no man doth require his dettes of any man
    Their tables do they furnish out with all the meat they can.”

The month of January was a time of great revelry, simply because the
short day brought work to a close between four and five, and left a
long evening.

    “In January men do play
      In cards and dice their time away;
    Now men and maids do merry make
      At stoolball and at barley break.”

On Twelfth Day they chose a king by lottery of the Cake: the king
was lifted up on the hands of the others while he traced the sign of
the Cross upon every rafter in the roof. This blessed sign kept off
Devils. Another singular custom on this day was that the master of the
house at eventide set down a loaf of bread on the hearth, and strewed
frankincense on a pan of coals. He then, followed by the whole of his
household, inhaled the fumes. This was to keep them all during the year
to come from toothache, earache, or any malady of the eyes and nose.
When all had thus fortified themselves, they took up the loaf and the
pan of coals and bore them round the house. In so simple a way were
they enabled to insure themselves against want of food and the power
of witches. On Candlemas Day, 2nd February, every one offered a taper.
These tapers were sovereign for keeping off ghosts, lightning, storm,
and tempest. On the day of St. Blasius, they procured, at great cost,
water made holy by being passed through one of the Saint’s bones.
Barrels of this water were sold. Valentine’s Day they observed with
zeal; says John Lydgate:—

    “Seynte Valentyn, of custom yeere by yeere
      Men have an usance in this regioun,
    To loke and serche Cupid’s Kalendere,
      And chose theyr choyse by grete affectioun:
    Such as ben prike with Cupid’s nocioun,
      Takyng theyr choyse as theyre sort doth falle:
    But I love oone which excellith alle.”

Shrove Tuesday brought a very madness of revelry: the people dressed
up like wild beasts and ran about the streets; they danced; they made
shows; they feasted and drank. The street processions did not end with
Shrove Tuesday, they were carried over to Ash Wednesday, when every one
paraded the streets carrying a herring on a pole and singing doggerel.
And the approach of spring was celebrated by the following rough sport,
evidently an ancient custom:—

    “In some place all the youthful flocke with minstrels doe repaire,
    And out of every house they pluck the girles and maidens faire;
    And them to plough they straitway put, with whip one doth them hit:
    Another holds the plough in hand: the Minstrel here doth sit
    Amid the same and drunken songs with gaping mouth he sings
    Whom foloweth one that sows out sande, or ashes fondly flings.
    When thus they through the streets have plaied, the man that
      gardeth all
    Doth drive both plough and maidens through some pond or river small:
    And dabbled all with dirt, and wringing wet as they may bee
    To supper calls and after that to dancing lustilee.”

Then fell upon the City a time of great sadness. In the churches the
images were covered up with painted cloths, on which was declared, one
knows not how, the “Wrath and furie great of God”; the butchers’ stalls
were closed; the shambles were innocent of blood; the cooks’ shops
furnished nothing but fish; and devout people, and men and women of
religion, took but one meal in the day. On Palm Sunday there was the
Procession of the Entry into Jerusalem; after the Procession and Mass
the boys led the Ass about the parish begging for money and eggs.

For three days before Easter in this City of multitudinous bells—bells
of monasteries, bells of colleges, bells of hospitals, bells of
churches—there was a stillness profound. No bells were rung at all.
The sexton climbed the tower or the steeple and called to mass with a
wooden clapper. The boys ran about the streets with wooden clappers
calling the people to church. It is even said that during the solemn
darkness of the Tenebrose, the ’prentices carried on a free fight. And
during this week the curious custom was observed of bringing into every
great man’s house a twisted tree. At Easter Eve all fires were put out
and renewed from flint and steel. The water for baptism was hallowed
with a procession of crosses, tapers, and banners. It was lucky to
carry some banner. On Easter Day the Resurrection was represented in
many churches. On this day, also, people ate radishes to keep off
agues. On one of the three days before the Ascension the parish bounds
were beaten by the parish beadles and a pack of boys. On Ascension
Day it was the custom to eat birds, for their upward flight was held
to be a symbol of the Ascension. At church the image of our Lord was
literally pulled up to the roof with ropes, while an image of Satan was
thrown down and broken to pieces.

On Whit Sunday white pigeons and doves were set free in the church. On
Corpus Christi Day, the Host was carried about in a procession followed
by representations of the Saints.

    “Fayre Ursley with her maidens all, doth passe amid the wayes:
    And valiant George with speare that killed the dreadful dragon here:
    The Devil’s house is drawn about where in there doth appere
    A wondrous sorte of damned sprites, with foule and fearful looke:
    Great Christopher doth wade and pass with Christ around the brooke:
    Sebastian full of feathered shafts the dint of dart doth feel:
    Then walketh Kathren with hir sworde in hande and cruel wheele:
    The Challis and the Singing Cake with Barbara is led,
    And sundrie other Pageants playde in worship of their bred.

    Saint John before the Bred doth go, and poynting towards him,
    Doth show the same to be the Lambe that takes away our sinne:
    On whom two cladde in Angels’ shape to sundrie flowers fling
    A number great of salving belles with pleasant sound doe ring.”

On the Feast of John the Baptist bonfires were lighted and the young
people danced in the street, a survival of the midsummer rejoicings.
Every house on this evening was decorated with leaves and branches,
green birch, fennel, white lilies, St. John’s wort and garlands,
with variegated lamps, which were hung up everywhere. There were
miracle plays enacted in the summer on carts and wheeled machines. At
Martinmas, 11th November, the beginning of winter, roast goose was
eaten, and boys went about singing:

    “It is the Day of Martilmass
      Cuppes of ale should freely passe:
    What though winter has begun
      To push down the shining sun?
    To our fire we can betake,
      And sit beside the crackling brake,
    Never heeding winter’s face
      On the day of Martilmass.”

The religious functions of the Lord Mayor and Corporation were many,
and were considered inseparable from the office. I have elsewhere
called attention to the point that it is futile to ask whether any
mediæval Foundation, Corporation, or Institution was religious in
character, because at that time nothing could be considered which was
not based upon, or supported by, religion.

The following are some of the religious duties imposed upon the
Mayor. On the morrow of SS. Simon and Jude the Mayor, newly elected,
took the oaths at the Exchequer in the morning. He then dined, and
after dinner he proceeded to the Church of St. Thomas of Acon, where
prayers were said. Thence he went in procession to St. Paul’s, where,
kneeling in the nave, he prayed for the soul of Bishop William, who
saved the liberties of the City at the Norman Conquest. After this he
went out into the churchyard, where he prayed for the souls of the
Martyr’s parents buried there. This done, he returned to the Church
of St. Thomas of Acon, where he and the Aldermen made an offering.
This conclusion of the afternoon’s ceremonies was conducted, if it was
already dark, by torchlight.

On the Day of All Saints the Mayor with his household, the Aldermen
with their households, and the substantial citizens, all marched
together to St. Paul’s and heard vespers.

On Christmas Day they again went to St. Paul’s to hear vespers and
compline, the Mayor sitting on the right hand of the Dean.

On Whit Monday the Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs met in the Church of
St. Peter, Cornhill: they were met by the clergy of the City churches,
and, a procession being formed in which the clergy led the way, they
walked through Chepe to St. Paul’s. Entering by the north side they
were met by the officials of the Cathedral, and escorted through the
transepts to the south side, where they went out, and walking through
“the Close of Watling Street,” _i.e._ the south part of St. Paul’s
Precinct, they entered at the great door of the west. In the nave they
heard the hymn, “Veni Creator,” while a winged angel in white robes
censed the people from the roof. This done, the Mayor advanced to
the Altar and laid his offering upon it. It will be observed that he
represented the City, and prayed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit
not for himself but for the whole City.

On Whit Tuesday the same ceremony was observed. But the procession was
formed at the Church of St. Michael le Querne, outside the Precinct
of Paul’s, and was joined by the common folk of Middlesex. The same
ceremony was performed in the Cathedral. On Whit Wednesday the same
ceremony was performed for the third time, but with the common folk of
Essex. The Mayor on these two days represented, therefore, the people
of two counties.

From Wadmore’s _Some Account of the Worshipful Company of Skinners_.]

There were many other occasions in the year when the Mayor went in
state to certain City churches.

On occasions of rejoicings there were also special visits. Thus, on the
news of the birth of Edward the Third the Mayor and Aldermen repaired
immediately to the Cathedral, where the Bishop sang mass, and after
mass, to the sound of trumpets, the Mayor and Aldermen “led the Carol”
(“menerent la Karole”). A few days after a great pageant was celebrated
in the City.

Mention is made above of one or two charms against certain diseases.
It must not be forgotten that for every disease there was a saint who
could ward it off. It was part of the wise woman’s lore to know all
these saints and to invoke their aid when she applied her herbs. Here
is a list:—St. Appolus preserved the teeth, St. Otilia the eyes, St.
Vitus the brain, St. Laurence the back and shoulders, St. Valentine
prevented the falling sickness, St. Erasmus saved from colic, St.
Blasius from quinsy, St. Peruel from ague, St. John from prison (a very
dreadful disease), St. Mark from sudden death, St. Suran from infamy,
St. Wolfgang from gout, St. Agatha from fire, St. Christopher from
ghosts, St. Anne from wealth—why was not she the patron saint of this
merchant city? St. Wendlin kept the cattle, St. Antony the hogs, St.
Gertrude drove off mice and rats, St. Magnus grasshoppers, St. Nicolas
protected mariners, St. Indocus the crops, St. George looked after the
horsemen, St. Luke the painters, St. Cosmus the physicians, St. Leonard
the prisoners, St. Botolph the travellers, while all these functions
and many others were ascribed to the Virgin Mary, in whom was centred
all the love and faith and veneration and hope possible among millions
of ignorant women governed by their affections and passions.

They were great believers in charms in those days: in the peril of
child-birth the women purified the chamber to keep off evil spirits;
the men went to sea, on a journey, to battle, with charms hung round
their necks to keep them safe. These charms were sometimes a verse
of the Gospel enclosed in a silver box hung about the neck with a
silver chain: or words meaning nothing, or crosses drawn with blood or
painted; the men had their swords charmed or blessed; they had their
horses charmed. Again, the people were great believers in astrology,
necromancy, and the influence of the moon. Before undertaking anything
the position of the moon was first consulted. Unless this was
favourable they would not only abstain from beginning any enterprise
of importance, but they would not bathe, or cut their hair, or pare
their nails, or even take medicine. Some of these superstitions we
know still linger, but they exercise no real influence. Lucky and
unlucky days are all forgotten: omens are very feeble things, we have
practically outgrown them. But we must realise that in the London of
the fourteenth century the whole population were under the governance
of superstitions; I am not speaking of their religion, but of the
superstitious beliefs that are outside religious dogma and religious
observance. The time seems to those who look into it full of activity,
full of joyousness, full of brightness. All these things, undoubtedly,
do belong to Plantagenet London. Wealth, good work, good wages,
splendid dress, good food, good wine, good ale, and outdoor life—yet,
withal, an ever-present dread of the unknown, of the immediate future,
of what chance, luck, fate or the anger of a saint might bring. It
was, in a word, the life which seizes with avidity on the present, and
enjoys what the gods provide from day to day.



There is one branch of ecclesiastical history which has been curiously
neglected, that, namely, concerned with the anchorite, ankret,
anchoress, or ankress. That is to say, it is generally concluded that a
hermit and an anchorite are the same persons. One might as well think
that a monk is the same as a friar.

There was nothing to prevent a hermit setting up his cell wherever
he pleased; yet there were certain places where a hermitage was a
recognised institution, and the hermit was, so to speak, presented
as to a living. Thus, there was a hermitage outside the City wall at
Aldgate, one at Bishopsgate, one at Cripplegate, one at Charing Cross,
one at St. Laurence Jewry; a hermitage was often found at a bridge,
and by the roadside, in a forest, or in any place not too secluded,
because a hermit lived upon alms, and had therefore of necessity to
reside near the haunts of men. The character and reputation of the
hermitage depended entirely upon the character of the occupant, and
therefore varied from time to time. William of Langland speaks of “fals
hermits,”—“But these hermits who build their dwelling by the highway,
of yore were workmen, weavers and tailors, and carters’ knaves, and
graceless clerks. They kept full hungry house and had much want, long
labour and little earning, and at last espied that liars in friars’
clothing had fat cheeks. Therefore these unlearned knaves left their
labour and clothed themselves in cloaks like clerks, or as if they were
of some Order, or else prophets.”

Hermitages were not occupied continuously; if one hermit died, his
cell was vacated, and not necessarily filled up. A few of these
hermitages remain, as, for example, that of Warkworth, which is a very
striking monument. On the other hand, an anchorite was a recluse; he
was shut up and separated from the world; he never came out of his
cell. Before a man or woman was allowed to become an anchorite he had
to obtain a license from the Bishop, who also required of the Rector
or Vicar of his church, of the Abbot or Prior of the House, that the
anchorite should be properly supplied with food. The hermit was free to
roam—_solivagus_; the anchorite was shut up—_conclusus_. The difference
between the hermit and the anchorite is drawn clearly by R. Sharpe
(_Calendar of Wills_, ii. 33).

“An Anchorite’s cell—or ankerhold, as it was sometimes called—was
usually in or near a church, although not always: it was so situate
that the recluse might see the altar and hear the service, and its door
was locked and often walled up, one or more iron-barred windows being
left open by which he could receive the Communion and the necessaries
of life. He was often a priest and much resorted to as a confessor, as,
indeed, were also some hermits. The latter, however, commonly followed
a trade or occupation.

Although anchorites were not hermits, ankerholds were sometimes called
hermitages, and the distinction between the two classes of religious is
not always preserved in the Husting wills. Thus we have in one will a
reference made to the tenement of the hermit of Cripplegate—a hermitage
founded by Mary de St. Pol, Countess of Pembroke, for the soul of her
unfortunate husband Aylmer de Valence—and in another a bequest made to
the anchorite at Cripplegate, as well as to the anchorite at Holborn.
That both classes were held in high esteem by the citizens of London is
shown by the numerous bequests made to every anchorite and every hermit
in or near London. Besides the anchorites or hermits at Cripplegate
and Holborn, we have special mention made of the hermit in the meadows
beyond the Thames, the hermit near Charing Cross, and the hermit near
Bishopsgate: the anchorite living in the Church of St. Peter, Cornhill;
Friar John Ingram, the anchorite near the hospital of St. Katharine
in the neighbourhood of the Tower, previously described in the will
of Geoffrey Patrik (1371) as the hermit living at a place called ‘le
Swannesnest’ near the Tower; and, in the same will, Friar Richard de
Swepeston, the hermit near the Church of St. Laurence in the Jewry, and
Geoffrey his companion. The mention of a companion for a hermit seems
incongruous, but it appears from a rule for solitaries drawn up by
Grimlaic, an anchorite priest in the ninth century, or perhaps somewhat
later, that several were permitted to dwell together in one enclosure
and have communication by a window, provided the cell of every one was

Of ankresses there were many. Such was Juliana of Norwich, whose
book of Ejaculations has been preserved: such was the anchoress of
Bishopsgate, who received 40s. a year from the Sheriffs of London. Such
was Christina of St. Alban’s: such were the anchoresses of St. Giles,
St. Benedict, and St. Mary de Manny.

The frequent mention in the _Calendar of Wills_ of the anchorites in
and around London shows that there were always many of these _inclusi_,
and that they were held in great respect; but since men, evidently
not wealthy, left money to all, it is certain that there were not
anchorites and ankresses attached to every church. So few of the old
London churches are left that it is impossible to look to them for much
information on this point. It is said that traces of the anchorite’s
cell may still be seen in the Inner Cloisters of Westminster Abbey, but
for my own part I have failed to distinguish them. They should be part
of the ruins of St. Catherine’s Chapel. If, however, we turn to the
village churches about the country, we find indications which point to
the anchorite’s cell as well as to other things.

Thus, it is not uncommon to find in the chancel of many churches built
before the fifteenth century low side windows, sometimes with shutters,
sometimes without. These are commonly called lepers’ windows, and one
is told how the lepers, forbidden to enter the church, were allowed
to assist in the mass by looking through the window at the altar. The
Cambridge Camden Society called them lychnoscopes.

As regards the theory of the lepers, we must remember the rigid laws
concerning the separation of leprous persons: they were not allowed
to enter inns, churches, mills, or bakehouses; they were not to touch
healthy persons; they were not to eat with healthy persons; they were
not to wash in streams; they were not to walk in narrow footpaths; they
wore a distinctive dress, and they carried a clapper to give warning of
their approach. There were also lazar-houses for their residence, no
less than ninety-five of the first class in England, besides smaller
ones. With these regulations, what room was there for an isolated leper
in a village? Where would he live? How would he live? Where there were
small lazar-houses the lepers’ window is conceivable, but not in the
little village where the leper could not be allowed to live at all.
So that for most of these villages we may discard the theory of the
lepers’ squint altogether.

A valuable paper on the low side windows of certain Surrey churches
may be found in the _Transactions of the Surrey Archæological Society_
(vol. xiv. part ii.), in which the writer gives drawings of many of
these windows with detailed descriptions, and shows that they served
one of two purposes—either for the confessional, in which case the
priest sat within the church and the penitent knelt without; he proves
that the practice was common in these churches where the only other
place of confession was “behind the veil,” _i.e._ in the chancel. The
other purpose was for the anchorite to take part in the service through
this window. There are indications in some of the churches that a
cell formerly existed against the church wall, _e.g._ the marks of a
peat-roof in the wall. In one church, that of Hurtly, near Rainham, the
cell itself remains to this day.

The writer observes that these low side windows are not found in
churches built during the second half of the fifteenth century. He
attributes this to the decay into which the friars, who had formerly
been the favourite confessors, had fallen. In another place, I have
shown that the practice of making bequests to the friars, hermits, and
anchorites of London gradually decayed and finally ceased during the
same period. May we not believe that the decay of the respect formerly
paid to the religious of all kinds affected the demand for anchorites
and therefore the supply? It is surely reasonable to believe that when
the calling or profession of an _inclusus_ was no longer attended by
the general belief in superior sanctity, one attraction, perhaps the
principal one, towards the life would no longer exist, while it is
certain that the knowledge and the proof of such a belief would be
a powerful support and a certain encouragement to the anchorite in
enduring the lonely vigils, the frosts and cold, the silence of the
night, the visits and the mockeries and the terror of the Fiend, and
all the miseries of the cell, which he was never to leave until death
called him forth.

In my book on “Westminster” I have described the consecration of
a recluse—supposing, without any historical foundation, that the
Sub-prior was ready to take the place of the late anchorite. The manner
of the consecration is supposed to be described by one of the monks:—

“The Sub-prior, being a priest, was taken into the choir, where he
prostrated himself with bare feet. The Abbot and three of the brethren
who were priests having taken their places, the Cantor began the
service with the responsory, _Beati in melius_, after which the Abbot
and assistants before the altar sang with the choir certain Psalms
fourteen in number. After the Psalms followed a Litany, the choir
singing after each clause, _Ora pro eo_. The Litany finished, the
Abbot advanced towards the prostrate brother bearing a crucifix, a
thurible, and holy water, and, standing over him, he thrice sprinkled
him with water, censed him, and prayed over him. The Abbot then raised
the candidate with his own hands, and gave him two lighted tapers, at
the same time admonishing him to remain steadfast in the love of God.
Then the candidate, standing, listened to the Deacon, who read first
from the prophet Isaiah, next the Gospel according to Saint Luke, as
on the Festival of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. After this the
new garments which he was to put on were blessed. The candidate then
took the vows, which were three only, and those the same as the vows at
profession, viz. of chastity, of obedience, and of steadfastness.

The candidate next kneeled at the altar, and, kissing it three times,
repeated each time the words _Suscipe me, Domine_, etc., the choir
responding. This done he offered the two tapers at the altar, and again
kneeled while the Abbot removed his monastic frock and clothed him with
the garments newly blessed. Then followed a service of prayer. It was
the _Veni Creator_, with the _Paternoster_ and _Et ne nos_. The Abbot
then, standing on the north side of the altar, preached to the brethren
and to the congregation assembled, commending the new recluse to their
prayers. The candidate then himself sang the mass of the Holy Ghost.

We had now completed that part of the consecration which takes place
in the church. The Abbot then took the new recluse by the hand and
led him down the nave of the church, followed by the choir and all
the brethren, unto the little door leading into the West Cloister.
The church was filled with people to see the sight. A new recluse is
not seen every day. There were the _domicellae_, the maidens of the
Queen, come from the Palace; there were knights and pages, and even
men-at-arms; there were sanctuary men, women, and children; men with
hawks upon their wrists; men with dogs; merchants from the wool staple;
girls of wanton looks from the streets and taverns beyond the walls.
The hawks jangled their bells, the dogs barked, the women chattered,
the men talked loudly, the girls looked at the brothers as they passed,
and whispered and laughed: and I heard one brother say to another that
this was a thing which would make the Sub-prior return to the monastery
an he saw it. And all alike craned their necks to see the man who was
going to be shut up in a narrow cell for the rest of his days.

The ankret’s cell is on the south side of the Infirmary Cloister.
It is built of stone, being twelve feet long, eight feet broad, and
with an arched roof about ten feet high. On the side of the church
there is a narrow opening by which the occupant can hear mass and can
see the elevation in the Chapel of St. Catherine. On the other side
is a grating by which he can receive his food and converse with the
world. But it is too high up for him to see out of it; therefore he
has nothing to look upon but the walls of his cell. This morning the
west side had been broken down in order to remove the body of the dead
man and to cleanse the cell for the new-comer. So, while we gathered
round in a circle, and the people stood behind us, the Abbot entered
the cell, and censed it, and sprinkled it with holy water, singing
more Psalms and more prayers. When he came forth the recluse himself
entered, saying aloud: _Hæc requies mea in seculum seculi_. The choir
sang another Psalm. Then the Abbot sprinkled dust upon the head of the
recluse with the words beginning _De terra plasmasti_.

This done, the _Operarius cum suis operariis_ replaced the stones
and built up the wall anew. And then, singing another Psalm, we went
back to the cloister, leaving the Sub-prior to begin his lifelong
imprisonment. A stone bench for bed, his frock for blanket, a crucifix,
and no other furniture. In the cold nights that followed, lying in my
bed in the dormitory, I often bethought myself of the former Sub-prior
alone in his dark cell, with Devils whispering temptation through the
grating (Devils always assail every new recluse), well-nigh frozen,
praying with trembling lips and chattering teeth. No, I am not worthy.
Such things are too high for me.”

It seems as if, for a period of some hundred years, every monastic
house and many churches possessed a recluse, man or woman. They were
specially bound to pray for the House or the Church, probably for the
parish as well. They frequently arrived at a reputation of the highest
sanctity; they were consulted as an oracle. Thus Richard the Second,
before he started on his dangerous journey to put down the rebellion,
consulted the anchorite of Westminster. So also Henry the Fifth spent
the night after his father’s funeral in weeping, prayer, and confession
with the anchorite’s successor.

The anchorite’s cell was not always of the same shape or form.
Sometimes it was partly or wholly underground; sometimes a grated
window communicated with the outside and enabled the occupier to
see and to be seen; sometimes the grated window was too high for the
anchorite to see his visitors or to be seen by them. In the nunnery
of Marmoustin at Tours there was an anchorite’s cell in which the
occupant was totally secluded; at Royston there was a subterranean
cell to which there was an approach from the outside and an opening on
the top. The approach was probably blocked up when the recluse entered
the cell and all communications were through the upper opening. At
Bengeo, Herts. (see Appendix VII.), the anchorite’s cell consisted of
a wooden hut placed against the north-east end of the chancel. It was
eight feet long and six feet high; there was a recess in the wall for
the anchorite’s bed and seat; there was an entrance into the church;
perhaps the anchorite was a chantry priest.


Sometimes there were two ankresses living in the churchyard, but not
in the same cell. Henry the Fourth before his accession to the throne
endowed an anchorite’s cell in a village of Lancashire. The ankress
very often took care of the church and kept it clean. As regards
London, the bequests to anchorites are numerous. We read of ankresses
at St. Michael’s and St. Giles, Cornhill; at St. Giles, St. Benedict,
and St. Mary Manny, we read of a lady getting so many square feet of
ground for the purpose of building an anchorite’s cell; we read of
anchorites at St. Albans, St. Giles, and Westminster Abbey.

One of the earliest Old English works is the _Ancren Reiwle_ or Rule
for Anchorites. It was written for three ladies who had resolved upon
adopting the recluse life in a village in Dorsetshire. The author
is doubtful. It was perhaps Richard Poor, Bishop successively of
Chichester, Salisbury, and Durham, in which case it is older than
1237, the year of Richard Poor’s death; or else by Simon of Ghent, a
native of London, Archdeacon of Oxford, 1284, Bishop of Salisbury,
1297. He died in 1315. The dates are of importance, because the recluse
life would not seem to have become common before the middle of the
thirteenth century, and it would further seem to have fallen into
disuse by the end of the fourteenth century. The work itself seems
to show that these ladies were adopting a new thing, or at least an
unusual thing.

During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, however, we must
remember that in every Monastic House, and in most churches, the cell
of the anchorite was built against the chancel wall with an opening to
allow the occupant to “see God,” _i.e._ to witness the elevation of the
mass every day; that at all hours of the day and night were to be heard
the prayers, the praises, the ejaculations, the groans of the man or
woman thus buried alive.

It is difficult to understand the attraction of such a life. Probably
the very horror of it attracted some minds. To be alone day and night
so long as life should last, to pray continually, never to enjoy one
single comfort or solace or relief from physical pain, to be always
cold, always hungry, always clad in rags, always unkempt and unwashed,
to have to battle every night with superstitious terrors and the
invention of an excited imagination, to dwell perpetually on images of
death, these things make the life so terrible that the mere merit of
choosing it appeared extraordinary; the Gates of Heaven would surely
be thrown open to one who had passed years of such endurance and such

Picture to yourself such an anchorite. He rises slowly from his knees;
his limbs are full of rheumatic pains; he straightens himself with
difficulty; he advances to the grating and looks through the bars.
He is a gaunt tall man, as thin as living man can be; he is clad in
rags; his hair flows over his shoulders; his beard falls down to his
waist; his cheeks are hollow; his shrunken eyes are like coals of
fire. He prays for the Church and all the souls of those who belong to
the Church, that is to say, the dead as well as the living. Great are
the blessings conferred on a parish by the prayers of an anchorite!
He prays all day and all night; while others sleep the anchorite
is offering continual supplication. He is racked with pains; he is
always cold, always hungry, always unwashed; yet he is not unhappy.
He is supported by Faith undoubting; and he has consolations and
compensations. The Virgin Mary sends him angels who sing carols for
him alone to hear; they are a foretaste of the singing in Heaven;
he is allowed even to see the gates of Heaven standing open and the
blessed saints sitting on their thrones exactly like the barons at a
coronation. And he is visited by devils who are always beaten back
and are always returning with fresh whispers and fresh temptations.
Sweet are the joys of battle! He wrestles nightly with the Fiend, and
every night sends him out of the barred window screeching with rage
and disappointment. Oh, the anchorite is a happy man! And sometimes he
is blessed with the gift of prophecy: he knows what is coming: in the
morning he remembers his vision, and perhaps the very words are taken
down and preserved. He is also, if he chooses, the parish oracle: he
is asked to advise on all subjects, for there is no subject into which
religion cannot enter. Merchants consult him about their ventures;
women about their love affairs; princes about their policy. See, there
is a girl tripping over the long grass: she bears a basket; it contains
a gift of food for the anchorite, such simple food as he will receive;
and she comes with heightened colour because she is going to ask a
question of a most delicate nature concerning a young man. In some
churchyards, where the anchorite is good-humoured and popular, or where
there is an ankress, the grating of a cell has been known to become a
place of resort; it is said that scandals and mischievous gossip were
sometimes first started outside the ankress’ cell; all the women went
there to talk of what was going on in the parish; the cell became a
nuisance; the parish priest spoke about it; the Bishop heard of it.

Think of the effect upon the imagination produced outside by the mere
voice of the unseen solitary who, as long as he lived, would never
change his clothes, nor wash himself, nor cut his hair or beard, nor
look upon the face of other men, nor see the sunshine and the blue sky,
nor look for any physical comfort or solace so long as life should
endure. They knew he was there; they came and spoke to him; the hollow
voice came out of the grave in reply; they lowered food; one day they
came and heard no voice in reply; they removed the stones and looked
in. God had summoned the man of long endurance; who would take his

I said, above, that for a hundred years there were anchorites attached
to most churches. My reason for assigning this period is that the
London citizens began to bequeath property to anchorites in the middle
of the fourteenth century, in the year 1341, and left off the practice
at the same time as they left off bequeathing property to the Friars
about the year 1400. For sixty years there was a general formula with
all those who had property to leave. They bequeathed small sums to
their own parish church, to all the five orders of friars, to every
anchorite in London, or to every anchorite, man or woman, in and about
the City of London, to every hermit in London, to every leper in
London, to every poor prisoner in London. The reason why the fashion
of giving bequests to the maintenance of solitaries began so late
and ended so quickly was, I suppose, that the practice of building
anchorites’ cells became more common in the fourteenth century than it
had been in former times; that men clutched at every chance of getting
prayers as well as masses for their souls; that the appearance of so
many newly built cells struck their imagination; that they thought the
prayers of a holy anchorite must be of great efficacy inasmuch as the
man not only led a saintly life but endured continual sufferings. In
the same way they left money to lepers and to prisoners in order to
obtain their prayers.

And the reason why the fashion of bequeathing money to anchorites
suddenly ceased was that by the end of the fourteenth century the mind
of London was saturated with that part of Lollardy which scoffed at
hermits, friars, and monks. At the time when the House of Commons was
petitioning the King to suppress all Religious Houses of every kind,
the rich men of the City left off, as if by common consent, as if by
a kind of conspiracy or secret resolution, the bequeathing of money
to friars, hermits, and anchorites. A broad black line is drawn. No
more money shall be left to these people. It would be interesting,
if it were possible, to learn what became of the anchorites and the
hermits. Some of them, no doubt, survived till the Reformation. Can
we imagine, with the Dissolution of the Monastery, the suppression of
the Anchorite? Can we imagine the old man, with his grey hair, his
beard flowing to his waist, scarcely clad decently in the rags which
he has worn for fifty years, with sunken cheeks and haggard face and
wild eyes blinking at the light, and wondering why after so many years
he is dragged out once more into the sunshine and the sight of his



Pilgrimage, never so great a craze in London as in the country, or in
England as in France, plays an important part in the mediæval life. The
earliest pilgrimage was, of course, to the Holy Places of Jerusalem:
it began in the second century with a journey to the site of the
Ascension. The other sites multiplied with the increase of pilgrims and
the demand for sites and sacred relics and associations. The desire to
go pilgrimaging grew and spread with great rapidity among all classes.
In the century before the Crusades the roads to Palestine were black
with swarms of pilgrims: we have the history of many early pilgrimages,
including that written down by the Abbot Adamnanus of Scotland from
the lips of the shipwrecked pilgrim Arnulfus, and that of Willibald
the English pilgrim who started with his father and sister Walfunga,
his brother Wunibald, and a large party of followers and servants: in
Italy the father died and the brother and sister went home: Willibald
persevered and reached Jerusalem safely.

It is easy to understand why the pilgrimage attracted so many. It was
full of adventure and of danger. On the other hand, it was greatly
meritorious: if one was killed on a pilgrimage, the doors of heaven
were thrown open: if one returned in safety the term of purgatory was
shortened. Then the pilgrim got away from his work: he had nothing to
do but to plod on: he wanted no money: every day brought him to some
hospitable monastery where he found supper, bed, and breakfast: he made
new acquaintances and new friends perpetually: the way was enlivened
by talk, and by casual potations: in the evening there was sometimes
revelry at an inn, with wine or ale and music and dancing and the shows
of the _jogleurs_. Who would not exchange the dull and tedious life in
the country for a time of such varied experience and entertainment?

The practice quickly became an abuse. The peasant deserted his plough,
his wife, and his children, to go pilgrimaging. The craftsman left his
bench and his shop, in search of adventures as a pilgrim: even the
monk left his monastery to wander out into the world, sometimes never
to come back again: sometimes he did come back, with the confession
of broken vows. The Church, therefore, interfered. No one must go on
pilgrimage without the Bishop’s license. This granted, the pilgrim
was solemnly invested with the scrip and staff, and the long woollen
robe which formed the chief part of his dress. The parish priest with
his friends accompanied him to the boundaries of his parish and he set
forth, armed with the Bishop’s license and a passport which procured
him hospitality in all Christian countries.

“In the name of God,” ran the commendatory letter, “we would have your
highness or holiness to know that the bearer of the present letters,
our brother, has asked our permission to go peaceably on pilgrimage to
Jerusalem, either for his own sins, or to pray for our preservation.
Thereupon, we have given him these present letters, in which we salute
you, and pray you, for the love of God and Saint Peter, to receive him
as your guest, to be useful to him in going and coming back, so that he
may return in safety to his house: and as is your good custom, make him
pass happy days. May God the Eternal King protect you, and keep you in
His kingdom!”

The Church did more than bless the pilgrim: it celebrated in one of
those dramas by which so much was taught, the act of pilgrimage itself,
in a service which has been preserved. The following is an abridgment:—

“In the nave of the church was erected a fort, ‘castellum,’
representing the house at Emmaus where the two travellers entered
and broke bread with Christ. At the appointed time two priests, ‘of
the second seats,’ appointed for the day, came forth from the vestry
singing the hymn which begins ‘Jesu, nostra redemptio.’ They were to
be dressed in tunics, ‘et desuper cappis transversum,’ were to have
long flowing hair and beards, and were each to carry a staff and scrip.
Singing this hymn, and slowly marching down the right aisle, they came
to the western porch, where they put themselves at the head of the
procession of choristers waiting for them, and all began together to
sing, ‘Nos tuo vultu saties.’ Then the priest for the day, robed in
alb and surplice, bare-footed, carrying a cross on his right shoulder,
advanced to meet them, and ‘standing suddenly before them,’ asked,
‘What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another as
ye talk and are sad?’ To which the two pilgrims replied, ‘Art thou a
stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to
pass there in these days?’

‘What things,’ asked the priest. ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth,’ they
replied, with the words which follow. ‘Oh, fools!’ said the priest,
‘and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.’ And
then, feigning to retire, the priest would there have left them, but
they held him back, and pointing to the ‘castellum,’ entreated him to
enter, singing, ‘Abide with us for it is towards evening and the day
is far spent.’ Then singing another hymn, they led him to the ‘Fort of
Emmaus,’ which they entered, and where they sat down at a table already
spread for supper. Here the priest brake bread sitting between them,
and being recognised by this act for the Lord, ‘suddenly vanished out
of their sight.’ The pilgrims, pretending to be stupefied, arose and
sang sorrowfully (_lamentabiliter_) ‘Alleluia,’ with the verse, ‘Did
not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and
while he opened to us the Scriptures?’ Singing this twice they walked
to the pulpit, where they sang the verse, ‘Dic nobis Maria.’ After
this, another priest, dressed in a dalmatic and surplice, with head
muffled up like a woman, came to them and sang, ‘Sepulcrum Christi
Angelicos testes.’ He then took up a cloth from one place, and a second
from another place, and threw them before the great door of the choir.
And (the directions conclude) then let him sing, ‘Christ has risen,’
and let the choir chaunt the two other verses which follow, and let the
women and the pilgrims retire within: and the memory of this act being
thus recalled, let the procession return to the choir, and the vespers
be finished.”

[Illustration: WILSDON, MIDDLESEX]

There was also the pilgrimage of punishment, when a criminal was
condemned to wander up and down the road whithersoever the Pope should
direct him. There were many of those poor wretches to be met with on
the road; most of them were murderers; a chain was made in which was
worked up the sword or knife or other weapon with which the crime was
committed; the neck, arms, and body of the criminal were bound round
with this chain; so equipped, the malefactor toiled painfully from
shrine to shrine, living on alms. It was not until the fourteenth
century that the practice was discontinued. Can anything prove more
abundantly the power of the Church than this punishment of murderers,
who were simply loaded with these chains and then commanded to go forth
on a pilgrimage from shrine to shrine? There was no police to enforce
obedience; there was no guard set over the criminals; they were told to
go and walk to a certain shrine and there to await further orders; and
they obeyed.

There were two kinds of pilgrimage: _peregrinatio major_ and
_peregrinatio minor_. Of the former kind were those to the Holy Land
and to Rome. Of the latter kind, those which generally satisfied
our ancestors, were those to Walsingham with its Virgin, Glastonbury
with its holy thorn, Waltham with its black cross, St. Edmund’s Bury
with the body of the King, Durham with the shrine of St. Cuthbert,
Chichester with that of St. Richard; there were also Beverley,
Winchester, Lincoln, York, Peterborough—all famous shrines. The two
places most popular were the Walsingham and the Canterbury pilgrimages.
But in thinking of Chaucer’s immortal company we must remember that
such companies left London daily in the summer bound for one or other
of these holy places. In the illogical confusion of things belonging
to the period the pilgrimage which for many was an orgy and a period
of unbounded license all the way, was coupled with prayers devout and
tears unfeigned.

It would be idle to look too closely into the accounts of pilgrimages
for evidences of the religious spirit among the pilgrims. Yet such
evidences are found, notably in the fervent prayers and praises of
Felix Fabri, who will be mentioned immediately. It is sufficient to
remember that with the great mass of the people religion consisted in
obedience. They had but to do what the Church ordered. After death
there would be purgatory. Pilgrimage and other observances shortened
the period of purgatory. They went, therefore, partly with that object,
partly with the desire of seeing strange countries, partly to work off
the restlessness that falls upon men, as upon nations, from time to

Wyclyf, William of Langland, Chaucer, Gower, all the mediæval writers,
continually make allusions to pilgrims. Sometimes the life of
pilgrimage is ridiculed. Thus William of Langland speaks of the “crowd
of hermits with hooked staves, who wend to Walsingham and their wenches
after them, boobies who are unable to labour, clothe themselves in
cloaks to be known from the others, and become hermits for their ease.”
Sometimes the tales of the pilgrims are derided.

    “Pylgrimis and palmers plyghten hem to-gederes,
    To seche saint Jame and seyntys of Rome,
    Wenten forth in hure way with many un-wyse tales,
    And heven leve to lye al hure lyf-tyme.”

Thorpe (Skeat’s _Notes to Chaucer_, p. 49), when examined by Arundel,
Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1407, complains of the pilgrims, saying:
“They will ordain to have with them both men and women that can
well sing wanton songs: and some other pilgrims will have with them
bagpipes: so that every town that they come through, what with the
noise of their singing, and with the sound of their piping, and with
the jangling of their Canterbury bells, and with the barking out of
dogs after them, they make more noise than if the King came there away,
with all his clarions and many other minstrels. And if these men and
women be a moneth in their pilgrimage, many of them shall be an half
year after, great jangelers, tale-tellers, and lyers.”

But the Archbishop said, “Leude Losell, Thou seest not ferre ynough in
this matter, for thou considerest not the great trauel of pilgremys,
therefore thou blamest the thing that is praisable. I say to thee that
it is right well done that pilgremys have with them both syngers and
also pypers, that whan one of them that goeth barfoote striketh his toe
upon a stone and hurteth hym sore, and makyth him to blede; it is well
done that he or his felow begyn then a songe, or else take out of his
bosom a baggepipe for to drive away with suche myrthe the hurt of his
felow. For with soche solace the trauel and weeriness of pilgremys is
lightely and merily broughte forth.”

Sometimes the people invented saints and shrines for themselves, as
when they flocked to the tomb of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, a man far
removed from the saintly life, or to that of Simon de Montfort. In
1338 a grocer of London sold a mazer ornamented with the image of St.
Thomas of Lancaster. And a few years later the people made a saint of
the preacher and hermit Richard Rolle of Hampole. All these popular but
ephemeral saints worked miracles abundantly while the faith in their
power lasted. Would that some poet had depicted the swarm of pilgrims
who, in the year when the grocer sold that mazer, rode out of London on
a pilgrimage to Pontefract where St. Thomas of Lancaster was buried!

Not only must men get a license to go on a pilgrimage: the shipmen who
carried them were also licensed. Pilgrims to foreign parts went either
to Calais and thence by land, or, if they were going to Compostella,
they went all the way by sea. Thus, the ship called _La Charité
de Paynton_, Peter Cok, Captain, was licensed to carry a hundred
pilgrims. “Le Petre de Dartemouth” was licensed for sixty, “La Marie de
Southampton” for one hundred, “Le Thomas de Saltash” for sixty, and so

In the narrative of Felix Fabri (A.D. 1484) pilgrims to the Holy Land
(see _Palestine Pilgrims Text Society_, vols. vii.-x.) we can read how
the long pilgrimages were conducted on board ship. Felix sailed from
Venice. The methods were much the same for pilgrims from every country,
except that the ships which had to cross the Bay of Biscay, and to sail
round the headlands of Portugal, were probably stouter than those which
sailed in the Mediterranean alone.

The pilgrim paid so much for the voyage there and back: he was also
taken to the Holy Places under escort. A special contract was entered
into with each party. Thus, that of Felix consisted of twelve,
viz. four noble Lords and eight attendants, viz. a kind of general
manager or courier, a barber and musician, an old soldier for a
manservant, a bourgeois for manciple, a cook, an ex-trader who had
been a galley slave and acted as interpreter, a “man of peace,” who
was a schoolmaster by profession, and Felix himself, Priest of the
Order of Preaching Friars. The articles of the contract were, in
brief, these—the party were to be conveyed from Venice to Joppa and
back again. They were to receive two full meals a day, with a cup of
malvoisie every morning before breakfast; they were to be protected
from ill-usage by the galley slaves; they were to be taken to see all
the Holy places; and they were to pay forty ducats a head. The value of
the ducat at this time I cannot pretend to estimate. There were gold
ducats and silver ducats; ducats of Hungary, Austria, Hamburg and Italy.

On the weighing of the anchors, the Germans sang together the Pilgrims’

    “In Gottes Namen fahren wir:
    Seiner Gnaden begehren wir:
    Nun helff uns die Gottliche Kraft und das Heilige Geist:
    Kyrie Eleison!”

It would be pleasant to know the words of the English Pilgrims’ Hymn
on arrival within sight of Joppa, when they all sang together, led by
two priests. There were many nations represented on board the ship,
Italians, Lombards, Gauls, Franks, Germans, English, Irish, Scots,
Hungarians, Dacians, Bohemians, Spaniards, and they joined together in
the “Hymn of Ambrose and Augustine,” _i.e._ the _Te Deum Laudamus_.

As for the life on board, the inconveniences, the insects, the
turbulent slaves, the sea-sickness, Felix spares us nothing. The
earliest of our sea songs, belonging to nearly the same date, is an
account of a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Saint Iago of Compostella. It
is evidently the work of one who writes from experience. The ship is
filled with pilgrims, and they are all sea-sick together:—

  “Men may leve all gamys,
  That saylen to Saint James’s;
  For many a man hilt gramys;
      When they begin to sayle.
  For when they have take the sea,
  At Sandwyche or at Wynchylsea,
  At Bristow, or where that hyt bee,
      Theyr hertes begin to fayle.

  Thys menewhyle the pylgryms lye,
  And have theyr bowlys fast them by,
  And cry afthyr hote malvesy,
      ‘Thou helpe for to restore.’
  And soon sold have a saltyd tost,
  For they myght ete neyther sode ne rost,
  A man might sone pay for theyr cost,
      As for one day or twayne.
  Some layd their bookys on theyr kne,
  And rad so long they myght nat se:
  Alas! myne hede will cleve on thre!
      Thus sayeth another certayne.”

The itinerary of two pilgrimages made by one English traveller still
remains, and has been published by the Roxburghe Club. His name was
William Wey, Bachelor of Divinity, formerly fellow of the Royal College
of the most Blessed Mary at Eton beside Windsor. He travelled twice to
Jerusalem, in 1458 and in 1462, and once to St. James of Compostella
in 1465. He was “consecratus ad modum peregrinorum,” set apart by
the special service: he received the license of the King, so that
he was not to lose his fellowship by unauthorised absence; he left
Eton to join the Augustines of Hedington, or Edinton; he made his
last pilgrimage in the seventieth year of his age; and he died in the
monastery in the year 1476 aged eighty-six. Evidently a strong man. He
bequeathed, or gave, to the Brethren of Hedington, a great collection
of valuable relics and curiosities from the Holy Land.

Unfortunately he tells nothing of the start or the return, beginning
his pilgrimage at Venice. Here there was a regular service of ships,
where captains undertook to do the “round trip”—to Jerusalem and
back—for so much.

When he went to St. James of Compostella, there was a pilgrim fleet of
six ships which sailed from Plymouth, viz. from Portsmouth, Bristol,
Weymouth, Lymington, Plymouth—called the _Mary White_, and others—was
this the annual pilgrim fleet? or was it only one of many such fleets?

The itineraries of Wey illustrate the comparative ease with which
people travelled at that time. It was a long way to Palestine, but
not too long for a man of seventy to undertake. The traveller relates
stories of purses cut and jewels stolen, but there is no sense of other
dangers or of any terrors: the pilgrims were taken on board; they were
carried to the port; they were landed; they were conducted under escort
to their shrines; and they were brought home again. It is noticeable
that Wey’s two companions on his first pilgrimage were priests like
himself. In Chaucer’s time, as is well known, all who could afford the
time and money went on pilgrimage. Thus the wife of Bath:—

      “Thrice hadde sche ben at Jerusalem:
    Sche hadde passed many a strange stream:
    At Rome she hadde been and at Bologne:
    In Galice at Seynt James and at Cologne.”

One imagines that the long civil wars and the widespread Lollardy,
which was only silenced, not killed, interfered with the practice of
pilgrimage in the fifteenth century. On the other hand, Erasmus shows
us that the pilgrims to English shrines, at least, were numerous in his
time. The regular service of personally conducted pilgrimages to Venice
and back proves that pilgrimage to the Holy Land was not diverted or
interrupted, in spite of war raging all around.

At every shrine the pilgrim bought or was presented with a sign to show
that he had been there. These signs were cast in pewter or in lead. A
pilgrim who had been to many shrines came home with his cap or his coat
covered with these emblems. Thus Chaucer says (_Archæologia_, xxxviii.
p. 130):—

      “Then as manere and custom is, signes there they bought,
    For men of contre should know whome they had sought:
    Eche man set his silver in such thing as they liked,
    And in the meen while the miller had y-piked
    His bosom ful of signs of Canterbury brochis.”


    “They set their signys upon their hedes, and some upon their capp,
    And sith to the dynerward they gan for to stapp.”

Erasmus makes Menedemus ask, “What kind of attire is this that thou
wearest? Thou art bedizened with semicircular shells, each full of
images of tin and lead, and adorned with straw chains, and thy arm
is girt with a bracelet of beads.” The reply is that he has been to
certain shrines on pilgrimage.

Besides the ordinary insignia of pilgrimage (see Skeat’s Notes to
_Piers Plowman_), every pilgrimage had its special signs, which the
pilgrim on his return wore conspicuously upon his hat or his scrip,
or hanging round his neck, in token that he had accomplished that
particular pilgrimage. Thus the ampullæ were the special signs of the
Canterbury pilgrimage; the scallop-shell was the sign of the pilgrimage
to Compostella (shrine of St. James in Galicia); whilst the signs of
the Roman pilgrimage were a badge with the effigies of St. Peter and
St. Paul, the cross-keys (keys-of-Rome) and the vernicle. The vernicle
was a copy of the handkerchief of St. Veronica, which was miraculously
impressed with the features of our Lord.

The late Dr. Hugo communicated to the Society of Antiquaries a paper
on this subject, accompanied by several specimens found on the
banks of the Thames. Remember, in examining these, that the greater
number of people went about the streets adorned with these emblems.
(_Archæologia_, xxxviii.)

We might expect that, as was the custom with one of the duties required
of the faithful, so it would happen with others. Thus, since the
soul was saved by means of prayer and praise, it mattered little who
sang or said those prayers, and a rich man could endow a priest in
perpetuity to say prayers for his soul every day. In the same way,
since a pilgrimage was in itself a most meritorious action, and equal
to many masses, a man might pay others to go on a pilgrimage for him.
This, in fact, was done. We find bequests of money for pilgrimages. One
merchant of London bequeathed sixty gold scudi to be given to some one
who would undertake, in the name of the testator, and for the good of
the testator’s soul, to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre and
the sacred places of Jerusalem. Another left money with the object of
getting credit for going to the convent of Mount Sinai: while many left
smaller sums for pilgrimages to Santiago di Compostella and the Blessed
Virgin of Walsingham. Were there, one asks, professional pilgrims?
Did men painfully work through the exercises at shrine after shrine,
all for the good of souls stranger to themselves? Was there no way by
which they might divert the intention of the testator and reap for the
benefit of their own souls these accumulations of merits and good deeds?

When we think of a London pilgrim, one of two pictures presents itself.
We either see the companies assembling at the Tabard Inn bound for the
shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury, or we see the smaller and more
serious party bound for the Holy Sepulchre and the sacred places of
Jerusalem. All our views of the mediæval life are curiously narrowed by
the influence of Chaucer. So strong and fine is the light thrown upon
the Canterbury Pilgrims and those to Palestine that we have forgotten
the many other shrines to which the pilgrim fared in search of a
blessing and the remission of his sins.

From a drawing by Philip Norman, F.S.A.]

But besides the English shrines already mentioned, there were other
local ones for the Londoner. There was the shrine of Our Lady of
Crome’s Hill, Greenwich, or that of the Holy Rood of Bermondsey, or
that of Our Lady of Willesden, or that of Our Lady of Muswell, or
that of “Our Lady that standeth in the Oke.” The last-named place of
pilgrimage was somewhere between Highgate and Islington. May its name
be supposed to linger in the modern form of Gospel Oak? The whole
country, in fact, was studded all over with shrines of local celebrity.
Outside London, no one, for instance, knew or cared about Our Lady of
Muswell: but to Londoners she was a very real saint, to whom multitudes
paid pilgrimage. Of these minor shrines, concerning which Chaucer is
silent, which Erasmus never visited, there are very few historical
notices extant. When they were suppressed and the images themselves
burned, there was no one left to care about the records and the papers
connected with them, so they, too, were burned, or they were left to
moulder in the muniment chest.

Or, if the Londoner wanted a pilgrimage with little personal exertion,
which might be performed in a single day, he could choose between the
shrine of Edward the Confessor at Westminster, a place of the greatest
sanctity: that of St. Erkenwald in St. Paul’s, also regarded as most
powerful and efficacious: there were two feasts of St. Erkenwald: on
these days all the clergy of the diocese repaired to the shrine robed
in their copes: special indulgences were granted to those who visited
this shrine.

The three shrines north of London, now so completely forgotten, all
lay in the heart of the great Middlesex Forest. Each of the miraculous
images was probably a Lady of the Oak: there was Our Lady of the Oak
all over Europe. The miraculous figure is always found in an oak,
and is always, it is said, _black_. Thus, Our Lady of Puy in France,
supposed to be the most ancient of these figures, is described as
being carved out of cedar, swathed round and round with fine linen
like a mummy, deep black, the face and features extremely long, the
eyes small and formed of glass, the look haggard and wild (_L. and
M. Archæological Trans._ iv. 178); and there is a Black Virgin at

These shrines were near enough for a single day’s journey: a pleasant
summer’s ride through the gardens and orchards of Islington where the
Forest began, and so over the greensward and under the branches of
the wood to the clearing on the top of Muswell Hill, where now stands
the Alexandra Palace, and then stood the chapel containing the black
image swathed with linen, crowned, decked with gold and jewels, before
which stood the altar and burned the lamp day and night. Every day
through the summer came the penitents, the sick, the jovial pilgrims,
who only wanted to put in a plea for indulgence. Outside the chapel
there were taverns and merry-making places. First the pilgrim knelt at
the shrine; sometimes he went round it on his knees; and prayed, with
simple belief, if not with fervour; faith made the sick man whole;
faith absolved the penitent; faith made the most careless happy in the
belief that Our Lady of Muswell had knocked off many—he knew not how
many—years of purgatory. The religious act finished, no one objected to
pleasure and merriment. There are indications that the merriment was
not always seemly, nor was the pleasure always sinless. Yet pilgrimage
continued because the sick who had been healed spread abroad the story
of their miraculous cures, and because everybody wanted to get out of
purgatory as quickly as possible, and because it was a most delightful
form of holiday and recreation.

The Lollards preached against pilgrimages continually; a fact charged
against them by the Church time after time. Thus, when a Lollard named
William Dynet had to abjure his Lollardy in the year 1395, he swore
that thenceforth he would worship images and that he would never more
despise pilgrimages. A hundred and forty years more the worship of
images had to continue in the land. Piers Plowman speaks with contempt
of the sham holiness of pilgrims in words already quoted:

    “Heremytes in an heep with hoked staves,
    Wenten to Walsingham and their wenches after.”

Later on, one Father Donald, a Scotch Friar, said, preaching, “Ye men
of London, gang on yourself with your wives to Willesden, or else keep
them at home with you in sorrow.”

In the year 1509, when there occurred a fire in Willesden Church, which
damaged the sacred image, one Elizabeth, wife of John Sampson, citizen,
got into trouble for expressing a not unnatural doubt of the power
of the image to help others when she could not help herself. “If Our
Lady of Willesden might have holpen men and women which go to her of
pilgrimage, she would not have suffered her own tayle (taille) to have
been burnt.”

She had to abjure these sentiments publicly. But if the ordinary
citizens’ wives commonly talked in this manner, the way was surely
rapidly being prepared for the Reformation. In 1530—very shortly before
the end—one Dr. Crown, being questioned as to heresy, said, “I will
say again, do your duty and then your devotion ... when thou comest at
the Day of Judgment, He will not say unto thee ‘why wentest thou not
to Wilsdon a pilgrimage?’ He will say unto thee ‘I was an hungred and
thou gavest me no meat: I was nakyd and thou gavest me no clothys’: and
soche lyke.”

In September 1538 all the images—those of Walsingham, Ipswich,
Worcester, the Lady of Willesden, the Lady of Muswell, the Lady “that
standeth in the Oak,” and many others—were brought up to London and
publicly burned at Chelsea. Then the Fair, which went on all through
the summer, with noisy taverns, drunken men, disorderly women, music,
dancing, singing, tumblers, and minstrels, at Willesden, Muswell, and
other unknown places “in the Oake,” came to a sudden end. Silence set
in, and Willesden Church became the church of a little secluded village
in the midst of the Forest; the road to Muswell through the woods
became overgrown and forgotten, and nobody in the next generation knew
where stood the oak with its sacred image, which had attracted so many
thousands every year.

Besides these shrines of London, with their miraculous Virgins, there
were the Holy and wonder-working Roods, of which the most important
seems to have been that of Bermondsey Abbey. There were, also, objects
of pilgrimage, of votive offering, and of prayer, the Holy Wells of
which some 500 have been enumerated in England, and round London no
fewer than sixteen. The origin of Holy Wells is a subject that belongs
to archæology and scholarship; nor indeed is this the place for an
examination into the subject. Streams, rivers, fountains, springs,
have all been accounted holy, and possessed each its nymph or its god,
who demanded sacrifice. Wells were dressed with flowers: they were
used for divination; long before Christianity newly-born children were
passed through water; coins have been found by the hundred in wells
where they were thrown in order to read an oracle from the troubling
of the waters; there were superstitions about the springs; there were
superstitions about water drawn on certain nights; there were wishing
wells; there were wakes of the well; it was in some places held
necessary that converts should be baptized in clear running water.
Wells cured different diseases: one was good for the eye, and one for
the ear. Wells sprung up miraculously to mark the site of a martyrdom,
and so on.

The holy wells of London were as follows:—

1. Clerkenwell. This well, where the parish clerks held their plays,
was situated at the edge of Clerkenwell Green and on the south-east
corner of Ray Street. The Green stretched north-west of St. John’s
Priory Church.

2. St. Chad’s Well. The site of this well, which had medicinal
qualities, was just south of the present King’s Cross Station on the
Metropolitan Line.

3. St. Clement’s Well was north of St. Clement’s Church, close to
Clement’s Inn.

4. Islington. Here was a very holy spring, greatly believed in for its
restorative qualities. It was on the site of Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

5. Hampstead. The Holy Well of Hampstead was that called afterwards the
Shepherd’s Well, which is now represented by a drinking fountain in
Fitzjohn’s Avenue.

6. Muswell Hill. Besides the wonder-working Virgin of Muswell Hill,
there was the Well of St. Lazarus. The name implies that it was used by
lepers. Robert Bruce tried to cure his leprosy by bathing in its waters.

7. Kensington Gardens. Here was the Well of St. Gover, where, until a
few years ago, an attendant still dispensed the waters of the well.

8. St. Pancras Well was on the north side of St. Pancras Church.

9. At Tottenham there were two wells—that of St. Loy or St. Eloy, and
that called the Bishops’ Well.

10. Skinner’s Well was not far from Clerks’ Well, which is all the
information one has about it. The same may be said of Todwell,
Faggeswell, Loders Well, and Radwell, all now filled up and forgotten.
The site of the Holy Well was preserved until recently in the street of
that name.

11. At Shoreditch there was the Well of St. John; not far from
Shoreditch in Old Street, north of Tabernacle Square, was the spring
of St. Agnes le Clair, called also Dame Annice, the Clear and Anniseed



Trial by ordeal was always possible in London, yet, in later years,
rarely practised. The reason of its rarity was, no doubt, the fact that
the accused person was in most cases the guilty person. In an age when
the judgment of God could be solemnly invoked, when there was absolute
belief in the punishments and tortures reserved for the guilty, a man
would, as a general rule, hesitate before loading his soul, heavy with
the actual crime, with perjuries and the blasphemy of calling upon an
offended God to prove his innocence; to invite, that is, the Father
of Justice himself to deliver a false judgment. It was this clear and
unquestioning faith which made the trial by ordeal possible for the
innocent man to claim, and generally impossible for the guilty.

There were many kinds of ordeal.

The first was the ordeal called the corsned, _i.e._ the eating of a
small cake of consecrated barley bread. The accused called upon the
Lord God to choke him with it if he were guilty. It was believed that
in this case his throat would become contracted and his jaws fixed.
It was so that Earl Godwin was said to have been adjudged guilty and
choked by the Hand of Justice which he had invoked.

The second method, long practised in the case of witches, was the
ordeal of cold water. The accused was stripped, his hands were tied
crosswise to his feet; he was sprinkled with holy water; he was
permitted to kiss the cross; a rope was tied around his waist, and
at the distance of two ells from his body a knot was tied; he was
then thrown into deep water; if he sank as deep as the knot he was
innocent; if not, he was guilty. The administration of the ordeal was
not conducted in the bare and simple method indicated above: it was
placed in the hands of priests; mass was said before it; there were
appropriate psalms and prayers; the accused confessed his sins to the
priest; before the whole congregation he called upon God to prove his
innocence; he swore upon the holy relics of the church that he was
innocent. The function was one of great solemnity, and calculated to
impress the minds of the people most deeply.

The ordeal by hot water was, it will be seen, as a mere ceremony, most
remarkable. One case will stand for many.

Four men, all belonging to the Ward of Chepe, were accused of robbery
and murder; the dead body of the murdered man had been found lying near
the Standard in Chepe stripped, and showing gaping wounds; the four men
were known to be “roreres,” that is, night wanderers and brawlers; the
evidence against them, chiefly circumstantial, warranted their arrest;
they claimed to prove their innocence by the ordeal of boiling water.

On the appointed day they were brought out from Newgate and conducted
to St. Sepulchre’s Church, where they first confessed and then attended
mass, being placed in the body of the church before the altar screen.
After mass a short special service was sung for them; they then, one
after the other, swore upon the relics that they were innocent; they
demanded, singly and one after the other, the proof by ordeal; they
solemnly implored the Lord to make manifest their innocence if they
were innocent, or to prove their guilt if they were guilty. This done,
a procession was formed. The whifflers marched first, followed by the
clergy and the singing boys. Then came the prisoners guarded by the

They were led out to Smithfield followed by a great crowd; the ordeal
was not a function that could be witnessed every day; the Londoners
have always turned out in force to witness an execution, or a flogging,
or pillory, or any act of justice. On Smithfield, at the east of the
Elms, that is, nearly in front of Bartholomew’s Hospital, a fire of
wood was burning in an open grate; upon this stood a caldron full of
water; the smoke of the fire rolled up round the caldron and was blown
hither and thither; with it ascended, or was blown about, the steam of
the boiling water; the flames crackled and licked the black sides of
the caldron, the water bubbled and overflowed and hissed. Behind the
caldron was a gibbet, with ropes for four. It was afterwards observed
that of the four men one preserved a cheerful and confident air, the
other three were haggard and wan; their limbs dragged as they went.

Arrived at the spot the Sheriff, who was present with the Alderman
of Chepe, informed the prisoners—which they knew already—that at the
bottom of the caldron lay a round white stone; they would each have
to dip an arm into the boiling water and bring out that stone without
scalding themselves.

The first to essay the adventure was the prisoner of the cheerful and
the confident countenance; the guards took off his doublet; they rolled
a thin piece of linen round his arm and sealed it with lead. They then
bade him advance. He stepped forward; he stood beside the caldron, his
arm raised; the Priest and singing men began a Psalm.

The smoke and the steam blew this way and that way; the man could not
be seen sometimes for the fumes; when the wind blew aside, the people
saw him still, hand upraised, watching the boiling water. Suddenly the
smoke and the steam were blown aside; he plunged his arm; the smoke
was blown back again; but he stood before the officers, the white stone
in his hand.

The crowd shouted. The Lord had proved his innocence.

He was set aside; he would be taken back to Newgate; three days
afterwards, the covering would be taken from his arm, and if there were
no signs of scalding he would be set free.

The next man stepped forward.

He plunged his hand at once; he groped about for the stone; he drew
out his hand; he plunged again; he drew it out with a yell of agony.
No need to look at the arm searchingly, it was horribly scalded. They
hanged him up at once.

The third man was brought forward.

He looked at his companion hanging; he looked at the caldron and the
fire. He fell on his knees confessing the crime.

So, likewise, did the fourth man.

So, out of four ropes, three were wanted; and for four of them who
were accused, the Lord Himself had pronounced the guilt of three and
established the innocence of one.

The fourth method was the ordeal by fire, in which the accused had
to lift a red-hot bar of iron without burning his hands, or to walk
barefoot over red-hot iron; or to put his hand into a red-hot iron
glove; or to pass through a blazing fire with his clothes untouched.
In the case of the bar of red-hot iron, the trial took place in the
church, and as soon as mass was begun the bar was placed in the coals;
at the last collect it was taken off. A stand of some kind was placed
near the fire, then a space of nine times the length of the prisoner’s
foot was measured off; this made a distance of about seven or eight
feet. This space was divided by lines into three. The prisoner had to
lift up the bar and to carry it by three steps across the space. His
hand was then bound up, and after three days it was examined. If it
showed signs of burning he was hanged.

These kinds of ordeal naturally fell into disuse as soon as people
began to suspect that there was “management” by the priests; their
suspicions began certainly as early as the time of William Rufus, and
perhaps earlier. The Normans, indeed, scoffed at all the old ordeals.
On one occasion, when twenty prisoners had successfully passed the
ordeal by fire, William Rufus laughed at the whole business and ordered
them all to be tried. But the ordeal by battle stood on a different
footing. In this ordeal there could be no deception and no bribing;
the priest had nothing to do with it; the two parties had to fight it
out to the death; it was conducted in grim and solemn earnest; it was
an appeal and a heartfelt prayer to the Lord of Justice. He was called
upon to show the world which was the guilty party. And just as in the
ordeal by water, the consciousness of innocence gave a man assurance,
and thereby enabled him to undertake the fearful task without
confusion or haste, so in the Ordeal by Battle, the consciousness of
innocence sent a man into the field doubly armed.

The mediæval view of the Ordeal by Battle is set forth seriously and
solemnly by Dante (_De Monarchia_, book ii. chap. x.)[19]:—

 “Moreover, what is acquired by ordeal is acquired by Right. For
 wheresoever human judgment is at fault, either because it is involved
 in the darkness of ignorance or because there is not a presiding
 judge, then, lest justice should be left deserted, we must have
 recourse to Him, who so loved her as Himself to meet her demands
 with His own blood in death. Hence the psalm, ‘Just is the Lord, and
 deeds of justice hath he loved.’ Now this is what takes place when by
 the free assent of either side, not in hatred but in love of justice
 the divine judgment is sought through means of the mutual clash of
 strength, alike of mind and body. Which clash, since it was first
 tried in the single contact of man and man, we call the ordeal.

 But we must ever take heed that like as, when it is a question of war,
 all means should first be tried in the way of award, and only in the
 last resort should the way of battle be tried (as Tully and Vegetius
 agree in saying, the one in _Re militari_, the other in the _De
 Officiis_), and like as in medical treatment, everything else should
 be tried before steel and fire, and they only in the last resort;
 so when every other way of finding judgment in a dispute has been
 exhausted, we are to recur in the last resort to this remedy, forced
 by a kind of compulsion of justice.

 There are then two formal characteristics of the ordeal: one is that
 which has just now been spoken of; the other the one which was touched
 upon above, to wit, that the contenders or champions should enter the
 palæstra, not in hate or love, but in sole zeal for justice, with
 common consent. And therefore Tully said well in dealing with this
 matter, but wars, the aim of which is the crown of Empire, should be
 waged less bitterly.

 But if the formal characteristics of the ordeal are preserved (else
 were it no ordeal) are not they who have gathered together by common
 consent, under compulsion of justice and in zeal for her, gathered
 together in the name of God? And if so, is not God in their midst,
 since He himself promises as much in the Evangel? And if God is
 present, is it not impious to think that justice may succumb?—justice
 whom He so loves as is forenoted above! And if justice cannot succumb
 in the ordeal is not that which is acquired by ordeal acquired by

A Function, or an Act of Worship, undertaken and carried out in this
spirit, cannot be regarded otherwise than most seriously. Let us turn
to the actual manner in which the Ordeal by Battle was conducted.

The accused began by denying the whole accusation word by word. He then
offered to prove his innocence by his body. If the Judge accepted the
offer and decided that the duel should take place, he made the parties
exchange gloves. They then had to find pledges that they would appear
on the day of battle. Fines were paid to the King for permission to
fight, for recreancy on failure to appear, for refusing to fight, for
not holding the ordeal properly, or as a bribe to allow a fight.

For the following rules in the preparation of the ground, I am indebted
to the learned pen of my friend Prof. Skeat, whose Notes to his
_Chaucer_ and his _Piers Plowman_ are a treasure-house of learning:—

  “The King shall find the field to fight in, and the lists shall be
 made and devised by the constable; and it is to be observed, that the
 list must be 60 paces long and 40 paces broad, set up in good order,
 and the ground within hard, stable, and level, without any great
 stones or other impediments; also, that the lists must be made with
 one door to the east, and another to the west; and strongly barred
 about with good bars 7 feet high or more, so that a horse may not be
 able to leap over them.”

It appears that there were an immense number of ordeals by battle;
indeed, in such an age, when every man was a soldier, one can very
well understand that this method would seem to an innocent man far
superior to any form of trial. In one year of Henry the Second’s reign,
there were thirty-four ordeals. Not only to an innocent man, but to
the guilty the ordeal by battle commended itself; many a sturdy rogue,
having little fear of God’s vengeance before his eyes, preferred the
chance of battle to the certainty of the gallows; so much was this the
case that criminals were sometimes pardoned on condition of fighting
so many battles successfully and ridding the country of so many
malefactors. The ordeal by battle brought into existence, as might have
been expected, a kind of gladiator, the champion or hired fighter, who
risked his neck with every fight.


These are the rules for the arming of a knight (_Arch. Journal_, iv.):—

 “How a man shalle be armyd at his ese, when he schal fighte on foote.
 He schal have noo schurte up-on him, but a dowbelet of Fustean lynyd
 with satene, cutte fulle of hoolis; the dowbelet must be strongeli
 bounden there the poyntis muste be sette aboute the greet of the
 arme, and the beste before and behynde: and the gussetis of mayle
 muste be sowid unto the dowbelet in the bought of the arme, and undir
 the arme: the armynge poyntis muste be made of fyne twyne, suche as
 men make stryngis for crossebowes, and they muste be trussid smalle,
 and poyntid as poyntis. Also they muste be waxid with cordeweneris
 coode and than they wolle neythir recche nor breke. Also a payre
 hosyne of stamyn sengille, and a peyre of shorte bulwerkis of thynne
 blanket to put aboute his kneys, for chawfynge of his lighernes. Also
 a payre of shone of thikke cordewene, and they muste be frette with
 smal whipcorde; thre knottis up-on a corde; and thre coordis muste
 be faste sowid un-to the hele of the shoo, and fyve cordis in the
 myddille of the soole of the same shoo: and that ther be betwene the
 frettis of the heele and the frettis of the myddille of the shoo the
 space of thre fyngris.

 Two arme a man: Firste, ye muste sette on Sabatones and tye hem upon
 the shoo with smale poyntis that wol breke. And then griffus, and then
 quisses, and then the breche of mayle. And then touletis. And then
 brest. And then vambras. And then rerebras. And then glovys. And then
 hange his daggere upon his right side. And then his shorte swerde
 upon the lyfte side in a rounde rynge, alle nakid, to pulle it oute
 lightli. And then putte his cote upon his bak. And then his basinet
 pynnid upon two greet staplis before the breste with a dowbille
 bokille behynde upon the bak, for to make the basinet sitte juste.
 And then his longe swerde in his hande. And then his pensille in his
 hande, peyntid of seynt George, or of oure lady, to blesse him with as
 he gooth towarde the felde, and in the felde.

 The day that the Pelaunt and the defendant shalle fighte what they
 shal have with hem into the felde.

  A tente muste be pight in the felde
  Also a cheyre
  Also a basyne
  Also vj loves of bread
  Also ij galones of wyne
  Also a messe of mete, flesshe or fisshe
  Also a borde and a peyre trestelis, to sette his mete and drynke on
  Also a borde clothe
  Also a knyf for to kutte his mete
  Also a cuppe to drynke of
  Also a glass with a drynke made
  Also a dosen tresses of armynge poyntis
  Also a hamyr and pynsones, and a bicorne
  Also smale nayles a dosene
  Also a long swerde, shorte swerde, and daggar
  Also a kerchief to hele the viser of his basinet
  Also a penselle to bere in his hande of his avowryre.

In the case of knights, we see that the weapons were those in customary
use, and the duel was a fight with spears and with sword; in the case
of the common sort, it was a very different thing. The gallows stood in
readiness for the vanquished man; the weapons were staves armed at the
end with iron shaped like a ram’s horn. There was a strict rule about
the dress of the combatants, which was to be of white wool; they were
bare-headed and bare-footed; their heads were shaved to avoid giving
a chance for either to catch the other by the hair. In a certain duel
on record the combatants first broke their staves and then fought with
fists and claws and feet and teeth, especially with their teeth; they
tore each other’s garments and the flesh beneath, until at last one got
the other down and gouged out both eyes with his thumbs. After this
there was nothing to be done but to surrender and to be carried to the
gallows there to be hanged.

In the year 1350, just after the visitation of the Black Death,
occurred the famous Ordeal by Battle between John de Viscomte and
Thomas de la Marche. The quarrel arose in the East, where both these
knights were engaged in the war then going on between the Armenians,
the Cypriotes, and the Rhodians on one side, and the Saracens on the
other. John de Viscomte was a cousin of the King of Cyprus and Thomas
de la Marche was a natural son of Philippe de Valois, King of France.
Charges were brought by the former that the said Thomas had been guilty
of perjury, treason, and forgery. The particulars of the accusation do
not concern us. Thomas denied the whole and challenged the accuser to
single combat. It is not exactly clear why the battle was not fought
out in Cyprus or in Rhodes; probably both parties desired to make as
much as possible of the quarrel and of the battle; probably the case
was felt to be one which interested the whole of Christendom; however
that may be, it was agreed to refer the matter to the King of England
as the most worthy and honourable Prince in all Christendom. The
knights, therefore, arrived in England at the beginning of September
1350 with letters from the Kings of Armenia and Cyprus containing a
statement of the case, and inviting the King to allow the Ordeal by
Battle to take place in his presence.

The day was fixed for the 4th of October; the battle to be fought out
in the Lists in his Palace of Westminster. The combatants appeared on
the day appointed, fully armed and on horseback. The King, the Prince
of Wales, and a great concourse of people were present. The oaths were
administered and the battle began. Sir John, leaping from his horse,
determined to fight on foot; in which he was followed by his adversary.
Stow says that they began by running “at the tilte.” The following is
Stow’s account of the fight, with the tragical conclusion:—

  “For this therefore were these two worthy souldiers appointed to
 fight, which they performed within the listes of the King’s pallace
 at Westminster, on Mondaye nexte following after the feaste of Saint
 Michael, where Thomas, in declaration of hys innocencie, in that he
 was accused of, overcame his enemie, but yet killed him not, for he
 could not, because he was not able to wounde hym beyng so armed, with
 anye kynde of piercing weapon, except it were in hys face whiche was
 bare. For after that they hadde runne at the Tilte, and foughte on
 foote, as they were striving together on the grounde, wyth certaine
 prickes bothe shorte and sharpe, then called Gadlings, being closed in
 the joints of his right gauntlet, the sayde Thomas struck the sayde
 John in the face, and sore wounded hym: but on the other side John
 hadde no suche kinde of weapon, wherewyth hee myght hurte Thomas face,
 and therefore cryed out aloude moste horribly, wherupon by the King’s
 commaundemente the combatte was ended, and the victory adiudged to
 Thomas, who gave the sayde John being thus overcome, to the Prince
 of Wales for a Captive, and offered up his owne armoure to Sainte
 George in Sainte Paules Churche at London, wyth great devotion. These
 matters beyng thus finished, the Cipres man is manumitted and sette
 at libertie as a free man againe. And Thomas thinking boldly to goe
 into the presence of his brother the Frenche King, toke hys journey
 thyther, and at his coming, founde the sayde King and the nobilitie of
 Fraunce greatlye offended, and in indignation against him, for that he
 agreed that the combat shoulde be tried before the King of England.
 Wherefore Thomas thinking secretly with him selfe howe to winne the
 false friendship of his brother, became desirous to shewe that therein
 he hadde done well among all other things he greatelye praysed the
 nobilitie of Edwarde and his worthy fame spredde over all the worlde,
 and also the justice whiche he used in judging, not accepting the
 person of the manne of Cipres (yea thoughe he loved the Kyng himselfe
 verye well), neyther suffered him to be preferred before me, which
 am a French manne, and brother, and friende to thee my Lorde Kyng of
 Fraunce, judge over the sayde King Edwarde my adversarie. Also the
 Earle of Ewe highly praysed the King of England, for that he hadde
 receyved greate comforte and commoditye at hys handes during the tyme
 of hys Captivitie in Englande, shewing also howe farre that good Kyng
 hadde banished envie and hatred from hys hearte, who at a time of
 justyng beyng in the fielde at that exercise, and the Kyng also, was
 commaunded by the Kyng himselfe to beare awaye the price and pricke
 from them all. These commendations did the French Kyng envie at, and
 for indignation, he most wickedlye commaunded the setters forth of
 those prayses to be beheaded. And for to colour the matter the better
 he fayned that the Earle used too much familiaritie with the Queene
 his wife, and that his brother was guiltie of treason against the
 King of Fraunce, bycause he committed his cause and the combat to
 be tryed by the judgement of the King of England. After he had thus
 murdered his brother, he tormented his wife to death by famine, who
 was daughter of the noble King of Boheme, lately slaine in battayle by

On the 7th of June 1380 another Ordeal by Battle was held. It is a very
singular story, and reads as if the guilty man were prevented from
making a good fight by the knowledge of his guilt. Fabyan and Stow both
refer to the incident, but only briefly; Holinshed is the authority
for the fuller details. The accuser, Sir John Annesley, charged Thomas
Catrington, Esquire—Fabyan calls him Carton—with having betrayed and
sold to the French the castle of St. Sauveur in Normandy, of which he
was Governor. He brought the charge before the Court of the Constable
of England sitting at Westminster, concluding by throwing down his
gauntlet and offering to justify the words in open duel. Catrington
denied the charge and accepted the duel.

In the year 1384 another Ordeal of Battle took place in the Palace
Lists, which, like the last, resulted in the death of the unjust.
The case was this:—One Mortileto de Vilenos, a gentleman of Navarre,
brought a charge of treason against John Welsh, an English gentleman,
stating that the treason had been committed while Welsh was Governor of
Cherbourg. They fought it out on St. Andrew’s Day, the result being the
overthrow of Mortileto, who then confessed that his charge was without
foundation, but that it was invented in revenge for the seduction
of his wife by Welsh. He was therefore by the King’s command hanged
immediately, though the Queen, Stow says, made earnest intercession to
have his life saved.

Madox (_Exchequer_, i. 550) furnishes an account of an Ordeal by Battle
with an illustration of the manner of combat:—

 “Now we are speaking of Duels, I will lay before the Reader a pretty
 remarkable Case of a Duel that was fought in the Reign of K. Henry
 III. between Walter Bloweberme, an Approver, and Hamon le Stere;
 together with a Draught or figure of the Duel, as it was drawn at that
 time. The Case was this. Walter Bloweberme appealed Hamon le Stere of
 Robbery: alleging that they were together at Winchester, and there
 stole Cloaths and other Goods; whereof Hamon had, for his Share, two
 Coats, to wit, one of Irish Cloth, and the other a Party-coat or Cloth
 of Abendon and Burell of London: and that he (the said Walter) was in
 Fellowship with the said Hamon in the said Robbery, he offereth to
 prove by his Body, as the Court shall award. Hamon came and denyed the
 whole. And saith that he will defend himself by his Body. Whereupon
 it was awarded, that there should be a Duel between them. A Duel was
 struck. And Hamon being vanquished in the Combat, was adjudged to be
 hanged. It was found that Hamon had no Chattels to forfeit to the

The account of a dispute about a manor in the Isle of Harty, which was
to have been fought out in Tothill Fields, Westminster, but ended very
tamely, is given at length in _London in the Time of the Tudors_, p.

In the _Collections of a London Citizen_ there are two Ordeals by
Battle, one at least, very grim and horrible:

  “And in that same yere (1445) there was an armyrer and hys owne
 man fought whythe yn the lystys in Smethefylde the last day of
 Januer, ande there the mayster was slayne and dyspoylyde owte of hys
 harnys, and lay stylle in the fylde alle that day and that nyght next
 folowynge. And thenne aftyrward by the kyngys commaundement, he was
 drawyn, hanggyde, and beheddyde, and hys hedde sette on London Brygge,
 and the body hynggyng a-bove erthe be-syde the towre....

 Also that yere (1455) a thyffe, one Thomas Whytehorne, was take in
 the Neweforeste be-syde Beuley and put yn preson at Wynchester. And
 when the day of delyverans com he appelyd many trewe men, and by that
 mene he kepte hys lyffe in preson. And thoo men that he appelyd were
 take and put yn stronge preson and sufferde many grete paynys, and
 was that they sholde confesse and a-corde unto hys fals pelyng: and
 sum were hongyd that hadde noo frende shyppe and goode, and thoo that
 hadde goods gate hyr charters of pardon. And that fals and untrewe
 peler hadde of the kynge every day j d. _ob._ And thys he contynuyd
 al moste iij yere, and dystryde many men that were sum tym in hys
 company. And at the laste he appelyd on that outerly sayde that he
 was fals in hys appelynge, and sayde that he wolde preve hyt with hys
 hondys, and spende hys lyfe and blode a-pone hys fals body. And thys
 mater was fulle dyscretely take and hyrde or bothe pelerrys parte, and
 of the defendente ys parte also. And a notabylle man, and the moste
 petefullyste juge of al thys londe in syttyng a-pon lyffe and dethe,
 toke thys sympylle man that offeryd to fyght with the peler, ande
 fulle curtesly informyd hym of alle the condyscyons of the fyghtyng
 and duelle of repreffe that shulde be by-twyne a peler of the kyngys,
 fals or trewe, in that one party, and by-twyne the defendent, trewe
 or false, in that othyr party. For in cas that the peler prevaylyd in
 that fyght he shulde he put in preson ayen, but he shulde fare more
 better than he dyd be fore tyme of fyghtynge, and be i-lowe of the
 kyng ij d. every day as longe as hit plesyd the kyng that he shulde
 lyf. For in prosses the kynge may by the lawe put hym to dethe, as
 for a man sleer, bycause that hys pelyng, fals or trewe, hathe causyd
 many mannys dethys, for a very trewe man schulde with yn xxiiij howrys
 make opyn to be knowe alle suche fals hyd thyngys of felony or treson,
 yf he be nott consentynge unto the same felowschyppe, undyr payne of
 dethe; and thys peler ys in the same cas, wherefore he moste nedys dy
 by very reson. Thys ys for the pelers party.

 The defendaunte ys party ys, as that nobylle man, Mayster Myhelle
 Skyllyng, sayde ande informyde the defender, that he and the peler
 moste be clothyd alle in whyte schepys leter, bothe body, hedde,
 leggys, fete, face, handys, and alle. Ande that they schulde have
 in hyr hondys ij stavys of grene hasche, the barke beyng a-pon, of
 iij fote in lenghthe, and at the ende a bat of the same govyn owte
 as longe as the more gevythe any gretenys. And in that othye ende a
 horne of yryn, i-made lyke unto a rammys horne, as scharpe at the
 smalle ende as hit myght be made. And there whype they schulde make
 hyr foule batayle a-pone the moste sory and wrecchyd grene that myght
 be founde a-bowte the towne, havyng nothyr mete ne drykne whythe, bot
 both moste be fastynge. And yf hyr frowarde wepyn ben i-broke they
 moste fyght with hyr hondys, fystys, naylys, tethe, fete, and leggys;
 hyt ys to schamfulle to reherse alle the condyscyons of thys foule
 conflycte. And yf the defendent sle that pelers, fals or trewe, the
 defendent shalle be hangyde by-cause of man sleynge, by soo moche
 that he hathe i-slayne the kyngys prover, for by hys meny the kynge
 hadde mony of suche as were appelyd, and that mony that rosse of hyr
 stuffe or goodys that they hadde was put to the kynge almys, and hys
 amener dystrybutyd hit unto the pore pepylle. But the kyng may by hys
 grace pardon the defendent yf he wylle, ys the defendent be welle
 namyd and of competent governaunce in the toune or citte there at
 hys abydyng ys; but thys fulle seldon sene by-cause of the vyle and
 unmanerly fyghtynge. And by reson they shulde not ben beryd in noo
 holy sepulture of Crystyn mannys beryng, but caste owte as a man that
 wylfully sleythe hym selfe. Nowe remembyr thys foule batayle, whethey
 ye wylle doo hyt or noo. And bothe partys consentyde to fyght, with
 alle the condyscyons that long there too. And the fendent desyryd
 that the juge wolde sende unto Mylbroke there that he dwellyde, to
 inquere of hys gydynge and of conversacyon. And alle the men in that
 toune sayde that he was the trewyste laborer in alle that contre, and
 the moste gentellyste there with, for he was a fyscher and tayler of
 crafte. And the peler desyryd the same, but he was not a-bydynge in no
 place passynge a monythe. And in every place there as inquesyscyon was
 made men sayde, ‘Hange uppe Thome Whythorne, for he ys to stronge to
 fyght with Jamys Fyscher the trewe man whythe an yryn rammys horne.’
 And thys causyd the juge to have pytte a-pon the defendent,

    The maner of fyughtynge of thes ij poore
    wrecchys by-syde Wynchester.

 The peler in hys a-rayment ande parelle whythe hys wepyn come owte
 of the Este syde, and the defendent owte of the Sowthe-Weste syde
 in hys aparayle, with hys wepyn, fulle sore wepynge, and a payre of
 bedys in hys hond; and he knelyd down a-pone the erthe towarde the
 Este and cryde God marcy and alle the worlde, and prayde every man
 of forgevenys, and every man there beyng present prayde for hym. And
 the fals peler callyde and sayd ‘thou fals trayter! why arte thou soo
 longe in fals bytter be-leve?’ And thenne the defendent rosse upe and
 hym and sayde, ‘My quarelle ys as faythefulle and alle soo trewe as
 my by-lyve, and in that quarelle I wylle fyght,’ and with the same
 worde smote at the peler that hys wepyn breke; and thenne the peler
 smote a stroke to the defendent, but the offycers were redy that he
 shulde smyte no more, and they toke a-way hys wepyn fro hym. And thenn
 they fought to gederys with hyr fystys long tyme and restyd hem, ande
 fought agayne, and thenn restyd agayne; and thenn they wente togedyr
 by the neckys. And then they bothe with hyr tethe, that the lethyr of
 clothyng and flesche was alle to rente in many placys of hyr bodys.
 And thenn the fals peler caste that meke innocent downe to the grownde
 and bote hym by the membrys, that the sely innocent dryde owt. And by
 happe more thenne strengythe that innocent recoveryd up on hys kneys
 and toke that fals peler by the nose with hys tethe and put hys thombe
 in hys yee, that the peler cryde owte and prayde hym of marcy, for
 he was fals unto God and unto hym. And thenn the juge commaundyd hem
 to cesse and hyr bothe hyr talys; and the peler sayde that he hadde
 accusyd hym wrongefully and xviij men, and be-sought God of marcy and
 of forgevenys. And thenn he was confessyd ande hanggyd, of whos soule
 God have marcy. Amen.

 As for the defendent was pardonyd of hys lyfe, leme, and goodys, and
 went home; and he become an hermyts and with schorte tyme dyed.”



It is strange that an institution which played a large part in the
social scheme of the Middle Ages should have fallen so completely into
decay as to be absolutely forgotten by the people, so that there is not
even a legend or a tradition of it left. The memory of Sanctuary is as
clean lost and forgotten as that of Frank Pledge. Yet, three hundred
years ago, the constant thought of debtor or malefactor was, that,
if the worst came to the worst, he could fly to St. Martin’s or to
Westminster and so escape the clink of Ludgate, or the gaol of Newgate.
Even the murderer always had it in mind when justice was in pursuit
of him, that there was the refuge of Sanctuary, if only he might win
there, where he could be received, and could abide in safety.

Like every other ecclesiastical foundation, the right of Sanctuary was
originally a beneficent and wise institution, designed by the Church
for the protection of the weak, and the prevention of revenge, wild
justice, violence and oppression. If a man, in those days of swift
wrath and ready hand, should kill another in the madness of a moment;
if by accident he should wound or maim another; if by the breaking of
any law he should incur the penalties of justice; if by any action he
should incur the hostility of a stronger man; if by some of the many
changes and chances of fortune he should lose his worldly goods and
fall into debt or bankruptcy, and so become liable to imprisonment; if
he had cause to dread the displeasure of king, baron, or bishop, in
all these cases the right of Sanctuary was open to him. Once on the
frith-stool, once clinging to the horns of the altar, he was as safe
as an Israelite within the walls of a City of Refuge: the mighty hand
of the Church was over him; his enemies could not touch him on pain of

In theory every church was a sanctuary; but it was easy to blockade a
church so that the refugee could be starved into submission. If a felon
took refuge in a church, it was the duty of the neighbours to watch
him, until he had either surrendered, or, in presence of the proper
officer, had abjured the realm. If he was allowed to escape, the parish
or the Ward was fined a hundred shillings, to be paid to the King. The
only real safety for a fugitive from justice or revenge was in those
abbeys and places which possessed special charters and immunities.
Foremost among these were the Sanctuaries of Westminster and St.
Martin’s-le-Grand. Outside London, the principal sanctuaries appear
to have been Beverley, Hexham, Durham, and Beaulieu. But every abbey,
like every church, possessed its sanctuary as a part of its privileges.
That of Westminster was, if not founded, defined and regulated by
Edward the Confessor; that of St. Martin’s, the existence of which was
always a scandal and an offence to the City of London, was regulated by
half a dozen charters of as many kings. Its refugees were principally
bankrupts, debtors, and common thieves; these as offenders against
property were especially hated by a trading community.

The privilege of sanctuary was beautiful in theory. “Come to me,” said
the Church, “I will keep thee in safety from the hand of violence and
the arm of the law; I will give thee lodging and food; my doors shall
be always open to thee, day and night; I will lead thee to repentance.
Come, and in safety sit down and meditate on the sins which brought
thee hither.”


The invitation was extended to all, but with certain reservations. Nor
was it merely a formal invitation; sanctuary was actually sought by
multitudes, but traitors, Jews, infidels, and those who had committed
sacrilege, were not received. In Durham Cathedral two men slept every
night in the Galilee Chapel to admit any fugitive who might ring the
bell or lift the knocker. Nay, sanctuary was actually converted into a
city of refuge by the setting apart of a measured space, the whole of
which was to be considered sanctuary. At Hexham, where four roads met
in the middle of the town, a cross was set up on every one of the roads
to show where sanctuary began. At Ripon and at Beverley a circle with a
radius of a mile was the limit of sanctuary. At St. Martin’s-le-Grand
the precinct was accurately laid down, and jealously defended. It
included many streets, and the area is now almost entirely covered by
the buildings of the General Post Office. At Westminster the whole
precinct of the Abbey, church, monastery buildings, close, cloisters,
and gardens were sacred ground.

In _Archæologia_ (xvii. p. 198) is given the oath of sanctuary. I
extract the whole passage:—

  “Among the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum is a thin
 folio volume written upon vellum marked No. 4292, and containing
 the Register of Persons who sought sanctuary for different crimes
 at St. John of Beverley in Yorkshire, in the reigns of King Edward
 the Fourth, King Henry the Seventh, and King Henry the Eighth. The
 bookbinder, by whom it appears to have been rebound of later years,
 seems to have mixed some of the leaves, or, at least, to have put the
 entries of King Edward the Fourth’s time after some of those of King
 Henry the Seventh’s.

 The greater part of the manuscript is of course confined to a list of
 names and crimes; but on the reverse of folio 17 is a copy of the oath
 taken by those who sought the peace of the place. I do not remember to
 have met with a sanctuary oath elsewhere. The bailiff of the town, by
 whom the oath was administered, is directed to inquire of the refugee
 ‘what man he killed, and wher with, and both ther names: and than gar
 hym lay his hand uppon the book, sayng on this wyse.

 _Catharine W. B. Ward._


From a Copy, preserved in Canterbury Cathedral, of the almost
obliterated Painting at the head of the Tomb of Henry IV.]

 Sir tak hede on your oth. Ye shal be trew and feythful to my lord
 archbishop of York, lord off this towne, to the provest of thessame,
 to the chanons of this chirch, and all othir ministers’ thereof.

 Also ye shall bere gude hert to the baillie and xii. governars of this
 town, to all burges’ and comyners of thessame.

 Also ye shall bere no poynted wapen, dagger, knyfe, ne none other
 wapen ayenst the kyngs pece.

 Also ye shal be redy at all your power if ther be any debate or stryf
 or other sothan case of fyre within the town to help to s’cess it.

 Also ye shal be redy at the obite of Kyng Adelstan at the Dirige and
 the Messe at such tyme as it is done at the warnyng of the belman of
 the town, and do your dewte in ryngyng, and for to offer at the messe
 on the morne, so help you god and thies holy Evangelists.

 And then gar hym kysse the Book.’”

The history of St. Martin’s-le-Grand is the history of a stalwart
resistance and defence of the rights of sanctuary against the attacks
of the citizens and others. For in a lawless age no rights, no
privileges, no laws are obeyed. In Wat Tyler’s rebellion his followers
paid no respect to sanctuary; they dragged from the very altars the
tax-collectors who had hurried thither to be out of danger. Twenty
years later the City itself protested against the abuses caused
by the immunities of the sanctuary. But as yet the place was too
strongly fortified by charters and papal bulls for any change to be
effected. The King, on the other hand, took the line that it was by the
negligence of the City magistrates that so many crimes were committed,
and that so many claimants of sanctuary existed.

There is a story of sanctuary at St. Paul’s told by Riley (_Mem._ p.
24). It was in the 17th year of King Edward the First, and on the Day
of St. George, that one Walter Bacon, a chaplain, or Parish Priest,
took sanctuary in the Cathedral. Thither came, in consequence, the
King’s Coroner, William le Mazeliner, the warden of the City (it was
during the suspension of the Mayor’s office), John le Breton, Sir
Baroncin, John de Banquelle, and other trustworthy persons. Then the
Coroner, in the presence of the assembled company, demanded of the man
for what reason he had taken sanctuary. Whereupon the man replied that
it was because he had stolen sixteen silver dishes belonging to Sir
Baroncin. The dishes being restored, the Sheriff was instructed to take
charge of them in a sealed packet; and two days after the packet was
opened by the Sheriff in presence of the Coroner, and the dishes were
given back to the said Baroncin. What became of the chaplain is not

Many examples have been preserved of those who sought safety within
those walls. There is the case of one Henry who stole a signet ring, a
pyx for consecrated wafers; had it ever been used he would have been
debarred sanctuary for sacrilege; he also stole some money and other
things. He took sanctuary, then he changed his mind and fled, leaving
his stolen property behind him. The Dean’s officers seized it as a
“waif” left within the soke or franchise of the College. There is,
again, the case of Henry Ciprian, Canon of Waltham. He, for certain
offences, took refuge at St. Martin’s. It was in the year 1430, the
9th of King Henry the Sixth. The Mayor and Sheriffs thereupon seized
him and dragged him out. The Dean and Canons brought the case before
the King, who ordered Ciprian to be restored to sanctuary. But the
smouldering hostility of the City continued and increased. The Alderman
of Aldersgate, Matthew Philip, on the imposition of a certain tax,
called upon the Dean of St. Martin’s for his share, alleging that it
was not a privileged place; and actually levied the money by distress.
The King ordered it to be restored.

In the same year occurred the famous case of St. Martin’s-le-Grand,
which, though it was decided against the City, strengthened enormously
the case against sanctuary.

A certain soldier named Knight lay in prison at Newgate. His friends
trumped up a case of debt against him, to answer to which he had to
be taken to the Guildhall; therefore he passed the south side of St.
Martin’s. Five of his friends lay in ambush in Panyer Alley, and as
he passed they dragged him from the officers, and so into sanctuary,
where they all remained. Surely this was an abuse of the privilege.
The City thought so, evidently. The Sheriffs, Philip Malpas and Robert
Marshall, with the Alderman of the Ward, the City Chamberlain, and a
great multitude of people, crowded into St. Martin’s demanding the
prisoners, whom the Canon refused to surrender. They therefore seized
them by force, chained and manacled them, stripped them to their
shirts, and led them off to Newgate. Evidently it was a case which
excited the greatest indignation. The King, on receiving the complaint
of the Dean, ordered the release of the prisoners by letters taken from
Windsor to the Tower by Lord Huntingdon. The Mayor refused to open the
letters. He said that the Tower was a privileged place outside his
jurisdiction, and that he could perform no official act in it, not even
the opening of a letter addressed to himself as Mayor. Lord Huntingdon
then produced the King’s writ, which was received and considered in the
Church of Allhallows Barking. Here, with the assistance of the City
clerk, John Carpenter, they found some legal objection, which they
conveyed to the King.

The matter, however, was heard in the Star Chamber. The case of the
Dean was based, of course, on the Charters of the House, and on
the antiquity of the privileges claimed. The case of the Sheriffs,
where it did not depend upon a legal quibble, rested on the enormous
inconvenience and the many mischiefs caused by the sanctuary. Thus one
Stody deliberately murdered a woman, took refuge in the sanctuary, and
succeeded in escaping; John Frowe, having a grudge against one Robert
Dodmerton, dogged him till he was close to the gate of sanctuary,
where he stabbed him in the neck, so that he died, when the murderer
calmly took refuge in the sanctuary. One Lullay, a Cambridge man, did
exactly the same thing in the same place. It was also argued that
certain criminals in the reign of Henry the Fifth had been taken from
sanctuary, that a lane of the precinct in which criminals assembled had
been stopped by order of the King, and that church, precinct, and lane
were all portions of the City itself. These arguments prevailed not.
The Sheriffs had to give up the prisoners.

Another mischief caused by this privilege was the fabrication of
counterfeit plate and jewels which was established there. The
Goldsmiths’ Company, who had the right to examine all goldsmiths’ shops
in the City, demanded admission to St. Martin’s Precinct in order to
examine the workshops there. The Dean refused permission as a right,
but invited them to come in and inspect the work. He himself went with
them, and caused all bad work to be destroyed. Edward the Fourth, in a
statute against fraudulent goldsmiths’ work, excepted the Precinct from
its operation. It is interesting to note that makers of counterfeit
plate and jewels continued in their old quarters long after the
Dissolution. Thus Butler says:—

    “’Tis not those paltry counterfeits
    French stones which in our eyes you set,
    But our right diamonds that inspire,
    And set your am’rous hearts on fire.
    Nor can those false St. Martin’s beads,
    Which on our lips you place for reds,
    And make us wear like Indian dames,
    All fuel to your scorching flames,
    But those, true rubies of the rock
    Which in the cabinets we lock.”

Perhaps the strength of St. Martin’s was best shown in the case of
William Cayens. He was one of Jack Cade’s associates, and on the
dispersion of the rebels he took sanctuary in St. Martin’s. The King
demanded him as a traitor. The Dean took with him all his bulls and
charters and pleaded the case. In the end he won it. The traitor was to
remain, but to be prevented from committing any more treason. Some time
after, Cayens received the King’s pardon, and was even admitted to his

When the Civil Wars broke out one Oldehall, chamberlain to the Duke
of York, was ordered by the King’s advisers not to leave the City of
London. He fled to sanctuary, was dragged out, and was ordered to be
taken back again. Up to this point the Dean had proved too strong for
the City. But in the year 1455 the sanctuary men presumed so much upon
their security that they formed into companies and attacked and robbed
the citizens. Thereupon the Mayor and Sheriffs broke into Sanctuary
and seized the ringleaders. The Dean complained, the King sent for the
Mayor and his officers, but the time was not one in which the City
could be made hostile, and the prisoners were not restored.

Again, in the year following, the sanctuary men took part in an attack
upon the Italian merchants. The complaints were now so general and
so loud that some restriction had to be imposed on the privilege.
Articles were drawn up for the better regulation of the Sanctuary.
They are like those already quoted from the Archives of Beverley. Thus
(1) every person on entering must declare the cause of his seeking
refuge. (2) No one is to carry any weapon within the Precinct. (3) That
any “erraunt and open thiefe, robber, murderer and felon noised by
the common fame of the people” shall find security for good behaviour
both in sanctuary and for a quarter of a year afterwards, and that he
be kept in ward until he has found that security. But he may depart
if he pleases. (4) The gates to be shut at certain hours. (5) Stolen
goods not to be taken into sanctuary. (6) If any acts of robbery or
violence be committed by a sanctuary man he is to be placed in prison
and kept there. But he may depart if he will (of course to find the
Sheriff’s officer waiting for him). (7) Forgers, makers of counterfeit
goods, pickers of locks, etc., not to be allowed in sanctuary, (8)
Strumpets and all immoral persons to be kept in prison until they amend
or depart. (9) Gambling—“plays at hazard, the dice, the guell, the
kayelles, the cloysh”—to be forbidden in sanctuary. (10) Sundays and
holy days to be kept, and (11) every person admitted to take oath that
he will obey these rules.


Already, on more than one occasion, the difference between mediæval
laws and mediæval practice has been remarked. What, for instance,
could be better than these ordinances? Everything seems to be provided
for, merciful refuge for the criminal, prison for those who commit
new crimes, the practice of dishonest trades forbidden, the morality
of the sanctuary protected, the place to be a House of Religion and
Repentance, and not a refuge and lurking place for thieves and rogues.
What happened? That the sanctuary went on just as before. There was,
no doubt, some little stir at the outset: the Canons ordered their
servants to exercise diligence in the maintenance of these laws: we
have seen the Dean going round with the Goldsmiths’ officer; perhaps
he went round with his own officers, and questioned the refugees,
admonished them all, both men and women, and then departed. The decay
of all the Monastic and Ecclesiastical foundations was everywhere
partly due to the fact that, while the Rule remained, that part of
it which demanded personal service was handed over to servants and
inferior officers. The criminal who ran into the sanctuary was received
by a servant, not by the Canons: he was lodged by a servant, not
by the Canons; then, the food provided being humble in quality and
insufficient in quantity, the refugee carried on his trade in order
to get more food; probably the custom grew up, as it had grown up in
the prisons of Newgate and Ludgate, of paying fees to the sanctuary
officers; in return for those fees everything was permitted. Men, who
lived by robbery and who were well known to be robbers; women who lived
by procuring and by prostitution; sharpers, forgers, fabricators of
false goods, fraudulent bankrupts, receivers of stolen goods; thieves
actually took sanctuary with their stolen goods in their hands; all
these people lived in security and peace: they escaped the pillory, the
stocks, the agony of the whipping-post, the noisome prison, and the
gallows. The City did well to protest without ceasing against the abuse
of the Sanctuary.

During the civil wars St. Martin’s proved a veritable Haven of Refuge
to many, including the Countess of Oxford, Morton, Bishop of Ely, and
other prelates, as well as both Lords and Ladies. In St. Martin’s lived
and died—“rotted away piecemeal”—Miles Forrest, one of the murderers
of the young Princes. A great change was made in St. Martin’s when the
College was transferred by Henry the Seventh to the Abbey of St. Peter,
Westminster. The Abbot became Dean of St. Martin’s; another seal was
made; the duties of the Canons were performed by Vicars.

In the year 1548 all chantries, free chapels, and brotherhoods were
suppressed, St. Martin’s among them. The splendid church was pulled
down; the site was speedily built over by tenements and shops and
taverns. But superstition and custom reserved until a much later
time some of the privileges of sanctuary both at St. Martin’s and at

The Chronicle of the west end sanctuary is somewhat nobler.

It must be understood that the whole Precinct of the Abbey and not
the Church only was the sanctuary, of which the more sacred part, of
course, was the Church. But the name of sanctuary was especially given
to a gloomy square pile built of ragstone, about seventy-five feet
square and about sixty feet high. Outside was a round tower no higher
than the building itself, which contained a stair communicating with
the upper storey. There were two storeys, each of which was a chapel,
the lower one being especially dark and gloomy. On the roof it appears
there were sometimes erected small houses for the accommodation of

By a very remarkable omission, this interesting building is not noticed
by Stow or by any later writer. Stukeley first observed it, and
sketched and measured it in the year 1750 when they were taking it down.

Here is a glimpse (1556) of a sanctuary procession:—

 “The vi. day of December the Abbot of Westminster went a procession
 with his convent: before him went all the sanctuary men with crosse
 keys [upon their garments] and after went iij. for murder: one, the
 Lord Dacre’s sone, of the Northe, was wypyd (whipped) with a shett
 abowt him for kyllyng of a man, master West sqwyre dwellyng besyd ...
 and anodur theyff that dyd long to one of master comtroller ... dyd
 kyll Recherd Eggyllston the comtroller’s tayller, and [killed him in]
 the Long Acurs, the bak-syd Charyng-crosse: and a boye [that] kyld a
 byge boye that sold papers and pryntyd bokes [with] horlyng of a stone
 and yt hym under the ere in Westmynster Hall: the boy was one of the
 chylderyn what was [at the] sckoll ther in the abbey: the boy was a
 hossear sune [hosier’s son] a-boyff London-stone.”

[Illustration: _Exterior View_

_Lower Church_

_Upper Church_

_Original drawing made by Dr. Stukeley._


From Allen’s _History of London_.]

The whipping of Lord Dacre’s son, wrapped in a white sheet, for murder,
must have been edifying. Sanctuary, therefore, was not wholly free from
pains and penalties. Two months later, another man in sanctuary was
whipped “before the cross” for murder.

Not always, however, were the rights of sanctuary respected. That Wat
Tyler should respect them was hardly to be expected. Therefore we
read without surprise how he dragged the Marshal of the Marshalsea
from one of the pillars of the Confessor’s shrine, to which, as the
holiest place in the church, he was clinging. But the murder of the
knight Hawke in the year 1398 is a very remarkable illustration of
the violence and ungovernable temper into which the men of that time
could fall. There were two knights named Hawke and Shackle. In the
Spanish wars of the Black Prince they had between them effected the
valuable capture of a Spanish noble. He exchanged his son, a youth,
for himself, a method of hostage not uncommon, and went home, leaving
the two Englishmen expectant of a lordly ransom. Then, however, John
of Gaunt, who claimed the throne of Spain, demanded the delivery
of the young Spaniard to himself. This was refused. Thereupon he
threatened imprisonment, so that the knights fled and took sanctuary at
Westminster, accompanied by the captive disguised as a page or valet.
It would seem as if they were pursued on their flight. At least what
follows does not look like a deed done in cold blood. The two knights
fled into the church as the safest part of the sanctuary. Thither they
were followed by Alan Bloxhall, Constable of the Tower, Sir Ralph
Ferrers, and a company of fifty men. Shackle, for his part, escaped
with the page—probably into the cloisters, where he could easily be
conveyed to a place of safety. But Hawke remained in the church and
ran round the choir followed by his enemies. This took place actually
during the celebration of High Mass. At last the wretched man fell
covered with wounds in front of the Prior’s stall, that is, within
the choir. After this, the Prior closed the church for four months,
and caused the violators of the sanctuary to be excommunicated, as
well as fining them £200 apiece—equal to nearly £3000 of our money. If
sanctuary, if sacrilege meant anything at all, the abbot was bound to
make as much as he could of the “factum horribile.” The unfortunate
Hawke was buried in the south transept.

But there were other violations of sanctuary, as when Sir Robert
Tresilian, Lord Chief Justice, was dragged out from the refuge he had
sought; and when the Duke of Exeter was treated likewise: on the other
hand, Henry the Seventh showed his wisdom in respecting sanctuary when
Perkin Warbeck took shelter there.

And sanctuary was, as a rule, respected. When Eleanor Cobham, Duchess
of Gloucester, went into sanctuary at Westminster, she was unmolested,
and might have stayed there all her life had she chosen. Elizabeth
Woodville gave birth to her elder boy, “forsaken by her friends and
in great penury,” yet in safe keeping. Here she placed the child in
his father’s arms on his return. A second time she fled thither when
that boy, thirteen years of age, was in the hands of her enemy and
in the Tower. She took with her the younger boy, but we all know what
happened. Sanctuary was broken. The Archbishops gave their consent
to the sacrilege even though they knew, everybody must have known,
that the boys would be murdered one after the other. It was the lot
of every prince or possible heir to the throne in those times to be
murdered or to be slain in battle. Henry the Sixth, Prince Edward,
the Duke of York, the Duke of Clarence, the Duke of Exeter, are all
examples instructive enough. Yet the Archbishops yielded. Why? I think
it is clear that they dreaded above all things a boy King: above all
things they wanted repose for the distracted land. It was a case
of choosing between the lives of two innocent boys, or fresh wars,
new distractions, which? The violation of sanctuary in this case is
remarkable for the opportunity it gave the Duke of Buckingham to attack
the whole system of sanctuary.

 “I dare well avow it, weigh the good that they do with the hurt that
 cometh of them, and ye shall find it much better to lack both than to
 have both. And this I say, although they were not abused as they now
 be, and so long have been, that I fear me they will ever be, while
 men be afraid to set their hands to the amendment: as though God and
 St. Peter were the patrons of ungracious living. Now unthrifts riot
 and run in debt upon the boldness of these places: yea, and rich men
 run thither with poor men’s goods. There they build, there they spend
 and bid their creditors go whistle for them. Men’s wives run thither
 with their husbands’ plate, and say they dare not abide with their
 husbands for beating. Thieves bring thither their stolen goods, and
 there live thereon. There devise they new robberies nightly to steal
 out, they rob, and reave, and kill, and come in again as though those
 places gave them not only a safeguard for the harm they have done, but
 a licence also to do more mischief.”

It must not be forgotten that Skelton the poet escaped the wrath of
Wolsey by taking refuge in the Westminster Sanctuary, where he lived in
safety and died unmolested.

In the _Italian Relations of England_ (Camden Society), probably
written at the end of the fifteenth century, the author bears testimony
of the same kind to the evils of sanctuary. Apparently the institution
did not exist in Italy.

 “The clergy are they who have the supreme sway over the country, both
 in peace and war. Amongst other things, they have provided that a
 number of sacred places in the kingdom should serve for the refuge and
 escape of all delinquents: and no one, were he a traitor to the crown,
 or had he practised against the king’s own person, can be taken out
 of these by force. And a villain of this kind, who, for some great
 excess that he has committed, has been obliged to take refuge in one
 of these sacred places, often goes out of it to brawl in the public
 streets, and then, returning to it, escapes with impunity for every
 fresh offence he may have been guilty of. This is no detriment to the
 purses of the priests, nor to the other perpetual sanctuaries: but
 every church is a sanctuary for 40 days: and, if a thief or a murderer
 who has taken refuge in one cannot leave it in safety during these 40
 days, he gives notice that he wishes to leave England. In which case,
 being stripped to the shirt by the chief magistrate of the place,
 and a crucifix placed in his hand, he is conducted along the road to
 the sea, where, if he finds a passage, he may go with a ‘God speed
 you!’ But if he should not find one, he walks into the sea up to the
 throat, and three times asks for a passage: and this is repeated till
 a ship appears, which comes for him, and so he departs in safety. It
 is not unamusing to hear, how the women and children lament over the
 misfortune of these exiles, asking ‘how they can live so destitute out
 of England’: adding, moreover, that ‘they had better have died than go
 out of the world,’ as if England were the whole world!”

Henry the Seventh in 1483 procured a bull from Pope Innocent the
Eighth, which allowed of malefactors being taken out of sanctuary when
it was proved that they had left sanctuary in order to commit some
mischief. And that if persons suspected of high treason took refuge
it should be permitted to the King to station guards at the gates and
elsewhere to keep them from going out. Later, in the year 1504, Henry
the Seventh procured another bull permitting him to take out persons
suspected of high treason. This bull would seem to allow the actual
destruction of sanctuary.

The procedure in the claim of sanctuary was as follows (the statute
being put up in the Custom Hall of the Cinque Ports, Dover), (_Italian

 “And when any shall flee into the church or churchyard for felony,
 claiming thereof the privilege for any action of his life, the head
 officer of the same liberty where the said church or churchyard is,
 with his fellow jurats or commoners of the same liberty, shall come
 to him and shall ask him the cause of being there, and if he will not
 confess felony immediately, it shall be entered in record, and his
 goods and chattels shall be forfeited, and he shall tarry there forty
 days, or before, if he will, he shall make his abjuration in form
 following before the head officer, who shall assign to him the port of
 his passage: and after his abjuration there shall be delivered unto
 him by the head officer, or his assignees, a cross, and proclamation
 shall be made that while he be going by the highway towards the
 port to him assigned, he shall go in the king’s peace, and that no
 man shall grieve him in so doing, on pain to forfeit his goods and
 chattels. And the said felon shall lay his right hand on the book, and
 swear this:—‘You hear, Mr. Coroner, that I ... a thief, have stolen
 such a thing, or have killed such a woman, or man, or a child, and
 am the king’s felon, and for that I have done many evil deeds and
 felonys in this same his land, I do abjure and forswear the lands of
 the kings of England, and that I shall haste myself to the port of
 ... which you have given or assigned me: and that I shall not go out
 of the highway, and if I do, I will that I shall be taken as a thief,
 and the king’s felon, and at the same place I shall tarry but one ebb
 and flood, if I may have passage: and if I cannot have passage in the
 same place, I shall go every day into the sea to my knees and above,
 crying, Passage, for the love of God, and King ... his sake: and if
 I may not within forty days together, I shall get me again into the
 church, as the king’s felon. So help me God and by this book according
 to your judgment.’ And if a clerk flying to the church for felony,
 affirming himself to be a clerk, he shall not abjure the realm, but
 yielding himself to the laws of the realm, shall enjoy the liberties
 of the church, and shall be delivered to the ordinary, to be kept safe
 to the convict prison, according to the laudable custom of the realm
 of England.”



I have elsewhere spoken of the singular fact that no remains of a
Roman theatre or amphitheatre have been found in London, and I have
ventured to put forward a theory as to the site of one or both. One
cannot, indeed, understand how there could be a theatre at Rutupiæ,
or at Bath, and none at London. It is true that Augusta was, for the
greater part of her Roman existence, a Christian City; but so was
Bath; it is also true that the Church condemned the Theatre. But these
facts did not destroy the Theatre. St. Augustine tells us how much
he was attracted by the drama—_rapiunt me spectacula theatrica_. The
total destruction of the Roman theatre in the country with the stage
machinery and the stage traditions, we may be quite sure, was effected,
not by the thunders of the Church, but by the coming of the Angles
and the Saxons, and by the Desolation of Augusta. The drama had to
begin again later on. As the mimetic instinct always survives every
attempt at repression, the drama in some form was sure to revive. It
began again in two forms: first, in the Church, the very place whence
it had been denounced, and in the entertainments given by wandering
mummers, minstrels, dancers, and tumblers. The wandering folk, the
show folk, the _ribauds_, the people who cannot work, the men and
women who can only earn their bread by making music and merriment,
by telling stories, singing songs, performing tricks, dancing,
turning somersaults, and pandering to the ever-present desire for
pleasure,—these people cannot be suppressed; and they kept alive the
art of acting. In England they flourished exceedingly in quiet times.
What sort of rude play they performed it is not possible to ascertain.
It was, I believe, a rough and ready farce, like that preserved in
Rabelais, where the Farce of the Dumb Woman is presented. The people
want to laugh. What do they mostly laugh at? The discomfiture of some
one in some way. Enter the Dumb Woman—she makes great business with
her broom; she knocks down one man with it and hits another over the
nose; both men complain and suffer pain and indignity. Then the people
laugh. Add music and a tumbling girl; add gestures unseemly and jokes
unfit for repetition. Add, further, anything you please from the modern
role of clown and pantaloon, and we shall understand the entertainment
afforded by the show folk of the eleventh century. I suppose that
they sometimes made fun of the priests—always a tempting subject—one
reason for thinking so is that the more reverend a man wishes to be
thought, the more he lays himself open to ridicule; another reason is
that contemporary writers, as John of Salisbury, condemn actors with
ecclesiastical plainness. They were in request, it would appear, at
marriage feasts, and the nature of their entertainment is indicated
by the order that any priests who were present were to get up and go
away when the players began. These people have left little behind
them, but they maintained the taste for scenic performances, and, no
doubt, they drew away from the plough or the carpenter’s bench many
a lad whose heart yearned for the music and the twinkling feet, the
bright dresses, and the laughing life of these masterless vagabonds
and lawless girls. But in England nothing was written or invented:
it is to the Church and not to the show folk that we owe the modern
drama. And it began with the laudable desire—nay, the necessity—of
making people, in whom the imagination was dull, realise the doctrines
of the Church. The service was in Latin, a language not comprehended
any longer even in Italy; nobody could read; there were no books
for them if they could: preaching, of which there was little before
the Friars came, could not effect much: mural painting was not even
begun: how then were the people to be taught the leading events, the
foundations, in the History of the Christian Faith? Only by some kind
of dramatic representation. Thus, at Christmas-time it was easy—nay,
praiseworthy—to build a stall for oxen in the church; to fit it with
a manger; to invite all the people to see for themselves, as if they
were alive, the Virgin Mother with the Infant Christ, Joseph, the Magi,
the angels, and the shepherds. On Good Friday a great crucifix was set
up and solemnly lowered into the grave. On Easter Day the stone of the
sepulchre was rolled away and our Lord came forth; after Easter He
walked with the pilgrims of Emmaus; He appeared to the disciples. At
Ascension He mounted visibly to Heaven in the sight of all. So also,
He raised Lazarus; He healed the sick; He washed the feet. When the
simple people looked on and saw such miracles who could doubt? Nay,
who could ever forget? “There is the grave, with Lazarus in it—look at
him! The grave-clothes are swathed about him, his face is white, he is
dead, there is even to another sense the unmistakable proof of death.
Here comes the Lord Himself. Tell me not that it is Brother Ambrose—it
is the Lord Himself! Who but the Lord can bring a dead man to life? It
is the Very Christ!” So they went away marvelling. These things were
elementary; but they offered scope for acting, and they offered food
for the imagination. Of course they became more and more realistic. The
priests’ robes were exchanged for suitable dresses; the chorister, who
represented an angel, added wings to his white surplice, and carried a
harp and wore a crown. And the field of the drama widened. It included
at length the whole scheme of Redemption from the Fall of Lucifer to
the Day of Judgment.


The procession of the Patron Saint, or any other holy day, and that
of Corpus Christi Day were further used to teach the people in the
dramatic way. The saints marched with the Trade Guilds; they were known
by what they carried. Adam and Eve wore the Tree of Knowledge; John
the Baptist was a herald—everybody at that time knew what was meant by
a herald; Judas followed. Of course he was received with hisses and
groans, but he could not escape observation, because he carried a bag
of gold and was followed by the Devil with the gallows; Christopher
carried Christ; the wise men carried gifts; nothing was forgotten. That
these representations sank deeply into the hearts of the people is
certain, because it is only natural that this should be their effect.
A story is related of a German Prince, the Landgrave Frederic of the
Scarred Cheek, who, after witnessing a play of the Wise and Foolish
Virgins, in which the Virgin Mary herself failed to move her Son to
mercy, cried out, “What sort of thing is Christian faith if Christians
cannot be pardoned even on the intercession of the mother of God and
all the Saints?” And so fell into a religious melancholy such as was
common in later times among Calvinists. But it wants no such story to
make us understand the power of these dramatic performances. At first
they were presented in dumb show; then with the words of the Bible;
lastly, with words specially written for them. The next step was
the transfer of the stage from the nave of the church to the place
outside. This took place when the machinery required was too large for
the little parish church, and when the _dramatis personæ_ were too
numerous for the ecclesiastical staff of the Church. Then the laity
became the actors, speedily the only actors. At the same time, the
Church did not surrender control over the plays: in Rome there was the
Fraternity of the Gonfaler: in Antwerp the Brethren of St. Luke, who
were authorised to perform these plays. In England they were divided
among the Trade Guilds, every one of which had to exhibit some dramatic
scene on the Feast of Corpus Christi. Thus at Coventry the smiths
played the Trial and Crucifixion; the Cappers played the Resurrection
and Descent into Hell; the Shearmen played the Birth of Christ, the
Adoration of the Magi, the Flight into Egypt and the Massacre of the
Innocents. In London the Company of Parish Clerks took a prominent
part, one of their performances being recorded by Stow as lasting for
three days. This was at the Skinners’ Well, Smithfield, in the year
1391. Another performance is also mentioned which took place in 1409,
and lasted for eight days. The civic procession of Corpus Christi,
which was attended by Mayor, Sheriffs, and Aldermen, with all the City
officers, together with the City clergy, and was adorned by pageants
and figures and groups, was entrusted to the Skinners’ Company. I have
not been able to discover other London companies entrusted with the
representation of these plays. The stage was of considerable area, and
contained two “rooms,” the upper room for heaven and the lower for
earth; or the upper “room” was earth and the lower was hell. Sometimes
there were three “rooms.” The play was introduced by a prologue:
each player was presented by name: when not acting the players stood
aside and were supposed to be invisible. The realism was startling.
When Judas was hanged he carried to the gallows the entrails of some
animal, which, when he cast himself off, he let fall. At the same
time the devil, who was behind him on the gallows, cut the rope, and
they both fell down into hell together. There was no shrinking from
the representation of a birth upon the stage: saints in torture made
jokes; Solomon quarrelled with one of his wives and drank a mug of
beer; the devil carried off a soul in a wheelbarrow; at the scene of
the Resurrection the gardener made fun over the effects of his herbs;
the pedlar wanted to sell his wares to the women weeping over the
grave; the mouth of hell vomited flames; Adam and Eve appeared as they
were before the Fall; it is as if the Church wanted to make the event
more real by connecting it with the actual life, the unmistakable
life of men and women. From Church to Market-place was one step; from
the mystery to the morality is another step; the last step of all was
from the morality, an insipid performance, to the real comedy of human
life, and even this had to make its way by means of the drama founded
on the life of the saint. How great a step to discover that in every
man there was a possible drama equal in interest to the life of any
saint or martyr! There is very little positive information about the
early drama in London. Yet we know that the miracle play was performed
here as well as elsewhere. Stow’s contribution to our knowledge I have
already quoted. FitzStephen, too, speaks of these plays. Piers Plowman
mentions them as common. Chaucer’s Wife of Bath goes to processions,
pilgrimages, miracle plays, and marriages. To the class of Church Play
belongs the curious function of the Boy Bishop, which was practised
in St. Paul’s and in many parish churches of the City. On the eve of
St. Nicholas, the choristers elected one of their number to be the Boy
Bishop. A set of episcopal robes was provided for the boy, including a
mitre, a pastoral staff, and all the vestments:—

 “Towards the end of evensong on St. John’s Day, the boy bishop and
 his clerks, arrayed in their copes and having burning tapers in their
 hands, and singing those words of the Apocalypse (ch. xiv.), _Centum
 quadraginta_, walked processionally from the Choir to the Altar of
 the Blessed Trinity, which the boy bishop incensed. Afterwards they
 all sang the anthem, and he recited the prayer commemorative of the
 Holy Innocents. Going back into the Choir, these boys took possession
 of the upper Canons’ stalls, and those dignitaries themselves had to
 serve in the boys’ places, and carry the candles, the thurible, the
 book, like acolytes, thurisers, and lower clerks. Standing on high,
 wearing his mitre, and holding his pastoral staff in his left hand,
 the boy bishop gave his solemn benediction to all present; and, while
 making the sign of the cross over the kneeling crowd, he said:—

    Crucis signo vos consigno: vestra sit tuitio.
    Quos nos emit et redemit suæ carnis pretio.”

The day after, a sermon, which was written for him, was preached by the
Boy Bishop; at this the scholars of St. Paul’s were bound to attend. It
has been sometimes stated that the boy celebrated mass, but this is not
true; it was impossible at any time in the history of the Church that a
child or any person but a priest should be allowed to celebrate mass.

This curious and apparently irreverent ceremony formed part of the
general rejoicing, mumming, and feasting of the season. Probably it was
explained in something of this way. It taught the children that the
things done by the altar concerned them, the young as well as the old.
It deepened their impression and strengthened their hold of the simple
doctrines which they were taught. It was, in other words, a presentment
of the same thing in a different form.



When we think of the great mass of people of Mediæval London, when we
think of their laborious and industrious days, the precarious nature
of their lives, the perils which attended them, far greater to our
thinking than those of the present day—dangers ever present, of fire,
famine, plague, pestilence, and war, we are moved to inquire into
the ideas and beliefs which controlled the minds of this apparently
inarticulate mass. There were ideas on religion, on superstitions,
on manners and customs, on war, and on government. As regards their
religion, there was no doubt, or question, or hesitation whatever, as
to the one leading doctrine which influenced them. They were all, of
course, absolutely certain that after death came either the pains of
purgatory or the torments of hell. How could there be either doubt or
question, when they could see depicted on the walls of the churches
the Day of Judgment with the devils receiving souls and hurling them
into the flames? They could see the souls themselves plunged to the
neck in yellow flames, in torments unspeakable and endless, with
bodies unconsumed and indestructible: the golden Heavens, the saints
sitting with crowns upon their heads and harps in their hands. On
these points there could be no doubt. Since every man, as the priests
told them, was continually committing all kinds of sin, both carnal
and venial, there was no chance for any one to escape except through
the pains of purgatory. These, of course, could be procured as a
substitute for the other place by the kind offices of the Church.
For this reason, and among the great mass of the people for no other
reason, not because the Church cultivated morality and honesty, peace
and mercy and righteousness, but simply and solely in order to secure
purgatory which, at least, however terrible, did offer a termination
after many years: with this object in view, and with no other, the rich
men built their churches, founded chantries, masses, almshouses, paid
pilgrimages, gave rich presents to the Church, and built colleges for
the priests.

[Illustration: TORMENTS OF HELL

From twelfth-century MS. executed at Convent of Hohemburg. MS.
destroyed in the fire of Strasburg Library, 1870.]

At first a man was sufficiently fortified by the last offices ordered
by the Church itself: he died in hope when he had received extreme
unction. Presently, however, people became a little doubtful; the fear
arose that the service of the Church for the dying might prove by
itself insufficient to ensure for the soul entrance into purgatory.
Accordingly, therefore, new precautions were invented. Men thought that
it would be safer for them if they were buried in consecrated ground
within, not outside, the walls of the church: again, it would certainly
be safer to be laid as near the high altar as possible. Then again,
it was discovered that the church of the monastery was more sacred,
and therefore still safer than the parish church. After this, it was
believed that some monasteries were even safer than others. Thus the
Greyfriars Church in London was esteemed a much more desirable place
of interment than St. Paul’s: it was therefore crammed from east to
west with monuments of kings and princes, great lords and great ladies.
Here they all lay buried in the habit of a Franciscan, hoping either to
step into Heaven in the guise of a Friar, or at least, being in such a
guise, to get off at the Last Day with a shorter allowance of purgatory
than that due to them, or even without any purgatory at all.

It seems to us, with our ideas of equality, a most monstrous belief
that a rich man should be able to buy himself out of purgatory, while
a poor man must endure the full weight and penalty of his sins. I
do not think that the poor man considered the matter in this way at
all. On the contrary, it was one of the attributes of wealth and rank
that they should make the conquest of Heaven more easy. The poor
accepted the situation. Their poverty was imposed upon them with all
its consequences. They could not, however they tried, rise out of it:
between nobility and villeinhood there was an impassable gulf: well for
them that the Lord had left open a way even after many thousand years
of purgatory.

As regards the doctrines of the Church, the great mass of the people
knew very little, and questioned not at all. The history of the Saints
and of the Old and New Testaments they partially understood, because on
the walls and in the windows of their parish churches were everywhere
represented the acts of Christ and of the Apostles and those of the
Saints. Moreover, as we have seen, in the mysteries or sacred plays,
the scenes from the Old Testament were performed with grotesque, and
even burlesque, imitations in the open air for all the world to see.

The influence of the Church on morals was probably no greater in the
Middle Ages than it is now. Certainly men were no more moral than they
are now. In saying this, one is not attacking the moral influence of
the Church. In a time of greater rudeness, greater ignorance, greater
lack of self-command, greater violence, one would expect what actually
happened, viz. that there were times when the power of the Church
seemed lost, _e.g._ in the Civil Wars of King Stephen’s reign. As for
the City, much the same cheating went on in trade, and there was quite
as much laxity in morals of every other kind as we can boast of in
our own time. Moreover, it is always difficult to decide when the law
punishes an evil-doer-whether it is the law or the preaching of the
Church which restrains others from becoming evil-doers.

As regards the superstitions of the people of London. They were at
all times believers in magic and sorcery, but, as always happens,
many of the popular beliefs seemed often to sleep or to be dead. It
was only from time to time that there occurred an outbreak of belief
showing that superstition of this kind still existed among them. The
most notable case, for instance, is that of Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of
Gloucester, whom we heard of at p. 210: she was accused of attempting
to compass the death of Henry the Sixth by means of a magic image.
Everybody seems to have firmly believed this story, which, indeed, may
have been perfectly true. She, however, did penance in the City of
London, and was confined for life in Chester Castle, and the woman who
assisted her was put to death. Later on, Richard the Third endeavoured
to make out that Elizabeth Woodville had been guilty of magic and


_dedicated to S^t. Mary and S^t. Leonard_.

Founded prior to the XIV{^th}. of Edw II.


This Chapel Was Built To the Honour of God and for the Use of the Poor
Infirm and Impotent People Harbourd Within this Hospital

_May Mar Bond Esq Treasurer_ Anno 1636

_Inscription over the Door_

From the Grangerised Edition of Brayley’s _London and Middlesex_, in
the Guildhall Library.]

Other superstitions the people had, and, as at the present day, obscure
persons earned their livelihood by pretending to discover where stolen
property was to be found, and by telling fortunes and the like. A
curious superstition is mentioned by Chaucer. He tells us that, by the
help of a bone of a wether’s right shoulder, from which the flesh had
been boiled (not roasted) away, some could tell what was being done in
far countries, “tokens of pees and of werre, the staat of the relme,
sleynge of men, and spousebreche.”

The actual attitude of the people towards the claims and pretensions of
the Church are illustrated by the wills of which I have already made
so liberal a use. (R. Sharpe, _Calendar of Wills_.) Thus, as we have
seen, it was an article of faith down to the middle of the sixteenth
century that the soul could be released from purgatory, or could be
relieved from many years of purgatory, by good works done for the
Church, by masses said after death, by the prayers of the Religious,
or by securing a share in their merits. Thus, a citizen left money
for the maintenance and decoration of the parish church, for obits,
for trentals, _i.e._ services of thirty masses, for a daily mass in
perpetuity; for so many masses, perhaps a thousand within three days
of death; for the endowment of a chantry, and perhaps the erection
of a Chantry Chapel; for the purchase of books on Church Service,
vestments, altar cloths, Paschal candles, and singing candles. Again,
as the maintenance of bridges was in itself a religious duty, bequests
for that purpose were common. In order to secure a share in the merits
of the Religious, bequests were constantly made to all the orders of
the mendicant Friars—the Franciscans or Grey Friars; the Dominicans or
Black Friars; the Carmelites or White Friars; the Augustinian or Austin
Friars; and, though they were not always included, the Crutched Friars,
or Friars of the Holy Cross. With the same object, bequests were made
to the hermits, anchorites, and ankresses.

Bequests were also made—one believes out of sheer charity, apart from
any considerations as to the safety of the soul—to hospitals, such as
St. Bartholomew’s, St. Mary Spital, St. Mary Bethlehem, St. Thomas’s,
and the three “Colleges” of lepers, “Le Loke” of Southwark, St. Giles’
in the Fields, and the House with the “misil cotes” at Hackney.

Bequests were made to the Prisons, Newgate, Ludgate, Fleet, the two
Marshalseas, the Clink in Southwark, the White Lyon in Southwark, the
City Compters, the Borough Compter, and the Gate House of Westminster.
Bequests were also made to pilgrims, that the testator might enjoy the
benefits conferred upon pilgrimage.

Bequests were made to the poor of the testator’s Company or parish: of
clothes to friends or to kinsfolk: clothes made of fur, silk, satin,
and fine cloth, girdles, chains, daggers, rings, weapons, armour,
drinking cups, silver plate, pewter.

The wife, at her husband’s death, was entitled to one-third of the
personal property; she was, however, generally provided for by a dower
which exceeded the amount she could claim. I have already described the
vow of perpetual widowhood, which was not an uncommon thing for a widow
to make, according to the form provided by the Church. Sometimes she
took the vows and entered a convent.



The display at funerals, and the ceremonies observed, the hospitality
offered, and the order of the procession, formed a large part in the
social life of the time, especially in times when some great man or
other was always dying. The following is the order of the funeral
procession of the fifteenth century, set forth in detail:—First, for
the Burial of a King. (_Archæologia._)

[Illustration: FUNERAL SERVICE

Drawing of the fourteenth century.]

“What shall be don on the demyse of a King annoynted? When that a King
annoynted is decessed, after his body is sp’ged, it must be washed
and clensed by a Bishop for his holy annoyntment, than the body must
be bamed, wrapped in laun, or reynez yf it may be gotyn, than hosyn
cherte, & a perer of shone of rededlether, & do on his surcote of
cloth, his cap of estate on his bed, and then ley hym on a fair borde
cou’ed with cloth of gold, his on hande on his bely & a sep’r in the
toder hande, & oon his face a kerchief yef the weder will it suffre.
And when he may not godely longer endur, take hym away and bowell hym
and then eftones bame hym, wrappe him in raynez welw trameled in cords
of silke, than in tarseryn tramelled, & than in velvet, & so in clothe
of gold well tramelled, and than led hym and cofre hym, and in his leed
write hym a plate of his stile, name, and the date of our Lord gravyn,
and yef ye cary hym, mak an ymage like him clothd in a surcote with a
mantell of estate, the laces goodly lying on his bely, his sep’r in his
hande, and a crown on his hed, and so cary hym in a chare open with
lights and baners, accompanyed with lordes and estates as the counseill
can best devyse, having the hors of that chare trapped with diverse
trappers or elles with blake trappers of blake with scochons richely
betyn, and his officers of armes aboute hym in his cotes of armez,
and then a lorde or a knyght with a courser trapped of his armez, his
herneysz upon hym, his salet or basenet on his hed crowned, a shylde
and a spere till he come to the place of his ent’ring. And at the masse
the same to be offred by noble ducs.”

Next, for the Burial of a person of lower rank:—

(1) The procession begins with a sword offered by the most worshipful
man of the kin.

(2) Next follow those who bear the deceased’s Coat of Worship, his
helmet, and his crest.

(3) Then must be borne banners of the Trinity: of Our Lady, of St.
George, or of the saint, “his avower”—_i.e._ the patron saint of the
deceased, and of his arms. There must also be a Guidon of his device
with his word.

(4) There must be a double vallance about the hearse, above and below,
with his word and his device written around.

(5) There must be twelve scutcheons of his arms affixed to the bars
of the hearse, and three dozen “pinselles to stand above the hearse
between the lights.”

(6) There must also be provided as many scutcheons as there are pillars
in the church. Scutcheons may be set up in the four quarters of the
church at discretion.

(7) Torches must be carried to the number of the deceased’s years,
every torch to carry a scutcheon.

(8) Before and beside the hearse must walk five officers of arms
bearing his coat of worship, his sword, his helmet, his crest, and his
banner of arms, together with the banners already mentioned of the Holy
Trinity, Our Lady, St. George, and the Saint, his avower.

(9) Cloth of gold for the ladies to give away.

(10) A company of “innocents” in white carrying tapers.

(11) The horse of the dead man, with a man-at-arms carrying the sword
or spear or battle-axe.

(12) The heir must stand beside the priest when offerings are made.

This order, it will be observed, says nothing about the mourners. There
were troops of mourners: the family, the relations, the friends, the
servants, until the long, slow procession, singing, with the Priests of
the Papey marching before, reached the whole length of Cheapside from
St. Michael le Querne to St. Mildred’s.





The history of the Monastic Life, with its rise and its decay, its work
and its importance, has attracted many writers and historians. It has
been fiercely assailed; it has been vehemently defended. In speaking of
the Dissolution it was necessary to state plainly the condition into
which Monks and Friars had fallen in the early sixteenth century. (See
Appendix VIII.) In this place, and as a fitting preface to a review in
detail of the Monastic Houses of London, it may be permitted to quote
those who could speak in praise of the Religious Life. There are two
writers who seem to say all that can be said in favour of Monasticism.
The first was contemporary with the Dissolution; his work is in MS. in
the British Museum. I quote it at second hand from Cunningham, _Growth
of English Industry_ (p. 472):

“There was no person that came to them heavy or sad for any cause that
went away comfortless; they never revenged them of any injury, but was
content to forgive it freely upon submission, and if the price of corn
had begun to start up in the market, they made thereunto with a wain
load of corn, and sold it under the market to poor people, to the end
to bring down the price thereof. If the highways, bridges, or causeys
were tedious to the passengers that sought their living by their
travel, their great help lacked not toward the repairing and amending
thereof, yea oftentimes they amended them on their own proper charges.

If any poor householder lacked seed to sow his land, or bread, corn, or
malt before harvest, and came to a monastery, either of men or women,
he would not have gone away without help: for he should have had it
until harvest, that he might easily have paid it again. Yea if he had
made his moan for an ox, horse, or cow, he might have had it upon his
credit, and such was the good conscience of the borrowers in those days
that the thing borrowed needed not to have been asked at the day of

They never raised any rent, or took any incomes or garsomes (fines) of
their tenants, nor ever broke in or improved any commons, although the
most part and the greatest waste grounds belonged to their possessions.

If any poor people had made their moan at their day of marriage to any
Abbey, they should have had money given to their great help. And thus
all sorts of people were helped and succoured by abbeys: yea, happy was
that person that was tenant to an abbey, for it was a rare thing to
hear that any tenant was removed by taking his farm over his head, nor
he was not afraid of any re-entry for non-payment of rent, if necessity
drove him thereunto. And thus they fulfilled the works of charity
in all the country round about them, to the good example of all lay
parsons that now have taken forth other lessons, that is, _nunc tempus
alios postulat mores_.”

The second writer is Tanner in his _Notitia Monastica_ (Preface):

“John Wethamsted, Abbot of St. Albans, caused above eighty books to be
transcribed (there was then no printing) during his abbacy. Fifty-eight
were transcribed by the care of one Abbot of Glastonbury, and so
zealous were the monks in general for the work that they often got
lands given and churches appropriated for the carrying of it on. In all
the greater abbeys there were also persons appointed to take notice
of the principal occurrences of the kingdom, and, at the end of every
year, to digest them into annals. In these records they particularly
preserved the memories of their founders and benefactors, the years
and days of their births and deaths, their marriages, children, and
successors, so that recourse was sometimes had to them for proving
persons’ ages and genealogies, though it is to be feared that some of
these pedigrees were drawn up from tradition only, and that in most of
their accounts they were favourable to their friends and severe upon
their enemies. The constitutions of the clergy in their national and
provincial synods, and (after the Conquest) even Acts of Parliament
were sent to the Abbey to be recorded, which leads me to mention the
use and advantage of these religious houses.

First, The choicest records and treasures in the kingdom were preserved
in them. An exemplification of the Charter of Liberties granted by
King Henry the First was sent to some abbey in every county to be
preserved. Charters and inquisitions relating to the County of Cornwall
were deposited in the Priory of Bodmin; a great many rolls were lodged
in the Abbey of Leicester and Priory of Kenilworth until taken from
thence by King Henry the Third. King Edward the First sent to the
religious houses to search for his title to the kingdom of Scotland in
their leigers and chronicles, as the most authentic records for proof
of his right to that crown. When his sovereignty was acknowledged in
Scotland, he sent letters to have it inserted in the chronicles of
the Abbey of Winchcomb and the Priory of Norwich, and, probably, of
many other such places. And when he decided the controversy relating
to the crown of Scotland between Robert Bruce and John Baliol, he
wrote to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s, London, requiring them to
enter in their chronicles the exemplifications therewith sent of that
decision. The learned Mr. Selden hath his greatest evidences for the
dominion of the narrow seas, belonging to the King of Great Britain,
from monastic records. The evidences and money of private families were
oftentimes sent to these houses to be preserved. The seals of noblemen
were deposited there upon their deaths, and even the King’s money was
sometimes lodged in them.

[Illustration: _Nash del._


_Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.]

Secondly, They were schools of learning and education; for every
convent had one person or more appointed for this purpose, and all the
neighbours that desired it might have their children taught grammar and
church music without any expense to them. In the nunneries, also, young
women were taught to work and read English, and sometimes Latin also.
So that not only the lower rank of people, who could not pay for their
learning, but most of the noblemen’s and gentlemen’s daughters were
educated in these places.

Thirdly, All the monasteries were, in effect, great hospitals, and
were, most of them, obliged to relieve many poor people every day. They
were, likewise, houses of entertainment for almost all travellers. Even
the nobility and gentry, when they were upon the road, lodged at one
religious house and dined at another, and seldom or never went to inns.
In short, their hospitality was such that, in the Priory of Norwich,
1500 quarters of malt, and above 800 quarters of wheat, and all other
things in proportion, were generally spent every year.

Fourthly, The nobility and gentry provided not only for their old
servants in these houses by corrodies,[20] but for their younger
children and impoverished friends by making them first monks and nuns,
and, in time, priors and prioresses, abbots and abbesses.

Fifthly, They were of considerable advantage to the crown. (1) By the
profits received from the death of one abbot or prior to the election,
or, rather, confirmation of another. (2) By great fines paid for the
confirmation of their liberties. (3) By many corrodies granted to old
servants of the crown, and pensions to the King’s clerks and chaplains
till they got preferment.

Sixthly, They were likewise of considerable advantage to the places
where they had their sites and estates. (1) By causing great resort to
them, and getting grants of fairs and markets for them. (2) By freeing
them from the Forest Laws. (3) By letting their land at easy rates.

Lastly, They were great ornaments to the country, many of them were
really noble buildings, and though not actually so grand and neat,
yet, perhaps, as much admired in their times as Chelsea and Greenwich
Hospitals are now. Many of the abbey churches were equal, if not
superior, to our present cathedrals, and they must have been as much an
ornament to the country, and employed as many workmen in building and
keeping them in repair, as noblemen’s and gentlemen’s seats now [1744]

It will be observed as a doubtful advantage that the nobility and
gentry provided for their old servants by corrodies, and had further
privileges in the way of making their own “younger children and
impoverished friends” monks and nuns, abbots and abbesses. But Tanner
belonged to a time when it was still firmly believed that everything
good and worth having belonged to gentlefolk, so that, if the Monastic
House was of advantage to them, it must necessarily be of advantage to
the country. In other respects, also, one cannot altogether agree with
the learned writer. If, for instance, the Monastic Houses kept schools
open to all comers, what was the need of founding new schools in London
in the fifteenth century? Nor can it be accepted as proved that the
children of poor parents were admitted either to the abbey or the
nunnery school. Let, however, this plea for the Religious stand. There
is enough, and too much, to be said on the other side.

 “As to the extent of church property,” Milman remarks (v. 201) “in
 London and the neighbouring counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Essex, the
 church lands must have been enormous. Hardly a parish in Middlesex
 which did not belong, certainly so far as manorial rights, to the
 Bishop of London, the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s, the Abbots and
 Monks of Westminster, and other Religious Houses; the Carthusians, St.
 John Clerkenwell (Hospitallers), Sion, and many smaller foundations.
 The chapter of St. Paul’s swept in a broad belt round the north
 of London till they met the church of Westminster at Hampstead
 and Paddington. The Abbot of Westminster was almost a Prince of

Again, to quote from the same writer:—

 “The wealth of the Clergy, the landed property, even with the tithe,
 was by no means the whole: and, invaded as it was by aggression,
 by dilapidation, by alienation through fraud or violence, limited
 in its productiveness by usage, by burthens, by generosity, by
 maladministration, it may be questioned whether it was the largest
 part. The vast treasures accumulated by the Avignonese Pontiffs when
 the Papal territories were occupied by enemies or adventurers, and
 could have yielded but scanty revenues, testify to the voluntary or
 compulsory tribute paid by Western Christendom to her Supreme Court
 of Appeal. If the Bishops mainly depended on their endowments, to the
 Clergy, to the monastic houses, oblations (in many cases now from
 free gifts hardened into rightful demands) were pouring in, and had
 long been pouring in, with incalculable profusion. Not only might
 not the altars, hardly any part of the church might be approached
 without a votive gift. The whole life, the death of every Christian
 was bound up with the ceremonial of the church: for almost every
 office was received from the rich and generous the ampler donation,
 from the poorer or more parsimonious was exacted the hard-wrung fee.
 Above all, there were the masses, which might lighten the sufferings
 of the soul in purgatory: there was the prodigal gift of the dying
 man out of selfish love for himself, the more generous and no less
 prodigal gift of the bereaved, out of holy charity for others. The
 dying man, from the King to the peasant, when he had no further use
 for his worldly riches would devote them to this end: the living,
 out of profound respect or deep affection for the beloved husband,
 parent, brother, kinsman, friend, would be, and actually was not
 less bountiful and munificent. Add to all this the oblations at the
 crosses of the Redeemer, or the shrines of popular or famous saints,
 for their intercessory prayers to avert the imminent calamity, to
 assuage the sorrow, or to grant success to the schemes, it might
 be, of ambition, avarice, or any other passion, to obtain pardon
 for sin, to bring down blessing: crosses and shrines, many of them
 supposed to be endowed with miraculous powers, constantly working
 miracles. To most of these were made perpetual processions, led by the
 Clergy in their rich attire. From the basins of gold or the bright
 florins of the King to the mite of the beggar, all fell into the deep
 insatiable box which unlocked its treasures to the Clergy. Besides
 all these estates, tithes, oblations, bequests to the Clergy and the
 monasteries, reckon the subsidies in kind to the Mendicants in their
 four Orders—Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians, Carmelites. In
 every country of Latin Christendom, of these swarms of Friars, the
 lowest obtained sustenance: the higher, means to build up and maintain
 splendid churches, cloisters, houses. They were a vast standing army,
 far more vast than any maintained by any kingdom in Christendom:
 at once levying subsidies to an enormous amount and living at free
 quarters throughout the land.”

Any investigation into the conditions of monastic life brings the
reader into many strange and unexpected places. At first, probably,
he is impatient over the futility of the life, the loss of the old
ideals, the worship of a Rule which is broken away and disregarded
at every point, the contrast between the profession of sanctity and
the life of idleness. Presently, he begins to understand that at its
worst the monastery always presented some kind of example, if only in
its freedom from violence, and in a discipline, lax perhaps, but far
more severe than could be found outside. And then he observes how much
was done by the monastery, and how much was expected of it. I do not
suppose that the indiscriminate charity enjoined upon the brethren,
and always practised by them, was favourable to the repression of
mendicity, and the discouragement of the tramp and masterless man.
Still there is always the immediate need of the starving and the sick
and the suffering, which should be met without too jealous questioning
into records and antecedents. We need not ask what contributions to
Mediæval Literature and Learning were made by this or that convent: it
is enough to know that here was a Library, and that here the monks set
up reading boxes in their cloisters for those who wished to study. The
example was there. We need not ask how far the town folk or the village
folk were admitted to the monastery school, or if it was used only for
the children of noble parents confided to the Abbot for education. The
school was there, it was an example. We need not, even, pry too closely
into the private lives of the Religious, though I think that as a rule
they were as blameless as could be expected, considering the time and
the manners: the example was there: the rule of chastity, temperance,
obedience, and contempt of wealth.

Again, the reader cannot fail, presently, to understand the eagerness,
the pathetic eagerness, with which the people ran after every new Order
of Religion which appeared. One after the other, they were Reformers:
they would introduce a sterner discipline, fiercer austerities. One
after the other they fell off; the pristine zeal cooled; the new Order
followed in the same lines as the old; the brethren preserved the
letter and threw away the spirit. Most pathetic of all is the respect,
the admiration, the awe, with which the people regarded the Franciscans
in their first splendid self-devotion. They saw a company to whom
nothing was unclean, nothing was beneath their care, no criminal too
base, no wretched woman too low for them, no disease too loathsome, no
hovel or den too filthy for the bearers of consolation and of succour
to approach. What could be too good, too costly, too precious for such
men? They would accept no endowment. They lived on the broken meats of
charity. Then let their church be adorned; let the pillars bear aloft
the roof over chapels and altars ablaze with gold and lights; let their
sacred vessels be of gold—nothing less would serve; let the vestments
be of cloth of gold and silver. And so on until the dreadful suspicion
arose that the Grey Friars were not so holy and so devoted as of old.
They lived upon their reputation for a hundred years and more; and
for a hundred years to follow they slowly decayed, until there was no
reproach too bitter, no invective too vehement, for the poor Franciscan.

Again, as to the uses to which their Houses were put. They were
sanctuaries; they were hospitals; they were places of education for the
sons of nobles; they were places of training for young ecclesiastics:
great ladies, whom it was not politic to punish with imprisonment were
sent to a Monastic House, where they were allowed everything except
the liberty of leaving it. Thus Queen Katharine of Valois, after the
discovery of her secret marriage, was sent to Bermondsey Abbey till
she died: Queen Elizabeth Woodville, who surely must have proved all
the miseries that belong to a crown, was also sent to Bermondsey. Dame
Badlesmere, after her husband’s execution, was sent to the Clares of
London. Then we find the King’s clerks expecting a pension for one
of their body whenever a new Abbot or Prior was elected: and we find
the King sending his old and incompetent servants to the Monastic
Houses for maintenance for the remainder of their lives. Of those who
professed much, more was expected.

In a word, what we find in these glimpses of monastic life is that it
is all so human—so intensely human. Did we expect anything else? Yes,
the Rule demands a life that is superhuman: therefore the Rule breaks
down. Its weakness is that men cannot endure it; yet they have taken
the vows; they cannot break free from the Rule; but they may introduce
alleviations and palliatives—in every Monastic House there was the
Misericordia, where indulgences were granted and conferred.

So we begin with prejudice and with contempt, and we end with sympathy
and pity. After so many years we no longer feel, though we may
understand, the exasperation with which the abuse of the Monastic
system came to be regarded: the accumulation of vast estates in
the hands of a multitude who toiled not neither did they spin: who
professed an austere Rule and lived a luxurious life: who despised
wealth but enjoyed all that wealth could give: who pretended to pay no
regard to birth yet admitted into their ranks none but those of gentle
blood: with whom the difference between profession and practice was
monstrous and scandalous.

I have said that when the Rule was too hard for men to obey, they made
for themselves alleviations.

There was one Rule at least where, so far as one can learn, no
alleviations were practised; in this Rule men had to conform or be
broken in the attempt. It was the Rule of the Carthusians. It was so
austere as to seem well-nigh impossible of observance; but it was
observed; nay, it was loved: Sir Thomas More lived with the brethren
for a time and practised all their austerities; he would have continued
to live with them; he desired nothing better than to live and die under
a Rule which repressed all natural desires, but the brethren would not
receive him: they sent him out into the world to do a nobler work among
the people of his age and of the generations to come.



This foundation, by reason of its antiquity and religious objects,
should have been venerable, but it became, by its claims, privileges,
and position, an institution hateful and detestable, long before the
Monastic Houses fell into disrepute. It had its origin certainly before
the Conquest, but how long before cannot be ascertained. Tradition
made Wythred, King of Kent, its founder in the seventh century. We
need not trouble ourselves with the reasons which make this tradition
impossible. Safe ground is touched about the year 1056, when St.
Martin’s was either founded, or endowed, by Ingelric and Girard
[Edward], two brothers, for a Dean and Secular Canons. In 1068 a
Charter was granted to the College by William:—

 “I William, etc.... grant, and by my royal authority for ever
 corroborate and confirm to God and the Church of the blessed Martin,
 situate within the walls of London, which the aforesaid Ingelric and
 Girard his brother, from their own revenues, and in atonement of their
 faults, honourable built to the praise of God, and for the Canonical
 Rule therein to be held and observed for ever. Now these are the names
 of the lands, Estre in Essex, with the Berewic of Maissebery and
 Norton, and Stanford, and Fobbinge, and Benedict, and Christehal, and
 Tolesfunte, and Rowenhal, and Angre, together with their appendages,
 the meadows, pastures, woods, mills, and all to them belonging; and
 in Benefleot one hide, and in Hoddesdon one hide, also the church
 of Mealdon with two hides of Land, and the tithes and all things to
 it appertaining. Moreover also, on my own part, I give and grant to
 the said Church, for the redemption of the souls of my father and
 mother, all the land and moor without the postern, which is called
 Cripelesgate on either side of the postern, to wit, from the Northern
 angle of the City wall, where a rivulet of springs, near thereto
 flowing, marks it out (_i.e._ the moor) from the wall, as far as the
 running-water which enters the City. I grant to it besides all the
 Churches and all the tithes, lands also and houses, which the faithful
 in Christ have already given to it within and without London, or shall
 in future bestow....

This Charter was renewed or confirmed by Henry the First and by Stephen.

Among the various historical points connected with St. Martin’s, the
following may be noted as the most important.

Henry the Second granted to the Canons a free court of all their men
and tenants: they were not to be impleaded out of it except before the
King and the Chief Justice.

The Saddlers’ Guild became connected with the Church of St. Martin’s—a
fact which shows that the college was not wholly regarded as a
sanctuary for criminals.

In 1235 Henry the Third upheld the Canons’ Court against the City.

The erection of St. Leonard’s Parish Church on the confines of the
Precinct in 1236 points to a restriction of St. Martin’s Church to the
College or sanctuary. But there are other instances, _e.g._ that of St.
Catherine Cree, in which a parish church was, for convenience, built
outside the Monastic Precinct.

The buildings of St. Martin’s were improved and rebuilt by its Dean,
William de Wykeham, about 1367.

Pope Innocent the Third exempted the Royal Chapels from Excommunication
or Interdict.


From Strype’s _Stow_, 1754 edition.]

Edward the First forbade Cardinals sent from Rome to receive
procuration from St. Martin’s.

In 14 Edw. II. the College, under a _Quo Warranto_ heard at the Tower,
relinquished any claim to receive toll within the City.

By Rich. II. St. Martin’s was exempted from tenths, fifteenths,
tallages, aids, and all contributions or quotas by the King.

St. Martin’s was by far the largest, the safest, and the best-protected
of all the English sanctuaries. The meaning and the development of the
theory of sanctuary have been considered already (p. 201). At first it
meant little more than a temporary asylum, where criminals could find
shelter while they sought for means to redeem their offence by paying
the penalty attached by Saxon Law. Every Monastic House, every church,
the King’s Palace, were all sanctuaries. But a sanctuary within the
walls of the City, which was not a place of temporary refuge, not a
place, such as a church, in which the fugitive could be starved into
surrender, but a place in which every kind of criminal might find an
asylum and safe retreat for life, a place which practically defied
the arm of the Law and the hand of Justice, was certain to become an
intolerable burden to a law-abiding city. And so St. Martin’s actually
did become. Again and again the City of London revolted in vain against
its powers; again and again cases were vainly laid in the courts
against the Dean and Chapter.

The Precinct is almost exactly occupied by the present Post Office and
Telegraph Offices of St. Martin’s-le-Grand.

About the year 1285 it was judged expedient to close a lane leading
from St. Vedast, Foster Lane, to St. Nicholas Shambles through the
Precinct of St. Martin’s because it had become the safe haunt for
thieves and rogues.

In 1381, during Wat Tyler’s rebellion, Roger Legat, “quest monger” or
collector, was torn from the High Altar of St. Martin’s and beheaded in

In 1405 the citizens petitioned Henry the Fourth for the abolition
of St. Martin’s privileges as to sanctuary, on the ground that it
sheltered murderers, thieves, and fraudulent debtors. It was, however,
impossible to hope that Henry, who owed his crown largely to the
support of the Church, could do anything so contrary to ecclesiastical
privilege. It is perhaps astonishing that so simple a plan as the
removal of the College bodily to some place in the country, or, at
least, without the walls of the City, should not have been suggested.

In 1416 one Henry Kneve, who had taken sanctuary, fled for some reason,
leaving behind him a quantity of valuables which he had stolen. These
were seized by the Dean’s officers as waif. One would have thought that
they would have been restored to their owners.

We have seen (p. 205) the case of the year 1422, when the City fought
with all its powers, and by means of its most learned men.

In 1430 the Mayor and Sheriffs withdrew by force from sanctuary a
certain Canon. They were, however, compelled to restore him.

One Matthew Philip, Alderman of Aldersgate Ward, denied the right of
St. Martin’s Lane, which ran through the Precinct, to be privileged,
and demanded certain payments on account of taxes or tallage to be paid
there. On being refused, he levied by distress. He, too, had to give
way, and offered the Dean, by way of reconciliation, a supper.

It must not be supposed that sanctuary men lived in St. Martin’s for
nothing. On the contrary, the great cost of living within the Precinct
was a source of considerable profit to the Canons, and was doubtless
one of the reasons why the place was continued. Many of the refugees
took advantage of the immunities of the place to make counterfeit
goldsmiths’ work. Hence the phrase “false St. Martin’s beads.” It
is noteworthy, however, that in 1447 the Goldsmiths’ Company, by
permission of the Dean, although against the privileges of the place,
searched the Precinct, and took away all the counterfeit work they
could find, while the Dean consigned the offenders to the College

St. Martin’s, during the Wars of the Roses, served as a refuge and an
asylum for many persons of consideration. William Oldehall, the Duke of
York’s Chamberlain, was one of them. Henry demanded his surrender, but
withdrew his order. Shortly after, Oldehall was charged with breaking
sanctuary in order to commit murder. The Alderman of Aldersgate broke
into St. Martin’s and carried him off, but, as in every other case, had
to bring him back with gifts of atonement to the Canons.

In 1455 the City was highly provoked by the lawlessness of the
sanctuary men. The Mayor and Aldermen, at the head of the citizens,
forced the sanctuary and took out the ringleaders. The Dean complained,
but it was the time of the outbreak of the Civil Wars, and his
complaint appears to have passed unheeded.

In the following year the sanctuary men joined the citizens in
attacking aliens. But, indeed, the fact proves nothing except the
readiness of the lawless to commit lawless actions.

In 1457 the following Articles were drawn up for the reformation of the
sanctuary, no doubt in deference to the complaints of the citizens:—

The Dean was to be sworn to keep the said Articles:

 (1) Refugees to make known their reasons for taking sanctuary, and the
 same to be registered in a book with the refugee’s name.

 (2) Refugees to deliver up weapons or armour, except a pointless knife
 for meat.

 (3) A notorious thief entering the sanctuary must give good security
 for the time he remains there and three months after; failing such
 security, he is to be committed to ward, in the sanctuary, but may
 depart from the sanctuary if he will.

 (4) The outer gates and posterns of the sanctuary to be closed from 9
 P.M. to 6 A.M., Allhallows to Candlemas, and the rest of the year from
 9 P.M. to 4 A.M., or till the commencement of the first mass there.
 Refugees for felony or treason to remain in sanctuary all night.

 (5) Fugitives to be deprived of stolen goods they may bring into the
 sanctuary, and the same to be restored if possible to the owners.
 No one to buy such goods in the sanctuary, but if such purchase be
 proved, the buyer to make satisfaction to the owner.

 (6) Any sanctuary man leaving the sanctuary to commit crime, is to be
 put to ward in the sanctuary, and if he wish to depart the sanctuary
 he shall do so at a given hour in daytime.

 (7) Persons guilty of certain offences, as lock-picking, forgers of
 seals, evidences, workers of counterfeit gold and silver work not
 to be suffered in the sanctuary. Persons suspected of such to be
 committed to ward till they find sufficient security.

 (8) Vicious persons not to be “suspected” in the sanctuary. If any be
 there, they to be put to open ward in the daytime till shame cause
 them to depart, or they amend their evil ways.

 (9) That deceitful games be not played in the sanctuary.

 (10) Barbers and artificers to keep Sundays as the citizens of London
 do, if they break this ordinance they to be put in ward. They to use
 their crafts according to the ordinances of the same City.

 (11) Every person taking sanctuary to be sworn on a book, to obey
 these ordinances.

Among others who took sanctuary in St. Martin’s during the Civil Wars
were the Countess of Oxford; Anne Neville, afterwards Richard’s Queen;
and Miles Forrest, one of the murderers of the young Princes in the
Tower. The tradition was that he “rotted away piecemeal”—probably
he was one of the late victims to leprosy, which was then rapidly

In 1498 Henry the Seventh endowed the Abbey of Westminster and his
Lady Chapel there with St. Martin’s-le-Grand, so that the Abbot became
the Dean of the College. A new seal was made. Also a new and a more
powerful defender of sanctuary was created. It was not until 1548, when
all chantries, free chapels, and brotherhoods were granted to the King,
that the College was dissolved and the church was demolished. Even then
the privileges of sanctuary survived, though under greatly modified

The church, as appeared from the excavations in 1818, was more than 200
feet long. After it was pulled down, tenements called the New Rents
were erected on its site. On the place of the high altar was a wine

During the reign of Elizabeth, most of the inhabitants were
foreigners—French, German, Dutch, and Scotch. By the freedom of the
Precinct they could trade without being free of the City: among them
were shoemakers, tailors, buttermakers, goldsmiths, purse-makers,
stationers, silk weavers, and silk throwsters. The number of the
foreigners of St. Martin’s in 1593 was 196.

In 1697 whatever privileges of sanctuary remained were abolished.

The Act of 1815, providing for the site of the new Post Office,
reserved to the inhabitants the right to trade without being freemen
of the City; the Court of St. Martin’s remained undisturbed; and
the inhabitants were entitled to vote at Parliamentary Elections as
Electors of Westminster.

There is an immense mass of material in connection with this ancient
House, but the above seems to embody the matters of importance. It
may be added that the College possessed considerable property outside
Aldersgate; that St. Botolph’s Church was united with St. Martin’s in
1399, and seems to have been farmed to the Priory of St. Bartholomew.
The French Protestant Church, now in Soho Square, was situated in St.
Martin’s from 1841 to 1877.

St. Martin’s was one of the churches where the Curfew Bell was rung
every night; the other churches, from time to time, being those of
St. Mary-le-Bow, St. Laurence, St. Giles Cripplegate, and All Hallows

The common opinion of the citizens in the sixteenth century regarding
the sanctuary is set forth by Stow. He, it must be remembered, was able
to recollect the actual working of sanctuary, while St. Martin’s was
still a living and acting Foundation.

 “This St. Martin’s appears to have been a Sanctuary for great
 Disorders, and a shelter for the loosest sort of People: Rogues and
 Ruffians, Thieves and Felons and Murderers. From hence used to rush
 violent persons, Committers of Riots, Robberies, and Manslaughters:
 Hither they brought in their preys and stolen goods, and concealed
 them here, and shared or sold them to those that dwelt here. Here were
 also harboured Picklocks, Counterfeiters of Keys and Seals, Forgers of
 false Evidences, such as made counterfeit chains, beads, ouches plate,
 Copper gilt for gold: nay, common strumpets and Bawds, Gamesters and
 Players at Hazard and Dice, and other unlawful games. And lastly
 profaners of Sundays, and other Festival days, exercising their crafts

 And again, to this licentiousness was this Sanctuary grown in these
 times, that in Henry VII.’s reign, one coming hither for Sanctuary,
 the Sheriffs took him thence by violence, and brought him away. But
 observe what followed: The Abbot of Westminster (to whom this college
 now belonged) in the year of Henry VII. exhibited a bill to the king
 against these sheriffs for arresting and drawing out with force a
 privileged person, out of the sanctuary of St. Martin’s belonging
 to the said Abbey. Which matter was heard in the Court of the Star
 Chamber, before the Lords and others of the King’s Counsel, and Hody
 and Newton, chief Justices. Which Justices determined that by Law, the
 Party ought to enjoy the privilege of sanctuary: and the Sheriffs were
 grievously fined by particular named.” (Stow’s _Survey_, vol. i.)

After the Dissolution some of the liberties of the place, as we have
seen, remained. And the last condition of the precinct was almost worse
than the first.

  “Because of the Liberty enjoyed by such as lived within these
 bounds, many Foreigners, English and others, Tradesmen and Artificers,
 planted themselves here. In 1585 a Survey was taken of all the
 strangers, being French, German, Dutch and Scots, inhabiting here and
 their occupations. Many of them were cordwainers, that is shoemakers
 (which trade still continues there), Taylors (hence the tallymen who
 sold shreds of Cloth; and Button makers, and Button-mold-makers, that
 remained there even until the great Fire in my remembrance). Here
 inhabited also Strangers, Goldsmiths, Purse-makers, Linen-drapers,
 some Stationers, some Merchants, silk weavers. Here lived also two
 silk twisters, who I suppose were the first silk throwers in London,
 and brought the trade into England. And for remembrance sake, I shall
 set down their names: the one was John James, born under the Dominion
 of King Philip, and made Denizen the 19th of December, the 10th of the
 Queen. The other was Anthony Emerick, born also under the obedience
 of King Philip, and made Denizen the 1st of January an 17 regin
 Elisabethæ. There were also upon that survey aforesaid, found to be of
 householders (Denizens as well as others), their Wives, Children, and
 Servants, one hundred and fifty in number. Which nevertheless was less
 by half than was some years before: for in 1569 their number was 269.
 There was a Constable and a Headborough for this liberty. But divers
 things here wanted provided for: in respect whereof they that lived
 out of the Liberty were in better condition. Sundry of the inhabitants
 refused to watch and ward, when upon occasion they were required,
 as good subjects and honest neighbours so to do. They refused to
 contribute to such taxes and payments as were set upon them for Her
 Majesty’s service, with the rest of their neighbours. Several visited
 with the sickness would not obey the Orders appointed in that behalf:
 that is, they would not keep their doors and windows shut, nor keep
 themselves within their houses: but walked forth, and struck out the
 red cross set upon their doors, and threatened mischief to any that
 should come to set crosses there. And some repaired to the Court with
 their Wares, a thing dangerous to the Queen and Nobility. There was
 no prison in the said liberty to commit such as should be troublesome
 and offensive, but the Gatehouse in Westminster: which was in another
 Shire, and out of the Liberty. And so they that were thus committed,
 commonly brought their actions against those that committed them, and
 put them to great trouble.

 Hence in the year 1593, the officers and inhabitants petitioned the
 Lord Treasurer to grant them such good ordinances for the redress of
 the said disorders, and sufficient authority for the execution of the
 same, for the good government of the said liberty: and conversation
 of the people in peace: as to his Lordship’s discreet wisdom should
 be thought fit. And that they might have a prison and execution of
 justice within the precinct of their liberty. And that he would
 send his letters to the Constable and Headborough, to find out a
 convenient place for such purpose: and to assess all the inhabitants
 of the liberty to the charge thereof. The Lord Treasurer recommended
 this matter to Serjeant Owen, and Mr. Lewis, Lawyers: who gave their
 Judgments, that for all matters for the service of the Queen, the
 inhabitants were compelled to perform the same. But for other matters,
 they must make some Bye-Laws and Orders among themselves, to bind
 themselves to performance.” (Maitland.)



This once rich and flourishing House was founded in the year 1108 by
Maud, wife of Henry the First, owing, it is said, to the persuasion, if
that pious Queen wanted any persuasion, of Anselm.

 “This church was given to Norman, first canon regular in all England.
 The said queen also gave unto the same church, and those that served
 God therein, the plot of Aldgate, and the soke thereunto belonging,
 with all customs so free as she had held the same, and twenty-five
 pound blankes, which she had of the city of Excester, as appeareth by
 her deed wherein she nameth the house Christ’s church, and reporteth
 Aldgate to be of her domains, which she granteth, with two parts of
 the rent of the city of Excester. Norman took upon him to be prior of
 Christ’s church, in the year of Christ 1108, in the parishes of St.
 Mary Magdalen, St. Michael, St. Katherine, and the Blessed Trinity,
 which now was made but one parish of the Holy Trinity, and was in
 old time of the Holy Cross or Holy Rood parish. The priory was built
 on a piece of ground in the parish of St. Katherine towards Aldgate,
 which lieth in length betwixt the King’s street, by the which men
 go towards Aldgate, near to the chapel of St. Michael towards the
 north, and containeth in length eighty-three ells, half, quarter, and
 half-quarter of the king’s iron elm, and lieth in breadth, etc. The
 soke and ward of Aldgate was then bounded as I have before showed. The
 queen was a means also that the land and English Knighten Guild was
 given unto the prior Norman: the honourable man, Geffrey de Glinton,
 was a great helper therein, and obtained that the canons might enclose
 the way betwixt their church and the wall of the city, etc. This
 priory, in process of time, became a very fair and large church, rich
 in lands and ornaments, and passed all the priories in the city of
 London or shire of Middlesex; the prior whereof was an alderman of
 London, to wit, of Portsoken ward.

 I read, that Eustacius, the eighth prior, about the year 1264, because
 he would not deal with temporal matters, instituted Theobald Fitz
 Ivon, alderman of Portsoken ward under him, and that William Rising,
 prior of Christ’s church, was sworn alderman of the said Portsoken
 ward in the 1st of Richard II. These priors have sitten and ridden
 amongst the aldermen of London, in livery like unto them, saving that
 his habit was in shape of a spiritual person, as I myself have seen
 in my childhood; at which time the prior kept a most bountiful house
 of meat and drink, both for rich and poor, as well within the house
 as at the gates, to all comers, according to their estates.” (Stow’s
 _Survey_, vol. i.)

What happened many years afterwards with the Franciscans happened then
in the case of these brethren of the Augustine Order. Their piety,
their austerity, the endless offering of prayer and praise which
ascended from their chapel deeply moved the hearts of the people. The
endowment at first consisted of £25 a year, equivalent to about £750
a year of our money, if there be any certainty as to the comparative
value of money, together with the proceeds of the port called Aldgate.

In the year 1125 a very singular event greatly increased the
possessions and the wealth of this House. I mean the conveyance of the
property held in trust by the Cnihten Gild to the Priory of the Holy

Twelve years later, Pope Immanuel the First, by a Bull, confirmed the
House in all their possessions, including “two parts of Issues of the
City of Exon the Lands of Lestune, which Prince de Moulins and Adeline
his wife out of piety granted to the same place, the land and the soke
of the English Cnihten Gild, the Church of Bix with its rents, and the
church of Tottenham.” Many other possessions fell to the House as time
went on.

The Priory stood upon a triangular piece of ground, of which Aldgate
and Leadenhall Street, as far as St. Catherine’s Cree Church inclusive,
formed the south-west side; Cree Church Street, King Street, and Duke
Street, the east side; and the wall of London the north side. The
square called St. James’s Place is certainly the site of a former court
of the Priory. The church probably stood on the site of St. James’s
Church, which was built in 1622 partly of materials belonging to the
old church, just as on the site of Grey Friars Church was erected the
present Christ Church. The Precinct of the monastery covered nearly
the whole of four ancient City parishes, viz. St. Mary Magdalene, St.
Michael, St. Catherine, and the Blessed Trinity, amalgamated into one
Parish, with, at first, the Convent Church for Parish Church, called
Holy Trinity or Holy Rood. The inhabitants of St. Catherine’s, however,
could not be reconciled to the loss of their church, and presently
built another for themselves in the Churchyard of the Priory. The
Church of St. Michael continued as a ruin, of which the crypt remained
one of the most remarkable of the monuments of ancient London, down to
the formation of the Underground Railway in the year 1865. It was then,
most unfortunately, allowed to be destroyed.

Ancient and rich and venerable as was this Priory, whose monks enjoyed
the reputation of splendid hospitality, the House in later years seems
to have lost some of the consideration for sanctity which it enjoyed
during the first century of its existence. This is shown by the meagre
list of monuments belonging to the Priory Church compared with that of
the Grey Friars or the Dominicans. Henry Fitz Ailwyn, first Mayor of
London; two children of King Stephen; and Geoffrey Mandeville (after
his twenty years of dangling above ground) are among the few remarkable
names in Stow’s list of those here interred.

I have before me thirty-seven closely written pages containing extracts
from ancient documents and archives bearing on the four hundred years’
life of this House. It is a history which might be told once for all by
a Dugdale and confided to the shelves of the Society of Antiquaries:
it contains the story of the management of a large estate; the usual
crop of ecclesiastical quarrels and disputes over rights and claims;
the recognition of the said rights by Pope and King; dispensations,
faculties, injunctions, and restraints.

For instance, in 1250, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued sentence
against Prior, Sub-prior, Sacristan, Cellarer, and Precentor of Holy
Trinity for refusing to receive him as Visitor. The sentence is
annulled by superior authority. But two years later the Pope ordered
the Prior to admit the Archbishop, the Metropolitan, as Visitor.
Citizens bequeathed money in order to found an obit, or anniversary
for the benefit of their souls; the Bishop of London was consecrated
in their Church; the heart of John Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury,
was buried in their church; the Prior, on his election, was sworn
as Alderman of Portsoken; citizens of well-known names turn up
unexpectedly in these pages; thus, John Bocuinte, son of Geoffrey
Bocuinte, and Juliana his wife, sold certain property with fees held of
the Priory; Gilbert Fitz Fulk, one of the Aldermen of the thirteenth
century, going to the Holy Land, bequeathed, in case of his death,
certain lands and houses to the Priory for the good of his soul, and
the souls of his father and mother; other citizens desired to be buried
in the church; the King asked for the loan of a cart and horses to
carry his household gear to Dover; on the election of a new Prior the
House was bound to provide a benefice for one of the King’s Clerks—see
Tanner’s _Notes on Monastic Houses_,—others of the King’s officers for
divers reasons were maintained by the House—it seems, indeed, a common
practice for the King to have invited this House to maintain his old
servants. At one time the Priory became owner of the market called
Queenhithe. William of Ypres gave it to the House. It was then called
Edredes hyde, and the gift was subject to a yearly payment of £20 to
the Hospital of St. Katherine by the Tower.

In 1352 we find the brethren seeking assistance in rebuilding this
Church and House by offering a “Relaxation” of one year and forty
days of “enjoined penance” to any who would assist. The offer to hold
good for ten years. At this time the House possessed property in
eighty-eight London parishes. In the reign of Edward the Second mention
is made of three Grammar schools, of which one is that of the Holy
Trinity Priory.

During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the House flourished and
obtained considerable additions to its estates, so that it became the
richest of all the London Houses. Its good fortune, however, did not
continue. Its property decreased in value; much of it was sold; the
decay continued; in the year 1532 the Prior and the Canons held a
Chapter in which they recognised that their House was not only sunken
and decayed in its rents and emoluments, but that it was entirely
reduced and laden with debt. They therefore surrendered their House and
remaining lands to the King.

The site was given with all the buildings to Sir Thomas Audley,
afterwards Lord Chancellor. Audley offered the great church, just
as it stood, with its peal of bells, to the adjacent parish of St.
Catherine, meaning that they should pull down the latter and build upon
the site. Unhappily, the parishioners were afraid to accept the offer,
“having doubts in their heads,” says Stow, “of afterclaps.” If they
had accepted, another fine Monastic Church would have been preserved,
together with those of St. Mary Overies and St. Bartholomew the Great.

Whereupon Audley pulled down the Church himself with a great deal of
expense and labour. On the death of Audley, his daughter and heiress,
Margaret, became the second wife of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. The
Duke was executed for high treason in 1572; the mansion went to his
son, by Margaret, who sold it in 1592 to the Mayor and Corporation of
the City.

Some remains of the buildings were standing until recently. The place
itself seems to have been occupied by the Jews on their return under
Oliver Cromwell. For nearly two hundred years it was almost entirely
the Jews’ Quarter in London. Every year they held a kind of Fair on the
Feast of Purim in Duke’s Place. The Feast, which falls in the month
of Adar, _i.e._ partly in February and partly in March, commemorates
the execution of Haman and the deliverance of the Hebrews. The Fair
was held without any authority until early in the nineteenth century,
when it was licensed for three days, generally extended to six, the
square of Duke’s Place being let for shows. It was found to be a public
nuisance, and was suppressed a few years later.

For many years after the destruction of the Priory Church, the
inhabitants of the Precinct had no parish church of their own. In 1622,
however, St. James’s was built as a parish church for the Precinct. The
church became notorious for the irregular marriages without banns or
license which were solemnised here. In 1874 the curacy of St. James’s
was united with that of St. Catherine Cree, and the former church was
pulled down.

The Precinct was privileged, and though within the City, persons not
freemen of the City were permitted to trade within its limits.


 These plans were made by a surveyor named J. Symans in the reign of
 Queen Elizabeth. From the mention of Sir Thomas Heneage’s garden,
 their date is probably before 1595, when Sir Thomas, who was Keeper
 of the Tower Records, died. The first shows the ground floor of the
 buildings then standing. The original monastery extended from the
 street, now called Leadenhall Street, northward and eastward to the
 old Wall. Two semicircular bastions and a third which formed one tower
 of Aldgate are seen on the plans, which also, among items otherwise
 unknown hitherto to London topographers, give us the canon’s church
 as well as that of the parishioners of St. Katherine Cree. Both these
 buildings have now disappeared. The conventual church in Symans’ plan
 had already been in part removed by Lord Chancellor Audley, in favour
 of the “Ivye Chamber.” The “Charncell” is still intact and “owre
 Ladychapell”; but there is notice of “the north end where the great
 tower fell Downe” and “the south end now teniment.” By “end,” Symans
 meant transept. The cloister and the chapter house, one portion of
 which is labelled “This was the chapell,” the body of the church and
 a south porch are clearly denoted; while, of the domestic buildings,
 we distinguish the gatehouse labelled “The way owte of Allgat Streat
 into Creechurch monastary”: the Dorter, or sleeping quarters of the
 monks, which open from the cloister; more than one extensive garden;
 the “Greate Cowrte,” and a number of apartments or separate small
 holdings, let to various tenants, whose names, Awnsell, Bayle, and
 Kirwin, for example, occur in several places on the plans. At the
 north side of “the Great Garden adioyning the Dorter” and close to
 the city wall, is “A Foundation for new buildings uppon the wall”;
 this seems to be let to Awnsell, who has also a lease of the garden.
 The north chancel aisle is let in “new Teniments.” Some relics of the
 vaults, or “Favlts,” are occasionally disclosed in Leadenhall Street;
 some Norman arches are figured by Malcolm and there are others in
 Pennant’s _London_, 1793, and many other books; but no Tudor plan of
 the buildings has hitherto been published.

[Illustration: PLAN OF HOLY TRINITY PRIORY (Ground Floor Story).


These are quite the most important (archæologically) of any of the
illustrations in this book. Neither of them has been reproduced
elsewhere. The originals are in the Marquess of Salisbury’s Hatfield
House MSS., and the late Marquess gave permission for them to be used.
They were sent to the British Museum for safety and were photographed
there. It will be noticed that these plans show not only the
disposition of the whole of the priory buildings, church, chapels,
cloister, dormitory, etc., but also the ground plan of St. Katherine
Cree, the position of the upper bastions of London Wall, and the
direction of the lanes and streets thereabouts. They provide the basis
for a wealth of discovery.]

 The second plan is labelled, “This second story or grownd Plat of
 Creechurch is drawn by J. Symans.” In it we see “Ivy Chamber” and
 close by the south transept let to “Darsey.” The upper floor of the
 Dorter, with “the gallery to the Dorter,” “a great Kitchen,” “a privy
 Kitchen,” and “The Great Tower,” which stood at the north-west corner
 of the nave, so as to be close to the entrance to “the body of the
 church,” by the west door, are all seen.

 In both the plans the parish church appears where the present one
 is still, at the corner of Leadenhall Street and St. Mary Axe. This
 street is inscribed “A lane to London Wall from Allgat Streat”; and,
 after a turn past one of the smaller priory gates, “The waye from
 the monastary in to Allgat Streat.” The church fills a corner of
 the priory wall and is irregular in shape, with apparently a tower
 at the corner, under which is an entrance to the street. From the
 frequency of the window openings it would appear to have been in the
 Perpendicular style. It was in this building that the body of Hans
 Holbein, the artist, was buried at his death of the plague, while
 painting in Lord Audley’s house in November 1543. This church was
 ruinous in 1624. Two years earlier the parishioners nearer Aldgate
 built themselves a church, St. James’s, Duke’s Place, which stood very
 near, if not exactly on, the site of the Lady Chapel of the conventual
 church. It also fell out of repair and was pulled down in 1874, the
 parish being united with St. Katherine’s, which meanwhile, namely,
 in 1631, had been rebuilt by Archbishop Laud, and occupies the space
 shown by Symans, together with a narrow aisle taken from “the church
 yarde,” on the north side. This may perhaps be defined by a narrow
 passage shown in the ground plan along the wall of the church, and has
 hitherto been supposed to have formed part of the cloister. Churches,
 like this one for parishioners, occur in many other convents—St.
 Alban’s and Westminster Abbey, for instance.



In Agas’ Map of London, “Civitas Londinum,” _circa_ 1560 (see end of
_London in the Time of the Tudors_), there is represented, lying on
the west of Aldersgate Street, an irregular square or place called
Charter House Square: it has a small church in the middle, and on the
north side are monastic buildings; on the north of these are gardens
and orchards; one of them with a small building which may be meant for
a church enclosed with a wall. Some of these monastic buildings, with
later additions and alterations, still remain to the present day; the
square remains, but the orchards and gardens are built over, with the
exception of the ground once enclosed by the cloister, which is now the
play-ground of the Merchant Taylors’ School. Before the middle of the
fourteenth century this place formed part of “No Man’s Land,” a swampy
plain, covered, like Smithfield and Moorfield, with ponds and reeds
and rushes. In the year 1349 the Black Death arrived; and as the City
churchyards were becoming so full that they could hold no more, the
Bishop of London bought a piece of this ground which he enclosed for a
burial-place, building a chapel, “which is now,” says Stow, “enlarged
and made a dwelling-house,” and the place was called Pardon Churchyard.
It was afterwards used as a burial-place for suicides and criminals and
persons who died a violent death. The body was put into a cart, hung
with black cloth, belonging to St. John’s Hospital; on the black cloth
was the white cross of St. John; within the cart hung a bell which rang
with the jolting and the shaking of the hearse—a doleful sound and a
doleful sight.

In 1350 or 1351, the plague still continuing, Sir Walter Manny bought
thirteen acres of ground, adjacent to the Pardon Churchyard, and gave
this to the City as a new burial-ground; the chapel stood somewhere in
Charter House Square, perhaps about the middle of it. There used to be
a stone cross in this burial-ground with the following inscription:—

 “Anno Domini 1349, regnante magnâ pestilentiâ, consecratum fuit hoc
 cœmiterium in quo et infra septa presentis monasterii sepulta fuerunt
 mortuorum corpora plus quam quinquaginta millia præter alia multa
 abhinc usque ad presens: quorum animabus propitietur Deus, Amen.”

In the Charter House Precinct, to this day, whenever the ground is
opened bones are found.

Some years later Sir Walter Manny, with Michael de Northburgh, Bishop
of London, founded on the spot a House which they at first intended to
be only a College of twelve Chaplains, one of whom was to preside; they
enlarged their plan, however, and converted this college into a House
of Carthusians, whose Prior obtained a Bull of the Pope in 1362 for
the acquisition of certain benefices valued at £200 a year. Nine years
later, in February 1471-72, the House obtained license to hold twenty
acres of ground for their Precinct, together with a Chapel dedicated to
the Annunciation of the Virgin. It had already received, by the will
of Bishop Michael, who died in 1361, £2000 in money, many rents and
tenements, the Bishop’s Library, and his best Vestments. The House was,
further, largely endowed by other Kings and Princes. Sir Walter Manny,
who died in 1471, was buried in the Choir of the Church.

[Illustration: THE CHARTER HOUSE

From the Grangerised edition of Brayley’s _London and Middlesex_ in
Guildhall Library.]

No House commanded greater respect than this of the Carthusians, for
the simple reason that while the Rule in other Houses was relaxed,
or was scandalously neglected, successive generations of Carthusians
showed no change in their austerities and no deviation from their Rule.
They came to England about 1180, and settled first at Witham, near
Bath. Their austerities are thus described:—

“They wear nothing made from furs or linen, nor even that finely-spun
linen garment which we call Staminium; neither breeches, unless when
sent on a journey, which at their return they wash and restore. They
have two tunics with cowls, but no additional garment in winter,
though, if they think fit, in summer they may lighten their garb. They
sleep clad and girded, and never after matins return to their beds;
but they so order the time of matins that it shall be light ere the
lauds begin: so intent are they on their rule, that they think no jot
or tittle of it should be disregarded. Directly after the hymns, they
sing the prime, after which they go out to work for stated hours. They
complete whatever service or labour they have to perform by day without
any other light. No one is ever absent from the daily services, or
from complines, except the sick. The cellarer and hospitaller, after
complines, wait upon the guests, yet observing the strictest silence.
The abbot allows himself no indulgence beyond the others, everywhere
present, everywhere attending to his flock, except that he does not
eat with the rest, because his table is with the strangers and the
poor. Nevertheless, be he where he may, he is equally sparing of food
and speech; for never more than two dishes are served to him or to
his company: lard and meat never but to the sick. From the Ides of
September till Easter, through regard for whatever festival, they do
not take more than one meal a day except on Sunday. They never leave
the cloister but for purpose of labour, nor do they ever speak, either
there or elsewhere, save only to the abbot or prior. They pay unwearied
attention to the canonical services, making no addition to them except
for the defunct. They use in their divine service the Ambrosian chants
and hymns, as far as they were able to learn them at Milan. While they
bestow care on the stranger and the sick, they inflict intolerable
mortifications on their own bodies for the health of their souls.” Add
to this list of austerities that they wore a hair cloth next the skin;
that they were not permitted to buy fish, but that they might accept
it; that they made bread of bran and drank their wine diluted.

The House of the Salutation stood for 200 years. During that long
period the Brethren continued the same austerities; there is no record
of any falling-off; they remained all their lives within the walls of
their House; all that the world knew of them came from their servants
and their visitors. Other Houses might relax, into other Houses luxury
might creep, but not with the Carthusians, they remained true till
the end. The story of the end belongs to that of the Dissolution of
Religious Houses. (See _London in the Time of the Tudors_.)



This House, the memory of which had almost disappeared, was again
restored to Mediæval London by the publication of Dr. Sharpe’s
_Calendar of Wills_. And since the original terms of a Religious
Foundation, and the subsequent growth of a Religious House by bequest
and gift, are not often accessible, I extract from the work (1) the
précis of the original will of William de Elsing, mercer, by which this
House was created; and (2) a list, with dates, of the various gifts
which from time to time were made to the House. Here, then, is the
will, dated 1348, in which he confirms his Foundation of 1329.

 Elsingg (William de) Mercer.—To Robert his son a tenement with shops
 and garden in the parish of S. Botolph without Aldrichesgate, and
 divers rents in the parish of S. Laurence in the Jewry. All his
 tenements and rents in the parishes of S. Alphege and S. Mary de
 Aldermanburi, together with the appropriation of the said church
 of S. Mary in which tenements he had already commenced to build an
 almshouse of stone and a church, he devises for the maintenance of
 a hospital for the poor, blind, and indigent of both sexes, under
 the direction of a prior and convent; and he wills that no one else
 soever, ecclesiastic or secular, except the said prior and convent and
 the testator’s executors after named, shall intermeddle in the said
 house or hospital. And whereas the wants of the poor are too many for
 his means to completely satisfy, he leaves to the said prior, &c.,
 tenements, shops, rents, &c., in the parishes of S. Laurence in the
 Jewry, All Hallows de Honylane, S. Martin Pomer in Ismongerelane, S.
 Mildred in the Poultry, S. Giles without Crepelgate, and All Hallows
 de Graschirche: also in Conynghoplane in the said parish of S. Mildred
 and in Cordwanerstrete in the parish of S. Mary le Bow, and in the
 parish of S. Benedict atte Wodewharf and elsewhere, so that the said
 prior and convent for the time being maintain chantries for the souls
 of Robert le Fruyter, Ralph de Holbech and Sir Geoffrey de Holbech,
 William de Carleton, Bartholomew de Castello, William de Gayton, and
 others. Notification of the king’s licence in mortmain for the above
 devises having been obtained; and also of the assent of Sir Ralph (de
 Stratford) Bishop of London, the Dean and Chapter of S. Paul’s and
 other parties interested, to the canons of the said Hospital being
 placed under the rule and order of S. Augustine, with the habit of
 canons regular of the same order, and to their number being five at
 the least. The Dean and Chapter of S. Paul’s appointed patrons of the
 said hospital and to act as wardens during a vacancy. His executors
 to be guardians of the said Hospital and of all the above tenements
 and rents until a prior and canons shall have been duly elected and
 constituted. Dated in the hospital aforesaid Monday next before the
 Feast of Annunciation of V. Mary (25th March) A.D. 1348.

The Hospital had been already commenced, as the Will states, on the
site of a decayed nunnery in Gayspur Lane, London Wall, for the
maintenance of blind men.

The House thus founded began to attract bequests. Robert de Elsing,
son of the founder, endowed chantries for the souls of his father and
others. I find thirty-two bequests in the _Calendar of Wills_ down to
the year 1530, and of course these were not all.

In the year 1430 a considerable accession to the property of the
Hospital occurred through the then Bishop of London transferring the
estates of a decayed House, that of Thele, Hertford, to Elsyng Spital
on condition of founding two canons on Thele and three on Elsyng to
pray for the souls of certain benefactors of Thele.

On the surrender of Elsyng House its annual income was returned at
£193: 15: 5.

The Priory was granted to Sir John Williams, afterwards Lord Williams
of Thane, and Keeper of the King’s jewels. He converted the whole into
a dwelling-house for himself; the chapel yard he made a garden; the
cloisters a gallery, and bedesmen’s rooms into stables. The house was
burned down in 1541.

Meantime, the chapel of the Priory had been converted into the Parish
Church of St. Alphege. The old church stood on the opposite side of
the road, under the wall, like the churches of St. Augustine and All
Hallows; its churchyard, on the east of the Chapel, still remains,
opposite the entrance of the modern church. The parishioners paid the
King £100 for their new church.



The Hospital and the Priory of St. Bartholomew were distinct and
separate foundations, of which the former was governed by the latter.
The traditional history of this foundation is one of those remarkable
stories which belong to a period when things material and things
imagined were mixed together, and the visions of a brain, disordered
by sickness, or by fasting, or by loneliness, were even more real
than the tangible realities of man and matter. In the time of Henry
the First there lived about the Court one Rahere, who was a knight,
or a minstrel, a gentleman, or a jester, a man of noble extraction,
or of obscure origin, whichever you please, for the histories differ.
Either before or after his “conversion” Rahere is said to have occupied
the stall of Chamberlayne’s Wood at St. Paul’s. It was a time in
which there was a great deal of what modern Evangelicals used to call
“conviction of sin.” Rahere was one of those so convinced. Like many
others at that time, when a wave of religious emotion swept over the
whole country, Rahere yearned to deepen his newly found sense of
religion by going on pilgrimage. The going on pilgrimage, as a part
of mediæval life, has been treated in another place. Rahere, it is
enough to say, followed the common custom of the time when he went on
pilgrimage to Rome. This was in 1120. Now, on arriving at Rome, or
on the way, he was seized with a malarious fever, insomuch that he
was like to die. He therefore prayed to St. Bartholomew, promising to
found a Hospital for the poor, should he by the help of the Saint be
permitted to recover. Now the bones of St. Bartholomew were found in
India, A.D. 1113, only seven years before Rahere’s arrival, and, being
brought over to Rome, were placed on an island of the Tiber, where
had formerly stood a temple to Æsculapius. Probably Rahere had quite
recently visited this place; we remember the eagerness with which
the mediæval folk ran after every new saint, or every new discovery
of relics. However that may be, he had a Vision, in which the Saint
appeared to him, and granted his recovery on the conditions promised
by the supplicant. Rahere, therefore, on his return, proceeded to
found the hospital. But the Saint appeared to him: would he do more?
Would he found also a Religious House? The spot—Smithfield, the smooth
field—was part of the fenny flat that lay north of London Wall: a
barren heath covered with springs and ponds, and set with occasional
clumps of trees. Horse races were held here, a weekly horse fair, there
were stables and grooms and people to look after the horses, they were
a rough and rude folk, living without the jurisdiction of the City,
and they had no Church nor any religious people among them; it was
the place also on which executions were held, and it was accounted
infamous. Rahere obeyed the Saint in this respect as well; he erected
his hospital, beginning the building in 1123, with the assistance of
Richard de Belmeis, then Bishop of London, and the King himself.

(ABOUT A.D. 1530)]

[Illustration: PART OF THE CHOIR

_With the REMAINS of the SOUTH TRANSEPT of the CHURCH of S^t.


London. _Published 25 March 1821 by Robert Wilkinson, 125 Fenchurch

Rahere next proceeded to found the Priory of St. Bartholomew beside the
Hospital. The House received its first Charter from Henry the First
in 1133. In this Charter the King orders his successors to defend
the House as jealously as their own crown. The Priory has long since
disappeared, with the exception of part of the Church, but the Hospital
exists to this day, enlarged and richly endowed, a perennial fountain
of life and health, while the church of the Priory, such part of it as
still remains, is the noblest mediæval monument left to London. The
Hospital, according to the custom of the time, consisted of a double
Hall, or a single Hall with aisles. Between the aisles, or at the end
of the Hall, was the Chapel. In either aisle were the beds of the
sick: the men on one side, the women on the other. As the patients
were brought in, they were put to bed—two, four, even eight in one
bed—without any regard to the kind of disease from which they suffered,
so that in case of contagion or infection the other occupants of the
bed were certain to catch it. One wonders how, in these circumstances,
any one ever came out of the Hospital at all, and how any one could
expect to recover. But all diseases were not infectious or contagious;
and as for the patient, he was probably, from long experience of dirt
and confined air, secure as regards many things which would now be
fatal; then there was food for him; there was nursing of a kind; if
one were thirsty he could drink; if one were hungry he could eat;
the sisters were gentle and pitiful; the physician was always in
readiness; his remedies were strange and wonderful, but the groundwork
was the old wife’s knowledge of herbs and their uses—lore not to be
despised;—moreover, the chief terror of death was removed, because the
priest was always in the hospital with the last offices of the Church
to fortify the dying. The Hall was spacious, lofty, and well lit—a
paradise to a fever-stricken wretch from a hovel without chimney,
floor, or window; the beds were soft and clean—as cleanliness was then
understood; the way of death was made easy, even if the recovery of
health were denied.


In the Church of St. Bartholomew the Great.]

Rahere himself became the first Prior of his monastery; he died
September 20, 1144, and was buried in the Church; the canopied tomb
of the fifteenth century, which still stands in the Chancel of St.
Bartholomew the Great, is said to cover the dust of the Founder, whose
effigy may be twelfth-century work. On the tomb are figured two monks
reading in Bibles open at the fifty-first chapter of Isaiah and the
third verse:—

 “For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste
 places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert
 like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein,
 thanksgiving and the voice of melody.”

It would be difficult to find a more appropriate text. There are four
shields on the tomb, being those of England, London, the Hospital, and
the Priory. The tomb itself was desecrated by workmen in 1864. One of
the leather sandals was taken off Rahere’s foot, and lost for thirty
years; it has now been recovered, and is placed with other things in a
small glass case in the church.

Rahere joined the order of Canons Regular of St. Augustine, who were
great builders and architects, and, among other things, practised

Those of the original buildings which remain are small portions of
the choir of the church, from which the whole has been restored, and
perhaps a portion or fragments of the transepts. The nave has long
since been destroyed; the transepts are later. Originally there were
an apsidal Lady Chapel and two apsidal side chapels: that on the north
side is dedicated to St. Bartholomew; that on the south to St. Stephen.
When Rahere died there were thirteen canons for the new Foundation,
a number increased to thirty-five under his successor. There can be
no doubt, therefore, of the success of the House. The canons were not
subject to duty in the Hospital. For the service of the sick there was
another Foundation, consisting of a Hospitaller with eight Brothers
and four Sisters, under the rule of the Prior. Rahere’s buildings were
largely extended by his successor. About the same time was built the
gateway into Smithfield, which still, most fortunately, stands, having
escaped vandal, builder, landlord, and every danger. The present west
front is, of course, modern, and the churchyard occupies the site of
the former nave.

In this Priory happened that most disgraceful scene of violence in
which the Archbishop of Canterbury, an alien of Provence, was the chief
aggressor, when he visited the Priory in defiance of the rights of the
Bishop of London and replied to remonstrance by violence. This prelate
was Boniface, uncle of Queen Eleanor of Provence, who had been brought
to this country with so many of his countrymen and preferred to the
highest place that the realm had to offer (see vol. i. p. 29).

We have in this episode a graphic and most suggestive picture of the
exasperation caused by the admission of aliens to the offices and
dignities which, above all, required a knowledge of the country and
its institutions and its prejudices. The rights and privileges of
ecclesiastics and of Religious Houses were defended with the greatest
possible jealousy and tenacity. It was clearly a privilege of this
House that their visitor was the Bishop of London, and that the
Archbishop had no right to intrude himself into the House. That he
did so is proof of an attempt at encroachment, of which an Englishman
would have been incapable. But observe, as well, the arrogance of
the Prelate. He seizes the Sub-prior and hurls him against a pillar;
the Canons run to his rescue, and the Archbishop is thrown on his
back ignominiously, betraying the fact that he is armed beneath his
episcopal robes. And his men, his followers, are themselves strangers
and aliens—men of Provence, like himself.


From the Grangerised edition of Brayley’s _London and Middlesex_ in
Guildhall Library.]

It may be observed, as well, that the citizens had their own standard
of episcopal duties, if the words are correctly reported. “He is no
winner of souls,” they cry: “he is an exacter of money, whom neither
God nor any lawful or free election did bring to this promotion.” That
the ideal of the people was so far above the practice of the prelates
in such cases as this shows, it might be fairly argued, that the parish
priest of Chaucer, drawn a hundred and fifty years later, existed
already in the thirteenth century.

The restored plan of the Priory is here reproduced by permission of the
Rev. Sir Borradaile Savory, Bart.

In 1410 the church was rebuilt “almost anew.” The apse of the east end
was removed; a square east end terminating with two large windows was
inserted; the Norman Lady Chapel was taken down and the present one
erected with a crypt; the Norman Clerestory was taken down and replaced
by the present one; the Norman capitals were changed; the stone screen
under the North Transept was inserted, probably to give strength to the
piers. A Chantry Chapel was built on the north side of the north aisle.
In wills of this period St. Katherine’s Chapel is referred to, also a
Pardon churchyard. A stone pulpit was put up in the choir. A peal of
five bells was given to the church in 1520 by one Thomas Bullesden.
This is the oldest peal in London, and the bells are dedicated
respectively to St. Bartholomew, St. Anna, St. Peter, St. Katherine,
St. Johannes Baptista.

The last Prior but one was Bolton (1506-1522). He built the oriel
window on the south side of the Choir. His rebus of a Bolt-in-Tun is in
the centre panel. The same rebus is found in the spandril of the door
leading into the Vestry Room, and in the brickwork of Canonbury Tower,
Islington, which was also built by Bolton. This Tower, with buildings
now destroyed, standing in extensive grounds, the boundaries of which
can still be made out, was apparently a summer residence of the Canons.

To return to the Hospital, Rahere’s first Hospitaller was Alfune, who
built St. Giles’s, Cripplegate, also outside the walls. Alfune used to
go into the shambles every morning begging scraps and bits of meat for
the sick men and women. He had under his orders eight Brothers of the
Hospital, who were priests as well as physicians, and four sisters.

A representation of a mediæval hospital shows the double hall, the
priest is administering the last rites of the Church to one patient,
the sisters are sewing up the body of another just dead, mass is being
sung at the altar, a visitor is kneeling in prayer. Such is Rahere’s
first hospital, such was every mediæval hospital.

Little is recorded of the Hospital between the Foundation and the
Dissolution. In the reign of Henry the Third one Katherine, widow of
William Hardell, obtained a grant of a small plot of ground, twenty
feet each way, for the purpose of building an anchorite’s cell next to
the “chapel of St. Bartholomew”—was that the chapel of the Hospital
or the stately church of the Priory? It was the special duty of the
anchorite to pray for the prosperity of the House and for the souls
of those within it. Perhaps he may have prayed for both Hospital and
Priory. In the reign of Edward the Third the Hospital was “confirmed”
by the King. In the year 1423 Whittington’s executors repaired the
buildings; and in the same year we learn that the Hospital possessed
a library, because Sir John Wakening, once a priest in the House,
enriched their library by the gift of a beautiful Bible.

In the _Collections of a London Citizen_[21] is the following notice of
the Hospital:—

 “Bartholomew ys Spetylle. Hyt ys aplace of grete comforte to pore men
 as for hyr loggyng, and yn specyalle unto yong wymmen that have mysse
 done that ben whythe chylde. There they ben delyveryde, and unto the
 tyme of purtfycacyon they have mete and drynke of the placys coste and
 fulle honestely gydyd and kepte. And in ys moche as the place maye
 they kepe hyr conselle and hyr worschyppe, God graunte that they doo
 so hyr owne worschippe that have a-fendyde. Amen.”


From the Grangerised edition of Brayley’s _London and Middlesex_ in the
Guildhall Library.]

Referring to the very copious notes in my hands, I make the following
additions to the history which precedes:—

The Charter of Henry the First, 1133, granting the Foundation of the
Priory, and addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to Gilbert
the Universal, Bishop of London, was printed in 1891 by Dr. Norman
Moore from the copy in the Record Office. The reader desirous of more
detailed information on this House is also referred to Dr. Norman
Moore’s work on the Church of St. Bartholomew the Great. There is
a great quantity of literature on the subject of this House. The
following list is by no means exhaustive, but it will serve:—Papers may
be consulted in the _Vetusta Monumenta_, vol. ii.; in the _Transactions
of St. Paul’s Eccl. Soc._ vol. ii.; _Archæologia_, vols. xv. and
xix.; _Notes and Queries_—see Indices; the _Antiquary_—see Indices;
the _Reliquary_—see Indices; the _L. and Midd. Arch. Soc._ vols. i.,
ii., iii.; _Journal of Brit. Architects_, i., xxx., xli.; _Archæolog.
Journal_, vols. xli. and xlviii.

In 1362 we find a dispute between the Canons of the Priory and the
Brethren of the Hospital concerning the list of the sick. In 1433 the
Bishop of London issues ordinances for the better management of the
Priory. Another dispute between the Priory and certain persons in the
Diocese of Lincoln was thought important enough to demand a Papal
commission, the Commissioners being the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s,
to decide upon it. The Prior and Canons complained in 1310 of the offal
thrown out into the Fleet at Holborn Bridge. They succeeded in getting
an Ordinance, but as to its enforcement history is mute. We find them,
later on, petitioning against the making of holes and ditches in
Smithfield—the petition, referring to some temporary grievance, shows
that the Priory considered itself as in some sort the guardian of
Smithfield. It seems, since the claim is set up in other cases, to have
been a custom, in the election of a new Prior, to grant a Pension to
one of the King’s clerks. John de Herclaston, clerk, in 1316, addresses
a letter to the Prior and Canons claiming such a pension by right of
custom. In the same year a certain Nicholas de la Marche begs the Prior
to admit him into their House, “because he is an old servant of the
King and infirm.” In 1530 we find that one Thomas Cornwall, convicted
of heresy, who had been condemned to wear a faggot broidered on his
sleeve—a pleasing reminder of orthodoxy—was sent to perpetual custody
in the House of St. Bartholomew for disobeying the sentence. The story
opens up a large field for hopeless inquiry. How many prisoners for
heresy were there in the Houses at the time of the Dissolution? Were
they all permitted to go at large? Is there any evidence as to the
subsequent history of any of them? As regards Thomas Cornwall, if he
was placed “in penance,” _i.e._ on bread and water, in a solitary cell,
he did not, probably, survive to see the Dissolution of his Prison. On
the other hand, if he did, it is not very likely that he saw his own
private heresy any the nearer to becoming the creed of the Catholic

Of St. Bartholomew’s Fair an account will be found in another place.
(See _London in the Eighteenth Century_, p. 465 _et seq._)

On October 25, 1540, Fuller, the last Prior, surrendered the House. The
revenue was then £773: 0: 1-1/2; the net income was £693: 0: 10-3/4.
The nave was destroyed, and the stones were used by the King for other

The Priory buildings, consisting of the Prior’s house, the Infirmary,
the Dormitory, the Refectory, the cloisters, kitchens, stables, and
gardens, were sold to Sir Richard Rich for £1064. The site of the nave,
eighty-seven feet in length, became a churchyard, and the choir became
a Parish Church. The King appointed the first Rector, after which the
patronage belonged to Sir Richard Rich as his successor.

Sir Richard Rich, as Lord Chancellor, presided at the trial of Anne
Askew, and, according to report, assisted with his own hands in her
torture. He was also present at her execution.


In 1516 Queen Mary gave the Priory to the Black Friars, who lived here
until their expulsion in 1559 by Elizabeth.

In _Londina Illustrata_ it is said that the old Parish Church adjoined
the Priory Church; that when the Black Friars were turned out, the
Priory Church, together with the old Parish Church, was made the Parish
Church. In that case the old Parish Church must have been part of the
structure of the Priory Church. The account is confused, because the
writer goes on to relate that the old Parish Church was pulled down,
except the steeple of wood, which became ruinous, and was taken down in
1628, the present tower being then erected.

The Great Fire was happily stopped before it could cross Smithfield.

In 1697 Hogarth was baptized in this church.

In 1863 Restoration was begun. The Lady Chapel had been converted first
into a dwelling-house and next into a fringe manufactory; part of the
factory projected into the church, and was supported by an iron girder
and two iron columns. In the north Transept was a blacksmith’s forge;
in the south the boys’ school.

The following is an account of the most interesting Restoration—may one
who is no architect be permitted to say the most valuable?—as set forth
in the papers prepared for the reopening of the Lady Chapel on May 18,

At the commencement of the Restoration in 1863, the floor was lowered
to its original level, the pews removed, a dry area formed round the
outside of the Church, and the walls and piers, which had perished,
were made good. The Apse was also completed on the ground-floor level
by the insertion of the two central piers, the storey above being
occupied by a fringe manufactory. Some £5000 in all was collected and
expended. (Late Rev. J. Abbiss, M.A., Rector.)

In 1884-86 the Fringe Factory, which projected twenty feet into the
east end of the Church, and which covered the remains of the Crypt and
Lady Chapel, was purchased for £6500.

The Apse was restored at the sole charge of the Patron, the Rev. Canon
Phillips. The Church was re-roofed.

The Blacksmith’s Forge, occupying the site of the North Transept, was
purchased. The restored portions were reopened on November 30, 1886.
(Late Rev. W. Panckridge, M.A., Rector.)

In 1887-92 the South Transept.—The temporary Vestry, which occupied the
upper portion of the South Transept Arch, was removed. The Norman Arch
on the north side, and the Transition Norman Arch on the south side,
were uncovered and brought to light, together with much other work
of considerable interest. One bay was added to provide a Baptistery,
and to form a suitable approach on the south side of the Church. The
Transept now covers about half of the site of the original Transept. It
was opened on March 14, 1891.

The Boys’ School was removed from the North Triforium, and new Schools
were built adjoining the Church. A Working Men’s Club was built beneath
the Schools, at the sole charge of the Rector.

A Memorial Screen was erected beneath the Organ Loft to the late
Rector, the Rev. Wm. Panckridge, M.A.

In 1892-93 the north Transept—the Blacksmith’s Forge—was removed, and
a shallow Transept rebuilt, giving abutment to the great arches of the
Crossing, and providing a Morning chapel, and uncovering much old work.
This Transept was opened on June 5, 1893.

A north Porch was built, giving access to the Church from Cloth Fair,
and providing a room for the Mission Worker.

A west Porch was built with a room over. The west Front was newly faced
with flint and stone, and the approach widened.

A new Pulpit was erected, the gift of the late Sextoness.


From the Grangerised edition of Brayley’s _London and Middlesex_ in
Guildhall Library.]

A new Organ Case was erected, the gift of Mr. Henry Thomas Withers, in
memory of his brother, the late Frederick John Withers.

The north and south Triforia were opened out. The Peal of Bells was
re-hung, and the Bell Tower repaired.

In 1895 the Crypt was restored and reopened as a Mortuary Chapel.

In 1897 the Lady Chapel was restored, and was opened as a Morning
Chapel by the Bishop of London on May 18, 1897.

Mr. (now Sir) Aston Webb, the Architect in charge of the Work, was
guided throughout by the sound principles: (1) never to remove from its
position any worked stone.

(2) To add no new work except such as is necessitated by the
requirements of the day.

(3) To make new work harmonise with the old, but to differentiate it so
that those who come after may never mistake the work of any one century
for that of any other.

And, finally, to bear in mind the direction contained in Rahere’s
Vision—“Having in Him trust, do thou of the cost of the building doubt
thee nought, only give thy diligence, and my part shall be to provide
the necessaries, direct, build, and complete the work.” (Rev. Sir
Borradaile Savory, Bart., M.A., Rector.)

_The Hospital of Saint Bartholomew’s_, when it was suppressed, at the
same time was valued at a yearly revenue of £35: 5: 7. We make an
observation on this hospital similar to that suggested by St. Mary’s
Spital. How could the House, we ask, consisting of a Master, eight
brethren, and four sisters, be kept on £35: 5: 7 a year? and on what
funds were the sick people received and treated? There must have been
some organised method of getting subscriptions, donations, alms, and
gifts in kind. The story of what happened when the place was taken over
by the City shows that voluntary and organised help for the sick was
surely no new thing.

“Then also were orders devised for the relief of the poor, the
inhabitants were all called to their parish churches, where by Sir
Richard Dobbes, then Mayor, their several aldermen, or other grave
citizens, they were by eloquent orations persuaded how great and how
many commodities would ensue unto them and their City if the poor of
divers sorts, which they named, were taken from out their streets,
lanes, and alleys, and were bestowed and provided for in hospitals
abroad, etc. Therefore was every man moved liberally to grant, what
they would impart towards the preparing and furnishing of such
hospitals, and also what they would contribute weekly towards their
maintenance for a time, which they said should not be past one year, or
twain, until they were better furnished of endowment: to make short,
ever many granted liberally, according to his ability: books were drawn
of the relief in every ward of the city towards the new hospitals.”



A Foundation of very human interest was the Hospital of St. Thomas
of Acon or St. Thomas of Acres. It is well known that Thomas Becket
belonged to a wealthy city family, his father having been a citizen
of Norman extraction. Gilbert Becket died leaving behind him a
considerable property in houses and lands. Whether the Archbishop took
possession of this property as his father’s son, or whether he gave it
to his sister, I do not know. Certain it is that, after his death, his
sister Agnes, married to Thomas FitzTheobald de Heiley, gave the whole
of the family estates to endow a Hospital dedicated to her brother,
Saint and Martyr. Nothing should be kept back, all must be given; one
sees the intensity of affection, sorrow, pride, with which the new
saint was regarded by his family. There are no churchwomen so zealous
as the daughters of the Bishop; there could be no worshippers at the
altar of St. Thomas à Becket more devout than his own sister.


From John Watney’s _Some Account of the Hospital of St. Thomas of

The full title of the House was “To the Honour of Almighty God and the
Blessed Virgin and the most Glorious Martyr St. Thomas, for a Master
and Brethren Militiæ Hospitalis S. Thomæ Martyris Cantuariensis de

Newcourt gives two explanations for this dedication and the name of

  “Radulphus de Diceto, Dean of London, who in his History, intituled,
 Imagines Historiarum, living Ann. Dom. 1190, ann. 2 Ric. I., when
 the City of Acres or Acon in the Holy-land (call’d also Ptolemais)
 was besieg’d by the Christians, writes as follows; About these Days,
 when the City of Acon was first besieg’d, one William, an English-Man
 by Nation, being Chaplain to Radulphus de Diceto, Dean of London,
 when he went to Jerusalem, bound himself by a Vow, that if he should
 prosperously enter Acon, he would build a Chapel to S. Thomas the
 Martyr, at his own Charge, according to his Ability, and would
 procure there, to the Honour of the said Martyr, a Churchyard to be
 consecrated, which was done. Then many flocking from all parts to
 serve in this Chappel, William himself as a Token of his Christianity,
 took on him the Name of Prior, who, whilst he serv’d Bodily as a
 Souldier of Christ, had an especial Care of the Poor, and he freely
 bestow’d all his Diligence and Labour, in Burying of the Bodies of
 such as died, as well naturally, as of others who were slain with the
 Sword, representing himself in Mans sight, the next Successor of that
 great Tobias.

 My other testimony (saith he) is out of the Theatre of Honour, Lib.
 9, cap. ii., where, repeating the Military Orders of the Holy Land,
 he saith thus, The Order of S. Thomas was instituted by the King
 of England, Richard, surnamed Cœur de Lyon, after the surprizal of
 Acres, and being of the English Nation, they held the Rule of S.
 Augustine, wore a white Habit, and a full red Cross, charged in the
 middle with a white Scallop, they took for their Patron (as I have
 heard) the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Metropolitan of England,
 Thomas Becket, who suffer’d Martyrdom (as his Favourers say) under
 the King of England, Hen. II. of that Name. Peter de Rupibus, Bishop
 of Winchester, who had been five years in the Holy Land, removed the
 Church there of S. Thomas the Martyr, from an unfit place to a more
 convenient, and caused the Patriarch of Jerusalem to take Order,
 that the Brethren of this Church who were before, Lay-men, might be
 under the Order of the Temples, wearing a Cross on their Breast. He
 bequeathed also to this House of St. Thomas of Acon 500 Marks. So much
 M. Paris in vita Hen. III. p. 472, sub Anno 1238.

 Hereby it is clear, that the Dedication of this Hospital or Chapel to
 S. Thomas of Acres or Acon, must have relation to the like Dedication
 of the Chapel and Holy Order in the City of Acre, in the Holy Land, to
 the same Archbishop: All these three Dedications being near about one
 and the same time within few years after the Archbishop’s Death. And
 it is probable that in Imitation of those Dedications at Acres, this
 in London might do the like.” (Newcourt’s _Repertorium_, vol. i. pp.

It was in the year 1171 that Becket’s sister founded the Hospital. It
extended at first from Ironmonger Lane to the Old Jewry; later on, the
Society bought gardens on the other side of Old Jewry and obtained
permission to erect a gallery of communication across the street, so
as to get access to their garden. It was from the gallery that Henry
the Eighth beheld the Marching Watch (see _London in the Time of the
Tudors_, p. 262). The buildings included a Chancel and Chapel of SS.
Stephen and Nicholas. Over the gateway (which is now the entrance of
Mercers’ Hall) was a statue of the Saint. This figure which was “newly
sette up of late”—(Mar. 14, 1554)—“over ye dore of Sent Thomas of
Acon was shamefully mangled: ye hedde and ye right arm being cleane
stryken of, ye which Image once before this time had the hedde lykewyse
stryken off and was afterwards newly set up and newe eftsoones broken.”
Protestant zeal once more attacked this unlucky image. It was in the
reign of Elizabeth that some fiery enthusiast destroyed it, and in its
place substituted a paper of rebuke on the worship of Saints.




It was quite right and natural that, before the Protestant fury against
saint worship, or the intercession of Saints, the people of London
should entertain a profound belief in the protection extended to them
by their own Saint—one whose name and fame were spread over the whole
of Christendom—for instance, refer to the family history of Arnold
FitzThedmar (p. 67). Thomas Becket was without any doubt a citizen, and
the son of a citizen—even, at the outset, intended for the mercantile
life. The Saint, quite early in his beatitude, listened benignantly to
the prayers of William, afterwards the Leader with the long Beard, and
guided him and his friends safe to port and to victory. Such a story
spread, naturally, in all directions. It was the greatest honour for
the City to possess such a Saint; every day the pride in St. Thomas
grew and was increased by reports and rumours of miracles wrought in
answer to the prayers of pilgrims.

There was another reason why St. Thomas became the tutelary Saint of
London. The Mediæval enthusiasm over their Saints was liable to wane
and fade away, and even to vanish. The old Saxon Saints—where were
they? The shrine of St. Erkenwald still blazed with golden vessels
and tapers of wax, but miracles were rare: there were still churches
dedicated to St. Ethelburga, St. Osyth, St. Swithin, not to speak of
the Danes, St. Olaf and St. Magnus, but no one looked any longer for
miracles. As the faded images in a fifteenth-century rood screen now
appear to the modern ecclesiologist, so the figures of their Saxon
saints in the thirteenth century had become mere _umbræ_, shadows of
the past. The shrine of Edward the Confessor was still splendid, but
the King’s miracles were no longer, so to speak, quoted by the pilgrims
and the miracle-mongers. The city wanted a new Saint. Heaven gave them
one—all their own—in Thomas of Chepe.

Therefore, on the day when the Lord Mayor was sworn at the Exchequer,
he repaired to the chapel of St. Thomas Acon with the Aldermen; after
prayer and praise at his altar, they formed a procession and thence
marched to St. Paul’s, where they went to the Pardon Churchyard in
the precinct of St. Paul’s, where were buried Gilbert Becket and his
wife; and thence they marched back to St. Thomas Acon, where every one
offered a penny.

Let us consider how such a Foundation as this, not one of the richest,
yet always a prosperous House, was enriched and maintained. In the
first place, the original endowment was ample, if not plentiful, for
the expenses of a modest number of Brethren. But the bequests of
grateful or penitent or pious citizens speedily began to pour in.
During the three hundred and fifty years of its existence, there never
quite ceased, though the violence diminished, a continual stream of
gifts. Thus, during the period from 1262 to 1535 (Sharpe’s _Wills_),
about forty perpetual chantries were founded. These bequests show the
affection of the citizens for their Saint. But there were greater and
more important gifts. Henry the Third, Edward the First, Geoffrey
FitzPeter, the Earl of Essex, Edward the Third, Henry the Sixth,
were all benefactors to this Hospital. The Mayor and Commonalty were
visitors of the House; the Mercers’ Company, on a vacancy in the
Mastership, had the right to nominate two or three of the Convent, from
whom the brethren were to choose their master.

Between the Hospital and the street, Sir John Allen, Mercer and Mayor
in 1525, built a very beautiful Chapel, and on his death in 1544 was
buried in it. Over the Chapel was a Hall—Newcourt says the Mercers’
Hall. The Chapel was clearly along the line of the street—if the north
side of Chepe was yet in alignment—because, some years after the
Dissolution, the body and tomb of Sir John Allen were removed to the
Church itself, and the Chapel was divided into shops, and so let out
for rent; after the Fire, which consumed the whole, the shops were
rebuilt on the same site.

Among the names of those who were buried in this church, we find those
of the Butlers—Earls of Ormond; Cavendish, of the fourteenth century;
Frowyk; Leigh; and many others. The church is said to have been a
“large and noble structure, consisting of a choir and the body of a
church with side aisles.” (Newcourt.)

The House was surrendered in 1539, the last master being one Lawrence
Gospeller, who received a pension of £66: 13: 4. The annual income was
estimated at £277: 3: 4. Through the offices of Sir Richard Gresham,
the Mercers purchased the site and opened the church again in 1541 as
the Mercers’ Chapel. Here was kept a Free Grammar School, removed after
the Fire to the site of St. Mary Colechurch.



The Hospital of St. Anthony stood in Threadneedle Street, exactly
opposite Finch Lane. It was originally a cell to the House of St.
Anthony in Vienne, and was founded as such in the reign of Henry
the Third. According to Stow, the Jews had built a synagogue there,
which was taken from them and converted into a church dedicated to
the Virgin. This church became the Chapel of the Hospital. The House
consisted of a master, two priests—afterwards enlarged to fourteen,—and
twelve poor men. To the ground thus occupied there was afterwards added
a Messuage, with a garden which, under the mastership of John Carpenter
(1441), was made into a school and an almshouse. The school received
from Henry the Sixth certain manors for the maintenance of five poor
scholars at Oxford, allowing ten pence a week for every scholar. This,
making allowance for the present value of money, would not mean more
than ten shillings a week, which would make a very bare subsistence for
a young and hungry student. The general stipend of a chantry priest,
which, I suppose, was the lowest form of preferment, was £6 a year, or
about 28d. a week.

Henry the Fifth, in the suppression of alien Houses, gave this House
its independence. In the year 1474 Edward the Fourth granted the House
the same establishment as that of St. Anthony of Vienne, and in 1485
the House was annexed to, and incorporated with, the College of St.
George of Windsor. Other gifts and bequests fell to the Society of
St. Anthony’s. In 1411 one John Sauvage, desiring to be buried in the
church of St. Anthony, and before the altar of St. Katherine, left all
his lands and tenements to the Master and Brethren of the Hospital,
with the usual conditions as to observing his obit. In 1435 Thomas
Knolles, grocer, bequeathed to Friar John Snell, warden, preceptor,
or Master of the House of St. Anthony, a shop in the parish of St.
Benedict Fynk for the maintenance of a lamp to burn in the chancel of
the church of the said House, and for the observance of the obit—not
of himself, but of the said warden; a great, and perhaps unique,
mark of friendship thus to provide for a friend’s safe and speedy
passage through purgatory, rather than his own. In 1484 William Wyse,
barber, left his brewery, “le coupe super le Hoop,” in the parish of
Allhallows-in-the-Wall, in order to maintain a clerk to instruct the
children of St. Anthony’s in singing to music (_in cantico organico_)
and in plain chant (_in plano cantico_), and to provide for special
prayers on behalf of John Carpenter, Bishop of Worcester, the first
Master of the School, with the Collect, “Rege quæsumus, Domine,
famulum tuum” while he lives, and upon his death, that beginning “Deus
qui inter apostolos.”

A curious privilege is recorded of this House. When the Inspectors of
Markets found a pig that was unfit for food, as being too lean, or too
old, or from any other cause not proper to be killed, they marked it as
such by slitting the animal’s ears. Then the Proctors of St. Anthony’s
took possession of the creature, and tied a bill round its neck to
denote their ownership. These pigs, and no others, were allowed to run
about the streets, and to feed on what they could find, or what was
given them. If they grew fat and well, they were killed for the use of
the Hospital. But no one ventured to touch them. “But,” says Stow, “if
any one gave them bread, they would keep watch for, and daily follow,
these donors, whining till they had something given them.” Whereupon
was raised a Proverb, “Such an one will follow such an one and whine as
it were an Anthony Pig.”

The school was at one time equal in reputation to that of St. Paul, and
turned out as many scholars and Bishops—among them Sir Thomas More,
Archbishop Heath, and Archbishop Whitgift. It fell into decay after
the annexation to St. George’s, Windsor. One Johnson, a Prebendary of
Windsor, and Master of St. Anthony’s, seems to have taken advantage of
his position to ruin the House. He turned out the bedesmen, dissolved
the choir, conveyed away the plate, and sold the bells. Then the school
speedily fell into decay.

Once a year—on the 15th of September,—while the school was flourishing,
the boys marched in procession from Mile End along Aldgate, down
Cornhill to Stocks Market, and thence to Austin Friars, with flags
flying and drums beating.

After the Dissolution the church was given to the Walloons, or French
Protestants, who kept it, having rebuilt it after the Fire, to recent

The school, which was not closed in 1561, was carried on as a Parish
Grammar School until the Great Fire destroyed it. Afterwards it was not

It is pleasing to note that the Dissolution of the Houses did not
deprive the scholars or the bedesmen of their endowments. In the year
1565 the collector of the rents of the House of St. Anthony shows in
his accounts the sum of £17, devoted to the instruction of the scholars
in grammar, and £31: 4s. for the stipends of twelve poor persons for
one year at the weekly charge of 1s. for each. Also 2s. was paid, as
usual, to “le skavinger.”



The history of this House belongs to the history of the Knights of St.
John, or Knights Hospitallers. The Order was founded about the year
1048, beginning, like all great orders, in a small and humble way,
with a Hospital for pilgrims at Jerusalem; after the conquest of the
city, the Brethren were incorporated into a religious body, bound by
vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience; in the year 1118 they became
a military body, sworn to defend the Holy Sepulchre. They became, in
the course of two centuries, an extremely wealthy body, whose only
rivals were the Templars. They wore a red surcoat over their armour,
with a Maltese Cross enamelled white and edged with gold for a badge.
Their motto was “Pro fide,” with the later addition of “Pro utilitate

There were nearly 40,000 knights scattered over the various Priories,
Commanderies, and Preceptories of the Order; they were divided into
eight “langues”—Provence, Auvergne, France, Italy, Aragon, England,
Germany, and Castile.

The Grand Prior of Clerkenwell ranked as the first Baron of England; he
had absolute authority over the English branch; after the suppression
of the Templars the Hospitallers obtained a nominal grant of all their
estates, but these were so heavily burdened with legal and other
charges, that the new owners were not greatly enriched.

The church of the Priory was dedicated by Heraclius, Patriarch of
Jerusalem, in 1185. The English branch of the knights grew and
prospered; they acquired a great number of manors; they sent abroad
companies and contingents wherever fighting was going on against the
Moslem; no one could accuse the knights of refusing to act up to their
vows as regards fighting. But they became most unpopular; they acquired
the reputation, like the Templars, of being oppressive landlords and
proud neighbours. In the rising of Wat Tyler, vengeance fell especially
upon the Knights Hospitallers. The mob attacked, seized, wrecked, and
fired the Priory; they would not allow any effort to stay the flames;
they watched it burn for a week; and they destroyed the Prior’s house
at Highbury.

When the insurrection was quelled, the knights returned to their
ruined Priory and set themselves to rebuild it in greater
magnificence; the rebuilding, conducted in the leisurely mediæval
fashion, took nearly two hundred years; it was not until 1504 that the
House was completed by Sir Thomas Docwra, then Prior, and this was only
one short generation before the suppression of the Order in England and
the confiscation of their property.

The Dissolution of the Order took place in 1540. The Act for its
suppression was read for the first time in the House of Commons on the
22nd of April, for the second time on the 26th, and for the third time
on the 29th. On the 7th May the Order was suppressed. The value of its
revenues in England was estimated, according to Stow, at £3385: 19:
8; according to Dugdale, at £2385: 12: 8. The last Prior, Sir William
Weston, received from the King the promise of a pension of £1000 a
year—an enormous pension considering the value of money. But he died on
the day of the suppression.


_Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.]

Unlike many Houses, the Priory, with its noble church, escaped the
hands of the destroyer for some time. What happened to it is told by

 “This Priory church and House of St. John was preserved from spoil or
 downpulling, so long as King Henry VIII. reigned, and was employed as
 a store-house for the King’s toils and tents, for hunting, and for the
 wars, etc.; but in the 3rd of King Edward VI., the church, for the
 most part, to wit, the body and side aisles, with the great bell tower
 (a most curious piece of workmanship, graven gilt, and enamelled, to
 the great beautifying of the city, and passing all other that I have
 seen), was undermined and blown up with gunpowder; the stone thereof
 was employed in building of the Lord Protector’s house in the Strand.
 That part of the choir which remaineth, with some side chapels, was,
 by Cardinal Pole in the reign of Queen Mary, closed up at the west
 end, and otherwise repaired; and Sir Thomas Gresham, knight, was then
 made lord prior there, with restitution of some lands, but the same
 was again suppressed in the first year of Queen Elizabeth.” (_Survey_,
 vol. ii.)

Not even the Templars, at their highest point of splendour, outdid
these knights in magnificence and luxury, in pride and in independence.
Unpopular as they were, they did not incur the same odium as the
Templars. In their pride and their privileges, it is true, they were
the equals of the rival Order; they were as hard landlords; but they
had this great superiority over the Templars in the fact that they did
honestly continue the work for which they were founded: they fought the
Moslem without intermission at Acre, at Rhodes, at Cyprus, at Malta,
and in the Mediterranean Sea. They preserved the respect of the world
for unconquerable courage.

In 1191 the Knights Hospitallers took Acre, which they held till 1292.
On losing this, the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land, they
retired to Cyprus, where they lay quiet, maturing their plans for
fourteen years. It was, no doubt, the knowledge that they were forming
plans for another attack on the Saracens which saved them on the
downfall of the Templars. In 1308 they conquered Rhodes, which they
defended for more than two hundred years. In 1522 they were turned out
of this island; the few knights who survived sailed away with about
4000 soldiers and others from Rhodes, and took refuge in Candia, in
Sicily, and in Naples, hoping for assistance to retake Rhodes. This
assistance was not forthcoming, but they accepted from Charles the
Fifth the islands of Malta and Gozo, to which they repaired, with all
their archives and relics, in 1530. For two hundred and fifty years
after this, the knights continued to fight Turk, Algerine, and Moor
in the Mediterranean. In 1798, however, they allowed Napoleon to land
without striking a blow.

Their rules were so stringent that it would seem, at first, wonderful
how so much pride and luxury should have crept in. But the history of
every Monastic House shows how rules can be evaded, or so obeyed as to
destroy the spirit while adhering to the letter.

“Poverty, chastity, and obedience: to expect but bread and water and a
coarse garment. The clerks to serve in white surplices at the altar.
The priests, in their surplices, to convey the Host to the sick, with
a deacon or clerk preceding them, bearing a lantern and the sponge
filled with holy water. The brethren to go abroad by appointment of
the master, but never singly, and to avoid giving offence. No females
to be employed for or about their persons; when soliciting alms, to
visit churches or people of reputation, and ask their food for charity;
if they received none, to buy enough for subsistence; to account for
all their receipts to the master, and he to give them to the poor,
retaining only one-third part of provisions, the overplus to the poor.
The brethren to go soliciting only by permission; to carry candles
with them; to wear no skins of wild beasts, or clothes degrading the
Order. To eat but twice a day on Wednesday and Saturday; and no flesh
from Septuagesima till Easter, except when aged or indisposed. To
sleep covered. If incontinent in private, to repent in privacy, and
do penance; if the brother was discovered, he was to be deprived of
his robe in the church of the town after mass, to be severely whipped,
and expelled from the Order; but, if truly penitent, he might be again
received; but not without penance and a year’s expulsion, etc.”


If we follow the fortunes of the House after the accession of
Elizabeth, we find that the south gate was granted by King James in
1604 to Sir Roger Wilbraham for life. In 1607 the site of the House,
containing five acres, was granted to Ralph Freeman and his heirs. The
choir, which had been restored or rebuilt by Cardinal Pole, became the
property of Sir William Cecil; the Earl of Elgin got it by his marriage
with Diana, daughter of the Earl of Exeter; his son, being created
Earl of Aylesbury, called it Aylesbury Chapel. In the reign of James
the Second a Roman Catholic convent of Benedictine monks was set up in
the Precinct of St. John’s. An account of the attempt is given in T.
Cromwell’s _History of Clerkenwell_:—

  “It appears, that in the reign spoken of, a certain _Father Corker_
 was ‘resident in England to the Elector of Colen’ (Cologne); and
 that, having first set up a chapel in the Savoy, from which, owing to
 a dispute with the Jesuits, he was persuaded by the King to remove,
 ‘he went to St. John’s, corruptly called St. Jone’s, and there built
 a mighty pretty convent, which the Revolution of 1688 pulled down to
 the ground, to his very great loss, for as he was Dean of the rosary,
 he melted down the great gold chalice and patten to help towards
 this building, supplying the want of them with one of silver just
 of that make. He counted this convent for the conversion of souls
 amongst those things which the holy Fathers of the Church allow the
 church treasure to be spent on.’ This convent seems to have cost the
 Benedictines considerable sums of money; frequent entries appear
 in their account-books of that period of amounts paid towards its
 erection, etc. It is always styled in these books ‘The Factory,’ or,
 ‘The Factory in Clerkenwell.’”

In the year 1721 the estate was purchased by Simon Michell, and in 1723
he repaired and enlarged the chapel, which he sold to the commissioners
for building fifty new churches, for £2950. The church was declared
to be a parish church, and the parish assigned to it was the former
precinct of the Priory.

The remains of the Priory consist now of the gate, the crypt of the
church, some fragments of the ancient walls, and foundations of the
former buildings. The crypt, which, until recently, was filled with
coffins, has now been cleared; it is one of the most remarkable
monuments in London; it was found by excavation to have extended,
formerly, much farther to the west; probably to the whole extent of the

The Gatehouse consists of the gate itself, with two rooms, one on each
side, and a large chamber above. In 1731 it was occupied by Edward
Cave the publisher, and from this spot was issued the _Gentleman’s
Magazine_. The associations of Johnson, Goldsmith, and others with the
Gate belong to another place.

The Gatehouse served for some time as a tavern. In 1876 it became the
Chapter House of the English Order of St. John of Jerusalem.


We now turn to the second of the two great Military Orders which belong
to the Mediæval Life. The Templar, as well as the Knight Hospitaller,
rode through the streets with his following, haughty, rich, luxurious,
hated by the people as a hard and cruel landlord; hated by the King for
his privileges; by the Church as outside Episcopal jurisdiction; by the
City for his pride, and for the vices which were freely attributed to

The story of the destruction of the Order of Knights Templars in
1306-1312 is a historical problem that will never, I suppose, be
satisfactorily explained. The broad facts are well known. In the
year 1305, through the influence of Philippe le Bel, King of France,
Bertrand, Archbishop of Bordeaux, was elected Pope and took the title
of Clement the Fifth. He was the first of the Popes of Avignon. In
return for the tiara, Clement undertook to perform certain acts,
in number six. Five of them are known. The sixth, kept a secret,
is supposed to have been the suppression of the Templars. There
were indeed various reasons why the King—or any king in Western
Europe—should desire the suppression of this Order. The knights had
grown enormously rich; some idea of their wealth may be obtained by the
enumeration of some of the manors they possessed in England alone. Let
us take one county, Hertfordshire (C. G. Addison’s _Knights Templars_,
p. 94). In this county formerly they possessed the town and forest of
Broxbourne, the manor of Chelsin Templars (Chelsin Templariorum) and
the manors of Laugenok, Broxbourne, Letchworth, and Temple Dynnesley;
demesne lands at Stanho, Preston, Charlton, Walden, Hiche Chelles,
Levecamp and Benigho; the church of Broxbourne, two watermills, and a
lock on the river Lea; property at Hichen, Pyrton, Ickilford, Offeley
Parva, Walden Regis, Furnivale, Ipolitz, Wandsmyll, Watton, Therleton,
Weston, Gravele, Wilien, Leccheworth, Baldock, Datheworth, Russenden,
Codpeth, Sumershale, Buntynford, etc., and the church of Weston.


Drawn and engraved by S. Rawle.]

It must not be supposed that Hertfordshire was exceptional in this
respect; the whole of England was dotted over with the possessions of
the Order. All this land was given to the Order at a time when the
first passion for crusading had cooled, and princes began to think
that it might be better for the country if men were paid to fight the
Saracen. The Templars were at first a very fine regiment, splendidly
equipped, and full of valour. To maintain this regiment was surely
a good work, almost as good as going to fight in person. The land
was given them on the condition that the larger part of the revenues
should be sent every year to the Grand Master of the House and Order in
Jerusalem. It was held by them, further, on such terms as were never
before heard of; the knights were exempt from all taxation aids and
“amerciaments”; they could not be compelled to plead except before the
King or his Chief Justice; they had power to hold Courts; to impose
fines upon their tenants; to hold markets; to try criminals caught
on their lands; they could travel without paying toll; they were not
obliged to contribute to bridges and other works; they seized the
chattels of all felons caught on their lands. Nor was this all: they
were exempted from paying tithe; they could not be excommunicated by
Bishop or priest; their houses had the right of sanctuary; and they had
an Ecclesiastical Court of their own, with a judge, whom they called
Conservator Privilegiorum Suorum. The Grand Master and the Brotherhood
were subordinate only to the Pope; a large number of priests had been
admitted to the Order, which was entirely free from the Church in any
country. This great Order, at the beginning of the fourteenth century,
numbered, it is said, fifteen hundred knights, with chaplains and
serving brothers innumerable. The revenues were, as has been shown,
enormous, and not one penny went to the purpose for which the Order
had been endowed. The Holy Land had been swept clear of Christians;
the Latin Kingdom, the name of which survived, had been destroyed for
more than a hundred years; the degenerate grandsons of the Crusaders
had long been scattered to the four winds; the Knights Templars and
Knights Hospitallers had been expelled from the country, even from the
fortified ports: Jaffa and Antioch fell in 1268, Tripoli in 1290, Acre
in 1291. Then the Templars, reduced in numbers, retired to Cyprus,
whence, in 1300, Jacques de Moray, the last Grand Master, made an
unsuccessful attempt to seize Alexandria, and in 1303, when he tried to
found a settlement at Tortosa, not only the power of the knights had
gone but also their prestige. These dates are necessary, because they
show that as soon as the Templars were proved incapable of doing the
work for which they existed, then the attack upon them commenced, and
not before.

[Illustration: KNIGHT TEMPLAR]

[Illustration: KNIGHT TEMPLAR:


The central house of the Templars in London was called the Temple. At
first it was built on the north-east corner of Chancery Lane. Remains
of this house were standing until quite modern times. When the Order
became richer, the members bought a piece of ground stretching from
Whitefriars to Essex House, and there erected a splendid convent, of
which the Chapel remains to this day. The Master of the Temple was
the Master of the English Templars. There were, however, some fifty
Preceptories scattered about the country, monastic establishments, each
ruled by a Prior, chiefly inhabited by sick or aged Templars. The site
of many of their Preceptories is still preserved by the name, as Temple
Combe in Somersetshire, Temple Rothley in Lincolnshire, and others. The
Priors of the Preceptories had in their hands the management of the
estates and the collection of the rents and dues.


The Temple of London, in consequence of its garrison of knights,
its monastic character, and its privilege of sanctuary, became a
place in which great lords and even kings deposited their treasure.
Queen Berengaria’s dower was placed in the hands of the Templars.
Hubert de Burgh made the Temple his bank, and the knights refused
to let the King’s officers remove the money and jewels he had given
into their care. Kings made the place their residence; King John
was there when his barons came to him demanding the “liberties and
laws of King Edward.” Henry the Third, after a little quarrel with
the Order, became reconciled to them, and lived for a while in the
Temple; he made them the guardians of his treasure; he was present at
the consecration of the Chancel of their Church in 1240. And he sent
certain Castilian Ambassadors to the Temple as his guests. But by the
beginning of the fourteenth century there is no doubt that the Templars
had become unpopular. The King could not be pleased to think of manors
and lordships which produced no revenues for the realm; the nobles
grudged the immunities of the Order, and remembered that the lands of
the Templars had once belonged to their ancestors before they were
piously alienated; merchants could not with patience behold the annual
transmission of vast sums of money out of the country; the Bishops
lusted after the tithes, and regarded the Templars with suspicion and
dislike as a united body over whom they had no authority. Finally,
soldiers and military historians remembered that in the last days
in Palestine the Order would own no subordination to King, Bishop,
or Council; the knights stood apart, a compact body; so far, it was
said, from supporting the Cross in the Holy Land, they did their best
by their stubborn independence to pull it down. War has no rule more
rigid and inflexible than the rule of obedience to one general. This
rule the Templars had broken. That they fought with valour no one could
deny, but they fought for themselves. Lastly, since there was no more
fighting in Palestine, and no hope of any, why go on sending all their
treasure out of the country? And what good were the Knights Templars
any longer? There had been signs of coming storm after the fall of
Acre in 1291. Edward the First seized the money intended to be sent
to Cyprus on the ground that the purpose for which it had been sent
in former years no longer existed. He gave it up, it is true, at the
request of the Pope. Before this he had seized ten thousand pounds
belonging to the Templars, and this money he did not return. Edward
the Second also took away from the Temple fifty thousand pounds of
silver, with a quantity of gold, jewels, and precious stones. That
these acts of violence were committed without remonstrance or redress
indicates that the power of the Templars had greatly diminished. These
considerations—coupled with the intolerable pride of the knights and
their splendour, which mocked the smaller gentry—were sufficient
to account for the unpopularity of the Order and for the general
acquiescence in its suppression. And with societies as well as with men
when they become unpopular, sinister rumours began to be whispered,
crimes began to be alleged, words began to be reported.

On 6th June 1306 Clement the Fifth addressed an invitation to the Grand
Masters of the Templars and the Hospitallers inviting them both to a
conference as to the recovery of the Holy Land. It is thought that it
was his intention to overwhelm both Orders in one common destruction.
Since, however, a great part of the property of the Templars was
afterwards given to the Hospitallers, it is not probable that this was
the Pope’s intention. Jacques de Moray, Grand Master of the Templars,
accepted: the Grand Master of the Hospitallers declined to be present.
De Moray arrived in France with sixty knights and a long train of
sumpter mules bearing his treasure, estimated at 150,000 golden
florins, and a vast quantity of silver. On September 14 the King,
without waiting for the Pope’s consent, issued secret orders to all
his seneschals instructing them to summon each a powerful force on the
night of October 12; not to open the orders until that night, and then
to execute them. On that night every Templar in France was arrested.
The world heard with amazement that this great and valiant order was
guilty of the most frightful crimes. These were arranged under five

(1) That at their initiation they denied Christ and spat upon the Cross.

(2) That they worshipped an idol of some monstrous form.

(3) That they gave and received disgusting kisses at these receptions.

(4) That they omitted the words of consecration in the mass.

(5) That they practised unnatural vices.

There were other and minor charges. Among them, for instance, that the
Grand Master claimed the power of granting absolution; that they wore
a magical cord; that they were in secret league with the Mohammedans.
How these charges arose it is impossible to prove; it was said that
they came from one Squin de Florian, a man who had been imprisoned on
account of his corrupt life, and according to others a certain Nosso,
an apostate Templar, who between them devised and invented the whole.

[Illustration: _Photochrom Co. Ltd_


How those charges became an indictment of the Templars in Paris; how
they were tortured until they confessed, and slowly burned to death
when they retracted, belongs to the general history of the Order.
Here we have only to do with the Templars in London. The French King,
Philippe, sent a messenger, one Bernard Peletin, to Edward the Second,
his son-in-law, informing him of the detestable crimes of which the
Templars were guilty, and urging him to follow his example. Edward
refused at first to believe the charges. But the Pope wrote to the same
effect; and, against his wishes, Edward had no choice but to arrest the
Templars in England, Scotland, and Ireland. The arrest was made on the
8th of January. By this time, the news from Paris had spread over every
Preceptory in the country; many anticipated their arrest by flight;
but the leaders, the Master of the Temple, the Priors, and the chief
officers made no attempt to escape. The knights, with the exception
of the Master, who was liberated on bail, were kept prisoners till
September in the following year, when the two inquisitors appointed
by the Pope arrived. There were in all 229 knights. There is reported
to have been a general scramble for the goods and chattels of the
knights—no doubt the Temple and the Preceptories were full of silver
plate and tapestry and armour. The trial began in the hall of the
Bishop of London’s Palace. The first examination in London, Dublin,
York, and Lincoln produced nothing. All, without exception, steadfastly
denied the charges brought against them. At the same time, as the
Pope had sent a bull in which he assumed as already proved the guilt
of the Order, and the crime of which the members stood accused, the
Inquisition was bound to find the knights guilty. One should observe
here that although as yet no torture had been applied, the knights
could not be ignorant of what was being done in France, where tortures
too dreadful to be written down were applied to the unhappy prisoners.
Probably they expected what was to follow. The infamy of the torture,
however, belongs to the Pope, not to Edward. The Pope it was who wrote
to admonish his dearest son that the “question” should be applied.
Edward gave way: he ordered that the prisoners should be confined in
separate rooms, and that the inquisitors should visit them, and do
with their bodies “whatsoever they should think fit, according to
ecclesiastical law.” For three months, therefore, the knights were
subjected to question under torture. Not one confessed anything. The
Inquisitors then examined witnesses for the prosecution. The evidence
was, from beginning to end, hearsay. It discloses a great deal of
hatred towards the Templars, since these things could be whispered
about them, but there is not the least direct evidence. Then the
knights drew up a declaration of faith, which they handed in. It is
full and explicit, and asserts their orthodoxy and their belief in the
strongest terms. Once more the torture was applied. By this time the
prisoners filled the City prisons. Some were in the Tower, some were
in the prison of Aldgate, some in that of Cripplegate, some in that of
Bishopsgate, some in that of Ludgate, and some in that of Newgate.

They were loaded with fetters; they were placed in solitary
confinement; they were kept in dungeons; they were living on bread
and water; and thus weakened, they were tortured by the Inquisition
and worried by learned doctors of theology, who succeeded at last in
getting a confession from two serving brethren and one chaplain. There
was nothing in the confessions except what the Inquisitors wanted.
However, armed with that, they were able to satisfy the Pope. The
process against the Templars was at least more humane in London than
in Paris. Torture there was, but at the express command of the Pope;
there was no burning, not even of the Master; nor was there any of the
accursed slow roasting which makes the French business so atrocious.

What happened in London to terminate the Inquisition was this. The
Bishops of London, Winchester, and Chichester had an interview with
some of the Templars, and told them that they were clearly guilty of
heresy in supposing that the Grand Master had power of absolution, and
that it would be well for them, generally, to clear themselves of that
and any other heresy of which they might be accused. The prisoners
replied that they were anxious to clear themselves of any heresy into
which they might have fallen. Observe that there was not one word said
about any of the five charges brought by Philip; these were quietly
dropped. The Templars, therefore, were publicly reconciled to the
Church, and absolved by a form of words in which it was guardedly said
that “they could not entirely purge themselves of the heresies set
forth in the apostolic bull.” Surely a verdict of not guilty could
not be more plainly returned. Then the rest were reconciled. All but
William de Moray the Master. He died in prison of a broken heart. At
the same time, in Aragon, Portugal, Tarragona, and Germany, the Order,
though examined under torture, was pronounced innocent of the charges
brought against it. It was said, long afterwards, that with his dying
breath Jacques de Moray summoned Pope and King to meet him before the
judgment seat of God. Both of them died the year after. Everybody,
it is reported, and it was believed, connected with the trials and
the cruelties, came to a miserable end. The wretched man who invented
the charges, Squin de Florian, was hanged for some new crime. And as
for the agonising death of Edward the Second, men whispered that thus
and thus had it been done unto him in return for his treatment of the
Templars. The voice of the people is difficult to hear in the first
decade of the fourteenth century, otherwise one would like to know what
they thought of the introduction of torture as a judicial instrument.
For until these trials torture was unknown in England. To be tried, to
be hanged, to have the hand struck off, to be branded, these things
the people understood, but torture they did not understand. Nay, so
ignorant were they of the art and method of torture that two Frenchmen
were sent for to instruct the executioners. Torture was always
regarded, not only by the English people generally, but by the judges
and lawyers, with a shrinking and horror which did not exist on the
Continent, where they continued to torture prisoners until well into
the eighteenth century. There can be no doubt that the later hatred
of the Roman Catholic Religion was fomented and kept alive by the
reports which came from Spain and Portugal of the tortures inflicted
by the Inquisition in the name of that religion. The Tudor sovereigns
occasionally inflicted torture. But the judges in 1628 declared that
the torture of Villiers, the murderer of Buckingham, was illegal.
Considering the wholesale nature of the torture of the Templars, and
that the thing was done in the City prisons, and that it was well
known to the Mayor and Sheriffs, and therefore, one supposes, to all
the world, one would expect some kind of shuddering recollection of
the event in the minds of the people, some lingering horror. But there
is none. The flames of Smithfield, all laid to the charge of Mary,
remain in men’s minds. But the cruel torture of these men, and their
unmerited sufferings, passed at once out of mind and were forgotten.
For three years and a half the English Templars were in prison. They
were arrested in January 1308 and released in 1311. In April 1312, at a
Council held at Vienna, the Order was finally suppressed.

The property of the Templars—by order of the Pope—was given to the
Knights Hospitallers. Their personal property, their vast heaps of gold
and silver plate, their furniture, tapestry, armour, precious stuffs,
their sacks of money were seized and scrambled for at the outset. When
a rich Preceptory was suddenly left empty and deserted save for a few
outdoor servants, anybody, any neighbouring Baron, could step in and
clear out the contents. Their manors and lordships, their churches,
villages, tolls and rights were given away by King Edward with a lavish
hand. No king, as yet, since William the Conqueror, had had so much
to give as Edward; nor would any king again have so much till the
Dissolution of the Houses. The Pope expostulated. But it was difficult
to make the new owners give up their holdings: an Act of Parliament was
passed; it proved futile. Later on, in the reign of Edward the Third,
another Act was passed, and some of the property was given to the
Hospitallers. In France, Philip handed over the whole, but so charged
and laden by his own demands that the Hospitallers found themselves
none the richer.

The evidence and the confessions suggest certain observations. For
instance, the knights wore a magical cord. That there was a cord is
clear, and they all wore it, but they were mostly in ignorance of its
meaning. It was intended to remind them of their vows of chastity; it
was supposed to have been passed round the waist of the Virgin. The
cord remained, but its symbolical meaning was lost. Then as to the
denial of their religion, the kiss of brotherhood, and so forth. There
have been, and are still, many societies of men in which there is a
secret form of initiation, with ceremonies which are symbolical. I see
no reason at all to doubt that at the initiation of a Templar he was
led into the Hall naked or in a shirt only—he was to be penniless,
naked, without arms, helpless—all temporal gifts he was to receive
from his brethren. Is it too much to suppose that he went through the
form of worshipping an idol indicated by a statue or picture while in
this naked, prehistoric condition, in order that he might receive his
religion also from the knights, and so owe everything in this world and
the next to the Brotherhood? Considering other initiations of which one
has learned something, I am quite prepared to admit the probability of
such a ceremony. As to the origin of the reports and rumours, it is
quite enough to live in an ignorant age, to be raised above the common
herd by wealth, to be separated from the rest of the world, and to
observe secrecy as regards certain forms and ceremonies. Against such
men reports and rumours will speedily arise and spread abroad and fill
the whole land. And these, it is very certain, will not be reports of
virtue or rumours of sanctity.

The transference of the property of the Templars to their rivals makes
one doubt that the object of the Pope was plunder. Since we cannot
believe that he had destroyed one Order, on account of its wealth and
power, only to make another Order richer and more powerful still, it
seems certain that the jealousy of the Templars’ wealth was not the
cause of the Pontiff’s action. Was it, then, really a belief in the
charges brought against them? We have seen that there was no evidence,
so far as has been recorded, to support these charges: that in Spain,
Portugal, and Germany the Order was found “not guilty”: that a verdict
practically amounting to “not guilty” was found in London: and that
in Paris only were the knights sentenced to be punished as heretics
and relapsed heretics. If Clement the Fifth actually believed in the
hearsay evidence of improbabilities amounting to impossibilities, he
must have possessed far less of the judicial faculty than belongs even
to the ecclesiastical mind. Had such a man been a layman he would be
set down as the most mischievous fool that ever sat upon a bench of
justice. We will suppose that Clement was not a fool, what then? Why
did he write those bulls? Was it in accordance with the sixth condition
agreed upon with Philip? Is Philip, and Philip alone, responsible for
this terrible crime, the greatest of all the Mediæval crimes? Did he
destroy the Order simply and solely for the sake of its wealth? And did
he, in order to get a handle, make use of the ignorant and idle gossip
which was current as to the morals and customs of the Secret House? And
to all these questions it is useless even to suggest an answer.



It has been generally believed that the founder of the Convent,
dedicated to the Honour of God and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary,
was one Jordan Briset about the year 1100. Stow speaks as if there was
no doubt of the matter at all:—

 “Beyond this house of St. John’s, was the Priory of Clerkenwell, so
 called of Clarks-Well adjoining; which Priory was also founded, about
 the Year 1100, by Jorden Briset, Baron, the son of Ralph, the son of
 Brian Briset: Who gave to Robert, a Priest, fourteen Acres of Land,
 lying in the Field next adjoining the said Clarks-Well, thereupon to
 build an House for religious persons, which he built to the Honour
 of God, and the Assumption of our Lady; and placed therein black
 Nuns. This Jorden Briset gave also to that House one piece of Ground,
 thereby to build a Windmill upon, etc. Upon the Dissolution of this
 Priory, it became a Parish Church, called St. James, Clerkenwell.”

Mr. J. H. Round, however, has discovered that the date of the
Foundation has been placed too early, and that the founder was not
Jordan Briset at all, but a certain person identified as the younger
son of a Domesday under-tenant, who had himself founded the Priories of
Bricett for Austin Friars and of Stanegate for Cluniac Monks. Both this
House and the Priory of St. John adjacent were founded, in Mr. Round’s
view, about the year 1145.

The value of the House at the surrender was, according to Dugdale,
£262: 19: 0; according to Speed, £282: 16: 5. In the _Calendar of
Wills_ there is not a single bequest to the nuns of this House.

Isabella, the last prioress, was a daughter of Sir Richard Sackville.
She furnishes another instance tending to prove that the monasteries
and nunneries had fallen into the hands of the noble and gentle
families. She received a pension of fifty pounds a year on the
Dissolution; she died in 1569, and was buried in her own church.

The site of the House was given to the Duke of Norfolk, who exchanged
it with the King for another place. Then Walter Henley and John
Williams, knights, got a grant of it. It passed through many hands
during the next hundred years. Among others, it was possessed by Sir
Thomas Challoner, tutor to Prince Henry, son of James the First. He
built a spacious house within the Close of the Priory, on the front of
which he engraved the following lines, a rare tribute to the memory of
the departed Sisters:—

    “Casta Fides superest, velare tecta Sorores
      Ista relagatæ deseruere licet:
    Nam venerandus Hymen his vota jugalia servet,
      Vestalemque focum mente fovere studet.”

Thus Englished by Fuller:—

    “Chaste Faith still stays behind though hence be flown
      Those veyled nuns who here before did rest:
    For reverend marriage wedlock vows doth own,
      And sacred flames keep here in loyal brest.”


Some remains of the cloisters were standing in 1785. They were figured
in the _Gentleman’s Magazine_ for that year.

The Church of St. James was originally the choir of the nunnery, and
was made a Parish Church on the Dissolution.

 “Strype, in his additions to Stow’s account of the church, says,
 ‘About the year 1623 the steeple fell down, having stood time out of
 mind without any reparation; nor among the records of that church
 could any mention be found of any such thing. This Steeple in the
 rebuilding thereof, and being near finishing, fell again, upon the
 undertaker’s neglect in not looking into the strength of that upon
 which he was to rear such a burthen. With the steeple fell the bells,
 their carriages and frames, beating a great part of the roof down
 before them, the weight of all these together bearing to the ground
 two large pillars of the south aisle, a fair gallery over against the
 pulpit, the pulpit, all the pews, and whatsoever was under or near
 it.’ The church, however, was thoroughly repaired, and the steeple
 renewed, by 1627, at the expense of £1400.

 On August 25th, 1788, the ground was first prepared for the reception
 of a new church, which was consecrated on July 10th, 1792, by Beilby
 Porteus, Bishop of London.” (_London and Middlesex Notes_, pp. 80-81.)



The nunnery of Haliwell, or Holywell, was named after a holy spring
or well on the eastern extremity of Finsbury Fields, in the parish
of St. Leonard, Shoreditch. There were many other holy wells around
London, especially that in the Strand, west of St. Clement Danes. How
one spring came to be accounted holy above other springs, one knows
not. However, there can be no doubt that this spring in Shoreditch
was a place of considerable resort and great sanctity, which was
reason enough why its owner, Robert Fitz Gelran, Canon of St. Paul’s,
should enclose it with a wall, and to erect a nunnery over it. The
House was built to the honour of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and St.
John Baptist for Benedictine nuns. This was done about the year 1127.
Robert, Earl of Gloucester, Richard the First, Henry de Hallingbury,
Simon, Bishop of Ely, John de Gatesbey, Richard de Beaumes, Bishop of
London, Stephen Gravesend, Bishop of London, Sir Thomas Lovell, were
the chief benefactors of this House. Richard the First gave the nuns
a part of the moor, on which their House was built; he also gave them
the church at Dunton, with land in Bedfordshire, at Camberwell, in
Surrey, and in the City of London. It is unnecessary to enumerate all
the gifts. Very shortly before the Dissolution, the House was rebuilt
by Sir Thomas Lovell. He endowed it with more land, and was buried in a
chapel built by himself for his sepulchre, little dreaming that in less
than a generation the House and the Chapel and all the rest would be
destroyed. On the painted windows and on the walls were inscribed the

    “All ye nuns of Haliwell
    Pray ye both day and night
    For the soul of Sir Thomas Lovell
    Whom Harry the Seventh made knight.”

Holiwell Nunnery, on surrender, had a yearly revenue of £293 according
to Stow, of £347: 1: 3 according to Speed.

In 1553 the following sisters were still living, and in the receipt
of pensions:—Sibilla Nudigate, per annum, L _li._; Elena Claver, per
annum, liij _s._ iiij _d._; Alicia Marteine, per annum, iiij _li._;
Alicia Goldwell, per annum, iiij _li._ vj _s._ viij _d._; Beatrica
Fitzlewas, per annum, Lxvj _s._ viij _d._; Agnes Bolney, per annum,
Liij _s._ iiij _d._

In 1544 Queen Catherine Parr asked for the site for Henry Webbe. His
daughter brought the place to her husband, Sir George Peckham. The
Church and House being pulled down, houses were built on the site “for
the lodgings of noblemen, of strangers born and other.”

In 1785 the last fragment of importance, a stone gateway, was pulled
down: there still continued to be shown some walls, a small arch, and
part of a doorway in a cellar of a tavern called “The Old King John.”

On the site of the ground belonging to the House were built two of the
early theatres—“The Curtain” and “The Theatre.”



The absolute oblivion into which this once noble House has fallen, so
that there is no longer, among the people living on its very site, any
memory or tradition of its existence, is not without a parallel in the
case of other London Houses. Yet it is remarkable for the reason that
its site and its gardens remained open and unbuilt over until a hundred
years ago, while, almost within the memory of man, many ruins and
portions of the former buildings still remained.

The internal history of the Abbey is naturally without interest. The
list of Priors and Abbots has been preserved: there were sixty-nine
from the Foundation of the House in 1082 until the Dissolution in 1538.
The duration of each Prior’s rule was therefore an average of six years
and a half; but many of them died very shortly after their election, a
proof that the election went, as a rule, by seniority; or, at least,
that the brethren chose for their chief one who was well stricken in
years and of long experience.

The House was at first, and for three hundred years, an alien Priory
dependent on that of Cluny. It was founded by a citizen of London named
Aylwin or Æthelwine Child, in the year 1082. The Cluniacs were brought
into this country by William, Earl of Warren, who, with Gunhilda his
wife, stayed at Cluny, and was greatly impressed with the sanctity and
the devotion of the brethren. He persuaded the Abbot to allow some of
the monks to come to England, and in 1077 established a Cluniac House
at Lewes. Another followed at Wenlock, and, in 1082, this House of

Among the benefactors of the House were William Rufus; Mary, sister
to the Queen of Henry the First; that King himself; King Stephen; the
Earls of Gloucester and Stafford; and many others. In 1390, under
Richard the Second, Bermondsey ceased to be an alien Priory, and was
made denizen. This was not without a remonstrance from Cluny. Fifty
years later three Cluniac monks were sent over to set forth the claims
of the Mother House. The brethren stated their case, but could not
get any attention paid to their arguments. One of them died in this
country, the other two went home having accomplished nothing. A piteous
letter to the Abbot of St. Albans explains their position:—

“For the rest, be it known to you, my Lord, that after having spent
four months and a half on our journey, and following our Right with
the most serene Lord the King and his Privy Council, we have obtained
nothing: nay, we are sent back very disconsolate, deprived of our
Manors, our Pensions alienated, and what is still worse, we are denied
the obedience of all our Monasteries which are 38 in number: nor did
our Legal Deeds, nor the Testimonies of your Chronicles avail us
anything, and at length, after all our pleading and expenses, we return
home moneyless, for in truth, after paying for what we have eaten and
drunk, we have but five crowns left, to go back about 260 leagues.
But what then? We will sell what we have; we will go on; and God will
provide. Nothing else occurs to write to your Paternity: but that as
we entered England with joy, so we depart thence with sorrow; having
buried one of our Companions—viz. the Archdeacon, the youngest of our
company. May he rest in Peace! Amen.”


  _W. B. Grove._]

Meetings of the Council were held at Bermondsey from time to time:
in the reign of Henry the Third many of the nobility who had taken
the Cross met here in deliberation. In 1213 the then Prior, Richard,
founded the almonry in Southwark, which afterwards developed into St.
Thomas’s Hospital.

In 1276 there was a dispute between the Bishop of Winchester, who
claimed an annual procuration, an entertainment of one day during his
Visitation, and the House.

In 1309, by a breach in the River Wall, the lands of the House were so
much damaged that the brethren were exempted from the purveyance of hay
and corn.

In 1324 Edward the Second issued letters patent for the arrest of the
prior, John de Causancia, and certain monks for harbouring rebels.
These were probably the adherents of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who,
after his defeat at Boroughbridge, took sanctuary in the Abbey. In
1337 the Bishop of Ely excommunicated certain persons for stealing
a hawk belonging to him from the cloisters of the Abbey. Many other
associations gather round this House. Marmion, Lord of Fontenay, was a
benefactor to Bermondsey; the monks sold their lands in Southwark in
the reign of Richard the Second to Robert of Paris, from whom the place
was called Paris Gardens; Cardinal Beaufort visited the Abbey, and was
received in procession by the monks. The Prior Henry, afterwards Abbot
of Glastonbury, took an active part in the release of King Richard.

In 1323 the greater church of St. Saviour of Bermondsey and the great
altar were dedicated in honour of St. Saviour and the Blessed Virgin
and All Saints. On the same day were dedicated three other altars in
the church—one of the Cross, one in honour of the Virgin and St. Thomas
the Martyr, and one in honour of St. Andrew and St. James and all the

Among those buried here were Leofstan, Portreeve of London in 1115;
William of Mortain, or Mortaigne, Earl of Cornwall; Mary, daughter of
Malcolm the Third of Scotland, and sister to Queen Maud, who died April
18, 1115. The following is the inscription on her tomb:—

    “Nobilis hic tumulata jacet Comitissa Maria:
      Actebus hæc nituit: larga benigna fuit.
    Regum sanguis erat: morum probitate vigebat,
      Compatiens in opi: vivit in arce Poli.”

Also Matilda, daughter of Guy, Earl of Warwick, who died in 1368;
Margaret de la Pole; Anne, widow of Lord Audley, and the murdered Duke
of Gloucester, before the removal of his body to Westminster.

But the most illustrious residents of the House were the two Queens who
died within its walls.

The first of them was Katherine of Valois, widow of Henry the Fifth,
who married secretly Owen Tudor, and was the grandmother of Henry the
Seventh. The marriage was not found out for some years. The Queen
must have been most faithfully and loyally served, because children
cannot be born without observation. Owen Tudor must have conducted
matters with a discretion beyond all praise. No doubt the ordinary
members of the household knew nothing, and suspected nothing, because
several years passed before any suspicion was awakened. Three sons and
one daughter, in all, were born. The eldest, Edmund of Hadham, was so
called because he was born there; the second, Jasper, was of Hatfield;
the third, Owen, of Westminster; the youngest, Margaret, died in

Suspicions were aroused about the time of the birth of Owen, which
took place apparently before it was expected, and without all the
precautions necessary, in the King’s House at Westminster. The infant
was taken as soon as born to the monastery of St. Peter’s secretly. It
is not likely that the Abbot received the child without full knowledge
of his parents. He did take the child, however; and here little Owen
remained, growing up in a monastery, and taking vows in due time. Here
he lived and here he died, a Benedictine of Westminster.

It would seem as if Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, heard some whisper
or rumour concerning this birth, or was told something about the
true nature of the Queen’s illness, for he issued a very singular
proclamation, warning the world, generally, against marrying
Queen-dowagers, as if these ladies grew on every hedge. When, however,
a year or so afterwards, the fourth child, Margaret, was born, Humphrey
learned the whole truth: the degradation, as he thought it, of the
Queen, who had stooped to such an alliance with a man of humble
rank, and the audacity of the Welshman. He took steps promptly. He
sent Katherine with some of her ladies to Bermondsey Abbey, there
to remain in honourable confinement: he arrested Owen Tudor, also a
priest—probably the priest who had performed the marriage—and his
servant, and sent all three to Newgate.

All three succeeded in breaking prison and escaping. At this point
the story gets mixed. The King himself, we are told, then a lad of
fifteen, sent to Owen commanding his attendance before the Council.
Why did they not arrest him again? Owen, however, refused to trust
himself to the Council—was not Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, one of
them? He asked for a safe-conduct. They promised him one by a verbal
message. Where was he, then, that all these messages should be sent
backwards and forwards? I think he must have been in Sanctuary. He
refused a verbal message, and demanded a written safe-conduct. This
was granted him, and he returned to London. But he mistrusted even the
written promise; he would not face the Council; he took refuge in the
Sanctuary of Westminster, where they were afraid to seize him. And here
for a while he remained. It is said that they tried to draw him out by
sending old friends, who invited him to the taverns outside the Abbey
Precinct. But Owen would not be so drawn. He knew that Duke Humphrey
would make an end of him if he could. He therefore remained where he
was. I think that he must have had some secret understanding with the
King; for one day, learning that Henry himself was with the Council, he
suddenly presented himself and pleaded his own cause. The mild young
King, tender on account of his mother, would not allow the case to be
pursued, but bade him go free.

He departed, and made all haste to get out of such unwholesome air; he
made for Wales. Here the hostility of Duke Humphrey pursued him still;
he was once more arrested, taken to Wallingford, and placed in the
Castle there a prisoner. From Wallingford he was transferred again to
Newgate, he and his priest and his servant. Once more they all three
broke prison, “foully” wounding a warder in the achievement of liberty,
and got back to Wales, choosing for their residence the mountainous
parts, into which the English garrisons never penetrated.

When the King came of age, Owen Tudor was allowed to return, and was
presented with a pension of £40 a year. It is remarkable, however,
that he received no promotion or rank; that he was never knighted; and
that the title of Esquire was the only one by which he was known. It
certainly seems as if the claim of Owen Tudor to be called a gentleman
was not recognised by the King or the heralds. Perhaps Welsh gentility
was as little understood by these Normans as Irish royalty—yet, so far
as length of pedigree goes, both Welsh and Irish were very superior to

The two sons, Edmund and Jasper, were placed under the charge of
Katherine de la Pole, Abbess of Barking, and sister of the Earl of
Suffolk. When the King came of age, he remembered his half-brothers;
Edmund was made Earl of Richmond, Jasper, Earl of Pembroke; both
ranked before all other English Earls. Edmund was afterwards married
to Margaret Beaufort, who, as Countess of Richmond, was the foundress
of Christ’s and St. John’s Colleges, Cambridge. Her son, as everybody
knows, was Henry the Seventh.

As for Owen Tudor, that gallant adventurer, who began so well on the
field of battle, ended as well, fighting, as he should, for his stepson
and King, under the badge of the Red Rose. When the Civil Wars began,
he joined the King’s forces, though he was then nearer seventy than
sixty. He fought at Wakefield; he pursued the Yorkists to Mortimer’s
Cross, where another fight took place. The Lancastrians were defeated.
Owen was taken prisoner, and was cruelly beheaded on the field. It was
right and just that he should so fight and should so die. He survived
his Queen twenty-four years.

Katherine lived no more than a year after her imprisonment. She made a
will shortly before her death, in which there is not one word about her
second husband or her children by Owen Tudor. She says in the preamble:
“I trustfully,” addressing her son the King, “and am quite sure, that
among all creatures earthly ye best may and will best tender and favour
my will, in ordaining for my soul and body, in seeing that my debts be
paid and my servants guerdoned, and in tender and favourable fulfilment
of mine intent.”

The second Queen, who died at Bermondsey Abbey, was Elizabeth
Woodville. Her imprisonment in the Abbey was regarded with great
surprise. It was in the year 1486, when the insurrection broke out
in Ireland in favour of the pretended Earl of Warwick, son of the
Duke of Clarence: a council was held, after which, without any cause
assigned, or the bringing of any charge, the widowed Queen was carried
to Bermondsey, where she remained for the rest of her life. The reason
commonly accepted was that she knew Edward Plantagenet, and so could
prompt and instruct the Pretender in his personation of the prince.
Bacon says, “That which is most probable out of the precedent and
subsequent acts is that it was the Queen Dowager from whom this action
had had the principal source and motive; certain it is she was a busy,
negotiating woman, and in her withdrawing chamber had the fortunate
conspiracy of the King against Richard the Third been hatched, which
the King knew and remembered but too well; and she was at the time
extremely discontent with the King, thinking her daughter, as the King
handled the matter, not advanced but depressed.”

[Illustration: BERMONDSEY ABBEY]

It is not easy to find much sympathy with this unfortunate woman, yet
there are few scenes in history more full of pathos and mournfulness
than that in which her boy Richard was torn from her arms; and she
knew—all knew—even the Archbishops, when they gave their consent,
knew—that the boy was to be done to death. When one talks of Queens
and their misfortunes, it may be remembered that few Queens have
suffered more than Elizabeth Woodville. In misfortune she sits apart
from other Queens, her only companions being Mary Queen of Scots and
Marie Antoinette. Her record is full of woe. But in that long war it
seems impossible to find one single character, man or woman—unless it
is King Henry—who is true and loyal. All—all are perjured, treacherous,
cruel, self-seeking. All are as proud as Lucifer. Murder is the friend
and companion of the noblest lord, perjury walks on the other side
of him, treachery stalks behind him, all are his henchmen. Elizabeth
met perjury and treachery with intrigue and plot and counter-plot;
she was the daughter of her time. She was accused of being privy to
the plots of Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck; she was more Yorkist
than her husband; she hated the Red Rose long after the Red and the
White were united in her daughter and Henry the Seventh. That she was
suspected of these intrigues shows the character she bore. We must make
allowance; she was always in a false position; Edward ought not to have
married her; she was hated by her own party; she was compelled, in
the interests of her children, to be always on the defensive; and in
her conduct of defence she was the daughter of her age. These things,
however, deprive her, somewhat, of the pity which we ought to feel for
so many misfortunes.

She, too, had to retire to the seclusion of Bermondsey, where she
could sit and watch the ships go up and down, and so feel that the
world, with which she had no more concern, still continued. It has been
suggested that she retired voluntarily to the Abbey. Such a retreat was
not in the character of Elizabeth Woodville, so long as there was a
daughter or a kinsman left to fight for. Like Katherine of Valois, she
made an end not without dignity. Witness the following clauses in her

 “Item, I bequeath my body to be buried with the body of my lord at
 Windsor, according to the will of my said lord and mine, without pomps
 entering or costly expenses done thereabout. Item, whereas I have no
 worldly goods to do the Queen’s Grace, my dearest daughter a pleasure
 with, neither to reward any of my children, according to my heart and
 mind, I beseech Almighty God to bless her Grace, with all her noble
 issue: and with as good a heart and mind as is to me possible, I give
 her Grace my blessing, and all aforesaid, my children. Item, I will
 that such small stuff and goods that I have be disposed truly in the
 contentation of my debts and for the health of my soul as far as they
 will extend. Item, if any of my blood will any of the said stuff or
 goods to me pertaining, I will that they have the preferment before
 any other.”

[Illustration: _Drawn by C. J. M. Whichello._   _Engraved by B. Howlett._


As it appeared in the year 1805, with the adjacent country. Taken from
the steeple of the Church of St. Mary Magdalen.]

The position of Bermondsey Abbey would at first appear to have been
exactly similar to that of Westminster: both Abbeys stood upon islets
slightly raised above high-water mark; all round the islet of each
stretched marshes, with other tiny islets here and there, as at
Chelsea and Battersea. But there was this difference. In front of
Thorney was a ford; at the back of Thorney was a ford; beyond the ford
on the south was the high road to Dover; beyond the ford on the north
was the high road to the heart of the country. Bermondsey was near
the river, but the river here was broad and deep even at low tide;
Bermondsey was not situated on the high road of commerce; the high road
to Dover was near the Abbey, certainly, but not running right through
it, so to speak, as the road ran at Westminster. The Abbey lay quiet
and remote, even from Southwark; and after the building of the river
wall on the south, whenever that was done, the marshes became low-lying
meadows, dotted with ponds and with trees, where cows lay asleep in
the sun. The Abbey stood alone, removed from houses, among gardens
and orchards; it might almost have been in the country, so quiet and
peaceful were the surroundings. But from the river there was heard the
yeo-heave-ho of the sailors; the masts and sails could be seen above
the river wall; there was heard every day the hymn of praise with which
the sailors celebrated their safe arrival in port; and the sound of
the multitudinous bells of London was wafted across the river to this
peaceful spot.

The Abbey possessed a miraculous Rood, to which people paid pilgrimage.
It was one of the many shrines round London which were convenient for
a day’s pleasant journey into the country. In the Paston Letters,
John Paston writes, “I pray you visit the Rood of Saint Saviour in
Bermondsey while ye abide in London, and let my sister Margery go with
you to pray to them that she shall have a good husband or she come home

This holy Rood was found in the Thames in 1117, and began almost
immediately to work miracles. In 1118 William, Earl of Morton, was
“miraculously liberated from the Tower of London through the power of
this holy Cross.”

Twenty-two years later, the same William, Earl of Morton, entered the
Abbey and took the vows. The Rood was taken down on the same day that
the Rood of Grace of Kent was destroyed by the Bishop of Rochester at
Paul’s Cross.

One of the last acts of Henry the Seventh was to found an “anniversary”
in this House to pray for the good and prosperous estate of the King
during his life, for the prosperity of the realm, for the soul of his
late Queen Elizabeth—not Elizabeth Woodville, of whom no mention is
made, for the soul of Edmund, Earl of Richmond, the King’s father, and
of Margaret, Countess of Richmond, his mother; and for the souls of his

At the Dissolution, the revenues of the House were valued at £548: 2:
5-1/2. The Abbot, who was made Bishop of St. Asaph, received a pension
of 500 marks, or £333: 6: 8 a year. Fifteen years later, in 1553, there
were still seven or eight annuitants surviving, viz. one at 15 marks a
year; three at 9; two at 8; and smaller annuities amounting to 11 marks
a year.

The House and Manor were granted to Sir Robert Southwell, Master of
the Rolls. He sold it to Sir Thomas Pope, founder of Trinity College,
Oxford. Sir Thomas pulled down many of the monastic buildings, and
erected a stately house with the materials. The house with the gardens
he sold to Sir Robert Southwell, from whom he had bought it; the Manor
he sold to Robert Trapps, citizen and goldsmith.

In 1583 the Earl of Sussex, Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth, died
in the House.

The parish church of St. Mary Magdalen was built by the monks for their
tenants. The Earl of Sussex had to rebuild it when it was reported to
be falling into a ruinous condition.

Among the various benefits conferred upon the country by the monastic
houses, that of hospitality was by no means the least. But it is
evident that hospitality could only be practised when the House stood
near to a highway. As Bermondsey Abbey was removed from any roads or
highways, the monks could only carry out their duties towards the poor
by placing their almonry on the High Street of Southwark. But the Abbey
possessed a school of great repute. Leland, in his _Cantu Cygni_,
written a few years before the Dissolution, says:

    “And hail thou, too, O House of Charity, the nurse
    Of many students helped by Gifford’s purse.
    Thou happy, snowy swan, hast thy serene abode,
    Where Burmsey of her well-known isles is proud—
    Well-known, indeed, for there is seen the shrine
    Where her priests labour in the work Divine.”



The Priory of St. Mary Overies, or Overy, was one of the most ancient
Houses in London. It stood beside the ferry, the south end of which was
the long and narrow dock still to be seen, close to the present church.
The other end of the ferry may be also still existing in what is now
called Dowgate Dock; it is true that this is not opposite, but it may
be surmised that Allhallows Lane led to the north end of the ferry.
This ferry existed long before London Bridge was built, and continued
long after. Indeed, if we consider the narrowness of the old bridge,
the tolls, crowded vehicles blocking the way, and the long delays that
must have occurred in getting across the bridge, we may very well
understand that it might be more expeditious and cheaper to cross by
the ferry than the bridge. Here, at all events, was the ferry, and at
the south end was a small convent of nuns engaged in praying for the
safety of the travellers. At every starting-point or returning-point
for the mediæval traveller, there was some religious foundation to
pray for his safety or to offer praises for his return; at four of
the London gates, there were churches dedicated to St. Botolph, the
chosen saint of travellers. Outside Cripplegate was the Church of St.
Giles. Outside Newgate was the Church of St. Sepulchre. Within Ludgate
was the Church of St. Martin. Over Fleet Bridge was the Church of St.
Bride. When the first stone bridge was erected over the Thames, a
double chapel was built in the midst of it; while it was only a wooden
bridge, there was a chapel at either end—the south chapel, singularly,
dedicated to a Danish saint. So that I am inclined to believe that
the small nunnery on the south of the ferry may possibly have had its
sister nunnery or church on the north; if a nunnery, its existence has
been clean forgotten; if a church, then All Hallows the Great may have
been that church.

[Illustration: This figure of a Knight Templar; carved in wood, &
painted, was taken up to make room for Lockyer’s Monument; and was
afterwards placed upright, against the North wall, near the Vestry door.

This Monument is placed on the ground under the North window in the
Spiritual Court, & is traditionally said to be in memory of Old Overie,
father of Mary Overie, foundress of the Priory.

From the Grangerised edition of _London and Middlesex_ in Guildhall

The story of the first foundation is entirely legendary; one Mary,
daughter of Awdry, ferryman, is said to have founded on the site a
small House for nuns before the Conquest. It was converted, according
to tradition, by one Swithina into a College of Priests. It was,
however, refounded in 1106 by two Norman knights, William Pont de
l’Arche, who had a mansion in Dowgate, and William Dauncey, as a House
for Canons Regular. William Gifford, Bishop of Winchester, joined in
the foundation, and built the nave of the church. Henry the First,
another benefactor, gave to the House the Church of St. Margaret in
Southwark; King Stephen gave the Canons the House of their founder,
Pont de l’Arche. In 1212 the Priory was destroyed by fire. Then Peter
de Rupibus took the foundation, still very poor, in hand, and rebuilt
the church; he also founded the chapel of St. Mary Magdalen, afterwards
made into a Parish Church. A hundred years later the unhappy monks sent
a petition to Edward the First, stating that the House had fallen into
the deepest poverty; that they had not enough to provide the barest
necessaries, but were dependent on charity; that their church was
ruinous, but that they could not rebuild it; and that they had even
suffered the embankment to be carried away, and were in daily terror
of an inundation. They managed, however, to get along somehow during
the fourteenth century. Early in the fifteenth the House found two more
benefactors—Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, and Gower the poet.
The latter was buried in the church after residing for some years in
the House. His monument may still be seen. A list of the Priors from
1130 to 1540 has been preserved. The House, on the Dissolution, was
valued at £624: 6: 8. The Prior received, on the surrender, a pension
of £100 a year.


The position of the Priory, close to the Palace of the Bishop of
Winchester, made it convenient for many functions. In this church were
married, in 1406, Edward Holland, Earl of Kent, and Lucia, daughter of
the Lord of Milan. Here also, in 1424, was married James the First,
King of Scotland, a poet and scholar, of whom Drummond of Hawthornden
wrote that “of former kings it might be said that the nation made the
kings, but of this king, that he made the people a nation.” His bride
was Joan, daughter of the Earl of Somerset, and niece to Cardinal

    “The fairest and the freshest yonge flower
    That e’er I saw, methought, before that hour.”

In 1539 the House was suppressed and given to Sir Anthony Brown, whose
son became Lord Montague, giving his name to the ancient cloister of
the Monastery. In the following year the church was made parochial,
including the Church of St. Mary Magdalen, which stood beside it, as
St. Gregory stood beside St. Paul’s, or St. Margaret by Westminster
Abbey, or St. Peter-le-Poor beside the Church of the Austin Friars.

A great many monuments are in the church: the chancel, transepts, and
tower, with the Lady Chapel, still remain, forming the finest of the
old churches in the whole of London.

Here lie buried, according to tradition, Mary, the foundress; the two
benefactors, Pont de l’Arche and Dauncey—a wooden figure may represent
one of them; John Gower, on whose monument may still be read the words
which he wrote for it:—

    “En toy qui es Filz de Dieu le Père,
    Sauvé soit qui gist sous cest pierre.

Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, is buried in the Lady Chapel;
Dyer the poet, who died 1607; Edmund Shakespeare, brother of the poet,
somewhere in the church; Laurence Fletcher, one of the shareholders in
the Globe, who died 1608; Philip Henslow, who died 1616; John Fletcher,
who died 1625; Philip Massinger, who died 1639. On the tomb of Richard
Humble, who lies with his two wives and his children, are the lines:—

    “Like to the damask rose you see,
    Or like the blossom on the tree,
    Or like the dainty flower of May,
    Or like the morning of the day,
    Or like the sun, or like the shade,
    Or like the gourd which Jonas had,
      Even so is Man; Man’s thread is spun,
      Drawn out, and cut, and so is done.
    The rose withers, the blossom blasteth;
    The flower fades, the morning hasteth;
    The sun sets, the shadow flies,
    The gourd consumes, and Man he dies.”

In the Lady Chapel of this church were held many of the trials of the
martyrs under the Marian persecution: those, for instance, of Bishop
Hooper, John Rogers, Bradford, Crome, Saunders, Ferrar, and Taylor. The
death of Gardiner, the persecutor, seemed, to the common people, by the
hand of God, in punishment of his cruelties. He was given, however, a
magnificent funeral, beginning at this church. Machyn describes it:—

“The xxiiij day of Feybruary was the obsequies of the most reverentt
father in God, Sthevyn Gardener, docthur and bysshope of Wynchastur,
prelett of the gartter, and latte chansseler of England, and on of the
preve consell unto Kyng Henry the viij and unto quen Mare, tyll he
ded; and so the after-none be-gane the knyll at Sant Mare Overes with
ryngyng, and after be-gane the durge; with a palle of cloth of gold,
and with ij whytt branchys, and ij dosen of stayffe-torchys bornyng,
and iiij grett tapurs; and my lord Montyguw the cheyffe mornar, and my
lord bysshope of Lynkolne and ser Robart Rochaster, comtroller, and
with dyvers odur in blake, and mony blake gownes and cotes; and the
morow masse of requeem and offeryng done, be-gane the sarmon; and so
masse done, and so to dener to my lord Montyguw (’s); and at ys gatt
the corse was putt in-to a wagon with iiij welles all covered with
blake, and ower the corsse ys pyctur mad with ys myter on ys hed, with
ys armes, and v gentyll men bayryng ys v baners in gownes and hods,
then ij harolds in their cote armur, master Garter and Ruge-crosse;
then cam the men rydyng, carehyng of torchys a lx bornyng, at bowt
the corsse all the way; and then sam the mornars in gownes and cotes,
to the nombur unto ij C. a-for and be-hynd, and so at sant Gorges
cam prestes and clarkes with crosse and sensyng, and ther they had a
grett torche gyffynt them, and so to ever parryche tyll they cam to
Wunchaster, and had money as many as cam to mett them, and durge and
masse at evere logyng.” Wilkinson, who gives several views of the
church and the buildings around it, has preserved one taken from the
north-east, which shows the whole north side of the church, with the
Little Chapel, the Lady Chapel, and the church itself, in the year
1813 (see p. 307). Montague Close, where the view was taken, was very
shortly after covered with buildings, which prevented a repetition of a
drawing from this point; but in 1825 he procured a sketch of the Little
Chapel and part of the Lady Chapel.


The existence of the Little Chapel is nearly forgotten; yet it will be
seen, in considering the church as a whole, that it forms a natural
part. In the year 1626 this chapel was selected as a fitting place for
the tomb and monument of Lancelot Andrewes, now in the Lady Chapel.
From this monument the place was generally called the Bishop’s Chapel.

It is by the greatest good fortune this beautiful church has been
preserved. It would most certainly have been taken down, like the
exquisite church of the Holy Trinity Priory, like those of Eastminster,
Whitefriars, and Blackfriars, but for the interference of Stephen
Gardiner, who supported—and doubtless instigated—the parishioners
of St. Margaret’s and St. Mary Magdalene, in a petition to the King
praying for the church of the Priory as their parish church. The
petition was granted, and the church was saved.

Not, certainly, in the life of Stephen Gardiner, but after his death,
in the time of Queen Elizabeth, though the church was safe, the Lady
Chapel, and, of course, the Little Chapel with it, was desecrated. In
Anthony Munday’s edition of Stow, 1633, he tells us to what base uses
this noble chapel was put:—

  “It is now called, _The new Chappell_; and indeed, though very
 old, it now may be cal’d a new one, because newly redeemed from such
 use and imployment, as in respect of that it was built to, Divine
 and Religious duties, may very well be branded, with the stile of
 wretched, base, and unworthy, for that before this abuse, was (and
 is now) a faire & beautifull Chappell, by those that were then the
 Corporation (which is a body consisting of 30. Vestry men, sixe of
 those thirty, Churchwardens) was leased and let out, and this House of
 God made a Bake-house.

 Two very faire doores, that from the two side Iles of the Chancell
 of this Church, and two that throw the head of the Chancell (as at
 this day they doe againe) went into it, were lath’t, daub’d, and
 dam’d up: the faire Pillars were ordinary posts, against which they
 piled Billets and Bavens; in this place they had their Ovens, in that
 a Bolting-place, in that their Kneading-trough, in another (I have
 heard) a Hogs-trough; for the words that were given mee were these,
 This place have I knowne a Hog-stie, in another a Store-house, to
 store up their hoorded Meale: and in all of it, something of this
 sordid kind & condition.

 It was first let by the Corporation afore named, to one Wyat, after
 him to one Peacocke, after him to one Cleybrooke, and last to one
 Wilson, all Bakers, and this Chappell still imployed in the way of
 their Trade, a Bake-house, though some part of this Bake-house was
 sometime turned into a Starch-house.

 The time of the continuance of it in this kind, from the first
 letting of it to Wyat, to the restoring of it againe to the Church;
 was threescore and some odde yeeres, in the yeere of our Lord God
 1624, for in this yeere the ruines and blasted estate that the old
 Corporation sold it to, were by the Corporation of this time repaired,
 renewed, well, and very worthily beautified; the charge of it for
 that yeere, with many things done to it since, arising to two hundred

 This, as all the former Repaires, being the sole cost and charge of
 the Parishioners.

 One Ile in this Chappel, was paved at the onely cost of one Master
 _John Hayman_, Taylor, and Merchantaylor, in the yeere 1625.”


_Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.]

It was, therefore, immediately after this restoration that the remains
of Bishop Andrewes were deposited in the Little Chapel. May there
not have been some thought of preventing further desecration by the
monument of this learned Divine?

The Chapel was taken down in 1830. The monument of the Bishop took up
nearly the whole of the east end; a marble canopy originally stood
over it, but this was broken in 1676 when the roof of the Chapel fell
in; there was no altar and there were no services held in the Chapel;
there was one other monument of a citizen named Hayman, buried here in
the same year as the Bishop. Another monument, erected in 1807, was
that of Abraham Newland, chief cashier of the Bank of England. Two
stone coffins were preserved in this Chapel; and here were stone steps
leading down into the vaults; the Chapel is said to have been quite
plain, “with a groined roof, strong ribs, and a stone seat on both
sides and at the east end.”

The removal of the Chapel formed part of the restoration work of 1830.
At this time the church was in a most dangerous condition, the roof of
the nave being so dilapidated that it was impossible to hold service
there. Consequently the pews, organ, and monuments were removed to the
chancel and transepts; the roof was taken down and the materials sold;
and the walls and aisles were simply left exposed to the weather.

Wilkinson thus describes what followed:—

“The roof thus destroyed was a fine specimen of the architecture of
the thirteenth century, and possessed the striking peculiarity of
having the corbels, whence the ribs of the arches sprang, placed
perpendicularly over the columns. Those columns had been already banded
with iron, and the walls were green and dark with apparent decay,
though it is said that some of the ancient timbers were still in a
fine state of preservation; but in pursuance of the above order, the
organ was removed to form a temporary termination to the choir, and
the nave was uncovered and exposed; in which lamentable state it still
continues, August 1834, not unlike the half-ruined edifice of the
Cathedral of Llandaff.


The very laudable, zealous, and preserving efforts made for the
preservation of the Lady Chapel at the eastern end of the Church,
were, however, completely successful; though it was for some time
earnestly debated whether it should be destroyed or restored. But even
in the vestry the design of demolition was opposed, and on January
28th, 1832, a numerous general meeting for the preservation of the
structure took place at the Freemasons’ Tavern, at which a series of
Resolutions was passed to that effect. The principal of them were,
That the few remaining reliques of Gothic, or Early English Pointed
style of architecture in this kingdom, are replete with interest:
That the Chapel of Our Lady in St. Saviour’s Church is a splendid
specimen of that style of architecture: That as the Parish of St.
Saviour has expended £30,000 in the repair of this Church, of which a
debt of £8000 is unpaid, it is expedient that a public subscription be
commenced to enable the Parish to restore the Lady Chapel; and that
a Committee be appointed to promote the restoration by soliciting
public subscriptions. Notwithstanding the very great expense, which
the rebuilding of St. Saviour’s Church had already proved to the
Parish, it was evident, by some of the speeches at this meeting, that
the design of demolishing the Lady Chapel was not by any means even
partially sanctioned in Southwark, but only that the assistance of the
public was required for so costly an undertaking; but it was perhaps
almost entirely owing to the unwearied and meritorious exertions of Mr.
Thomas Saunders, that so general and lively an interest was excited on
the subject. The estimated amount of the restoration was £2500, and
by February nearly £1400 had been raised; but the sentiments of the
parishioners were most equivocally displayed at the general poll which
had been demanded by Mr. Saunders of all the parochial rate-payers,
and which took place on February 9th and 10th; the conclusion being a
majority of 240 for the restoration of the building. The subscriptions
were subsequently continued with great zeal, and were also extended
to the restoration of the ancient altar-screen in the choir; for the
effecting of all which they were aided by a performance of Sacred
Music in the Church, on Thursday, June 21st, 1832, and the delivery of
some scientific lectures. The superintendence of the Restoration was
gratuitously undertaken by Mr. Gwilt, Mr. Hartley was the contractor
for the building, and the first stone of the new works was laid July
28th, 1832. The two annexed modern Exterior Views of this Church will
convey an accurate notion of the appearance of the outside of the
Lady Chapel before this restoration; excepting that it then showed
four dilapidated and tiled gables, and that the part from which the
Bishop’s Chapel had been removed was white, whilst the remainder was
defaced and discoloured stone, coarsely repaired with brick. In taking
down the arch which led into the Bishop’s Chapel was discovered part
of the fabric of the lancet-window originally in that place; which
became a most valuable model for the restoration of the others. In
the present perfected state of this edifice, the eastern end of it
exhibits the four original gables, each surmounted by a rich cross,
and containing in the point a small triple lancet window, with carved
corbelheads and columnated-mullions; with a large window of the same
description below. The form of the glazing in the latter consists of
large intersected circles and lozenges; with some armorial ensigns,
etc., in stained glass. The roofs of the Chapel are covered with lead,
and the walls are of flints like those of the other restored parts of
the Church, with stone mouldings and quoins; the four buttresses, and
the north-east turret containing the staircase are also restored in a
similar manner; the latter having loopholes and a low cap of stone. On
each side of the building also the peculiar windows have been likewise
carefully copied. Within, the Lady Chapel is 42 feet in length, and has
the roof divided into nine groined arches, supported by six octangular
columns, with circular shafts at their angles. When this place was
formerly used for the Consistorial Court of the Bishop of Winchester,
and the Visitations of the Deanery of Southwark, the north-east corner
was parted off in the manner of a pew, and contained a desk, table,
and elevated seat; but the remainder of the space was abandoned to the
reception of lumber.

Whilst the restoration of the Chapel was in agitation, a further
difficulty appeared in the very narrow frontage to be allowed for it
on the south approach forming to the New London Bridge. So early as
November 1830, the Wardens of St. Saviour’s addressed a memorial to the
Bridge-Committee, soliciting a sufficient space for the exhibition of
the structure, and suggesting an opening of 130 feet. On April 19th,
1831, it was resolved by the vestry that the width of 60 feet, offered
by the Committee, was altogether inadequate, added to which it was
made a condition of that grant that the Lady Chapel should be taken
down; and, therefore, in the following October the Wardens memorialised
the Lords of the Treasury. In an interview between them, the latter
appeared to be in favour of a greater opening, but on January 24th,
1832, the Wardens were informed that not more than 70 feet would be
allowed, and that space only on condition of removing the Chapel,
if the consent of the Bishop of Winchester could be procured. In a
letter on the subject, however, the Bishop declined giving his consent
to the London Bridge Company; stating that it could not be alleged
that the removal of the Consistorial Court was required for public
accommodation, which he viewed as the only justifiable reason for the
demolition of a Church, or any part of one. It was then resolved to
petition the Committee of the House of Commons appointed on the Bill
for Improving the Approaches to the New London Bridge; by which it was
decided, on February 29th, 1832, after four days’ deliberation, and by
a majority of 17 to 3, that the opening to St. Saviour’s Church should
be 130 feet instead of 70, as proposed by the original framers of the
Bill. The houses on the west side of Wellington Street opposite the
Lady Chapel, are therefore terminated so as to form the sides of a
handsome approach to it. From hence at a future time a flight of steps
may be formed to the building beneath, and an appropriate rail also
erected round the church, but at present the structure is defended on
the east only by a high circular enclosure of boards.


Taken from Montague Close, Southwark.

_Londina Illustrata_, published 1813 by Robert Wilkinson, No. 58

The last meritorious work of restoration in St. Saviour’s Church was
that of the ancient Altar Screen given in the commencement of the
sixteenth century by Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester; a subscription
for which was ultimately united with that commenced for the Lady
Chapel. To the latter of these funds the present Bishop of Winchester
gave £300, and £100 to the Screen; and other large sums were speedily
and liberally contributed. Previously to Mr. Gwilt’s restoration of the
choir, the eastern wall of the Church was covered with a composition
of wood and plaster, ascribed by tradition to Sir Christopher Wren,
though apparently without any authority. Above this Screen appeared
the mutilated and inelegant broad window of the sixteenth century, the
arch of which was sculptured in relievo, in panels; that in the centre
having an angel holding a shield, and those at the side, a pelican
feeding her young, the emblem of Christ, and the device of Bishop Fox.
There was also a carved facia, on which the pelican was repeated, with
the holy lamb and oak leaves, the style of all which entirely disagreed
with that of the altar-piece below. On the removal of the modern
screen, a series of small tabernacle-niches was discovered on the
partition behind, the canopies of which had been cut down to almost a
level surface; though they still possessed so much beauty as to cause
the restoration of the whole to become a circumstance of the greatest
interest. This was completed in the commencement of 1834, by Mr. Robert
Wallace, the Architect of the Church, Mr. Firth, the Contractor, and
Mr. Purdy, the principal Carver; the contract amounting to only the
sum of £700. The ancient material of this Screen was Firestone and the
stone of Caen; and the restoration has been executed in stone from
Painswick, in Gloucestershire, which agrees well with the former.
Wherever it was practicable the original work has been retained, but
nearly the whole of the ornamental carvings have been wrought from
moulds and replaced in the precise situations of the ancient sculpture
whence they were taken. The whole screen is lofty, and the general
composition of it is divided into three stories in height and as many
partitions in breadth. In the centre of the lowest story is a space for
the altar, with three tall tablets and canopies above; and on each side
is a door with a depressed pointed arch. On each side of the doorways
is a niche rising from the ground, flanked by slender buttresses and
covered with a triangular tabernacle of two canopied arches, with the
angular point in front. In each niche is a tall pedestal with a richly
carved head; and above the doors are short double canopies of a similar
style, though rising above those on the sides, and breaking the line of
a broad frieze of demi-angels, above which is a narrow line of carved
pelicans, holy lambs, and scrolls. These terminate the first story; and
the above second and third are composed of a large niche in the centre,
with a semi-hexagonal canopy, placed between five niches on each side,
with pedestals and canopies like those below; whilst a second frieze of
angels, etc., parts the two stories. As the story finished the remains
of the ancient screen, Mr. Wallace has designed a termination of an
entablature of angels supporting shields, with a crown-like cornice
above; something similar to which most probably surmounted the original
design.” (_Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.)



The commonly received opinion as to the Foundation of this Hospital is
that it sprang out of an Almonry belonging to Bermondsey Abbey, founded
in 1213 by Richard, Prior of that House. This statement was made by
Stow, and has been followed by Strype, Maitland, and others; Wilkinson,
however, does not agree with it.

According to Tanner and Dugdale, the Almonry of the Abbey, consisting
of an almshouse for converts and a school for poor boys, was attached
to the walls of the House, was dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury,
and was under the government of the Monastery Almoner. This Almonry
perished with the Abbey in the Dissolution, and had nothing to do with
the Hospital of St. Thomas.

It is stated by Tanner that after the Fire of 1212, which destroyed the
church of St. Mary Overies together with their Hospital or Almonry, the
Prior and brethren erected a Hospital near their ruins in which they
established their church for a time. When their own House was rebuilt,
Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester, transferred the Hospital to
the other side of the causeway for some supposed advantages of air. It
was built on ground belonging to Amicius, Archdeacon of Surrey, and
dedicated to St. Thomas the Martyr. It was always in the patronage of
the Bishop of Winchester. A list of the Masters is preserved.

Stow, however, says that the Hospital was held of the Abbey of
Bermondsey, and that in the year 1428 Thetford, then the Abbot, sold to
the Master of the Hospital the right to keep all the lands belonging to
the Abbey and then held by the Hospital at a small rent.

It is impossible to reconcile these statements unless we suppose that
the Hospital itself, always separate from, and independent of, the
Abbey, was occupying lands of the Abbey of which it desired to keep the

On the Dissolution, the House was valued at a yearly income of £309:
1: 11 clear; it had a Master, Brethren, three lay sisters, and made up
forty aids for the sick with food and firing.

In 1552 the City bought the House of Edward the Sixth and opened it
again as a Hospital.

The place has little history. The brethren had at their gates the right
of market for corn and other commodities. The Archdeacon of Surrey, in
1238, had a hall, a chapel, a stable, and a residence in the Hospital.
The Bishops of Winchester claimed the right of visitation, which was
exercised on more than one occasion.

The old buildings continued until the close of the seventeenth century,
when they were taken down and the Hospital was erected in their place.
This House remained until it became necessary to destroy it, in order
to make way for the railway station and extension on its site. The
demolition of old St. Thomas’s is one of the few acts of destruction
which one can regard with satisfaction. For the removal of the Hospital
to the crowded streets of Lambeth, leaving Guy’s for the eastern part
of South London, was unquestionably a great gain to the former, and no
loss to the latter, which is fully served by Guy’s.



The Hospital known as _St. Giles-in-the-Fields_ was founded by
Maud, Queen of Henry the First, about the year 1117. It was a large
foundation, designed for forty lepers, the Master, Chaplains, Matrons,
and servants.

The original endowment was only £3 a year, which, even in the twelfth
century, would not go far towards the support of forty lepers. It
appears, however, as if the custom of lepers going about begging with a
bowl and a clapper was considered the right thing, because it is said
that the Proctor of the House went begging for the lepers. Probably
those who could crawl were allowed at the outset to beg for themselves.

But other benefactions fell in. The lepers obtained rents and lands
at Isleworth, St. Clement Danes, and round their own house; they also
obtained the manor of Feltham in Middlesex; Henry the Second gave them
lands at Heston; people left them houses in London; the House became

There were many dissensions and disputes as to the rule and management
of this House. They were finally terminated by Edward the Third, who
placed it under the authority of the House of Burton Lazars, the
central Leper Hospital of England.

The area covered by the ground of the Hospital consisted of eight
acres, which was afterwards largely increased. The Hospital buildings
were situated near to the present church on the west of it; they were
surrounded by a triangular wall running along Crown Street (formerly
Hog Lane), High Street, and Monmouth Street. At the lower end of what
is now the Tottenham Court Road on the west side of it was the Pound:
when the gallows was removed from the Elms at Smithfield, it was set up
at the north end of the Hospital enclosure opposite to the Pound. On
the same spot Sir John Oldcastle had been slowly roasted to death some
years earlier.

Criminals in later times, on their way to Tyburn, stopped at St. Giles,
there to take their last draught of ale at a tavern named The Bowl.

The lazar houses were probably all governed by similar laws and
regulations. Those of Sherburn, near Durham, will stand, therefore, for
many others. The house was dedicated to Christ, the Blessed Virgin,
Lazarus, and his sisters Martha and Mary. The lepers were under the
rule of a steward; there were three priests and four clerks, of whom
one was a deacon. During Lent and Advent all the brethren had to
receive corporal discipline three times a week in the chapel, and the
sisters in like manner in presence of their prioress. Why lepers should
be flogged more than ordinary people is not apparent. Perhaps there was
some feeling that a loathsome and incurable disease argued the wrath
of the Almighty on account of some great crime. The daily allowance of
food to the lepers was as follows:—A loaf and a gallon of ale to each;
one mess of flesh between two for three days in the week; or of fish,
cheese, or butter, on the remaining four; on high festivals a double
mess; on St. Cuthbert’s Day, fresh salmon; on Michaelmas Day, four
messed on one goose. The dress of lepers generally consisted of a grey
gown with a hood, and each one carried a basin and a wooden clapper.



The foundation of this House of Benedictine Nuns was in or about the
year 1212, when Alardus de Burnham, who died in 1216, was Dean of St.
Paul’s. The right, or permission, to found the House is contained in a
deed still preserved.

The seal of the convent represents the finding of the Cross by St.
Helen: she stands beside the Cross, holding in her hand the three
nails, while a crowd of nuns are on their knees with uplifted hands.

In 1439 the then Dean, Reynold Kentwode, drew up a new set of Rules for
the use of the Sisters. The following are the principal clauses:—

“‘Reynold Kentwode, Dean and Chapeter of the Church of Poules, to the
religious women, Prioresse and Covent of the Priory of Seynt Eleyns,
of owre patronage and jurisdictyon immediat, and every Nunne of the
sayde Priory, gretyng in God, with desyre of religyous observances
and devocyon. For as moche as in owre visitacyon ordinarye in youre
Priorye boothe in the hedde, and in the membris late actually exersyd,
we have founded many defautes and excesses, the whiche nedythe notory
correccyon and reformacyon, we wyllyng vertu to be cherished, and holy
relygion for to be kepte, as in the rules in youre ordyerre, we ordeyne
and make certeyne Ordenauns and Injunccyons, weche we sende you wrete
and seeled undir owre commone seele, for to be kepte in forme as thei
ben articled and wretyn unto you.

Firste, we ordeyne and enjoyne yow, that devyne servyce be don by yow
duly nythe and day, and silence duly kepte in the tyme and place, aftir
the observaunce of yowre religione.

Also we ordayne and enjoyne you Prioresse and Covente, and eche of
you synglerly, that ye make due and hole confession to the confessor
assigned be us.

Also we enjoyne yow Prioresse and Covent, that ye ordeyne convenyent
place of firmarye, in the wiche youre seeke sustres may be honestly
kepte and relevyd with the costes and expences of yowre house,
accustomed in the relygion durynge the tyme of heere sikenesse.

Also we enjoyne you Prioresse, that ye kepe youre dortour, and ly
thereinne by nythe, aftyr observaunce of yowre religion, without that
the case be suche that the lawe and the observaunce of youre religione
suffreth yow to do the contrarye.

Also we ordeyne and injoyne yow Prioresse and Covent, that noo
seculere be lokkyed withinne the boundes of the cloystere; ne no
seculere personnes come withinne aftyr the belle of complyne, except,
wym-ment servauntes and made childeryne lerners, also admitte noon,
sojournauntes wymment withoute lycence of us.

[Illustration: Sir Thos. Gresham.  Sir Wm. Pickering.  Sir John and
Lady Crosby.


Taken during the repair in 1808. Exhibiting also some of the principal

_Londina Illustrata_, published 1817 by Robert Wilkinson.]

Also we ordeyne and enjoyne yow Prioresse and Covent, that ye, ne noone
of yowre sustres use nor haunte any place withinne the Priory, thoroghe
the wiche evel suspeccyone or sclaundere mythe aryse; weche places, for
certeyne causes that move us, we wryte not here inne in oure present
injunccyone, but wole notyfie to yow Prioresse; nor have no lokyng nor
spectacles owte warde, thorght the wiche ye mythe falle in worldlye

Also we enjoyne yow, that alle daunsyng and revelyng be utterlely
forborne among yow, except Christmasse and other honest tymys of
recreacyone, among youre selfe usyd, in absence of seculers in all wyse.


_Londina Illustrata_, published 1819 by Robert Wilkinson, 125 Fenchurch

Also we ordene and injoyne yow Prioresse, that there be made a hache of
cenabyle [reasonable?] heythe, crestyd withe pykys of herne, to fore
the entre of yowre kechyne, that noo straunge pepille may entre with
certeyne cleketts avysed be yow and be yowre st’ward to suche personys
as yow and hem thynk onest and conabell.

Also we enjoyne yow Prioresse, that non nonnes have noo keyes of the
posterne doore that gothe owte of the cloystere in the churchyard but
the Prioresse, for there is moche comyng in and owte unlefulle tymys.’”
(_Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.)

At the Dissolution the revenues of this House were valued, according to
Dugdale, at £314: 12: 5, and according to Speed at £376: 6s.

The site and the church were given to Cromwell. Edward the Sixth gave
the advowson to the Bishop of London, but it has since returned to the
Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s.

The buildings were purchased by the Leathersellers’ Company, who
converted the Nuns’ Hall into their Common Hall, and so it continued
until the demolition of all the ancient buildings in 1799.

It appears from Malcolm that he believed the Nuns’ Hall to have been
demolished, and a new hall built in 1567. These are his words:—

 “We will suppose the monastery of St. Helen demolished, the materials
 disposed of, and the purchase of the site compleated by the Company.
 The architect finds a foundation far superior to any their funds would
 supply, and therefore cases the basement walls with brick, and makes
 the pavement (ready for his purpose) serve as the floor for the new
 Hall. And thus far he acted wisely; for his work of 1567 became too
 ruinous and expensive for repair in 1797, was taken down, and will
 be forgotten. What remains to be said of the antient crypt? That it
 would not have required repair for 500 years to come. Had the enormous
 masses of fungous webs, which depended from the arches of this
 beautiful work, been carefully swept away, and the walls rubbed with a
 dry broom, the antient windows re-opened, the earth that clogged the
 pavement removed, and its other defilements cleared off, these crypts,
 now scattered in piles of rubbish, would have formed a church how
 infinitely superior to forty I could name!

 The regret with which I saw those slender pillars torn from their
 bases, and the strong though delicate arches sundered in masses, is
 still warm to my remembrance. The angles were filled with white sand,
 a layer of earth, another of sand, a layer of oak chips; one now lays
 before me. Six hundred years have passed since this wood was cut, and
 the mark of the axe is fresh upon it, and so on till the spaces were
 filled.” (Vol. iii. pp. 562-563.)

The representation of the hall given by Wilkinson and that given by
Malcolm do not seem to agree in all particulars.

Malcolm adds a view not presented by Wilkinson showing the ruins of the

I have elsewhere called attention to the remarkable fact that London
possessed, down to the end of the eighteenth century, a greater
collection of mediæval ruins than any city of Europe, and that no one,
poet, historian, antiquary, essayist, took the least notice of them.
Wilkinson, however, does remark that the group of ruins “reminds us
rather of some romantic fragment of antiquity to be found in distant
countries than of one situated in the very centre of populous London,
and were it not for the modern buildings made out in the background, a
spectator might be led to imagine the scene many miles distant from the
Metropolis of England.”

This House of Benedictine Nuns pursued its uneventful course for
more than three hundred years. Now and then the nuns stopped a lane
across their property, or they let their land at long leases, or they
inherited new lands, or they mismanaged and wasted their property, or
they buried a Prioress and had to elect another. Very little else can
be recorded of them. It was on this land that Crosby House was built
on a ninety-nine years’ lease. Meantime, the church of St. Helen’s did
duty both for the nuns and for the parish.

In the year 1534 the value of the House was estimated at £376: 6s.
a year. The property of the nuns shows that this House was always
exclusively a London Foundation. They had houses in the City, in
Middlesex, Kent, Essex, Hertford, and Buckingham—but these were all
home counties. In the country they held little, if any, property.

[Illustration:  _W. Capon del._     _Wise sculp._


 From the north, showing the situation of the two Chapels at the south
 end. The upper part of the plate exhibits the ceiling, etc., of a fine
 apartment over the crypt, which was used as the dining hall of the
 Leathersellers’ Company, by whom the Nunnery had been purchased after
 the Reformation, and which was pulled down by their order in 1799. The
 site is occupied by the buildings now forming St. Helen’s Place.

_Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.]

The collection of facts concerning the last years of the nunnery, made
by the late Rev. Thomas Hugo, throws considerable light on the position
of the House.

In the first place, the names of the successive Prioresses and those of
the Sisters seem to be chiefly of London origin; secondly, the bequests
recorded in the _Calendar of Wills_, twenty-seven in number, are all
made by London citizens. They are, moreover, situated in various wards,
showing that the House was regarded as belonging to the whole of the
City, and not to any part of it. Some of the bequests are made without
any specified purpose; some have conditions and duties attached; thus,
one is for providing communion wine, while others are to be accompanied
by permission of burial in the church.

In reading the disposition and management of their property by the
nuns, one cannot avoid the suspicion that they were sometimes under the
influence of certain persons not wholly disinterested. Thus, there was
one Richard Berde, citizen and girdler. He first takes over a tenement
in the parish of St. Ethelburga belonging to the House for a term of
forty years at the rent of 20s. He then takes another tenement in the
same parish for sixty years at 45s. a year. Then he becomes tenant to
the Sisters for the great messuage, or inn, called the “Black Bull,”
with cellars, etc., and two adjoining tenements for one-and-twenty
years at a rent of £9: 14s. a year. So that he became the holder on
long leases of one great house and four tenements. It is perfectly
certain, of course, that he intended to sublet them all at a profit
to himself, and that the Sisters in this transaction got the worst of
it. But Richard Berde got more than this out of the nuns: they made
him their seneschal, receiver and collector, with a salary of £12, the
annual sum of 20s. for his livery, board and lodging, with allowances
of beer and wine, an allowance of fuel, and the free use of a chamber
and a parlour. The Dissolution must have been a heavy blow to good
Richard Berde: he lost his salary and his allowances; one supposes that
he was still allowed to retain his tenancy of the houses. He received
a pension of 40s., but what was that compared with the extremely
comfortable little job that was taken away?

The name of the last Prioress was Mary Rollesley. What relative was
this lady to John Rollesley, gentleman? One asks because John Rollesley
seems to have done pretty well with the Sisters, too. He got the manor
of Burston from them on a lease for eighty years at a rent of £9. And
the year after this concession, he obtained a messuage in the Close
of St. Helen’s, which must have been a great house, because it had
been occupied by the Bishop of Llandaff, on a lease of fourscore years
at a rent of 46s. 8d. More than that, he obtained the lease, for the
same time, of ten tenements, also in St. Helen’s Close, at a yearly
rent of £15. And on the same day he got two more tenements outside the
Close and a marsh at Stebenhithe (Stepney) for a term of sixty years
at a rent of £8: 15: 4. Two years later the grateful nuns gave John
Rollesley a small pension of four marks a year for good counsel, and
Edward Rollesley, gentleman—clearly one of the same family,—received
an annuity of 40s. also for good counsel. One of the last acts of the
last Prioress was to leave to John Rollesley the manor of Marke, in the
parish of Leyton and Walthamstow, for fourscore years at a rent of £8.
Probably all the estates of the House were let in this way to men who
farmed them, making their profit by subletting them. These facts show
how lucky it might be, in the blessed and religious days before the
Reformation, for a family to have a Prioress among them.


_Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.]

We note, further, that the nuns paid a chief steward, a receiver, and
an auditor; that they paid pension to three chantry chaplains; and
yearly payments to the church wardens of St. Mary Bothaw, to the
wardens of a fraternity in Bow Church, to the Bishop of Lincoln for
procurations, etc., to the Abbess of Barking, and annual doles to the
poor on certain days. All these facts, taken together, seem to throw
unexpected light upon the ramifications and divisions of ecclesiastical

The nuns were dispersed in 1538. Eighteen years later, in 1556, a list
of the survivors shows that the last Prioress, Mary Rollesley, and
six sisters, still survived. Of these six sisters, five received a
pension of £2: 13: 4, and one, who had probably held some conventual
post, received a pension of £3: 6: 8. At the Dissolution there were two
Chantry Priests who had stipends of £8 and £7 respectively.

A considerable part of the ruins of this House was standing until
the end of the eighteenth century. Wilkinson has figured some of the
details. The following description is from the Survey of the King’s
Offices, taken when the nuns left it (_Archæologia_, vol. xvi. 1806):—

“_The late Priorye of Saint Elenes within the Citye of London._

The View and Surveye ther taken the xxith daye of June, in the xxxiij
Yeare of the raigne of our Soveraigne Lord Kinge Henrye the viijth, by
Thomas Mildmay, one of the King’s Auditors thereunto assigned. That is
to saye,

Fyrste, the cheaf entre or cominge into the same late Priory ys in and
by the street gate lyying in the pishe of St. Elenes in Bysshopsgate
Streat which leadeth to a little cowrte next adjoining to the same
gate, havinge chambers, howses, and buyldinges, environinge the same,
out of wch cowrte there is an entre leadinge to an inner cowrte wch
on the North side is also likewies environed with edificyons and
buyldings, called the Stewardes lodging, with a Countinge house
apperteninge to the same. Item, next to the same cowrte ther ys a
faire Kechinge, withe a pastery house, larder houses, and other
howses of office, apperteninge to the same: and at the Est ende of
the same Kechyn and entre leadinge to the same hall, with a litle
plor adioyning, having under the same hall and plor sondrie bowses of
office, next adioyning to the Cloyster ther, and one howse called the
Covent plor. Item, iij. fair Chambers adioyninge to the hall, whearof
the one over the entree leadinge to the cloyster, thother over the
Buttree, and the third over the larder. Item, from the said entre by
the hall, to the Cloyster, which cloyster yet remaneth holly leaded,
and at the North side of the same cloyster a fare long howse called the
Fratree. Item, at thest end of the same Cloyster, a lodginge called
the Suppryors lodging, with a little gardin lieng to the same. And
by the same lodginge a pare of staires leading to the Dortor, at the
Southend whearof ther is a litle hows, wherein the Evidence of the said
hows nowe dou remayne, with all howses and lodginges under the same
Dortor. Item, at the Westende of the same cloyster, a dore leadinge in
to the nunes late Quire, extending from the dore out of the churche
yarde unto the lampe or pticyon deviding the priorye from the pisshe
which is holly leaded. Item, at thest ende of the said cloyster, an
entre leading to a little Garden, and out of the same littell garden
to a faire garden called the Covent garden conteninge by estimacn half
an acre. And, at the Northend of the said garden, a dore leading to
another garden called the Kechin garden: and at the Westende of the
same ther is a Dovehowsshe; and in the same garden a dore to a faire
Woodyerd, with howses, pticons, and gardens, within the same Woodyerd
a tenement with a garden, a stable, and other thapptances to the same
belonginge, called Elizabeth Hawtes lodginge.”

Ogilby’s map (see end of _London in the Time of the Stuarts_) shows the
site as it was a hundred years later. There is part of the cloister
left, part of the nuns’ garden. As for limits in 1542, the southern
boundary of the Nunnery was the partition wall dividing the church of
St. Helen’s; the eastern boundary was St. Mary Axe, or perhaps a row of
houses on the west side; the western boundary was Bishopsgate Street
within, and the northern was Camomile Street, or London Wall, unless
there was a row of houses on its south side.

I have before me a voluminous mass of MS. notes referring to this
important London House. Most of the notes are of small importance. It
must, however, be acknowledged that the chronicles of the House show,
perhaps, more quarrels than we find in the monasteries of men.

In 1432 the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s issue ordinances for
the Reformation of the Convent. A little earlier the same body
excommunicate a certain Jowsa or Joyssa who, after taking the veil as a
professed nun of St. Helen’s, left the House and contracted marriage.
About the same time there was a scandal concerning the treatment of
Joan Heyron, one of the nuns, by the Prioress. Joan had gout in her
hands and feet so badly that she could not perform her canonical
duties. The Prioress, probably thinking that Joan was shamming, had,
therefore, put her in prison, from which the Dean of St. Paul’s ordered
her release, and the Pope—no less an authority—gave instructions for
her maintenance. This little anecdote opens the door for speculation
of a very interesting kind as to the Row Royal which should demand the
intervention of the Dean first, and an appeal to the Pope afterwards.
One understands, for instance, that Joan Heyron was a Londoner by
birth, that she had relations of influence, and that they were not
going to stand it. We find the admission of Chantry priests by bequest;
petitions to elect a prioress in the room of the late sister deceased;
grants of tenements; petitions for a market; and so on.



Outside Bishopsgate, on the site now occupied by Spital Square, stood
that most venerable and most beneficent House called _Domus Dei_, or
_Domus Beatæ Mariæ_. It was founded by Walter Brune and Rosia his wife,
for Canons Regular, in the year 1197. Walter, Archdeacon of London,
laid the foundation stone, and William, Bishop of London, dedicated
it to Jesus Christ and His Mother, by the name of _Domus Dei et
Beatæ Mariæ extra Bishopsgate_. The place carried on a blameless and
most useful existence for three hundred and fifty years. When it was
dissolved it was found to contain no fewer than a hundred and eighty
beds for the sick poor. Now beds were not considered as intended for
one person only, but for as many as, in case of need, could be crammed
in, so we may reckon that at least three hundred and sixty poor persons
were always received and treated in this House.

The boundaries of the House are laid down by Stow:—

 “The Bounds whereof, as appeareth by Composition betwixt the Parson
 and Prior of the said Hospital, concerning Tythes, begin at Berward’s
 Lane, toward the South, and extend, in Breadth, to the Parish of St.
 Leonard, Soresditch, towards the North; and, in Length, from the
 King’s Street, on the West, to the Bishop of London’s Field, called
 Lollesworth, on the East. The Prior of this St. Mary Spittle, for the
 Emortising and Appropriation of the Priory of Bikenacar, in Essex, to
 his said House of St. Mary Spittle, gave to Henry the Seventh £400, in
 the 22nd Year of his Reign.

 This Hospital, surrendered to Henry the Eighth, was valued to expend
 £478 wherein, besides Ornaments of the Church, and other Goods
 pertaining to the Hospital, there were found standing one Hundred and
 eighty Beds well furnished, for receipt of the Poor of Charity; for it
 was an Hospital of great Relief....”

 “A part of the large Churchyard pertaining to this Hospital, and
 severed from the rest with a Brick Wall, yet remaineth as of old
 time, with a Pulpit Cross therein, somewhat like to that in Paul’s
 Churchyard. And against the said Pulpit on the South Side before
 the Charnel and Chapel of St. Edmond the Bishop, and Mary Magdalen
 (which Chapel was founded about the Year 1391 by W. Evesham, Citizen
 and Pepperer of London, who was there buried), remaineth also one
 fair builded House of two Stories in height for the Maior, and other
 honourable Persons, with the Aldermen and Sheriffs to sit in, there
 to hear the Sermons preached upon Easter Holidays. In the Loft over
 them stood the Bishop of London, and other Prelates; now the Ladies
 and Aldermen’s Wives do there stand at a fair Window, or sit at their

 And here it is to be noted, that time out of mind it hath been a
 laudable Custom, that on Good Friday in the Afternoon, some especial
 learned Man, by Appointment of the Prelates, doth preach a Sermon at
 Paul’s Cross, treating of Christ’s Passion: and upon the three next
 Easter Holidays, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the like learned Men,
 by the like Appointment, do use to preach on the Forenoon at the said
 Spittle, to persuade the Articles of Christ’s Resurrection: and then
 on Low Sunday, before Noon, one other learned Man at Paul’s Cross is
 to make Rehearsal of those four former Sermons, either commending or
 reproving them, as to him (by Judgment of the learned Divines) is
 thought convenient. And that done, he is to make a Sermon of himself,
 which in all were five Sermons in one. At these Sermons so severally
 preached, the Maior with his brethren and Aldermen are accustomed to
 be present in their Violets at Paul’s on Good Friday; and in their
 Scarlets, both they and their Wives, at the Spittle in the Holidays,
 except Wednesday, in Violet: and the Maior with his Brethren on Low
 Sunday in Scarlet at Paul’s Cross, continued until this Day.

 Touching the Antiquity of this Custom, I find none other than that in
 the Year 1398. King Richard having procured from Rome Confirmation of
 such Statutes and Ordinances as were made in the Parliament begun at
 Westminster, and ended at Shrewsbury, he caused the same Confirmation
 to be read and pronounced at Paul’s Cross and at St. Mary Spittle, in
 the Sermons before all the People. Philip Malpas, one of the Sheriffs
 in the Year 1439 the 18th of Henry VII. gave 20s. by the Year to the
 three Preachers at the Spittle. Stephen Forster, Maior in the Year
 1454 gave 40_l._ to the Preachers of Paul’s Cross and Spittle. I find
 also, that the aforesaid House, wherein the Maior and Aldermen do sit
 at the Spittle, was builded (for that purpose) of the Goods, and by
 the Executors of Rich. Rawson, Alderman, and Isabel his Wife, in the
 year 1488. In the year 1594 this Pulpit being old, was taken down, and
 a new one set up, the Preacher’s Face turned towards the South, which
 was before toward the West. Also a large house (on the East side of
 the said Pulpit) was then builded, for the Governors and Children of
 Christ’s Hospital to sit in: and this was done of the Goods of William
 Elkins, Alderman, late deceased. But within the first Year, the same
 House decaying, and like to have fallen, was again (with great cost)
 repaired at the City’s charge.” (_Survey_, vol. i)

In Spital Square, Bishopsgate Street Without, we have the site of the
cloisters, or perhaps the outer court of the House of St. Mary Spital.
At the Suppression its income was £478; and it contained one hundred
and eighty hospital beds. This means that the hospital contained
accommodation, according to the meaning of the word at the time, for
four or five hundred patients. On an estimate of maintenance at £5 a
head, one asks with wonder how all these beds were kept up, and whether
the Hospital depended partly on voluntary donations. The Hospital of
St. Bartholomew, we know, sent its people to beg meat in the Shambles;
did St. Mary’s also send men on the same quest?

One custom survived the House—that of the Easter sermons. It was the
rule that on Good Friday, in the afternoon, some learned man, by
appointment of the Bishop, should preach a sermon at Paul’s Cross on
the Passion; that on the three Easter Holidays, on Monday, Tuesday,
and Wednesday, other learned men should preach in the forenoon at
the Spital Cross on the subject of the Resurrection; and that on Low
Sunday another learned man should “make rehearsal” at Paul’s Cross
of these four sermons, either commending or reproving them. This was
surely the one single function in the whole of Christendom in which
one preacher was ever invited to criticise publicly the sermons of
four other preachers. These sermons were of great antiquity. In the
year 1398 Richard the Second made use of them for the publication or
the confirming of certain statutes by the Pope. In 1439 Philip Malpas,
sheriff, gave twenty shillings annually; in 1454 Stephen Forster gave
forty pounds for the preachers; the “house” in which the Mayor and
Aldermen, with their wives, sat to hear the sermon at St. Mary Spital,
was a kind of double gallery open in front. If the Mayor and Aldermen
wore their violet cloaks on Good Friday; their scarlet on Monday and
Tuesday at the Spital; their violet on Wednesday; and their scarlet on
Low Sunday, as Stow says, the sermons of St. Mary Spital must have been
very gorgeous and ceremonial functions.



St. Mary of Bethlehem, from which we get the word Bedlam, was founded
by Simon FitzMary, sheriff, in 1247. The deed of gift is preserved
among the archives of the Bethlehem Hospital. I am indebted for
the following copy to the Rev. E. G. O’Donoghue, Chaplain to the
Hospital. The name of the principal witness, “Peter Fitz-Alwyn,” is
probably a misreading of “Peter Fitz Alan.” The preamble is omitted.

  The deed by which Simon Fitzmary conveyed his land in Bishopsgate to
  the Bishop of Bethlehem for the foundation of a Priory in honour of S.
  Mary of Bethlehem.

By REASON of my reverence for my Lord Himself and for the same His
most tender mother, to the honour and glory also of my Lord Henry the
illustrious KING OF ENGLAND (may the aforesaid mother of God and her
Only Begotten Son take his wife and children under their care and
protection!), to the benefit in manifold ways of the City of LONDON,
in which I was born, as well as for the salvation of my own soul, and
of the souls of my ancestors and descendants, for the salvation of the
souls of my parents and of my friends, and specially for the souls
DIONYSIA their wives.

I HAVE GIVEN AND GRANTED (and by this present Deed of Charter have
confirmed the gift) to God and the Church of St. Mary of Bethlehem,
all that land of mine which I had in the Parish of St. Botolph without
Bishopsgate, London,—to wit, all that I had or might have there, in
houses, gardens, orchards, fish ponds, ditches, marshes, and all other
things appertaining thereto, as defined by their boundaries. These
extend in length from the King’s Highway in the East to that Ditch on
the West which is called Depeditch, and in breadth to the land which
belonged to RALPH DUNNING on the North and to the land of St. Botolph’s
Church on the South.

TO BE HELD AND RETAINED as alms bestowed upon the aforesaid Church
of Bethlem, free from all secular control, tax, or service for ever,
and especially for the Foundation of a PRIORY there, and for the
institution there of a Prior, Canons, and Brothers, and of Sisters as
well, so soon as ever JESUS CHRIST shall have bestowed His grace upon
it. These shall solemnly profess in the said place the Rule and Order
of the said Church of Bethlem, and shall in the same wear publicly upon
their copes and mantles the badge of a STAR.

AND there shall be celebrated there divine services for the souls
aforesaid, and for the souls of all the faithful dead.

BUT in particular this Priory shall be founded to receive there the
Bishop of Bethlem, the Canons, Brothers, and Legates for all time, so
often as they shall come thither.

FURTHERMORE to the intent that a Church or Oratory may be erected
there, so soon as ever the Lord shall have poured out his grace upon
it, under such conditions that the Ordination, the Institution, and
the Dismissal of the Prior, Canons, Brothers, and Sisters of the
said place, together with the rights of Visitation, Correction, and
Reformation, shall for ever belong to the Bishop of Bethlem and his
successors and to the Chapter of his Church and of his Legates, so
often as they shall come thither, and shall be willing, and shall see
that it is expedient to do so, without the contradiction and hindrance
of any one, save where there are appertaining to the said land the
services due by the Lords Superior.

And for the greater security of this gift

I HAVE PLACED myself and mine outside the said property, and I have
solemnly put in actual possession of it, and have handed over the
possession of all things aforesaid to the Lord GODFREY, one of the
Prefects of the City of ROME, at this time Bishop-elect of Bethlem (as
by our Lord the POPE confirmed), and at this time actually in England,
in his own name, and in that of his successors, and in the name of the
Chapter of the Church of Bethlem.

AND he has received possession of the said property, and has entered
upon it in the form prescribed.

NOW in token of subjection and reverence the said place in Bishopsgate
Without in London shall pay annually in the said City one mark sterling
on Easter Day to the Bishop of Bethlem, or his representative on
account of its property.

AND according as the property of the said place shall by the gift of
God and more increase, in like manner the said place shall pay more, in
proportion to its income, on the aforesaid date, to its mother church
of Bethlem.

THIS DEED OF GIFT and the Confirmation of the present Charter of my
Foundation I have on behalf of myself and of my heirs made secure and

In the year of our Lord 1247 on the Wednesday after the Feast of S.
Luke the Evangelist.


PETER FITZ-ALWYN, then Mayor of London, &c. &c.

This is what the _London Citizen_ (see _Collections of a London
Citizen_) says of the House:—

“A chyrche of Owre Lady that ys namyde Bedlem. And yn that place ben
founde many men that ben fallyn owte of hyr wytte. And fulle honestely
they ben kepte in that place: and sum ben restoryde unto hyr wytte and
helthe agayne. And sum ben a-bydyng there yn for evyr, for they ben
falle soo moche owte of hem selfe that hyt ye uncurerabylle unto man.
And unto that place ys grauntyde moche pardon, more thenne they of the
place knowe.”

This Priory continued for nearly three hundred years, during which
period it never obtained any popularity or any substantial increase
to its revenues. On searching the _Calendar of Wills_, we find a few
bequests left to the House until 1411. After this date there is no more
mention of the House.

Then poverty fell upon it: it received permission to beg for alms;
and the Brethren—were there ever any sisters?—as they died were not
replaced; between the years 1411 and 1538—that is, for a hundred and
twenty-seven years—there is a dead silence in the Wills. We know that
there was a chantry here for Lord Basset, who was a benefactor; and we
know that Henry the Fourth appointed in 1423 one Robert Dale, and in
1471, one Richard Sneeth as Prior or warden. The House was probably
the most conspicuous case in London of a Foundation of which only the
shell was left. Its endowments gone, the “special devotion” of the
Founder to the Church of Bethlehem no longer understood, the respect
for the sacred site of Bethlehem a thing decaying, and, at last, the
very Brethren gone. At the Dissolution one man was found in the House,
the Master, and he had left off wearing the habit of the Order. Was he
quite poor? Did he live alone in the place wandering about the ghostly
cloister, singing matins at midnight alone in the mouldering chapel,
the roof of which was falling off? Or cultivating the little garden
beside the City Ditch for vegetables and roots which formed most of
his food? Strange life! Or were the revenues large enough to keep
him in comfort with servants to attend upon him, so that he lived in
semi-ecclesiastic guise?

There is some obscurity about the conversion of the House into an
Asylum for persons of unsound mind. Stow says that it became an asylum,
but does not give the date. Newcourt says, that “sometime, a King of
England”—which is vague—disliking the presence near the Court of the
Lunatic Asylum which stood at Charing Cross, ordered the removal of
the inmates to Bethlehem, which would show that the place had fallen
into decay some time before the Dissolution. In the year 1523 one
Stephen Jennings gave £40 towards the purchase of the patronage of the
House, and the Mayor took steps toward carrying out this object when
the Dissolution happened, and the place, whose surrender value is not
stated, went to the King. The mad people were turned adrift; one knows
not where they went or how they fared: in 1546, however, the King gave
the House to the City, and the Mayor bought the patronage and houses
and tenements belonging to it and replaced the lunatics.

The church was taken down in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It does
not appear that the House had any property, because the patients were
maintained by their friends, or if these were too poor, by a charge
upon the parish. There was accommodation for sixty patients. Five years
after the King’s gift, license was granted to John Whitehead, proctor
of the House, to ask for alms in the dioceses of London, Ely, and



The Abbey of St. Clare, which stood on the site of the church called
Holy Trinity, Minories, was founded by Blanche d’Artois in 1293. The
following genealogy sufficiently explains the connection of Blanche
with this country and with London:—

  Robert, Comte d’Artois = Maude of Brabant
  Henri le Gros,     =  Blanche, =  Edmund, Earl of = Adeline
  King of Navarre,   │  b. 1250, │  Lancaster, King  (1st wife)
  m. 1270, d. 1274.  │  d. 1300. │  of Sicily, b. 1245,
                     │           │  m. 1274, d. 1296.
                  Jeanne         │  2nd son of
              = Philippe le      │  Henry III.,
              │     Bel.         │  called Crouchback.
            ..│..                │
                          │                  │       │       │
                 Thomas, E. of Lancaster,  Henry.  John.  Daughter.
                       beheaded 1322.

The House was founded in 1293 for the reception of “certain nuns
devoted to the service of God, St. Mary and St. Francis, expected
shortly to arrive and to settle in this realm.” The first nuns were
Frenchwomen, brought over by Blanche. They belonged to the Order called
Clares, their name being that of St. Clare, the foundress of the
Franciscan nuns, who was canonised in 1253, two years after her death.
They called themselves _Sorores Minores_—as their Franciscan Friars
were _Fratres Minores_; they were also called “rich Clares,” because
they were allowed to possess endowments and lands; others of the same
Order being “poor Clares,” who subsisted entirely on the charity of
the people. They were also called Urbanists, because their rule had
been revised by Pope Urban; and they were _inclusæ_, that is to say,
forbidden, except by reason of pestilence, war, or fire, to go outside
the convent walls.

The endowments began with three tenements and four parcels of ground
near, or upon, the site of the House, together with some houses in West
Chepe, yielding £30 a year.

Subsequent endowments included a large number of messuages, tenements,
wharves, and shops in London and Whitechapel. It would be interesting
to ascertain how much of London actually belonged to the Religious

The infant Convent received three Bulls from Pope Boniface VIII. In the
first he received the House, with all its buildings and property, under
his own peculiar jurisdiction. In the second he declared the House
free from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London and the Archbishop
of Canterbury. In the third he pronounced the House inviolable, and
ordered the Bishop of London to consecrate for the nuns all the Church
plate and sacred vessels.

In the reign of Edward the Second the King exempted the sisters, on
account of their poverty, from all tallage payable to the Crown for
their lands and houses in London.

In the reign of Edward the Third they obtained a grant of thirty marks
a year, and another of twenty marks from private persons. They also
obtained from Isabella, mother of Edward the Third, the advowsons of
three churches, on the condition of praying for the soul of the late
King. Edward the Third also endowed them with lands and houses.

The writer of a paper in _Archæologia_ enumerates many gifts of
messuages, etc., made to the sisters during the two hundred and fifty
years of their existence. In the _Calendar of Wills_ between 1341 and
1519, I find twenty-five bequests to this House, of which all but seven
belong to the fourteenth century.

A considerable mass of ruins of the Convent House remained standing
down to the end of the eighteenth century, when most of them were
destroyed. In 1706 it was found that the north wall of the present
church of the Holy Trinity was part of the wall of the Sisters’ Chapel;
in 1793, in digging the foundations of a house, in Haydon Square, a
massive stone wall was discovered, certainly part of the House, as it
formed the boundary of the parish. On the west side of the Square the
houses in 1803 were part of the original building, the walls being of
stone, even the partitions between the rooms. In 1797 a fire, which
consumed many of the houses south of the church, from the Minories to
Haydon Square, eastward, laid open the remains of a Hall which seemed
to be the Refectory.

Stow has the following particulars concerning this House:—

  “The License for founding it bore Date 21 E. I. to the Abbess
 of St. Clare without Aldgate. There was a Charter granted 9 E. II.
 that the Sisters Minoresses without Aldgate should be quit of Tallage
 on account of their Lands and Tenements in the City of London. In
 another Charter 14 E. II. it is called the Abby of the Minoresses of
 St. Mary of the Order of St. Clare without the Walls of the City: In
 which Charter are confirmed certain Messes of theirs in the Vintry, in
 Wood Street, Lad Lane, Old Fish Street, and one Mess and two Shops in
 Lombard Street, Christ’s Church Lane, and Shirburgh Lane; gotten of
 divers well affected Persons: What the Charters and Liberties of these
 Minoresses were, may be seen by the Confirmation thereof in 1 H. V.
 and Anno 16 and 25 and 2 H. 4, which remain in the Tower Records. The
 Manour of Apeldercome was granted to the Prioress of the Minoresses
 without Aldgate, 1 H. IV. and 22 H. VI. A Mess called the Herteshorn,
 in the Parish of St. Mary Matfelon, was granted to them by Nicholas
 Walshe, 7 E. IV. To all the rest let this be added.

 That this House was first erected to receive Nuns that were to be
 brought over by Blanch, Queen of Navarre, Wife to the abovesaid Earl
 Edmund: And they were professed to serve God, the blessed Virgin, and
 St. Francis; as appears by this Charter of Licence, which the said
 Edmund obtained of the King his Brother the 21st of his Reign.”

The House attracted and maintained the greatest respect of the
citizens. This is shown by the bequests which were showered upon the
sisterhood; these were continued far into the fifteenth century, long
after the stream of benefactions had ceased for the other religious
houses of London. It is also shown by the request of many ladies
that they should be buried in the Chapel of the Nuns—among them was
Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, who died in 1506, only thirty years
before the Dissolution. It has already been noticed in another place
that there is nowhere to be found any scandal, or suggestion of
scandal, concerning the Religious women of the London Houses.

The House has no history. For two hundred and fifty years the sisters
carried on their quiet lives; they produced no saint; they enjoyed no
ecstatic visions; they obeyed the Rule with such modifications as were
introduced from time to time; their lives were monotonous, but they
had their little distractions. One event alone is recorded of them—the
plague of 1515—when within these walls alone twenty-seven of the
sisters were carried off, besides the lay sisters and the servants.

At their dissolution their income amounted to £318: 16: 5. If we
consider that the stipend of a Chantry Priest was no more than £6 or £7
a year, on which he could live, we may multiply this income by ten at
least, and we may conclude that the number of sisters, making allowance
for the maintenance of the House, was not more than thirty, and perhaps
less, the tendency in the latter days, when there were few bequests,
being to keep down the number of the sisterhood, therefore they were
well off.

The Clares were not included in Cardinal Wolsey’s first suppression of
the smaller Houses of 1528, nor in that of 1536. The Abbess, however,
Lady Elizabeth Savage, resigned her charge in 1538, the year before the
final Act was passed.

For two years the place remained empty and deserted. In 1540 however,
the King granted the House to the See of Bath and Wells for a London
residence. The Bishop at that time was John Clarke, a man whose share
in the momentous events of the day has somehow been passed over by

He was born about the year 1480; he took the degrees of B.A. and M.A.
at Cambridge; he studied law at Bologna; he took Holy Orders and
received many benefices, including the Mastership of the Maison Dieu at
Dover. Since these preferments were scattered about in many counties,
it is evident that he performed none of the duties. He was otherwise
occupied. In 1519 he was sent by the King with a message to Louise of
Savoy; he was made Archdeacon of Colchester, Dean of Windsor, Judge
of the Court of the Star Chamber; and he was charged in 1521 with the
presentation of King Henry’s work against Luther. He remained at Rome
as the King’s Ambassador and the servant of Wolsey for four years;
he was employed in an embassy to the Court of France, and was sent a
second time to Rome. He returned with Cardinal Campeggio. By this time
he had been promoted to the Bishopric of Bath and Wells.

He did not long enjoy his London residence. In the same year in which
he received the gift, he was sent on an embassy to the Duke of Cleves,
and, with his servants, was poisoned. He came back to die in January
1541, and was buried in the Chapel of the Clares.

The House was once more taken over by the Crown, being exchanged by
Bishop Barber for other property in 1548. Edward granted it to the
Duke of Suffolk in 1552. It does not appear, however, that Lady Jane
Grey, his daughter, was ever resident at the House of the Clares. The
Duke was executed on the 23rd of February 1554. We may believe that
some of the old sanctity was still lingering about the Chapel of the
vanished nuns. There is some reason to believe that the head of the
Duke was brought to the Chapel and buried before the altar. In 1852
the then Earl of Dartmouth was inspecting the vaults under the modern
church, where some of his ancestors are buried. He came upon something
that might have been a basket full of sawdust. On examination there
was found to be a head well preserved, with the marks of decapitation
on the neck. The features resembled those of the beheaded Duke, and it
seems probable that either by his own request, or by the pious care
of a servant, the head was brought here to be laid in the Duke’s own
Chapel, the former Chapel of the _Sorores Minores Inclusæ_.

After the accession of Queen Elizabeth, the Precincts of the Abbey
remained, like many other Precincts, a quiet place, in whose Close
houses were built. The church was granted to the people of the place
on the condition of their maintaining a minister for the parish, which
occupied exactly the same site as the former Abbey.

It was a small parish, no more than 255 feet in length, facing the City
Wall. The old buildings were gradually pulled down, and the materials
used for the new houses, but enough remained, even as late as the end
of the eighteenth century, to form a picturesque collection of ruins.
A fire in 1767 destroyed most of the buildings. As to the church, it
became that of the Holy Trinity; it was repaired in 1618, in 1624, in
1636; it escaped the Fire of London. But most unfortunately it was
taken down in 1740—with the exception of the north Wall—and rebuilt a
mean and poor little church, which will remain standing as a Church
House while the Parish, consisting of Haydon Green and little else, has
been absorbed in that of St. Botolph, Aldgate. The new church contained
something of the old chapel: the font, the reredos, the pavement before
the altar, the monuments which were put up on the north wall. The
church plate is also rich and curious. The charities are very small,
amounting to no more than £13 a year in all.

The church was at one time—about the close of the seventeenth century—a
favourite place for weddings. In 1697 there were 956; sometimes there
were six, eight, or ten weddings in one day. The reason seems to have
been that the church claimed to be a peculiar, and exempt from the
visitation of the ordinary, therefore licenses were not required for
this church any more than for St. James’s, Duke Place, or the Fleet, or
May Fair.

A Roman sarcophagus, discovered within this parish, is now preserved in
the British Museum.

The church is much richer in associations than would be expected from
its outward appearance. There is a brass to Constance Lucy, one of the
well-known Lucy family; there is the tomb of Sir John Pelham and his
son; there are buried here the first Lord Dartmouth, son of Colonel
William Legge, and thirty-two of his descendants; there is a portrait
of Sir Isaac Newton, with the tradition that he once lived in Haydon
Square and worshipped in this church; Miles Coverdale preached here,
as the historian of the church, Dr. Kinns found, on eleven occasions.
The tomb of Colonel William Legge, who lived in the Abbey, bears his
shield, on which are impaled the arms of the Washington family, with
the stars and stripes which are the origin of the American flag. The
connection of the Washingtons and the Legges is given by Dr. Kinns in
the following pedigree:—

  Lawrence Washington = Margaret Butler.
      of Sulgrave,    │
        d. 1616.      │
          │                                     │
  Sir William = Anne Villiers.    Laurence  = Amphilis.
   Washington │                  Washington │
     d. 1643. │                             │
              │                             │
          Elizabeth = William Legge.      John = Ann Pope.
                    │                          │
           The Earls of Dartmouth.        Laurence = Mildred Warner.
                                               Augustine = Mary Bede.
                                                  George Washington.



On the 30th day of October, in the year of grace one thousand eight
hundred and twenty-five, there was gathered together a congregation to
assist at the mournfullest service ever heard in any church. The place
was the Precinct of St. Katherine’s, the church was that known as St.
Katherine’s by the Tower—the most ancient and venerable church in the
whole of East London—a city which now has but two ancient churches
left, those of Bow and of Stepney, without counting the old tower of

Suppose it was advertised that the last and the farewell service,
before the demolition of the Abbey, would be held at Westminster on
a certain day; that after the service the old church would be pulled
down; that some of the monuments would be removed, the rest destroyed;
that the bones of the illustrious dead would be carted away and
scattered, and that the site would be occupied by warehouses used for
commercial purposes. One can picture the frantic rage and despair
with which the news would everywhere be received; one can imagine the
stirring of the hearts of all those who in every part of the world
inherit the Anglo-Saxon speech; one can hear the sobbing and the
wailing which accompany the last anthem, the last sermon, the last

  _B. T. Pouncy delin et sculp’_


St. Katherine’s by the Tower was the Abbey of East London: poor and
small, certainly, compared with the Cathedral church of the City and
the Abbey of the West, but stately and ancient; endowed by half a
dozen Sovereigns; consecrated by the memory of seven hundred years,
filled with the monuments of great men and small men buried within her
walls; standing in her own Precinct; with her own Courts, Spiritual and
Temporal; with her own judges and officers; surrounded by the claustral
buildings belonging to Master, Brethren, Sisters, and Bedeswomen.
The church and the hospital had long survived the intentions of the
founders; yet as they stood, so situated, so ancient, so venerable,
amid a dense population of rough sailors and sailor folk, with such
enormous possibilities for good and useful work, sacred and secular,
one is lost in wonder that the consent of Parliament, even for purposes
of gain, could be obtained for their destruction. Yet St. Katherine’s
was destroyed. When the voice of the preacher died away, the destroyers
began their work. They pulled down the church; they hacked up the
monuments, and dug up the bones; they destroyed the Master’s house,
and cut down the trees in his quiet orchard; they pulled down the
Brothers’ houses round the little ancient square; they pulled down the
row of Sisters’ and the Bedeswomen’s houses; they swept the people
out of the Precinct, and destroyed the streets; they pulled down the
Courts, Spiritual and Temporal, and opened the doors of the prison;
they grubbed up the burying-ground. With the bones and the dust of
the dead, and the rubbish of the foundations, they filled up the old
reservoir of the Chelsea waterworks, and enabled Mr. Cubitt to build
Eccleston Square. When all was gone they let the water into the big
hole they had made, and called it St. Katherine’s Dock. All this
done, they became aware of certain prickings of conscience. They had
utterly demolished and swept away and destroyed a thing which could
never be replaced; they were fain to do something to appease those
prickings. They therefore stuck up a new chapel, which the architect
called Gothic, with six neat houses in two rows, and a large house
with a garden in Regent’s Park, and this they called St. Katherine’s.
“Sirs,” they said, “it is not true that we have destroyed that ancient
foundation at all; we have only removed it to another place. Behold
your St. Katherine’s!” Of course it is nothing of the kind. It is not
St. Katherine’s. It is a sham, a house of Shams and Shadows.

The beginning of the Hospital dates seven hundred and forty years back,
when Matilda, Stephen’s Queen, founded it for the purpose of having
masses said for the repose of her two children, Baldwin and Matilda.
She ordered that the Hospital should consist of a Master, Brothers,
Sisters, and certain poor persons—probably the same as in the later
foundation. She appointed the Prior and Canons of Holy Trinity to have
perpetual custody of the Hospital; and she reserved to herself and all
succeeding Queens of England the nomination of the Master. Her grant
was approved by the King, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Pope.
Shortly afterwards William of Ypres bestowed the land of Edredeshede,
afterwards called Queenhythe, on the Priory of Holy Trinity, subject to
an annual payment of £20 to the Hospital of Katherine’s by the Tower.

This was the original foundation. It was not a Charity; it was a
Religious House with a definite duty—to pray for the souls of two
children; it had no other charitable objects than belong to any
religious foundation—viz. the giving of alms to the poor, nor was it
intended as a church for the people; in those days there were no people
outside the Tower, save the inhabitants of a few scattered cottages
along the river wall, and the farmhouses of Stebenhuthe (Stepney). It
was simply founded for the benefit of two little princes’ souls.

The Prior and Canons of Holy Trinity without Aldgate continued to
exercise some authority over the Hospital, but apparently against
the protests and grumblings of the St. Katherine’s Society. It was,
however, formally handed over to them, a hundred and forty years later,
by Henry the Third. After his death, Queen Eleanor, for some reason,
now dimly intelligible, wanted to get the Hospital into her own hands.
The Bishop of London took it away from the Priory and transferred it to
her. Then, perhaps with the view of preventing any subsequent claim of
the Priory, she declared the Hospital dissolved.

Here ends the first chapter in the history of the Hospital. The
foundation for the souls of the two princes existed no longer—the
children, no doubt, having been long since sung out of Purgatory.
Queen Eleanor, however, immediately refounded it. The Hospital was,
as before, to consist of a Master, three Brothers, three Sisters,
and bedeswomen. It was also provided that six poor scholars were to
be fed and clothed—not educated. The Queen further provided that on
November the 16th of every year twelve pence each should be given to
the poor scholars, and the same amount to twenty-four poor persons; and
that on November the 20th, the anniversary of the King’s death, one
thousand poor men should receive one halfpenny each. Here is the first
introduction of a charity. The Hospital is no longer an ecclesiastical
foundation only; it maintains scholars and gives substantial alms. Who
received these alms? Of course the people in the neighbourhood—if
there were no inhabitants in the Precinct, the poor of Portsoken Ward.
In either case the charity would be local—a point of the greatest
importance. Queen Eleanor also continued her predecessor’s rule that
the patronage of the Hospital should remain in the hands of the Queens
of England for ever; when there was no Queen, then in the hands of
the Queen Dowager; failing her, in those of the King. This rule still
obtains. The Queen appoints the Master, Brothers, and Sisters of the
House of Shams in Regent’s Park, just as her predecessors appointed
those of St. Katherine’s by the Tower.

Queen Eleanor was followed by other royal benefactors. Edward the
Second, for example, gave the rectory of St. Peter’s in Northampton.
Queen Philippa, who, like Eleanor, regarded the place with especial
affection, endowed it with the manor of Upchurch in Kent, and that of
Queenbury in Hertfordshire. She also founded a chantry with £10 a year
for a chaplain. Edward the Third founded another chantry in honour
of Philippa, with a charge of £10 a year upon the Hanaper Office;
he also conferred upon it the right of cutting wood for fuel in the
Forest of Essex. Richard the Second gave it the manor of Reshyndene in
Sheppey, and one hundred and twenty acres of land in Minster. Henry
the Sixth gave it the manors of Chesingbury in Wiltshire, and Quasley
in Hants; he also granted a charter, with the privilege of holding
a fair. Lastly, Henry the Eighth founded, in connection with St.
Katherine’s by the Tower, the Guild of St. Barbara, consisting of a
Master, three Wardens, and a great number of members, among whom were
Cardinal Wolsey, the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, the Duke and Duchess
of Buckingham, the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury, and the Earl and
Countess of Northumberland, with other great and illustrious persons.

This is a goodly list of benefactors. It is evident that St.
Katherine’s was a foundation regarded by the Kings and Queens of
England with great favour. Other benefactors it had, notably John
Holland, Duke of Exeter, Lord High Admiral and Constable of the Tower,
himself of royal descent. He was buried in the church, with his two
wives, and bequeathed to the hospital the manor of Much Gaddesden. He
also gave it a cup of beryl, garnished with gold, pearls, and precious
stones, and a chalice of gold for the celebration of the Holy Sacrament.

In the year 1546 all the lands belonging to the Hospital were
transferred to the Crown.

At this time the whole revenue of the Hospital was £364: 12: 6, and
the expenditure was £210: 6: 5; the difference being the value of
the mastership. The Master at the dissolution was Gilbert Lathom, a
priest, and the brothers were five in number—namely, the original
three, and the two priests for the chantries. Four of the five had
“for his stipend, mete, and drynke, by yere,” the sum of £8, which is
fivepence-farthing a day; the other had £9, which is sixpence a day. It
would be interesting, by comparison of prices, to ascertain how much
could be purchased with sixpence a day. The three sisters had also
£8 a year, and the bedeswomen had each two pounds five shillings and
sixpence a year. There were six scholars at £4 a year each for “their
mete, drynke, clothes, and other necessaries”; and there were four
servants, a steward, a butler, a cook, and an under-cook, who cost £5
a year each. There were two gardens and a yard or court—namely, the
square, bounded by the houses of the brothers, and the church.

This marks the closing of the second chapter in the history of the
Hospital. With the cessation of saying masses for the dead its
religious character expired. There remained only the services in the
church for the inhabitants of the Precinct in the time of Henry the

The only use of the Hospital was now as a charity. Fortunately the
place was not, like the Priory of the Holy Trinity, granted to a
courtier, otherwise it would have been swept away just as that Priory,
or that of Elsing’s Spital, was swept away. It continued after a while
to carry on its existence, but with changes. It was secularised. The
Masters for a hundred and fifty years, not counting the interval of
Queen Mary’s reign, were laymen. The brothers were generally laymen.
The first Master of the third period was Sir Thomas Seymour: he was
succeeded by Sir Francis Flemyng, Lieutenant-General of the King’s
Ordnance. Flemyng was deprived by Queen Mary, who appointed one Francis
Mallet, a priest, in his place. Queen Elizabeth dispossessed Mallet
and appointed Thomas Wilson, a layman and a Doctor at Laws. During
his mastership there were no Brothers, and only a few Sisters or
Bedeswomen. The Hospital then became a rich sinecure. Among the Masters
were Sir Julius Cæsar, Master of the Rolls, Sir Robert Acton, Dr. Coxe;
three Montague brothers—Walter, Henry, and George; Lord Brouncker;
the Earl of Feversham; Sir Henry Newton, Judge of the High Court of
Admiralty; the Hon. George Berkeley, and Sir James Butler. The Brothers
had been re-established—their names are enumerated by Ducarel—one or
two of them were clerks in orders, but all the rest were laymen. They
still received the old stipend of £8 a year, with a small house. As for
the rest of the greatly increased income, it went to the Master after
the manner common to all the old charities. During the latter half of
the sixteenth and the whole of the seventeenth century, St. Katherine’s
by the Tower consisted of a beautiful old church standing with its
buildings clustered round it—a Master’s house rich in carved and
ancient wood-work, with its gardens and orchards, its houses for the
Brothers, Sisters, and Bedeswomen, each of whom continued to receive
the same salary as that ordained by Queen Eleanor. Service was held
in the church for the inhabitants of the Precinct, but the Hospital
was wholly secular. The Master devoured by far the greater part of the
revenue, and the alms-people—Brothers, Sisters, and Bedeswomen—had no
duties to perform of any kind.

In the year 1698 this, the third chapter in the life of the Hospital,
was closed. The Lord Chancellor, Lord Somers, held in that year a
Visitation of the Hospital, the result of which is interesting because
it shows, first, a lingering of the old ecclesiastical traditions,
and, next, the sense that something useful ought to be done with the
income of the Hospital. It was therefore ordered in the new regulations
provided by the Chancellor that the Brothers should be in holy orders,
and that a school of 35 boys and 15 girls should be maintained by the
Hospital. It does not appear that any duties were expected of the
Brothers. Like the Fellows of colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, they
were all to be in priests’ orders, and for exactly the same reason,
because at the original foundation of the colleges, as well as of the
Hospital, the Fellows were all priests. As for the Master, he remained
a layman. This new order of things, therefore, raised the position of
the Brothers, and gave a new dignity to the Hospital; further, the
School, as well as the Bedeswomen, defined its position as a Charity.
It still fell far, very far, short of what it might have been, but it
was not, between the years 1698 and 1825, quite so useless as before.

A plan of the Precinct, with drawings of the church, within and
without, and of the monuments in the church, may be found in Lysons.
The obscurity of the Hospital, and the neglect into which it fell
during the 18th century, are shown by the small attention paid to it
in the books on London of the 18th century and the early years of the
last century. The Hospital buildings consisted of a square, of which
the north side was occupied by the Master’s house, with a large garden
behind, and the Master’s orchard between his garden and the river; on
the east and west sides were the Brothers’ houses, and on the south
side of the square was the church and the Chapter House. On the east of
the church was the burying-ground. South of the church was the Sisters’
close, with the houses occupied by the Sisters and the Bedeswomen. The
old Brothers’ houses were taken down and rebuilt about the year 1755,
and the Master’s house, an ancient building, full of carved timber
work, had also been taken down, so that in the year 1825, when the
Hospital was finally destroyed, the only venerable building standing
in the Precinct was the church itself. To look at the drawings of this
old church, and to think of the loving care with which it would have
been treated had it been allowed to stand till this day, and then to
consider the “Gothic” edifice in Regent’s Park, is indeed saddening.
The church consisted of the nave and chancel, with two aisles built
by Bishop Beckington, formerly the master. The east window, thirty
feet high and twenty-five wide, had once been most beautiful when its
windows were stained. The tracery was still fine; a St. Katherine’s
wheel occupied the highest part, and beneath it was a rose; but none
of the windows had preserved their painted glass, so that the general
effect of the interior must have been cold. The carved wood of the
stalls, and the great pulpit presented by Sir Julius Cæsar, may still
be seen in the Regent’s Park Chapel, where are also some of the
monuments. Of these the church was full. The finest (now in Regent’s
Park), was that of John Holland, Duke of Exeter, and his two wives;
there was one of the Hon. George Montague, Master of the Hospital, who
died in the year 1681; and there was the monument with kneeling figures
of one Cutting and his wife, with his coat of arms. The seats of the
stalls are curiously carved, as is often found, with grotesque figures:
human birds, monkeys, lions, boys riding hogs, angels playing bagpipes,
beasts with human heads, pelicans feeding their young, and the devil
with hoof and horns carrying off a brace of souls. There was more than
the customary wealth of epitaphs. Thus, on the tablet to the memory of
the daughter of one of the brothers was written:

    “Thus we by want, more than by having, learn
    The worth of things in which we claim concern.”

On that of William Cutting, a benefactor to Gonville and Caius,
Cambridge, is written:

    “Not dead, if good deedes could keep men alive,
    Nor all dead, since good deedes do men revive.
    Gunville and Kaies his good deedes maie record,
    And will (no doubt) him praise therefor afford.”

On the tablet of Charles Stamford, clergyman:

    “Mille modis morimur mortales, nascimur uno:
    Sunt hominum morbi mille sed una salus.”

And to the memory of Robert Beadles, freemason, one of his Majesty’s
gunners of the Tower, who died in the year 1683:

    “He now rests quiet, in his grave secure;
    Where still the noise of guns he can endure;
    His martial soul is doubtless now at rest,
    Who in his lifetime was so oft oppressed
    With care and fears, and strange cross acts of late,
    But now is happy and in glorious state.
    The blustering storm of life with him is o’er,
    And he is landed on that happy shore
    Where ’tis that he can hope and fear no more.”

There they lay buried, the good people of St. Katherine’s Precinct.
They belonged to all trades, but chiefly to those which necessitate
going down to the sea in ships. On the list of names are those of half
a dozen captains, one of them captain of H.M.S. _Monmouth_, who died in
the year 1706, aged 31 years; there are the names of lieutenants; there
are those of sail-makers and gunners; there is a sergeant of Admiralty,
a moneyer of the Tower, a weaver, a citizen and stationer, a Dutchman,
who fell overboard and was drowned, a surveyor and collector—all the
trades and callings that would gather together in this little riverside
district separated and cut off from the rest of London. Among the
people who lived here were the descendants of them who came away with
the English on the taking of Calais, Guisnes, and Hames. They settled
in a street called Hames and Guisnes Lane, corrupted into Hangman’s
Gains. A census taken in the reign of Queen Elizabeth showed that of
those resident in the Precinct 328 were Dutch; 8 were Danes; 5 were
Polanders; 69 were French—all hat-makers—2 Spanish, 1 Italian, and 12
Scotch. Verstegen, the antiquary, was born here, and here lived Raymond
Lully. During the last century the Precinct came to be inhabited almost
entirely by sailors, belonging to every nation and every religion under
the sun.

This was the place which it was permitted to certain promoters of
a Dock Company to destroy utterly. A place with a history of seven
hundred years; which might, had its ecclesiastical character been
preserved and developed, have been converted into a cathedral for East
London; or, if its secular character had been maintained, might have
become a noble centre of all kinds of useful work for the great chaotic
city of East London. They suffered it to be destroyed. It has been
destroyed for sixty years. As for calling the place in Regent’s Park
St. Katherine’s Hospital, that, I repeat, is absurd. There is no longer
a St. Katherine’s Hospital.



The Order of Crutched, or Crossed, Friars—“Brethren Crucifer”—was
instituted in the twelfth century. Some came over to England towards
the end of the thirteenth century. Two London citizens, Ralph Hoster
and William Sabernes, being greatly attracted by the sanctity of the
Friars, took for them three tenements at an annual rent of 13s. 4d.
of the Holy Trinity Priory, and for themselves either entered the
Order or took up the Fraternity of the Order. Twenty years later, the
Community had obtained enough money to enable them to buy other houses
of the same Priory and to build a convent for themselves. The site was
a piece of ground lying east of Seething Lane. The Friars carried in
their hands a cross, and were also distinguished by wearing a cross
of red cloth on their backs. The House, unlike other Friaries, seems
to have held certain lands in Suffolk and certain Houses in the City:
perhaps lands and houses were only endowments of an obit or an annual
remembrance for the donor and his family. Like all the Friaries, this
House was always poor: at the surrender it was valued at no more
than £52: 13: 4. Stow cannot enumerate more than twenty worthies of
London who were buried here. Of these the most important was Sir
John Milbourne, who founded almshouses in the year 1521 for thirteen
bedesmen, who were bound every day to attend the eight o’clock mass
at Our Lady’s Altar, founded by Sir John Milbourne, there to pray for
their benefactor’s soul. The will of the founder illustrates the change
which had fallen upon men’s minds. Milbourne had not got beyond the
belief in masses and prayers for the dead; but he had got beyond the
belief in the perfunctory service of a chantry priest; he would keep
poor men past work from want; this would be a more meritorious work
than the endowment of a priest who should have nothing in the world to
do except to say a daily mass; the prayers of a bedesman ought to be at
least as efficacious as those of a paid chantry priest.

The Crutched Friars surrendered in 1539. Their house and estates were
valued at £52: 13: 4, as stated above. The church and buildings were
pulled down; a carpenter’s shop with a tennis-court and other places
were built upon its site. The hall was turned into a glass-house, and
thirty-five years after the Dissolution, was burned down. There were
thus no remains or ruins of the House left at all; unless it were
vaults or crypts.

On its site were erected later on the Navy House,—Pepys’s Navy
House—and at the present day an open court, once, probably, the site
of the cloister of the Brethren Crucifer, may still be seen. It now
belongs to some Railway Company. First, a cloister of Friars, then
a glass-house and tennis-court, next a Navy Office, and lastly,
Receiving House for a Railway—here is a sequence of uses which Sir
John Milbourne would hardly be able to foresee. After the Dissolution,
the place appears to have attracted many persons as a residence,
presumably from the quiet that still lingered about the Precinct. Here
Dr. Turner had his Botanical Garden, one cannot doubt—on the site of
the Monastic Garden. He dedicated his book, _The New Herbal_, 1568,
to Queen Elizabeth, from “my house at London in the Crossed Fryers.”
Dr. White Kennett, Minister of St. Botolph, Aldgate, 1699-1728, lived
in “Crutchet Fryers,” and Pepys’s Diary is, of course, filled with
references to the Navy Office, Crutched Friars.



The House of Austin Friars, _i.e._ of Friars Eremites of the Order of
St. Augustine, was founded in the year 1253 by Humphrey Bohun, Earl of
Hereford and Essex, “to the honour of God, and the Blessed Mother, the
Virgin, and for the health of the souls of himself, his ancestors, and
his descendants.” The House was enriched in 1344 by the munificence of
Reginald Cobham, and in the year 1354 the great-grandson of the founder
built the church, of which a portion of the nave still remains. This
Church, one of the noblest in London, possessed a spire, or _flèche_,
which, like that of the Sainte Chapelle of Paris, was the pride and
admiration of the whole city. Like all the churches of the Friaries,
it was for many years esteemed a specially holy place for burial.
Among those whose dust lies in this spot are Edmund, first son of Joan
the Fair, mother of Richard the Second; Humphrey Bohun, the founder;
Richard, Earl of Arundel, Surrey, and Warren; Sir Francis Courtenay;
the Earl of Pembroke; John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, beheaded 1463;
Edward, Duke of Buckingham, beheaded 1521; many of the Barons slain at
Barnet Field; and a long list of noble knights and dames besides. The
Austin Friars came over here in the year 1251; they found a welcome
not only in London, but elsewhere; they had, for instance, houses at
Oxford and many other places. The Augustines turned out many scholars;
among them the principal opponent of Wyclyf. The Order, in fact, unlike
that of St. Francis, was one which professed to cultivate learning.
The monastic dress of an Austin Friar was a long black gown with broad
sleeves and a fine cloth hood; a white habit and scapulary, with a
black leathern belt buckled with ivory.

This was never a rich House, but it always retained a certain steady
reputation, not only as a centre of learning and letters, but also
for a more scrupulous enforcement of discipline than was found among
several other branches.

Austin Friars was essentially a London House. Yet it was never so
popular as many other Houses. It appears by an examination of the
London Wills that the Austin Friars were not so much regarded by the
citizens as, for instance, the Grey Friars; or even as some of the
smaller Houses such as Elsyng Spital. It was customary with wealthy
and pious persons to leave money to all the orders of Friars in the
City, and even to every Friar individually. The Augustine Brotherhood
are not, it is true, omitted in these pious gifts, but there are few
bequests of any value; a tenement is named, here and there, certain
houses to be sold and divided between the Augustine Friars and others;
there is occasionally a gift of wax or some such small matter. One Will
in connection with this House is noticeable. It is that of William
Calley, Draper, dated 1515. He leaves to the Honourable Company of
Drapers, and to their successors, certain tenements in the Parish of
St. Margaret, Lothbury, so that the said Company shall keep an obit
within the “Frere Augustynes” of London for the benefit of his soul,
for the soul of Mawde his wife, and others named; the bequest being
also charged with certain charitable gifts. The Company and Wardens
of the Craft are to attend the said obit, and afterwards to take such
refection and repast as the said Freres “ordyn and prepaire.” And, by
a codicil, William Calley wishes to be buried in the church of the
Augustines, a privilege for which substantial fees were exacted by the


_Drawn and Engraved by John Coney._]

The references to this House are not voluminous, nor are they of
very great importance. A paper on the Church by Mr. G. H. Birch has
been published in the _St. Paul’s Eccles. Soc._, vol. i. Its piers,
he points out, are Perpendicular, its windows Late Decorated, the
arcades built probably in the latter part of the fifteenth century,
and the nave wider than that of any English cathedral except, perhaps,
Chichester. The roof, before the fire of 1862, was a waggon roof with
the beams belonging to the same date as the arcades.

It may be noted that in the construction of their own church the Friars
had to destroy the ancient parish church of St. Olave, Broad Street,
but they built on a site adjoining the church of St. Peter-le-Poor a
parish church in its place.

The House had four seals, one of the thirteenth century, two of the
fourteenth, and one of the fifteenth. The seal of the Prior-General of
the Order contains a figure of St. Catherine, crowned and holding a

In the year 1895 the demolition of certain houses on the north of
the church brought to light what appeared to be the remains of the
Cloister, together with bosses, on one of which was represented,
apparently, a female figure carrying a wheel. A paper on this discovery
was communicated by Mr. Allen Walker to _The Builder_ (Feb. 29, Ap. 4,
1896). (See also _Midd. and Herts. N. and Q._, ii. pp. 86, 136.)

A good many references to this House belong to the period immediately
following the Dissolution. There is the petition of St. Peter-le-Poor
against the destruction of the _flèche_. (_L. and Midd._, i., ii., 17.)

On the surrender of Austin Friars its revenues were valued at £57: 0:
4. The brethren, of whom there were no more than thirteen, subscribed
to the acknowledgment of the Royal Supremacy in 1534. They were finally
dispersed on the 12th of November 1549. Although the revenues of the
House were then esteemed at so small a sum, we must remember that the
Friars did not profess to hold property; they were supposed to live
on the alms of the people. George Brown, one of those who signed the
Acknowledgment, was made Archbishop of Dublin; the rest received small
pensions. The site was granted in portions to Sir Thomas Wriothesley;
to Sir W. Paulett, afterwards Marquis of Winchester; and to Sir Richard
Rich. On the site of the House and the Cloister, Winchester House was
built; the splendid monuments of the church were broken up, and the
materials sold and carried away in cartloads for the sum of £100 in
all. The lovely spire was taken down in spite of the vehement protests
of the Mayor; the chancel and the transepts were destroyed, and only
the nave was left, and, in part, stands to this day. Some thirty years
ago this fragment was greatly injured by fire, but was restored after a
fashion, and at the present day, with its scanty congregation of Dutch,
by which congregation it has been used ever since the suppression, it
allows the visitor to understand of how large and spacious a church it
formed a portion.

In Wyngaerde’s map, and in Agas’s map (see end of _London in the Time
of the Tudors_), there is a rude sketch of this House as it stood
before the suppression, or immediately afterwards. In both there is a
manifest indication for the position of the cloisters. They stood on
the north of the church, the transept and the north wall of the nave
serving for two sides. The transept has long since gone—and on the site
stand modern houses. In the wall of one of these was found some years
ago a stone arch. This was noted by some antiquary, but nothing more
was done. In February 1896, however, during the demolition of this
House, the arch was found again, and before it was taken down its place
was marked and it was photographed, together with certain carved stones
lying in the ground. There is very little doubt from its position that
this arch was an entrance, perhaps from the Prior’s House, to the
eastern cloister.





In the year 1224, being the eighth year of King Henry the Third, there
arrived at Dover a small company of nine Religious, being Brethren
of the Fratres Minores, the Franciscan Order, not yet known in this
country. Five of these were priests, the remaining four were laymen.
They pushed on without delay as far as Canterbury, where they halted
and begged permission to begin their missionary work in that city. They
were allotted a room in which they slept at night, and in the daytime
they used it as a school. After a little it was resolved to attempt
the foundation of a branch in London. Therefore, while the priests
remained at Canterbury, the laymen were sent to London to look about
them. They first lodged for a fortnight with the Preaching Friars in
Holborn. They then hired a house in Cornhill, of John Travers, one of
the Sheriffs, where they built—presumably in the garden—rude cells
of wattle and clay, and began their preaching and ministration among
the poor of the City. Very quickly it became noised abroad that a
new and saintly Order of Religion had arrived in the country; that
its followers were absolutely unlike all other Religious; that their
austerity, the strictness of their Rule, their earnestness, their
eloquence, their poverty—for they owned nothing—absolutely nothing—not
even church furniture, and lived on alms, simply on whatever was
bestowed upon them by the charitable—were things never before known
among men; and that their lives were spent not in prayers and Litanies,
but in work among the dregs of the people; that none were too base,
too low, too degraded, too loathsome by disease for the offices of
these good friars. The impression produced by this phenomenon was only
strengthened when John Ewen, Mercer, bought a piece of ground in
the parish of St. Nicholas Shambles and gave it to the brethren for
their use, on which they might build a house and church. Then all the
citizens began to vie with each other in making splendid gifts to the
church of these Franciscans—for themselves they took nothing, save, as
before, the broken victuals and crusts given them by the charitable.
William Joyner, Mayor, built the Choir; Henry Waleys, Mayor, built the
Nave; Walter Potter, Alderman, built the Chapter House; Thomas Filcham
built the Vestry House; Gregory Rokesley, Mayor, built the Dormitories
and furnished them; Bartholomew of the Castle built the Refectory;
Peter de Heyland built the study; Richard Whittington, Mayor, founded
the Library. Nor was the support of the Franciscans limited to the
citizens. Queens, Princesses, and great lords helped to endow the House
and to make these poor mendicants rich. Queen Margaret, Queen Isabel,
Queen Philippa; the Earls of Gloucester, Richmond, and Pembroke; the
Countesses of Pembroke and Norfolk, all gave money, plate, lands, or
buildings to the Friars. One Queen thought the choir ought to be more
splendid, and rebuilt it; another thought the nave ought to be more
splendid, and rebuilt it; no gift could be too lavish, no buildings too
costly for religious men so truly and unfeignedly religious. In our
eyes it is pathetic to observe the hope and confidence always ready
to be renewed, always doomed to disappointment, with which the people
turned from one professedly ascetic order which—alas!—had fallen from
its first profession and had now become rich, fat, and lazy, to another
beginning with the best intentions, itself destined before long to fall
off from the early zeal and the first austerities. Who could retain
the pristine austerity when all these gifts came pouring in? When the
broken victuals became a steady shower of all the good things that the
earth had to give? And the despised and poverty-stricken brothers,
lean, hungry, hollow-eyed, filled with the fever of faith and zeal, had
become transformed into the sleek and comfortable Friars of whom all
men spoke well?

Their church was 300 feet long, 89 feet wide, and 64 feet 2 inches
high. It contained an immense number of monuments, because the ground
was supposed to be the holiest in all London. Here were buried
Margaret, daughter of Philip, King of France, and second wife of
Edward the First; Isabel, daughter of Philip le Bel of France, and
wife of Edward the Second—with her, the heart of the husband whom
she had betrayed; Joan of the Tower, daughter of Edward the Second,
and wife of Edward Bruce, King of Scotland; Lady Isabel Fitzwarren,
Isabel, Countess of Bedford, daughter of Edward the Third; Eleanor,
Duchess of Brittany; Beatrice, Duchess of Brittany; Eleanor, Duchess
of Buckingham; Lady de Lisle; the Countess of Devon; Margaret, Duchess
of Norfolk; Eleanor, Duchess of Northumberland; and an immense number
of great and noble persons. Had the church with all its monuments
survived, there would have been no church in the country, or,
perhaps, in any other country, more crowded with names of personal
and historical interest. Of London worthies, we find the gallant John
Philpot once Mayor; Nicholas Brembre also Mayor, who finished his
career with a traitor’s death; John Gisors sometime Mayor; many of
the Blunts—Lords Mountjoy, who married into London families—the wife
of Edward Blunt, Lord Mountjoy, was the widow of one Mayor and the
daughter of another; William Blunt, Lord Mountjoy, married the daughter
of Henry Keble, mercer. There were a vast number besides, some of whom
are enumerated by Stow, who tells us that the church had ten great
tombs of alabaster and marble—he means tombs with chapels and carved
work. Of less costly tombs there were some score. In the Dissolution
all the glorious marble and alabaster work was sold for fifty pounds or
thereabouts by Sir Martin Bower, Goldsmith. The revenue of the House
was no more than £32: 10s.

[Illustration: “YE PLAT OF YE GRAYE FRIERS” A.D. 1617.

from an unpublished drawing preserved at S^t. Bartholomew’s Hospital.]

An examination of those London Wills (Sharpe’s _Calendar of Wills_)
which contain any mention of the Grey Friars shows that out of
fifty-three nearly all are bequests of money “for a trental of masses”;
for a Dirige and a Placebo in the church; for “masses”; for prayers;
in some cases a charity is founded; in many the testator wishes to be
buried in the church; in a great many cases money is left to all the
orders of friars in the City, which are sometimes named, but generally
not. I have elsewhere called attention to the remarkable fact that
the stream of bequests and legacies to the Religious Houses becomes
narrowed early in the fifteenth century and dries up altogether before
the end.

The extent of the Grey Friars’ monastery can be traced by considering
the present site of Christ’s Hospital. The school, unable to extend
itself on the east, west, or north, spread out beyond the wall, which
was at this point taken down soon after the foundation of the school.
The monastery, therefore, was bounded on the north side by the wall;
on the east by King Edward Street, formerly Butcher’s Hall Lane, and
by old Stinking Lane; on the west by the wall and Newgate; and on the
south by Newgate Street. It occupied, that is to say, a corner of the
city of irregular shape, being 600 feet from east to west; 300 feet at
its greatest breadth from north to south; and 80 feet, or perhaps 100,
at its least breadth; an area, that is, of about 45,000 square feet.
The Cloisters, in which lie buried a considerable multitude of London
citizens, were asphalted and used for the boys’ playing field; some
fragments of the old building still remain. As for the old monastery,
it has entirely perished—church—cloisters—everything in the Fire of
1666. The monuments, we know, had gone long before.

While I write, the place itself is doomed. The spirit of barbarous
vandalism has seized upon the school. Before long the school which, for
three hundred years, has been the object of so much pride and affection
among the citizens, will exist no longer. Another school—a new school,
not the same—will be called by the name, and will be found somewhere
in the country, and the Bluecoat school, with all its memories of
Grecians, and of the young King Edward, and of the Grey Friars, will be
swept away and blotted out. It is pitiful; it is wonderful that such
things should be possible.

A plan of Grey Friars in the year 1617, when the old buildings were
not yet all destroyed, and the plan of the House could still be made
out, is preserved in Bartholomew’s Hospital, and has been reproduced
by the _London and Midd. Archæological Society_, vol. v. p. 420. It
shows that the north side of Newgate Street consisted of a row of
tenements belonging to the Goldsmiths’ Company: the Bridge house and
St. Bartholomew’s; behind the tenements and south of the wall lay the
Precinct of Grey Friars. The church, with its middle and two side
aisles, its great west window, its high roof and its Clere-story, might
be re-drawn from the sketch in the plan; the Great and Little Cloisters
are still standing with the old courts and gardens, the Brewhouse and
the Bakehouse, the Mill and the great and small gates; the wall running
along the north side is pierced by a gate connecting the Precinct with
Smithfield, and the wall of the Precinct running along the east side is
Stinking Lane.

There is not much that is important in the MS. notes referring to
this House. In 1340 a great storm battered to the ground part of the
church, especially the west end. In 1360 we find certain persons after
murdering the Porter of Newgate Prison, taking sanctuary in the Grey
Friars’ Church. This points to flight and pursuit, since the Sanctuary
of St. Martin’s-le-Grand, a much safer place, was only a few minutes’
run down the street.

At the time of the Dissolution, as has already been stated, the
condition and reputation of the Friars were as bad as they could be;
their buildings were falling into ruin; they were selling their gold
and silver vessels and the lead off their roofs; the Franciscans of
London had dwindled down to fifteen only when the House surrendered.
The Head of the House alone of his Order received a pension.

For a time the place served as a storehouse for all kinds of things,
especially merchandise taken from the French. In the first year of
Edward the Sixth all the tombs, altars, stalls, walks of the choir,
and altars in the church were pulled up and sold—of course as so much
marble and stone in the rough.

When the House was given to the City there are enumerated the Fratry,
the Library, the Dorter, the Chapter House, the Great Cloister, the
Little Cloister, and the chambers and buildings which had been in the
recent occupancy of certain persons named.

Some of the buildings which escaped the Great Fire were still standing
at the end of the eighteenth century. The south side of the Cloisters
was not yet swept away; on the north side some of the walls and windows
of Whittington’s Library were standing. The western walk of the
Cloister was under the Great Hall, which, with Whittington’s Buildings,
were pulled down in 1827.



The Dominicans, or Black Friars, came over to England with their Prior,
Gilbert de Fraxineto, in the year 1221. There were thirteen of them in
company. They were at first received by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of
Canterbury, who invited the Prior to preach, and being greatly pleased
with his discourse, became the patron of the Order in England.

Their first quarters were in Holborn on the south side, part of the
site of Lincoln’s Inn. Here they built a House and church, and their
gates opened upon Holborn on the west side of Chancery Lane. They
remained here for more than fifty years, when, in 1276, Gregory de
Rokesley, the Mayor, granted the Archbishop of Canterbury permission
to stop up certain lanes adjoining Castle Baynard and Montfichet. This
was for the purpose of enabling the Dominicans to build a new House
on the foreshore or banks of the River Fleet without the wall of the
City. The Friars, however, were permitted to take down the wall between
Ludgate Hill and the river, and to use the stones of Montfichet Castle
for their new buildings. The King ordered the City at the same time to
build a new wall along the side of Ludgate Hill, and so south along the
bank of the Fleet to the Thames. Of their first House little is known.
There was once a convocation of their Order held there attended by four
hundred Friars to confer on their own affairs. It is reported that the
assemblage was entertained on one day by the King, on the next by the
Queen, and on other days by the Bishop of London and the Abbots of St.
Albans, Waltham, and Westminster.

If we consider the buildings of the second House we shall find
ourselves assisted to a certain extent by the disposition of the courts
and lanes at the present moment. Thus, the boundaries of the Precinct
are those of the present parish of St. Anne. It is therefore proved
that the Friars began by taking down the old wall of the City between
Ludgate Hill and the river, in order to build over that part of their
Precinct which came to them on the other side of the wall. Again, since
the site of a burial-ground within a city is almost always ancient, we
may conclude that any burial-ground now within the parish was formerly
within the Precinct. And if we have the measurements of the Church, we
may lay it down accurately, provided we have a single angle or corner
with which to start.

Now, the burial-ground of St. Anne’s still remains untouched. Its
length from east to west is about 60 feet. The church of the Friars
was 220 feet long and 66 feet broad. It probably consisted of chancel
and nave, or antechapel without transepts; the Cloister was a square
of 110 feet; the Chapter House on the west was 44 feet by 22 feet.
If the chancel was 60 feet long, which is a very fair proportion, it
just fits in south of the present burial-ground, while the block of
buildings looking upon Church Court corresponds with the breadth of the
church. Laying down the church, therefore, with these data, we find the
Cloister also fits in with its square of 110 feet, now partly occupied
by the Court of the Apothecaries’ Hall.


From an old painting in the Guildhall Museum.]

The rest of the buildings, the dormitories, the Chapter House, the
Refectory, the Great Hall, the Misericordia, were all contained in
the square of the north-west angle. To place them lower down below
the church and cloisters would be to ruin the effect of the group of
buildings from the river, a thing abhorrent to the mediæval mind.
The lower space, representing an area of more than three acres, was
doubtless filled up with gardens, orchards, and offices. In appearance
the House was said to resemble a fortress, because it had the
battlements and towers of the City wall on two sides. (See Appendix IX.)

If for many generations the Franciscans were of all the Religious
the most loved, their rivals, the Black Friars, who were considered
the most stalwart defenders of the Faith, were the most respected
for their learning. Even when the people threatened to destroy their
House, in consequence of their arrogance, they still retained the
general respect for learning. Their Precinct was a Sanctuary, so also
was that of the Grey Friars; their strong-rooms and treasure-houses
were used for the storing of the National Records, Acts, and Charters;
they numbered among their body the greatest scholars, theologians, and
jurists; their hall was used for the meeting of Parliament, and their
church for the hearing of great cases. In the year 1382, for instance,
Archbishop Courtenay held in the Blackfriars’ Church his court for the
condemnation of Wyclyf’s opinions: and here was held, from day to day,
and from week to week, the great trial before Cardinals Campeggio and
Wolsey concerning the divorce of Queen Catherine. In the Hall of the
Dominicans was assembled one of the Parliaments of Henry the Sixth;
here was commenced the so-called “Black” Parliament of Henry the Eighth.

There are many other historical notes connected with this Order in
London. Here are one or two of the more important:—

In 1258 the King gave orders that the Dominicans were to have at their
desire freestone for making carved statues in stone and a pedestal for
the statue of the Virgin; lead for their aqueduct, and other materials
for the forwarding of their work. Obviously, therefore, they were
engaged in building at their old House.

In 1326, when the Queen and her son issued letters to the citizens of
London exhorting them to aid in destroying the enemies of the country,
and Hugh le Despenser in especial, it was at the House of the Friars
Preachers that the Mayor and Aldermen received the commonalty in
conference. A little later occurs the very curious story (_Chron. of
Mayors and Sheriffs_, p. 267) of the removal of Edward the Second to
Berkeley Castle for fear that he might be carried off by the abetting
and procurement of a Brother Thomas Dunheved, a Dominican, who, with
many others of that Order, conspired with him. This Brother Thomas had
been sent to the Pope from Edward to pray for a divorce from Isabel;
he now raised a body of men in the King’s service, was unsuccessful,
was taken prisoner, confined in Pontefract Castle, and was killed while
endeavouring to escape. There were evidently two parties among the
Preaching Friars.

Later on we hear of a quarrel between the Duke of York and the Duke of
Somerset, and of the spoiling of the goods of the latter by the people
of the former at the Friars Preachers’.


Discovered in course of excavations. Now at St. Dominic’s Priory,

The place was also one at which Royal and distinguished persons were
entertained. The Dominicans, for instance, received Charles the Fifth
of Spain on his visit to Henry the Eighth. It was in the Hall, called
the Parliament Chamber, that Wolsey was found guilty on a Præmunire.
The brethren, of course, took no part in these functions; but the
fact that they were held in their House proves the position which
they occupied. They did not, being mendicants, and without property,
entertain Royal persons at their own charges. The sentence on Wolsey
was the last event of importance connected with the Black Friars.
Within a very few years after the holding of that Court, the proud
Dominicans were turned into the street. Their whole property consisted
of a few houses within the Precinct, which were valued at an annual
rental of £104: 15: 4, so that, like the Franciscans, they remained
actually mendicant to the very end. The respect in which these Friars
were held, especially by the better sort, is shown by the list of
great people buried in their church. Among the names we find those of
Margaret, Queen of Scots; Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent; the children
of the Earl of Arundel; Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward the First,
whose heart lay here; the Earls of March and Hereford; the Duchess
of Exeter, and many more. The House was surrendered in 1539. It does
not appear that anything was done with it in the lifetime of Henry
the Eighth. Very possibly he kept the place as convenient for holding
Parliaments on occasion; it was also, and had been, at least since the
time of Edward the Second, a house where Records and Charters were
kept. Edward the Sixth granted the Hall and the site of the Prior’s
House to Sir Francis Bryan; three years afterwards he gave the whole
Precinct to Sir Thomas Cawardine.

We have seen that the Liberties of Sanctuary, especially that of
St. Martin’s-le-Grand, were always a great trouble and annoyance to
the City. Now the Precincts both of the Grey Friars and the Black
Friars were claimed—though there were no more Friars—by those who
had succeeded in the ownership of the Precincts as being without the
jurisdiction of the City, and privileged, whether for those who took
Sanctuary in the Precinct, or for those who carried on trade to be free
of the City. This claim was stoutly resisted by the City authorities,
and in 1586 the case was heard in Court before the Chief Justices.

There was a small church called the Church of St. Anne, which appears
to have stood beside the great church, just as St. Margaret’s stands
beside the Abbey; St. Gregory beside St. Paul’s; St. Peter’s beside
the Austin Friars. The Precinct became the Parish of St. Anne. The old
church of St. Anne seems to have perished with the Friars’ church.
Perhaps it was an aisle. Then they built another church, which was
nothing more than an upper chamber. As for the liberties and privileges
of the Precinct, these were gradually forgotten and lost like those of
the Grey Friars. The church was unroofed for the sake of the lead; it
was then divided into two parts, part becoming a carpenter’s yard, and
part converted into stables. The church, according to Wyngaerde, had
no transepts, so that it would be easy to divide it. The Hall remained
standing for some time longer, and was used for a Theatre—Burbage’s
Theatre,—and some of the Shakespearian plays were acted there.

In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the Precinct was “much inhabited” by
noblemen and gentlemen. Afterwards the place became the residence of
feather-dressers and glass-blowers—because it was still outside the
City,—and later still of artists. “Thence into Blackfriars, visit the
painters where you may see pictures” (Ben Jonson, _The Devil is an
Ass_). Vandyck died here in 1641; Cornelius Jansen lived here; Isaac
Oliver died here. There is one spot in modern Blackfriars which may
still be recognised as part of the ancient house of the Dominicans.
Passing through Playhouse Yard at the back of the _Times_ office, and
turning into a narrow lane called Church Entry, there is the small
disused burial-ground of which I have already spoken. An open yard
on the other side of the court apparently formed part of the Friars’
cemetery, just as at Westminster, where, the cloisters being reserved
for the brethren, there might be a burial-ground outside the church.
On the east of this yard is a fragment of ancient wall, and in a
carpenter’s shop (No. 7 Ireland Yard) there is still (April 1900)
remaining a single arch which once formed part of the House. I know not
to what building this arch belonged; the site was afterwards a mortuary
and a Watch house, but I know not which of these uses was the earlier.



On the north bank of the river, between Bridewell and the Temple,
stood the House of the White Friars—_Fratres Beatæ Mariæ de Monte
Carmeli_,—first founded by Sir Richard Gray in the year 1241. King
Edward the First gave them ground in Fleet Street; their House was
enlarged and beautified in 1350 by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon. John
Lovekyn, Mayor of London, gave them a lane running from Fleet Street to
the river, in order to extend the west end of their church. Sir Robert
Knowles, in the reign of Henry the Fourth, rebuilt the church. The
London House of White Friars was always a house of humble pretensions
and small consideration, although from time to time it received the
patronage of wealthy benefactors.

The buildings of the House were apparently of no great account. After
the Dissolution they became ruinous and were pulled down. A small part
of the crypt, apparently, of the church was discovered a few years ago
to be still in existence. It is beside the cellar of a house in a small

I find in an old and very scandalous story that one John le Moigne,
together with William Portehors, of the Carmelite Friars, London, and
others were accused of slaying by night a certain Friar Gilbert de
Stretton of the Order, and afterwards breaking open the treasury and
stealing £300 belonging to Sir Eustace de la Hacha. John le Moigne was
found not guilty. There appear to have been two other trials in the
same case. In the first of these two one William Crepyn took the place
of John le Moigne, the other prisoners being the same. In the second
case Bartholomew Portehors, one supposes a brother of the Friar, stood
his trial with the same set of prisoners and was acquitted. Nothing is
said of Friar William and the others. We may hope that their innocence
was also fully proven.

Trials were occasionally heard at this House. In 1313 John de Ely, for
taking gifts from men of London and hindering the King’s right, was
tried before the King’s Council at the Carmelite Friars, convicted, and
sent to Newgate.

The Rolls of Chancery were for some time kept in this House. In the
Paston Letters two of the family desire to be buried in the Church of
the “Fryers Preachers”; Sir John Paston, however, in his will, desired
to be buried in the church of the White Friars.

The White Friars surrendered their House in 1538. It was valued with
their property at £62: 7: 3. There seems to have been no delay in
pulling down the church and buildings of this House, and very shortly
after the suppression, according to Stow, noblemen and others built
upon the site. Sir John Cheke, tutor to Edward the Sixth, lived in one
of the new houses. Unfortunately the right of Sanctuary, which belonged
to the Precinct while it was a Monastic establishment, continued to be
claimed after it became secularised. In the year 1609 the right was
formally granted by a charter of James the First, not only to this
Precinct but to that of Blackfriars. This privilege, which transformed
Whitefriars into the notorious Alsatia, continued till the year 1697,
when it was finally abolished. Part of the House was allowed to remain,
and become the residence of some of the Greys. John Selden, jurist and
author, lived in it 1651 to 1654, when he died.


At A a modern building intrudes which is not shown in the drawing.]

The buildings were so entirely destroyed that all trace of them above
ground had vanished apparently in Stow’s time. Nor was it until the
other day known where the church of the Friars actually stood. In the
autumn of 1895, however, a discovery was made which seems to throw
light on the matter. On the west side of Whitefriars Street, low down,
is a small court called Britten’s Court, containing half a dozen
houses, apparently about two hundred years old. One of these, Number 4,
was placed in the hands of Messrs. Lumley, Land Agents and Auctioneers,
22 St. James’s Street, for sale. On examining the house, Mr. Lumley
found that it contained a small cellar under the court itself. This
cellar, nearly filled up with rubbish, had been used as a storehouse
for wood and coal. On examination, it turned out to be a crypt, in
dimensions a square of 12 feet 3, with a height of 8 feet above the
present level of the excavation, and a height from the crown of the
vault to the pavement of the court of about 2 feet 6 inches. The crypt
belongs to late fourteenth-century work. Eight ribs meet in a rose
in the centre. The roof is of church stone, such as was used in the
construction of Westminster Abbey. In the north-west corner is an old



This House was called that of St. Mary of Graces, or Eastminster,
or New Abbey. It was situated without the walls by East Smithfield.
Newcourt gives the following account of it:—

“In the Year 1348 (23 Edw. III.), the first Great Pestilence in his
time began and increased so sore, that for want of room in Church-yards
to bury the Dead of the City, and of the Suburbs, one John Corey,
Clerk, procured of Nicholas, Prior of the Holy Trinity within
Ealdgate, one Toft of ground near East Smithfield for the burial of
them that died, with condition, that it might be call’d, The Church
yard of the Holy Trinity; which Ground he caused by the aid of divers
Devout Citizens to be inclos’d with a Wall of Stone, and the same was
dedicated by Ralph Stratford, Bishop of London, where innumerable
Bodies of the Dead were afterwards buried, and a Chapel built in the
same Place to the Honour of God. To which King Edward setting his
Regard (having been in a Tempest on the Sea, and in peril of drowning
made a Vow to build a Monastery to the Honour of God, and the Lady of
Grace, if God would grant him Grace to come safe to Land) builded a
Monastery, causing it to be call’d East-minster, placing an Abbot, and
Monks of the Cistertian or White Order there.

In Order whereunto the said King Edward, by his Letters Patents bearing
date at Westminster, March 29, in the 24th of his reign (1349) for
the first Founding and Endowment of this Abbey, gave to the Abbot and
Monks thereof, all those Messuages, with the Appurtenances at Tower
Hill, which he had of Joh. Cory aforesaid, in pure and perpetual Alms.
Ordering this House to be call’d, Liberam Capellam Regiam Beatæ Mariæ
de Gratiis. And afterwards by other Letters Patents, dated Octob. 5, in
the 50th of his Reign, he gave and granted to John, Duke of Lancaster,
Simon, Archbishop of Canterbury, John, Bishop of Lincoln, and others,
certain Mannours and Lands, which he purchased in Kent, and elsewhere,
for the farther Endowment of this Abbey, which they after his Death
granted and confirm’d to the said Abbot and Monks for a certain term of

But these lands being for certain Causes seiz’d into the hands of
King Richard II. as forfeited, he, by his Letters Patents, dated
Aug. 3, in the 12th of his Reign by advice of his Counsel, gave and
granted the Rents, Issues and Profits of those Mannours and Lands,
which were the Mannours of Leybourne, Gravesend, Leach, Wattingbury,
Gore, Parrock and Bykenore, with their Appurtenances, together with
the Advowsons of the Church of Bykenore, and of the Churches of the
other places above-named, with all other their Appurtenances in the
County of Kent. As also the Reversion of the Mannour of Gomshalf with
its Appurtenances, in the County of Surry, after the Death of Thomas
de Stanes, to pray for the Good Estate of the said King whilst alive,
and for his Soul when dead, and for the Soul of his Grandfather King
Edw. III. and for the Souls of all his Progenitors, his Heirs, and
Successors, and all the Faithful deceas’d, according to the Intention
and Will of his said Grandfather. And farther, gave Licence to the Said
John, Duke of Lancaster, and John, Bishop of London, the surviving
Feoffees of Edw. III. to release and quit-claim the said Mannours and
Lands to the said Abbot and Monks, and their Successors, as appears by
his Letters Patents, dated at Notingham, July 3.

William de S. Cruce, late Abbot of Geranden of the Cistertian Order,
was at the King’s instance made the first Abbot of this House, to whom
the King gave £20 per ann. for the Maintenance of himself and his
Monks, March 24, 1349.

Will. de Warden was made Abbot of this House, Aug. 27, 1360.

This Abby was surrender’d Anno. 1539 (30 Hen. VIII.), and was valued at
£546: 0: 10 per Ann., Dugdale; £602: 11: 10, Speed.

Since which time the said Monastery being by King Hen. VIII. in the
34. of his Reign granted to Sir Arthur Darcy, Knight, was clean pull’d
down. And of late time in place thereof is built a large Store-house
for Victual, and convenient Ovens are built there for baking of
Bisquets to serve Her Majesties Ships: and it is the Victualling Office
for the Royal Navy to this day; the Grounds adjoining and belonging
formerly to the said Abbey, are occupied by small Tenements built
thereon.” (Newcourt, i. pp. 465-466.)

To this account it may be added that the House does not seem to have
attracted many other benefactors, while in the _Calendar of Wills_
there are only six bequests to the Abbey. One testator devises money
for the buildings; one gives a small sum of money; three leave houses;
one founds a chantry. It may be presumed that the proportion of
bequests to this House compared with those made to others was the same
with the wills not presented in these two volumes. Yet its surrender
value, as we have seen, was considerable. In the first volume of the
_Transactions of the Lond. and Midd. Archæological Association_ is
published an early representation of the Abbey, taken probably just
before the Dissolution.



Among the Houses mentioned by Arnold FitzThedmar are two or three not
considered in the above enumeration. There are the Houses of St. Anne
by the Tower Hill, St. James in the Temple, St. James in the Wall, St.
Stephen’s at Westminster, St. Thomas’ Chapel of the Bridge, St. James
in the Field, St. Mary Magdalen Guildhall, St. Mary Rouncevall, and St.
Ursula in the Poultry. There are one or two others which shall here be
briefly mentioned.

Concerning many of these Houses, so little is known that the list
becomes merely a catalogue. The position of these smaller Houses in the
City in some respects corresponded to that of the humbler Dissenting
Chapels of the present day. That is to say, although at the time there
could be no thought of separation or of schism, the poor folk found
themselves more at home in the smaller Houses. With them they had their
Craft Fraternities; their priests were not the great Ecclesiastical
Lords of the stately Abbeys and priories, but of humbler guise, men
accessible to themselves.


The Order of Penitence grew out of the teaching of Francis of Assisi
very early in his career. It was brought under rule by the Bull
“Significatum est,” dated December 16, 1221, but it is said to have
existed before this date.

Among other things, the order actually forbade the carrying of arms.
They anticipated the Quakers, they anticipated the Peace Society, they
were many centuries in advance of mankind. Like the Quakers, they did
not understand that the very existence of a people under the conditions
of the time—and of our time as well—rests upon force and strength of

The great innovation designed by the Third Order was concord; this
fraternity was a union of peace, and it attempted to bring before
astonished Europe a new truce of God.

The second essential obligation of the Brothers of Penitence appears
to have been that of reducing their wants as far as possible, and
while preserving their fortunes, to distribute to the poor, at proper
intervals, such portions of the revenue as remained after contenting
themselves with the strict necessaries of life.

To carry on with contentment and uprightness the duties of their
calling; to seek a holy inspiration for the slightest actions of life;
to find in the infinitely little and ephemeral events of existence, the
things apparently the most commonplace, the handiwork of the Almighty;
to keep pure from debasing deeds, words, thoughts, ambitions, and
interests, to use things as if not possessing them, like the servants
in the parable who knew that they would have to give an account of the
talents confided to them; to close their hearts to hatred; to open them
wide to pity; to give their aid to the old, the poor, the infirm, the
diseased, the outcast and the abandoned: such were the other essential
duties of this most excellent Order of Penitence.

The letter to all Christians in which these thoughts break forth is
a living souvenir of St. Francis’s teachings to the Tertiaries. To
represent these latter to ourselves in a perfectly concrete form, we
may resort to the legend of St. Lucchesio, whom tradition makes the
first Brother of Penitence.

And the history of the first Brother of Penitence may be thus condensed
into a short narrative:—

A native of a little city of Tuscany, he quitted it to avoid its
political enmities, and established himself at Poggibonsi, not far
from Sienna, where he continued to trade in grain. Already rich, it
was not difficult for him to buy up all the wheat, and, selling it in
a time of scarcity, realise enormous profits. But he was disturbed
in conscience: he was convinced—it is exactly like the report of a
Salvation Army meeting—by the preaching of Francis of Assisi: he was
enabled to see himself from the outside—which is indeed the beginning
of all repentance and conviction: he resolved to bestow the whole of
his superfluous wealth upon the poor, and to keep nothing at all but
his house with a small garden and one ass. From that time he was to
be seen devoting himself to the cultivation of his ground and the
conversion of his house into a sort of free hostelry, which was filled
with the poor and the sick. He not only welcomed them, but he sought
them out, even to the malaria-infested Maremma, often returning with a
sick man astride on his back and preceded by his ass bearing a similar
burden. The resources of the garden were necessarily limited: when
there was no other way, Lucchesio took a wallet and went from door to
door asking alms, but most of the time this was needless, for his poor
guests, seeing him so diligent and so good, were better satisfied with
a few poor vegetables from the garden, shared with him, than with the
most copious repast. In the presence of their benefactor, so joyful
in his destitution, they forgot, it is said, their own poverty—one
reads with doubt this statement,—and the habitual murmurs of the poor,
half-starved and diseased creatures were transformed into outbursts
of admiration and gratitude. Conversion had not killed in him all
family ties: Donna Bona his wife, became his fellow-labourer, and
when in 1260 he saw her gradually fading away, his grief was too deep
to be endured. “You know, dear companion,” he said to her when she had
received the last sacraments, “how much we have loved one another while
we could serve God together: why should we not remain united until
we depart to the ineffable joy? Wait for me. I also will receive the
sacraments, and go to heaven with you.”

[Illustration: FLAGELLANTS

Facsimile of a Miniature in the Cité de Dieu (MS. of 15th century in
St. Genevieve Library, Paris).]

So he spoke, and called back the priest to administer them to him.
Then after holding the hands of his dying consort, comforting her with
gentle words, when he saw that her soul was gone, he made over her the
sign of the cross, stretched himself beside her, and calling with love
upon Jesus, Mary, and St. Francis, he fell asleep for eternity.

The Order, therefore, known as Penitentiarii or Fratres de Saccâ
Order, consisted of both men and women: the latter were _Sorores de
Pœnitentia_. They might be married, in which case conjugal abstinence
was enjoined on certain days; but they could not marry after
admission; they might individually or collectively hold property. They
came over in the year 1257, and they remained until 1307, when their
Order was dissolved. They had for their House the old Jewish Synagogue
of Old Jewry, and apparently were always quite a small fraternity.
Beside their London House there were seven Houses of the Order in
England, viz. at Lynn, whose Prior was the head of the Order; at
Canterbury, Cambridge, Norwich, Worcester, Lincoln, and Leicester.

Their House, on the suppression in 1307, was handed over to Robert
FitzWalter: it was the same house which afterward belonged to Robert
Large, to whom Caxton was apprenticed; it stood at the north-east
corner of the Old Jewry.


If one stands in the south-west part of St. Giles’ churchyard,
Cripplegate, one can observe the bastion of the old stone wall which
still exists there. Within this bastion, in the corner of the wall
at the end of Monkwell Street, was formerly a small religious House,
a cell of Garendon Abbey called St. James’s in the Wall; it was
originally a Hermitage, and it was placed in the corner no doubt for
the same reason that the Greyfriars’ was placed in the next corner
going westward, as in a place unoccupied and out of the way of business.

The founder of the Hermitage is said to have been Henry the Third.
Wilkinson (_Londina Illustrata_) thinks that it was founded as a
Chantry Chapel endowed for a single priest; but the Hermit appears at
a very early period. There is a deed quoted by Wilkinson, dated 1253,
which mentions the Chapel. In 1275 it is found that the guardian of
the place was the Mayor of London. He was appointed by the King for
a curious reason—viz. to prevent the spoliation of the place and the
robbery of the chalices, vestments, etc., on the decease of the Hermit.
The custody of the Hermitage, a few years later, was transferred to
the Constable of the Tower, Anthony Beck, afterwards Bishop of Durham.
In 1299 the care of the cell was given to the Abbey of Garendon in
Leicestershire, I know not why. Newcourt relates an anecdote of the
Hermit of 1311, which illustrates the jealousy always felt by parish
priests of Hermits and others who intruded into their office:—

“I find, that in the year 1311 (Ralph de Baldock, being then Bp.
of London), and Thomas de Wyreford, an Hermit of this Cell (a
presumptuous, troublesome Man, it seems) took upon him to hear
Confessions of People of the neighbouring Parishes, to enjoyn Penances,
to grant Indulgences for 500 Days to such as frequented his Hermitage,
and the like, having no lawful Authority so to do. For which Offences
he was judicially proceeded against by the Bishop, and pronounc’d
Guilty, and to be a Transgressor of the Canons; whereupon he was
admonish’d to make Satisfaction for the same, within 15 days, and
inhibited to do the like, as also were the People warn’d not to follow,
or to be seduc’d by him, under Pain of Excommunication.” (Newcourt,
vol. i.)

In 1315 the custody of the place was committed to one Walter Kemesey:
in 1343 William de Lyons was the Hermit. In 1347 the Abbey of Garendon
sent two chaplains here to pray for the soul of the Earl of Pembroke,
who was killed in a tournament on the day of his third marriage, and of
his widow, who retired from the world, and devoted herself to acts of
piety and charity.


Looking towards the Founder’s Monument and the Master’s Seat at the
east end.

_Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.]

In 1543 the site of the Hermitage was granted by Henry the Eighth to
William Lambe, citizen and clothworker, one of the gentlemen of the
King’s-house here.

The Fire seems to have damaged, but not destroyed, this Chapel. It was
rebuilt with considerable alterations, and continued to be used as a
church until its demolition in 1825, when a crypt of great interest was
found below. It is described in the _Gentleman’s Magazine_ of May 1825
by Mr. A. J. Kempe.

“He there states that the recent demolition of the upper part of
Lambe’s Chapel for the purpose of rebuilding it gave access to the
curious vault occupying the space beneath. After descending ten or
twelve narrow steps, a low vaulted chamber was entered, 26 feet long
from east to west, and 20 feet broad; having in it originally nine
short round columns, six of which were remaining, supporting the
groined roof of the apartment. The capitals of these columns were
Saxon, ornamented with leaves and volutes at the angles, and the
capitals of the four corner pillars were placed diagonally to the
square of the building. Some of the intersecting stone ribs springing
from the columns were plain, and others were adorned with zigzag,
twisted, and other ancient mouldings; specimens of which, with one of
the pillars, and a plan of the directions of the arches, are given
on the right hand of the lower part of the present Engraving of old
Lambe’s Chapel. On the other side of the corresponding part of the same
Plate is a Section of the ornamented mouldings from one of the arches;
and leaning against the wall, in the Interior View at the top of the
Plate, is represented a Ground-plan of the Crypt, with the Outside
of the Chapel. The material of which this Crypt was constructed was
freestone, of a reddish colour, the surface being very considerably
decomposed; and several modern brick walls intersected the building.”
(_Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.)


The very curious and interesting history of the “Rolls House” was told
for the first time, as regards its original objects, by Mr. W. P. W.
Phillimore, Editor of the _London and Middlesex Note-Book_, 1896. I
refer the reader to that paper for fuller details. In this place the
leading facts only are taken.

Newcourt, after relating the origin of the House, says that the number
of converts decayed when the Jews were banished in 1290; therefore the
House in 1377 was given to William Burstall, Keeper of the Rolls: that,
nevertheless, “such of the Jews as have in this Realm been converted to
Christianity have been relieved there.” It will be seen that this bald
statement conveys a very erroneous idea of the place and its history.

In 1232 Henry the Third made an annual grant of 700 marks for the
maintenance of those Jews who had been converted to Christianity, for
finding them a home and for building them a church. This sum was to be
paid out of the Exchequer until the House should possess property of
its own equivalent. At the same time the King founded a similar House
at Oxford. The number of converts became comparatively large: in 1256
the King’s almoner provided cloth for 150 robes for the converts; in
1257, 171 tunics for Easter and 164 for Pentecost; in 1265 the House
was enlarged; in 1267 a third chaplain was added; in 1275 the chapel
was enlarged; in 1280 King Edward sanctioned certain rules for the
government of the House, especially ordering that the inmates should
work at their own handicraft, and if they were able to earn their
own living, they should not be allowed to draw the allowance made
to all. He also granted to the converts half the value of all their
possessions, the whole of which belonged by right to himself; with the
chevage or head tax of all the Jews in England. This chevage for 1281
amounted to £14: 14: 9, which, at 3d. a head, means only 1179 Jews in
all England—a figure which by no means agrees with the number of those
who were banished in 1290.

The revenues of the House for this year were a little over £50, in
addition to which they had the annual grant from the Exchequer of £53:
6: 8.


Drawn from the Court of the Alms Houses. This building was taken down
in 1825.

_Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.]

In 1290 the number of converts had gone down to 80. The original
occupants of the House must by this time have died and their children
have become merged in the general population. The absence of any
traditional caste or class, such as that of the _Cagots_ in the South
of France, is a proof that this absorption into the general population
was complete.

In that year the converts petitioned the King for a Keeper who would
look after their interests. It is noted that during the next hundred
years many of the Keepers of the Domus Conversorum were also Keepers of
the Rolls.

However, the King answered the petition by fixing the allowance for the
House at £202: 0: 4, out of which the Fabric was to be kept up, the
Master, Chaplains, and Clerk were to be paid, and the converts were to
receive weekly allowances. On the death of a convert the amount of the
grant was to be decreased. It was evidently supposed that the converts
would die off. This, however, did not take place. On the other hand,
though the numbers rapidly decreased, the House was never without new
converts. Mr. Phillimore does not say where these converts came from:
if there were no Jews left in England there could be no converts made
in this country.

In 1308 the converts complained that their allowances were not paid.
The King ordered an inquiry. It was found that out of all the inmates
in 1290, 34 were dead, twelve had left the House, and 56 were still
living there. The King thereupon granted a reduced payment of £123: 10:

In 1330-1 there were 8 men and 13 women converts.

In 1334 there were 7 men and 13 women.

In 1337-8 there were 13 men and as many women.

In 1350 there were 2 men and 2 women.

In 1351 Henry de Ingleby had only 1 convert under his care.

In 1371 William de Burstall, who was Keeper of the Rolls, was made
Keeper of the Domus Conversorum: there were then two converts. In 1377,
on learning that William de Burstall had repaired the dilapidated
buildings, Edward the Third provided that the two offices should be
held together.

In 1386 payments were asked for the Keeper, one chaplain, one clerk,
and three converts.

It is very curious to find that the supply of converts continued; only
once did they wholly cease; there was sometimes only one; then three,
four, eight, five, two, and so on. Where, I repeat, did they come from?
One woman was named Elizabeth Portugall—evidently a Portuguese Jewess;
another was called Elizabeth Baptista; another was “Kateryn Wheteley,”
sometime called Aysa Rudeywa; another, Mary Coke, alias “Omell Fayll

Thomas Cromwell was made Keeper in 1534. In his term of office he
held a Court of Law at the House: yet it was not without converts. In
1550, when John Beaumont became keeper, he had but one convert, the
above-named Mary Coke.

When Mary Coke died in 1551 (?), there followed a period of 26 years
when there were no converts at all. In 1578 Yehoude Mende appears
followed by Fortuna Massa, Philip Ferdinando and Elizabeth Ferdinando.
In 1606-7 there were four converts. And then the allowances cease.

One Paul Jacob petitioned King James to grant him assistance, but he
was not received into the Domus. That part of its history was closed.

In 1708 we hear that the buildings were much dilapidated: in 1717 the
Rolls House was built upon the site of the Domus. And the Chapel was
used as a muniment room for depositing the rolls of Chancery, until
their removal to the Public Record Office.


The foundation of a college dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen is said
by Stow to have taken place in 1299. It appears to have been so much
enriched seventy years later by Adam Francis and Henry de Frowick as
to have become a new Foundation. A third benefactor, Peter Fantore,
died before his intentions were carried out. It was endowed for five
chaplains who were to pray for the souls of the Founders, their wives,
and their children, King Edward the Third, and all departed Kings,
Mayors, Wardens, Sheriffs, and Chamberlains of the City. In the year
1430, the buildings, having become ruinous, were pulled down and others
erected on the south side of them. In 1450 the parish clerks obtained
leave to have a Guild dedicated to St. Nicholas in the Chapel, with two
chaplains and seven almspeople.

At the Dissolution the College had a Warden, seven chaplains, three
clerks, and four choristers. The Chapel was given to the Mayor and
Aldermen, for whom services were held in it on certain occasions.

In the year 1785 the Chapel was made into a Court of Requests, and so
remained until the year 1820, when it was taken down.


This very ancient market was the property of the City as early as the
first quarter of the fourteenth century. The College was founded by
Simon Eyre, draper and Mayor, in 1445, when he also built a granary.

It was to consist of a Warden, five secular priests, six clerks,
and two choristers to sing mass daily: there were also to be three
schoolmasters with an usher; one master, to wit, with an usher, for
grammar; one for writing; and one for singing; the masters were to have
a yearly stipend of £10; every other priest £8; every clerk £5: 6: 8;
and every chorister £3: 6: 8. Stow says that the conditions of the will
were not carried out as regards the services in the Chapel and the free

But, in 1466, a Fraternity of the Holy Trinity was founded in
connection with the Chapel by three priests. It consisted of 60
priests with other brothers and sisters. They performed divine service
every market day in the afternoon, and once a year they had a solemn
service with a procession of all the Fraternity. The property of this
Fraternity amounted to £7: 10s. yearly.

The chapel escaped the Great Fire. It was pulled down in 1812.
Wilkinson thus describes it:—

“This Chapel projected eastward from the exterior of the eastern
cloisters of Leadenhall, from which it was entered by a large arched
doorway, having the arms of the founder over the centre; and on each
side of the interior arch was a perforated Gothic screen, of exquisite
workmanship. The building was oblong, and was divided on the exterior
sides into four parts, by buttresses reaching nearly to the roof, and
separating as many large windows of the depressed pointed arch form,
each parted into three lights, by stone mullions with cinquefoil
arches; the window at the eastern end being considerably larger than
the other, and containing five lights. On the outside the Chapel was
almost completely enclosed by a case of wooden sheds, which reached
nearly to the bases of the windows. It was covered with rafters and
tiling of the coarsest modern workmanship, instead of the ancient roof,
which had been pointed, and was supported within by carved brackets
of chestnut wood, resting on corbels let into the walls against the
buttresses: but of those brackets, only the scrolls and one fragment
remained when the building was destroyed. Within the Chapel, at the
south-west corner, was a small oaken door curiously studded and
panelled, opening into a square apartment, which had probably been the
sacristy; against the walls of which Mr. John Thomas Smith discovered
some slight remains of painted figures. One of these exhibited the
cheek, ear, and side of a head, with long yellow hair, flowing over
blue and red drapery; the whole very much resembling the paintings
discovered in St. Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster, executed in the reign
of Edward III. Those at Leadenhall, however, were neither embossed nor
gilded; but were outlined and shaded with red ochre.” (Wilkinson, vol.


This small House, a cell to the Abbey of Westminster, is, in history,
chiefly an account of the jealousies of the Bishop of London and the
Abbot of Westminster as to the Episcopal jurisdiction.

Its history is curious. One Godwyn, a recluse, built a hermitage at
Kilburn on some land belonging to himself. He conveyed the land to the
Abbey of Westminster, by whom a small convent was built on the spot for
three ladies, maids of honour to Matilda, Queen of Henry the First.
Godwyn became Warden for life, and the Abbey made provision for the
maintenance of the nuns.

On the foundation of the nunnery, Gilbert, the Bishop of London,
exempted it from his own jurisdiction. This exemption was questioned
by Roger le Noir, Bishop in 1229. In 1231 a composition was entered
into between the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s on the one side and the
Abbot of Westminster on the other.


_Londina Illustrata_, published 1825 by R. Wilkinson, No. 125 Fenchurch

“By virtue of this agreement the bishop for the time being was to
have access to the cell of Kilburn, to be received with procession,
to preach, hear confessions, and enjoin penances; but without being
entitled to any claim for procurations. It was also conceded that the
secular priest, or warden, who was set over the house by the abbat,
should, upon his appointment, be presented to the Bishop and pay
canonical obedience to him, but to be removable by the abbat alone.
That the prioress of the house, though appointed by the abbat and his
successors, should be under obedience to the bishop, saving in all
things the canonical reverence and subjection which she owed of old
to the abbat. That, however, the entire ordering or regulation of
the house, concerning matters and persons within its precinct, with
the correction of excesses and reformation of its abuses, and the
institution or destitution of the prioress and nuns, should belong
to the abbat and his successors for ever; provided, that in case any
matters requiring persons abiding there, should be neglected by him for
the space of a month after warning having been given to him (or in his
absence to the Prior) by the bishop, then, upon clear evidence of such
neglect of reformation, it should be lawful for the bishop himself to
proceed toward correcting and reforming them in such manner as ‘prout
secundum Deum viderit expedire.’ It was further ordained that no monk
but the abbat (or in vacancy, absence, or illness, the prior) should
go near the nuns to hear their confessions and enjoin penance. That
the bishop should, when requested by the abbat, perform the office of
blessing or consecrating the nuns, but that no other bishop should be
in future introduced or admitted at Kilburn to perform any episcopal
ceremony. Finally, that neither the bishop nor his chapter should, by
reason of this composition, challenge any jurisdiction or subjection
over the abbat and monks of Westminster, nor in anything derogate
from the rights of the aforesaid nuns, or their cell.” (_London and
Middlesex Notes_, pp. 422-423.)

The House received a good many benefactions, but always remained a
small Foundation. The revenues, when it was dissolved, amounted to
sums variously stated between £74: 7: 11 and £121: 14s. The inventory
of all the goods belonging to the nunnery of Kilburn, the 11th day of
May, 28th of Henry the Eighth, seems to show that the House was well
and completely furnished. It contained a Hall; five chambers for the
ladies of the House: Kitchen, Buttery, Pantry, Larder, Brew-house,
Bake-house, Cellar; three chambers for the Chaplain and the Husbandmen;
the Confession chamber; and the church.

No remains are now to be seen of this House. The last Prioress was Anne


This Priory was in the Parish of Bromley, but so near to the hamlet of
Stratford-le-Bow that it was commonly called after it. The House has
been sometimes confused with a Convent of White Monks in the Parish of
West Ham, called the Abbey of Stratford Langthorne.

The nunnery, dedicated to St. Leonard, is said to have been founded
by William, Bishop of London, in the reign of William the Conqueror.
It was always a small house. We read of certain donations and
benefactions—lands at Haseling field; the Church of Northim, afterwards
called Norton Mandeville; gifts by Henry the Second; the Manor of
Bromley; lands held by Idonea Cricket in the reign of Edward the First,
by the service of holding the King’s napkin at the Coronation.

Here was buried Elizabeth, sister of Queen Philippa, and daughter of
William, Earl of Hainault.

At the Dissolution there were a Prioress and nine nuns. The revenues
of the House were estimated, according to Dugdale, at £108: 1: 11-1/2,
and according to Speed at £121: 16s. At this time the maintenance of a
chantry priest being £5 or £6 a year, the ten nuns would require about
£50 for their maintenance, leaving £70 for the House and the service.
Sibilla Kirke, the last prioress, received a pension of £15 a year. She
was still living in 1553.

The site of the Priory, the advowson of the Church, and the Manor of
Bromley, were given to Sir Ralph Saddler. The Chapel is now the Parish
Church of Bow.


The history of this interesting house, previously almost unknown, was
rescued by the late Rev. Thomas Hugo, who read a paper on the subject
before the _London and Middlesex Archæological Society_ (vol. v.).

It was founded in 1442 by four priests of London, viz. Thomas Symmeson,
Rector of All Hallows in the Wall; William Cleve, Priest of the Charity
of St. John the Baptist in the Church of St. Mary Aldermary; William
Barneby, a Chantry Priest in St. Paul’s Cathedral; and John Stafford,
Priest in London. The Foundation was a Hospital or College for aged and
impotent Priests. The Churches of the time were filled with Chantry
Priests, each of whom had to live upon the very small endowment of a
Chantry—generally £6 or £7 a year, sometimes less—in return for a Mass
said every day for the soul of the Founder. When age fell upon these
men, and they could no longer perform the one simple duty of their
life, what could they do? How could they live? We cannot believe that
an old and impotent Priest was ever suffered to starve. At the same
time, until the charity of the Papey was founded, the lot of many must
have been precarious and dependent and most miserable.

The Papey was situated within the wall just at the north end of the
street now called “St. Mary Axe.” In the _Collections of a London
Citizen_ (Camden Society) it is written “Pappy Chyrche in the walle
be twyne Aldgate and Bevysse Markes. And hit ys a grete Fraternyte of
prestys and other segular men. And there were founde of almys certayne
prestys both blynde and lame that be empotent: and they have day masse
and xiiij a weke, barber, and launder, and one to dresse and provyde
for hyr mete and drynke.” They also had allowance of bread and coal,
with one aged man and his wife to keep the house clean.

The Church and parish of St. Augustine had recently been incorporated
with that of All Hallows in the Wall. It was therefore a disused church
which was first placed at the service of these poor priests. The Rector
of All Hallows, in addition, gave over to their use a certain messuage
with a garden which had been given to All Hallows by a late citizen.
The community, so formed, was to be in honour of St. Charity and St.
John the Evangelist. This name, however, was never given to the house
by the people, who called it still St. Augustine, qualified by the
words De Papey—_i.e._ of the _papes_ or fathers who lived there. The
Foundation was poor; but it possessed a house at Baynard’s Castle, six
cottages and two messuages in Pavyn Alley; there was also the messuage
in Bevis Marks given them by the Rector of All Hallows. This is all the
property that can be proved to belong to them. Those of the members
who could walk and sing sometimes attended the funerals of great
persons, and in this way added something to the slender revenues of the
House. At the time of the foundation there were twenty-four brethren
and fifteen sisters—it does not appear how the sisters were elected or
for what cause.

The history of the House is not marked, so far as I know, by a single
event. It lasted for 106 years, being suppressed by the Act of 2 Ed.
VI. for the suppression of all chantries, hospitals, and similar
foundations. The value of the land and property of the Foundation was
returned at £23: 11: 8. William Nevill purchased the House for £102.
There were then six old priests but no sisters. These, one records
with satisfaction, were all provided with small pensions: the Master
receiving sixty-six shillings and eightpence a year, a little over
twopence-farthing a day, and the brethren forty shillings, a little
under 1-1/3d. a day. The church was pulled down, and an Apothecary set
up his shop on the site, the Churchyard was converted into a garden,
and the Priests’ House became a private residence. Thus was thrown down
and destroyed a Foundation which might have continued doing good work
unto the present day. There is not, in fact, among all the numerous
charities, foundations, and endowments belonging to the Church, a
single House at the present day which at all corresponds with this
ancient Foundation of St. Augustine Papey.

The late foundation of the House, at a time when bequests to the
religious House had begun to fall off before they ceased altogether,
sufficiently accounts for its poverty. One or two bequests only, and
these apparently of small account, are on record. (See Appendix X.).


The College of St. Spirit and St. Mary, founded by Whittington,
whose intention was carried out by his executors, was for a Master,
four Fellows, Clerks, Choristers, etc., together with an Almshouse.
Fortunately the Almshouse was separated by the executors from the
College, so that it was spared when the College was suppressed. The
following is a portion of the original ordinances of the Charity drawn
up by the executors:—

  “The fervent Desire and best Intention of a prudent, wyse and
 devout man that be to cast before and make seure the State and
 thende of the short liffe with Dedys of Mercy and Pite: and namely
 to provyde for such pouer Persons which grevous Penuere and cruel
 Fortune have oppressed, and be not of power to gete their lyving
 either by Craft or by any other bodily Labour: whereby that at the
 day of the last Jugement, he may take his part with hem that shal be
 saved. This considering the foresaid worthy and notable Merchaunt
 Richard Whittington, the which while he leved had ryght liberal and
 large hands to the Needy and Poure People, charged streitly, in his
 Death-bed, us his foresaid Executors, to ordeyne a House of Almes
 after his Deth, for perpetual sustentacion of such poure people as
 is tofore rehersed: and therupon fully he declared his Wyll unto us.
 And we wylling after our power to fullfil thentent of his commendable
 Wille and holesome Dessre in this part, as we be bound.

 First, Yfounded by us, with sufficient Authorite, in the Church of
 Seint Mighells, in the Royolle of London: where the foresaid Richard
 and Dame Alice his Wife be biried, a commendable College of certain
 Prestes and Clerkis; to do there every day divine Service for the
 aforesaid Richard and Alice.

 We have founded also, after the Wille abovesaid, a House of Almes
 for XIII pouere folk successively for evermore; to dwell and to be
 susteined in the same House. Which house is situated and edified upon
 a certain Soyl that we bought therefore, late in the Parish of Seinte
 Mighel abovesaid: that is to say, Bytweene the foresaid Church and the
 Wall that closeth in the voyd place, behind the heigh Auter of the
 same Church in the Southside, and our great Tenement, that was late
 the House of the aforesaid Richard Whyttington in the Northside. And
 it stretcheth fro the dwelling place of the Master and the Prestis of
 the College abovesaid. The which also we did late to be now added in
 the Eastside unto a great voyd place of our Land. The which by the
 help of God we purpose to do be hallowed Lawfully for a Churchyard to
 the same Church within short time in the Westside.” (Stow, i. bk. iii.
 pp. 3-4.)

And the ordinances for the poor folk are as follows:—

  “To be twelve pouer Folks alonely of Men or Women togiddre; after
 the sad Discretition and good Conscience of the Overseers underwrit,
 and Conservators of the same House, to be provided and admitted.

 The which every day, when due and convenient time is, shal pray for
 evermore, for al the now being alive, and also for the bypast, to
 God; Whose names of great Specialty been expressed in these Statutes

 To be one _Principal_, which shal pass al other in power and
 Reverence, and be called TUTOR. The Office and Charge of him shal be
 the goods of the Almes-house, which shal come to his hands, well and
 truly to minister. The Goods dissevered to gather again togidre; to
 the Use of the Almes-house: And at the Husbandry of the same house,
 in as much as he may goodly oversee, dispose and ordain; inforcing
 himself to edifie and nourish Charity and Peace among his Felawes.

 The Poor folks unto the said _Tutor_ evermore shal obey.

 The thirteen poor folke to be hable in Conversation, and honest in

 The same House to be called for ever _God’s House_, or Almes house, or
 the Hospital of _Richard Whyttington_.

 The L. Maior to be overseer of the said Almeshouse: and the Keepers
 of the Commonalty of the Craft of Mercers to be called for evermore
 _Conservators_ of the foresaid House.

 The Tutor to have a Place by himself, that is to say, a Cell or little
 House, with a Chimney and a Prevy, and other Necessaries. In the
 which he shall Lyegge and rest. And that he may aloon and by himself,
 without Let of any other Persoon intend to the Contemplation of God,
 if he woll.

 Every Tutour and poor folk every day first whan they rise fro their
 Bedds, kneeling upon their knees, sey a Pater Noster and an Ave Maria,
 with special and herty recommendacion-making of the foresaid Richard
 Whyttington and Alice, to God, and our Blessed Lady Maidyn MARY. And
 other times of the day, whan he may be best and most commody have
 leisure thereto, for the Staat of al the Souls abovesaid, Say three
 or two Sauters of our Lady at the least: that is to say, threies
 seaven Ave Marias, with XV pater nosters, and three Credes. But if he
 be letted with febleness, or any other reasonable cawse, One in the
 day at the least, in case it may be: that is to say, after the Messe,
 or when Complyn is don, they come togidder within the College about
 the Tomb of the aforesaid Rich. Whyttington and Alice, and they that
 can sey, shal sey for the Soules of the seid Richard and Alice, and
 for the Soules of al Christen people, this Psalm de Profundis with
 the Versicles and Oriosons that longeth thereto. And they that can
 shal sey three Pater nosters, three Ave Marias, and oon Crede. And
 after this doon, the Tutour, or oon of the eldest men of theym that
 sey openly in English, God have mercy on our Founders Souls and al
 Chrysten. And they that stond about shal aunswer and say, Amen.

 That they be bound to dwell and abide continewally in the seid Almes
 house, and bounds thereof: And that every day, booth at meet and
 sopier, they eet and be fed within the said Almes house. And while
 they be at meet, or soupier, they absteyn thanne from veyn and
 ydel words. And if they wol any thyng talk, that it be honest and

 That the Overclothyng of the Tutour and pouer folk be derk and brown
 of colour; and not staring ne blaising; and of esy prised, according
 to their Degree.” (Stow, i. bk. iii. pp. 4-5.)

The Almshouse, removed from its former place behind the church of St.
Michael Royal, is still in existence at Highgate.

We may pass rapidly through the few remaining small Houses.

DENTON’S HOSPITAL is entered as one of them, but it never existed
except in the intention of the Founder, Robert de Denton. He obtained,
in 1369, the Royal license to found a Hospital for distracted priests
and others, but could not carry out his intentions, and instead founded
a chantry at the House of St. Katherine by the Tower.

Of CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL I find nothing but a tradition that one of
the Kings, being annoyed by the presence of the patients so near the
Court, ordered their removal to Bethlehem Hospital.

ST. MICHAEL, CROOKED LANE. This College was founded by Sir William
Walworth, who united certain Chantries and added lands and certain
houses, and so formed a College for the support of a Master and nine

BARKING COLLEGE was attached to the Church of All Hallows, Barking.
Richard the First founded and endowed here a Chapel to the Virgin.
John, Earl of Worcester, added a Brotherhood with a Master and Brethren
endowed from the alien Houses of Tooting, Bow, and Okeburn. Richard
the Third rebuilt the Chapel and founded a college with a Dean and six
Fellows. It was dissolved by Edward the Sixth, the buildings pulled
down, and the ground converted into a garden.

HOLME’S COLLEGE OF ST. PAUL’S was founded by Roger Holme, Chancellor of
St. Paul’s, in 1395, as a college of seven Priests, whose services were
held in the Chapel of the Holy Ghost. The College buildings stood in
the parish of St. Gregory, south of the Cathedral Precinct.

LANCASTER COLLEGE was founded by Henry the Fourth and the executors of
John of Gaunt in connection with the Cathedral: the College buildings
were also in the Parish of St. Gregory.

Another College in connection with the Cathedral was that of the MINOR
CANONS, founded by Richard the Second. They had houses adjoining the
Precinct and a Common Hall within the Precinct.

The College of ST. LAWRENCE POULTENEY, in connection with that church,
consisted of a Master or Warden, thirteen priests, clerks, and

In Dowgate stood a small college of Priests called JESUS COMMONS: Stow
says that it was a “House well furnished with Brass, Pewter, Napery,
Plate, etc., besides a fair Library well stored with books: all which
of old time were given to a number of priests that should keep Commons
there.” Evidently a quiet and peaceful College, not unlike All Souls,

ST. JAMES’ IN THE FIELDS, a hospital founded from time immemorial, for
leprous virgins of the City, was suppressed by Henry the Eighth. St.
James’s Palace stands upon its site.

ST. MARY ROUNCEVALL or RUNCEVALL, at Charing Cross, a hospital,
suppressed as an alien House by Henry the Fifth, was refounded as
a Brotherhood by Edward the Fourth, provided with new statutes for
a Master, Wardens, Brethren, and Sisters by Henry the Seventh, and
suppressed again by Edward the Sixth. Northumberland House, with its
gardens, used to occupy exactly the Precinct of St. Mary Rouncevall. It
was built, as Northampton House, in the year 1614.

Beside this House was a modest Hermitage, named after ST. CATHERINE,
founded by Edward the First (see also Appendix XI.).



We must not forget the Fraternities. There was not, I believe, a single
Parish Church which had not its Fraternity. Except for purposes of
war, when all marched under order of the King, the first attempt at
union was the Parish Fraternity. The Parish Church has always been
the natural centre round which gathered the temporal as well as the
spiritual concerns of the Parish. The Fraternity, dedicated to the
Patron Saint of the Parish, was a union of all for the protection of
all: the members maintained those who were sick and old, educated and
apprenticed the orphans, protected the widows, celebrated masses for
the dead. They formed themselves into one family. How, then, do we find
so many Fraternities belonging to separate trades? Two explanations
are possible. One, that the parishes became entirely composed of men
practising the same trade, with their families: the other that a large
proportion of men engaged in one trade lived in the parish. In the
former case, the Fraternity of the Parish Church became the Fraternity
of one trade: in the other case it was reasonable that men carrying
on the same trade should live as much together as possible, for
convenience, use of tools, acquisition of raw material, and regulation
as to production: that they should break off from one common parish
Fraternity and constitute their own Fraternity for their own advantage.

Thus we have the Fraternity of St. Anthony, consisting of Pepperers;
that of St. Nicholas, consisting of Parish Clerks; of Corpus Christi
consisting of Cloth-workers; of St. George, consisting of Armourers; of
St. John the Baptist, consisting of Merchant Taylors; and that of St.
Mary, consisting of the Drapers. (See Appendix XII.)

In other words, the Companies did not spring out of the Fraternities:
the union of men working at the same trade grew up slowly: the
Fraternity was the first outward proof that such union had been formed:
it consecrated the union. When the Company was finally formed, it
only laid down as definite law what had been for many years a custom;
the Fraternity was in no way touched by the new Charter; thus, the
Religious side of the union went on and flourished until all such
Fraternities were destroyed.

There were, however, other Fraternities. I find, in the fourteenth
century, mention of over a hundred: of these, by far the larger
number are the Parish Church Fraternities. Then there are the Trade
Fraternities mentioned above, and those representing some form
of religious fervour by which the Church provided an outlet for


In St. Botolph’s Parish, Aldersgate, as remaining in February 1790.

From an old Engraving.]

Such were the Fraternities of the Holy Cross, of the Light of the
Holy Cross, of the Holy Trinity, of Jesus, of the Holy Ghost, of
the Assumption of the Virgin, of the Resurrection of Christ. Annual
services and processions, certain vows of abstinence and chastity,
alms, some kind of outward decoration, distinguished the Brethren
and helped to make life seem fuller of interest, and themselves of
more importance. Meantime, the real importance of the Fraternities
in the history of London is that they first showed the way to common
action, and made the independence, the dignity, and the wealth of trade

A Fraternity of importance was that of Aldersgate, originally a
Hospital for the Poor. It was an Alien Foundation: therefore, on the
suppression of all such Houses by Henry the Fifth, it was given, with
the lands, to the Parish of St. Botolph’s, Aldersgate, and a Fraternity
of the Holy Trinity took its place. This Fraternity had its own Chapel.
It endured to the time of Henry the Eighth.

Close beside it was the Chapel of another small Religious body called
the Chapel of Mount Calvary without Aldersgate.

Yet a third house outside Aldersgate was the Hospital of the Abbot of
Walden, founded 15 Ed. II.

The Fraternity of St. James, Garlickhithe, was governed by rules which
have been preserved by Stow:—

 “In the Worship of God Almighty our Creator, and his Moder Saint
 Marie, and Allhallows and Saint James Apostle, a Fraternite is begon
 of gode Men in the Church of Saint James the Yer of our Lord 1375, for
 Amendement of her Lyves, and of her Sowls, and to nourish more Love
 among the Brethren and Sustrein of the Brederhede. And ech of theym
 had sworen upon the Book to performe the Pointes undernethe at her

 Fyrst, All who wisscheth, other schul be in the same Brederhede, they
 schul nothing of goodloos Conditions and Bering: and that he love God
 and holy Chirche, and his Neybours, as holy Chyrch maketh mencion.

 Who that entreth in the same Fraternite, he shal geve at the Entrie to
 the common Box vi s. viiid.

 The foreseid Brethrehede will, that there be Wardeyns thereof. Which
 Wardeyns shal gather the Quartridge of the Bretheren and Sustren, and
 trewelick yield her Account thereof every Yer once, to the Wardeyns
 that have been tofore hem of the Bretherhede, with other wysest of the

 Also the Bretheren and Sustren every Yer shul be clothed in Suyt and
 every Man pay for that he hath.

 Also the Bretheren and Sustren, at one Assent in Suyt byforeseid shul
 every Yer commin hold togeder, for to nourish more Knowledg and Love,
 a Feast. Which Feast shal be the Sonday after the day of St. James
 Apostle, and every pay their xxd.

 At four Tyme other once in the Yer two Shill. at firmast tofore the
 Day of the Account of the Maisters. So that the Wardeyn mowe her
 Account yelderlich, etc.

 Every Brother or Suster that ben of the Fraternite, yf he be of Power,
 he shal geve somewhat in Maintenance of the Fraternite, what hym

 Also yf ther be in Bretherhede ony Riotour, other Contekour other
 soche by whom the Bretherhede might be enslaundered he shal be put
 out thereof, into Tyme that he have hym amended of the Defoults
 beforeseyd, etc.

 Yf any of the forseid Bretherhede falle in soch Mischefe that he hath
 noght, ne for Elde other Mischefe of Feebleness helf himself: and have
 dwelled in the Bretherhede seven Yeres, and doen thereto al the Duties
 within the Tyme: every Wyk aftyr, he shal have of the common Box
 xiiiid. Terme of his Lyfe: but he be recoveryd of the Mischefe.

 Also if any of the foreseid be imprisoned falsely by any other by
 false Conspiracie, and have noght for to fynd hym with, and have also
 ben in the Bretherhede seven Yeres, etc., he shall have xiiid. during
 his Imprisonment every Wyk.”


From the Illuminated Books of the Company. From Wadmore’s _Some Account
of the Worshipful Company of Skinners_.]



Stow provides a list of Hospitals in the City and suburbs “that have
been of old time and now presently (1598) are.”

“Hospital of St. Mary, in the parish of Barking church, that was
provided for poor priests and others, men and women in the City of
London, that were fallen into frenzy or loss of their memory, until
such time as they should recover, was since suppressed and given to the
hospital of St. Katherine by the Tower.

St. Anthony’s.

St. Bartlemew, in Smithfield.

St. Giles in the Fields, a hospital for leprous people.

St. John of Jerusalem, by West Smithfield, a hospital of the Knights of
the Rhodes.

St. James in the Field, a hospital for leprous virgins of the City of

St. John at Savoy, a hospital for relief of one hundred poor people,
founded by Henry VII., suppressed by Edward VI.: again new founded, and
endowed, by Queen Mary.

St. Katherine, by the Tower of London.

St. Mary Within Cripplegate, a Hospital founded by William Elsing.

St. Mary Bethlehem, without Bishopsgate, was an hospital, founded by
Simon Fitzmary.

St. Mary without Bishopsgate, a hospital and priory called St. Mary

St. Mary Rouncevall, by Charing Cross.

St. Thomas of Acon, in Cheap.

St. Thomas in Southwark.

A hospital there was without Aldersgate, a cell to the house of Cluny,
of the French order, suppressed by King Henry V.

A hospital without Cripplegate, also a like cell to the said house of
Cluny, suppressed by King Henry V.

A third hospital in Oldborne, being also a cell to the said house of
Cluny, suppressed by King Henry V.

The hospital or almshouse called God’s House, for thirteen poor
men, with a college, called Whittington College, founded by Richard

Christ’s Hospital, in Newgate Market.

Bridewell, now an hospital, or house of correction, founded by King
Edward VI., to be a workhouse for the poor and idle persons of the
city, wherein a great number of vagrant persons be now set a-work,
and relieved at the charges of the citizens. Of all these hospitals,
being twenty in number, you may read before in their several places,
as also of good and charitable provisions made for the poor by sundry
well-disposed citizens.”


_Londina Illustrata_, published 1813 by Robert Wilkinson, No. 58

The care of the sick, and especially of the helpless and incurable, is
one of the first duties recognised by men when they begin to associate.
Stow says that the hospital for leprous women at St. James’s existed
from time immemorial. Leprosy is the most incurable of all diseases;
it devours body and mind; it renders the unhappy victim helpless. The
Lazar House, therefore, was very naturally founded before any other
hospital. Those of London already mentioned were St. James’s on the
site of the present Palace; and St. Giles’s, Holborn, founded by
Matilda, Queen to Henry the First. To these were afterwards added, in
the 20th year of Edward the Third, four Locks for lepers—viz. one in
the Old Kent Road, one in the Mile End Road, one at Kingsland, and one
at Knightsbridge; all, it will be observed, at a convenient distance
from the city walls. In the reign of Edward the Fourth one William
Pole, yeoman of the Crown, being afflicted with leprosy, founded a
Hospital for lepers at Highgate. Three hundred years before this, King
Stephen founded a Lazar House at Great Ilford in Essex, which still
exists as an Almshouse.





    NOMINA WARDARUM, 1274                             MOD. ENG., 1897

  Adrian, Joh’, Ward (see Walbrook)
  Alv’nia, Anketili le Mercir de, Warda        Farringdon Within and
  Aunger’, Petr’, Warda                        Broad Street
  Blakethorn’, Joh’is de Warda                 Aldersgate
  Basing’, Thom’ de, Warda                     Candlewick
  Bassieshagh, Warda de                      }
                                             } Bassishaw
  Blond, Rad’ le’ Ward                       }
  Colemannestate, Warda de (see Meldeburn’)
  Coventrie, Henr’ de, Warda                   Vintry
  Douegate, Warda de                           Dowgate
  Durham, Will’i de, Warda, alias Dinoll,
     Will’ de, Ward                            Bread Street
  Edelmeton, Petri de, Warda                   Castle Baynard
  Essexe, Wolmer’ de, Warda                    Billingsgate
  Fabri, Rad’i, de Cornhill, Warda             Lime Street
  Fori, Warda                                  Cheap
  Frowyk’, Henr’ de, Warda                     Cripplegate, Within and
  Hadestok, Symonis de, Warda                  Queenhithe
  Hadestok, Will’i de, Warda                   Tower
  Horn, Johannis, Warda                        Bridge Within
  Langeburne, Warda de                       }
                                             } Langbourn
  Winton, Nich’ de, Ward                     }
  Meldeburn’, Robert’ de, de Colemannestate,
    Warda                                    }
                                             } Coleman Street
  Colemannestate, Warda de                   }
  Norhampton, Joh’is de, Warda                 Aldgate
  Portsok’ prioris de Cristesch’che extra
    Alegate                                    Portsoken
  Poter, Walter’ le, Warda                     Cornhill
  Taillur, Ph’i le, Warda                      Bishopsgate
  Walebrok’, Warda de                        }
                                             } Walbrook
  Adrian, Joh’, Ward                         }
  Waleys, Henr’ le, Ward                       Cordwainer
  Winton, Nich’ de, Ward (see Langbourn)



  Warda Petr’ de Edelm’ton.
  Ward Fory.
  Warda Joh’ de Blacthorn.
  Ward Rad’ Fabr’.
  Ward Joh’ de North.
  Ward Joh’ Horn.
  Ward Will’ de Hadestok.
  Ward Joh’ Adrian [also called Warda de Walebrok’].
  Ward Thom’ de Basing’.
  Ward de Douegate.
  Ward Wolmar’ de Essex’.
  Ward Henr’ de Covent’e.
  Ward Anketini.
  Ward Peti Aug’.
  Ward Rad’ le Blond [also called Warda de Bassieshagh].
  Ward Nich’ de Winton [also called Warda de Langeburne].
  Ward Henr’ de Frowik.
  Ward Walt’ le Pater.
  Ward Will’ de Dinoll [also called Warda Will’i de Durham].
  Ward Ph’ le Taylur.
  Ward Rob’ de Maldeburn’.
  Ward Simon de Hadestok.
  Ward Henr’ le Waleys.
  Warda Petr’ Aunger’.
  Portshokne Prior’ de Cristcherich’ Exa Alegate.
  Warda Joh’is de Norhampton Lond’.
  Warda Robert’ de Meldeburn’ de Colemannestate.
  Warda Walter’ le Pater Lond’.
  Warda Simon’ de Hadestok’ de Civitate Lond’.
  Warda Will’i de Durham Lond’ [also called Ward Will’ de Dinoll].
  Warda Wolmer’ de Essexe Lond’.
  Warda Joh’is de Blakethorn’ Lond’.
  Warda de Walebrok’ Lond’ [called also Ward Joh’ Adrian].
  Warda de Langeburn’ Lond’ [called also Ward Nich’ de Winton].
  Warda Anqetili le Mercir de Alv’nia Lond’.
  Warda Thom’ de Basing’ Lond’.
  Warda Fori.
  Warda Henr’ de Covintroe Lond’.
  Warda Ph’i le Taillur Lond’.
  Warda de Bassieshagh [also called Ward Rad’ le Blond].
  Warda Rad’i Fabri de Cornhull Lond’.
  Warda de Dunegate Lond’.
  Warda Henr’ le Walais Lond’.
  Warda Henr’ de Frowyk’ Lond’.
  Warda Will’i de Hadestok’.
  Warda Joh’is Horn Lond’.
  Warda Petri de Edelmeton Lond’.



(Supposed to be dated c. 1285-1286; from _Calendar of Wills_, Pt. i. p.

The following is a copy of the earliest list of Aldermen of the City
of London preserved among the records of the Corporation (_Letter-Book
A_, fol. 116), together with the names of the wards they respectively
represented. It is not dated, but there is good reason for conjecturing
it to have been written _circa_ 14 Edward the First [A.D. 1285-1286].


  Warda Fori                        Stephanus Aswy
  Warda de Lodgate et Neugate       Willelmus de Farndon
  Warda Castri Beynard              Ricardus Aswy
  Warda de Aldreidesgate            Willelmus le Mazener
  Warda de Bredstrate               Anketinus de Betevile
  Warda de Ripa regine              Simon de Hadestok
  Warda Vinetrie                    Johannes de Gisors
  Warda de Douegate                 Gregorius de Rokesle
  Warda de Walebrock                Thomas Box
  Warda de Colemanestrate           Johannes filius Petri
  Warda de Bassieshawe              Radulphus le Blound
  Warda de Crepelgate               Henricus de Frowick
  Warda de Candlewystrate           Robertus de Basinge
  Warda de Langeford                Nicholaus de Wintonia
  Warda de Cordewanerstrate         Henricus le Waleys
  Warda de Cornhull                 Martinus Box
  Warda de Limstrate                Robertus de Rokesle
  Warda de Bissopesgate             Philippus le Taylur
  Warda de Alegate                  Johannes de Norhampton
  Warda de Turri                    Willelmus de Hadestok
  Warda de Billingesgate            Wolmarus de Essex
  Warda pontis                      Joceus le Achatur
  Warda de Lodingeberi              Robertus de Arras
  Porsokne                          Prior Sancte Trinitatis de Alegate

On Tuesday next before the Feast of St. Botolph [17 June], anno 21
Edward I. [A.D. 1293], the chief men of every ward, in the presence
of Sir John le Bretun, Warden of London, elected for themselves
an Alderman, whom they presented to the said Warden, saying that
whatsoever the Alderman so elected should, in conjunction with the
Warden, determine upon for the government of the City and the keeping
of the King’s peace, they would ratify and accept without challenge.

The following are the names of the Aldermen presented to the Warden
by each ward on that occasion, being the next earliest list to the
foregoing preserved among the Corporation Records (_Letter-Book C_,
fol. vi.):—

  Warda Fori [   ]
  Warda Ludgate et Neugate presentat Nicholaum de Farndon
  Warda de Aldridesgate presentat Willelmum le Mazeliner
  Warda de Crepelgate presentat Walterum de Finchingfed
  Warda Castri presentat Ricardum Aswy
  Warda Ripe Regine presentat Willelmum de Bettoyne
  Warda de Bredstrate presentat Johannem le Blound
  Warda de Cordewanerstrate presentat Henricum le Galeys
  Warda de Douuegate presentat Johannem de Banquell
  Warda de Walebrock presentat Johannem de Dunstaple
  Warda de Candlewystrate presentat Robertum de Basinge
  Warda de Langeburn presentat Adam de Rokesle
  Warda de Bassieshawe presentat Radulphum le Blound
  Warda de Cornhulle       }
  modo vocatur Bradestrate } presentat Martinum Box
  Warda de Lotheberi presentat Thomam de Stanes
  Warda de Bissoppesgate presentat Henricum le Bole
  Warda Turris presentat Johannem de Cantuaria
  Warda de Limstrate presentat Robertum de Rokele
  Warda de Alegate presentat Willelmum de Hereford
  Warda Porsokne presentat Priorem Sancte Trinitatis ☩ (_sic_)
  Warda Vinetrie presentat Johannem de Gisors
  Warda de Billingesgate presentat [   ]
  Warda Pontis London’ presentat Adam de Foleham
  Warda de Colemannestrate presentat Eliam Russel.



(From the _Liber Trinitatis_)

       NAME.                          PARISH.                DATE.

  A Adrian                      All Saints’, Barking        1253
    Richard Aswy                St. Benet West              1290
    Peter Armiger               St. Matthew Outwych         1262
    Peter Anger                 All Hallows, London Wall    1264
    Rob. de Arraz               St. Barth. the Less         1286

  B Gervase Barne or Barum      St. Mich. Aldgate           1223 or 1314
    Adam Basing                 St. Pancras, Soper Lane     1257
    Peter Blundus               St. Olave by the Tower      1221-1248
    Matthew Bukerel             St. Edmund, Lombard Street  1270
    Robert Blundus              St. Clement, Candlewick     1221-1248
    James Blunt                 St. Benet Fink              1221-1248
    Stephen Bukerel             St. Alban, Wood St.         1250
    Andrew Bukerel              St. Mary Aldermanbury     (? 13th cent.)

  C Gervase Cordewan,
      Cordwainer                Holy Trinity                1237
    Thos. Cros                  St. Andrew Hubbard          1293
    Barth. de Capell            St. Giles, Cripplegate      1270
    Hugh Cabur                  St. Michael Bassishaw       1221

  D Thos. de Durham             All Saints’, Fenchurch    (? 13th cent.)
    Thomas de Dunton            St. Clement, Candlewick St. 1221

  E Edmund                      St. Andrew Undershaft       1147-1167

  F Nicolas de Farndon          St. Matthew, Friday St.     1302-1303
    Alex. Ferrun                St. Mary Woolchurch         1253-1255
    Alex. le Fern               St. John, Walbrook          1248-1291
    Gilbert Fulk   }
    Fitz Fulk      }            St. Kath. Aldgate           1221-1248
    Will. Fitz Bene’t           St. Benet Sherehog          1221-1248
    Thos. Fitz Thomas           St. Mary Colech.            1220-1221
    Josh. Fitz Peter            St. Sepulchre               1221
    Rich. Fitz Roger            St. Bene’t Gracechurch      1221
    Rich. Fitz Walter           All Saints’, Coleman St.    1221-1248
    (?) Gilbert Fitz Fiske      All Saints’, Coleman St.    1221-1248
    Martin Fitz Alice           St. Mich., Paternoster      1218, 1219
    Simon Fitz Mary             St. John, Walbrook          1248

  G Anketen de Gisors           St. Kath., Aldgate          1313-1314
    Geoffrey                    St. Michael, Cornhill       1170-1189
    John De Gisors              St. Michael, Paternoster    1266-1268
    Stephen le Gras             St. Bot., Aldgate           1221-1248

  H Rob. Hardel                 St. Benet Fink              1251
    John Hanin (sub Alderman)          ...                  1230
    Will de Hadstock            All Hall. Staining          1277-1278
    Henry de St. Helen          St. Botolph, Bishopsgate    1187-1221
    Will. de Hereford           St. Olave by the Tower      1285
    Herbert                     St. Olave by the Tower      1221-1248
    Will. de Haverhill          St. Alban, Wood St.         1203

  J Jermes                      St. Martin Orgar            1182-1221
    Joce Junier                 St. Mary Abchurch           1221-1248

  L Lumigus                     All Saints’, Barking        1189-1221
    Walter de Lisle             St. Martin, Outwich       ? Henry III

  M Mathew                      St. Dunstan’s East          1182-1221

  N John de Northampton         St. Mary Axe                1260-1264

  P Walter Poter                St. Michael, Cornhill       1271-1272

  R Rich. Renger                St. Margaret Brides         1223-1226
    Gregory de Rokesley         St. Michael, Paternoster    1275

  S John Sperling               St. Leonard, Eastcheap      1221-1248
    Ralph Sperling              St. Leonard, Eastcheap      1243

  T Michael Tovy                St. Benet Fink              1251-1252
    Thomas Tidmar               St. Mary, Abchurch          1269
    Arnold Tidmar               St. Edmund, Gracech. St.    1269

  V John Vyel                   St. Nicholas, Cole Abbey    1221-1248
    Sir John Vital              St. Nicholas, Cole Abbey    1221-1248

  W Nicholas de Wynton          St. Edmund, Lombard St.     1225
    Geoffrey de Wynton          St. Martin, Orgar           1258
    Thomas de Wimburne          St. Botolph, Aldgate        1256-1257
    Rich. de Walbroke           St. Michael, Bassishaw      1262-1263



  Allhallows Barking, Great Tower Street.
  All Hallows, Bread Street (no church), united with St. Mary-le-Bow.
  Allhallows, Great and Less, Upper Thames Street.
  All Hallows, Honey Lane (no church), united with St. Mary-le-Bow.
  Allhallows, Lombard Street.
  Allhallows, London Wall.
  Allhallows Staining (no church), united with St. Olave, Hart Street.
  Christ Church, Newgate Street, with St. Leonard, Foster Lane.
  Holy Trinity the Less, united with St. James, Garlickhithe.
  St. Alban, Wood Street, with St. Olave, Silver Street.
  St. Alphage, London Wall.
  St. Andrew Hubbard (no church), united with St. Mary-at-Hill.
  St. Andrew Undershaft, St. Mary Axe.
  St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, St. Andrew’s Hill, Queen Victoria Street,
      with St. Anne, Blackfriars.
  St. Anne, Blackfriars, united with St. Andrew by the Wardrobe.
  St. Anne and St. Agnes, Gresham Street, with St. John Zachary.
  St. Antholin, united with St. Mary Aldermary.
  St. Augustine, otherwise Austin, Old Change, with
      St. Faith-under-St.-Paul’s.
  St. Bartholomew, Exchange, united with St. Margaret, Lothbury.
  St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield.
  St. Bartholomew-the-Less, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.
  St. Bartholomew, Moor Lane.
  St. Benet Fink, united with St. Peter-le-Poor, Old Broad Street.
  St. Benet, Gracechurch Street (no church), united with Allhallows,
      Lombard Street.
  St. Benet, Paul’s Wharf, Upper Thames Street, with St. Peter,
      Paul’s Wharf, united with St. Nicholas Cole Abbey.
  St. Benet Sherehog, united with St. Stephen, Walbrook.
  St. Botolph, Aldgate.
  St. Botolph, Billingsgate, united with St. George, Botolph Lane.
  St. Botolph without, Aldersgate Street.
  St. Botolph without, Bishopsgate, Bishopsgate Street without.
  St. Bridget, otherwise St. Bride, Fleet Street.
  St. Christopher-le-Stock, united with St. Margaret, Lothbury.
  St. Clement, Eastcheap, with St. Martin Orgar.
  St. Dionis Backchurch, Fenchurch Street, united with Allhallows,
      Lombard Street, St. Benet, Gracechurch Street, and St. Leonard,
  St. Dunstan in the East, St. Dunstan’s Hill, Gt. Tower Street.
  St. Dunstan in the West, Fleet Street.
  St. Edmund the King and Martyr with St. Nicholas Acon, Lombard Street.
  St. Ethelburga, Bishopsgate Street within.
  St. Faith-under-St. Paul’s, united with St. Augustine, Old Change.
  St. Gabriel, Fenchurch, united with St. Margaret Pattens.
  St. George, Botolph Lane, with St. Botolph, Billingsgate.
  St. Giles without, Cripplegate, Fore Street.
  St. Gregory by St. Paul, united with St. Mary Magdalen, Old Fish
      Street, and St. Martin, Ludgate.
  St. Helen, Great St. Helens, with St. Martin Outwich.
  St. James, Aldgate, united with St. Katherine Cree, Leadenhall Street.
  St. James, Garlickhithe, with St. Michael, Queenhithe, and Holy Trinity
      the Less.
  St. John the Baptist, upon Walbrook, united with St. Mary, Aldermary.
  St. John the Evangelist (no church), united with St. Mary-le-Bow,
  St. John Zachary, united with St. Anne and St. Agnes.
  St. Katherine Coleman, Fenchurch Street.
  St. Katherine Cree, Leadenhall Street, with St. James, Aldgate.
  St. Laurence Pountney, united with St. Mary, Abchurch.
  St. Lawrence Jewry, Gresham Street, with St. Mary Magdalen,
      Milk Street.
  St. Leonard, Eastcheap, united with Allhallows, Lombard Street.
  St. Leonard, Foster Lane (no church), united with Christ Church,
      Newgate Street.
  St. Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames Street, with
  St. Margaret, New Fish Street, and St. Michael, Crooked Lane.
  St. Margaret, Lothbury, with St. Christopher-le-Stock; St. Bartholomew
      by Exchange; St. Olave, Old Jewry; St. Martin, Pomeroy;
      St. Mildred the Virgin, Poultry, and St. Mary Colechurch.
  St. Margaret Moses, united with St. Mildred, Bread Street.
  St. Margaret, New Fish Street, united with St. Magnus the Martyr,
      Lower Thames Street.
  St. Margaret Pattens, Rood Lane, with St. Gabriel, Fenchurch.
  St. Martin, Ludgate, united with St. Mary Magdalen, Old Fish Street,
      and St. Gregory by St. Paul.
  St. Martin Orgar, united with St. Clement, Eastcheap.
  St. Martin Outwich, united with St. Helen, Great St. Helen’s.
  St. Martin Pomeroy, united with St. Margaret, Lothbury.
  St. Martin Vintry, united with St. Michael, Paternoster Royal.
  St. Mary Abchurch, Abchurch Lane, with St. Laurence Pountney.
  St. Mary Aldermary, Bow Lane, with St. Antholin, St. John the Baptist,
      and St. Thomas Apostle.
  St. Mary-at-Hill, Eastcheap, with St. Andrew Hubbard.
  St. Mary Bothaw, united with St. Swithin, London Stone, Cannon Street.
  St. Mary Colechurch, united with St. Margaret Lothbury.
  St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, with St. Pancras, Soper Lane, All Hallows,
      Honey Lane, All Hallows, Bread Street, and St. John the Evangelist.
  St. Mary Magdalen with St. Gregory by St. Paul and St. Martin, Ludgate.
  St. Mary Magdalen, Milk Street, united with St. Laurence Jewry.
  St. Mary Mounthaw and St. Mary Somerset, united with St. Nicholas
      Cole Abbey.
  St. Mary Staining, united with St Michael, Wood Street.
  St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury.
  St. Mary Woolnoth and St. Mary Woolchurch Haw united, Lombard Street.
  St. Matthew, Friday Street, with St. Peter, Westcheap, united with
      St. Vedast, Foster Lane.
  St. Michael Bassishaw, Basinghall Street.
  St. Michael, Cornhill.
  St. Michael, Crooked Lane, united with St. Magnus the Martyr,
      London Bridge.
  St. Michael, Paternoster Royal, and St. Martin Vintry, College Hill,
      with Allhallows, Great and Less.
  St. Michael, Queenhithe, Upper Thames Street, united with St. James,
  St. Michael le Querne, united with St. Vedast, Foster Lane.
  St. Mildred, Bread Street, with St. Margaret Moses.
  St. Mildred the Virgin, Poultry, united with St. Margaret, Lothbury.
  St. Nicholas Acon, united with St. Edmund the King and Martyr.
  St. Nicholas Cole Abbey and St. Nicholas Olave (united),
      Queen Victoria Street, with St. Mary Somerset; St. Mary Mounthaw;
      St. Benet, Paul’s Wharf, and St. Peter, Paul’s Wharf.
  St. Olave, Hart Street, with All Hallows Staining.
  St. Olave, Old Jewry, united with St. Margaret, Lothbury.
  St. Olave, Silver Street, united with St. Alban, Wood Street.
  St. Pancras, Soper Lane (no church), united with St. Mary-le-Bow.
  St. Peter, Cornhill.
  St. Peter, Paul’s Wharf, with St. Benet, Paul’s Wharf, united with
      St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, etc.
  St. Peter-le-Poor, Old Broad Street, with St. Benet Fink.
  St. Peter ad Vincula.
  St. Peter, Westcheap, united with St. Vedast, Foster Lane.
  St. Sepulchre, Holborn Viaduct.
  St. Stephen, Coleman Street.
  St. Stephen, Walbrook, with St. Benet Sherehog.
  St. Swithin, London Stone, Cannon Street, with St. Mary Bothaw.
  St. Thomas Apostle (no church), united with St. Mary Aldermary.
  St. Vedast, alias Foster, Foster Lane, with St. Michael le Querne,
      St. Matthew, Friday Street, and St. Peter, Westcheap.
  Whitefriars (Precinct of), united with Holy Trinity, Great New Street.

The following names of city benefices are taken from the _Liber
Custumarum_, pp. 228-230 (Riley, 1859):—


Sancti Andreae super Cornhulle—Sancti Andreae de Holebourne—Sancti
Andreae de Castro Baynardi—Sancti Andreae Hubert—Sancti
Antonii—Sancti Augustini ad Portam—Sancti Augustini Papay—Sancti
Alphegi—Sancti Audoeni—Sancti Albani—Sancti Athelburgae—Sanctae
Agnetis—Sancti Botulphi extra Bisschopesgate—Sancti Botulphi apud
Billinggesgate—Sancti Botulphi de Alegate—Sancti Botulphi de
Aldresgate—Sancti Benedicti ad Ripam Sancti Pauli—Sancti Benedicti de
Garschirche—Sancti Benedicti Finke—Sancti Benedicti Schorhogge—Sancti
Bartholomaei Parvi—Sanctae Brigidae—Sanctus Bartholomaeus Magnus
de Smethefelde—Capella Beati Thomae Martyris super Pontem—Sancti
Clementis de Estchepe—Capella Episcopi juxta Sanctum Paulum—Capellanus
Domini Archidiaconi—Sancti Dunstani de Weste—Sancti Dunstani apud
Turrim—Sancti Dionysii—Duo Capellani in Ecclesia Sancti Pauli—Sancti
Egidii extra Crepelgate—Sancti Edmundi de Graschirche—Sanctae
Fidis in Cryptis Sancti Pauli—Sancti Gregorii juxta Sanctum
Paulum—Sancti Georgii de Estchepe—Sanctae Helenae—Hospitalis Beatae
Mariae extra Bisschopesgate—Sancti Johannis Zakariae—Sancti Jacobi
de Garlechethe—Sancti Johannis de Walebroke—Sanctae Katerinae
Trinitatis—Sancti Laurentii in Candelwikstrete—Sancti Leonardi in
Venella Sancti Vedasti—Sancti Laurentii in Judaismo—Sancti Leonardi
de Estchepe—Sancti Leonardi de Schordiche—Sancti Michaelis in
Foro ad Bladum—Sancti Michaelis ad Ripam Reginae—Sancti Michaelis
de Woudestrete—Sancti Michaelis de Bassieshawe—Sancti Michaelis
de Cornhulle—Sancti Michaelis de Crokedelane—Sancti Michaelis de
Paternosterchirche—Sancti Mariae de Aldermannebiri—Sanctae Mariae
Wolnothe—Sanctae Mariae de Ax—Sanctae Mariae de Abbechirche—Sanctae
Mariae de Wolchirchawe—Sanctae Mariae de Somersete—Sanctae Mariae
de Montenhaut—Sanctae Mariae de Stanninglane—Sanctae Mariae de
Colchirche.—Sanctae Mariae atte Hille—Sanctae Mariae de Arcubus—Sanctae
Mariae de Eldemariechirche—Sanctae Mariae de Bothawe—Sanctae Mariae
de Iseldone—Sanctae Mariae Magdalenae de Veteri Piscaria—Sanctae
Margaretae ad Pontem—Sanctae Margaretae de Lodebiri—Sanctae
Margaretae Patines—Sanctae Margaretae Moysy de Fridaystrete—Sancta
Mildreda in Poletria, cum Capella de Conehop—Sancta Mildreda in
Bredstrate—Sancti Martini Orgar in Candelwikstrete—Sancti Martini de
Ludgate—Sancti Martini in Vinetria—Sancti Martini de Pomerio—Sancti
Martini Otheswike—Sancti Matthaei in Fridaystrete—Sancti Magni ad
Pontem—Sancti Michaelis extra Sanctae Trinitatis—Sancti Nicholai
Aldrethegate ad Macellas—Sancti Nicholai Coldabbey—Sancti Nicholai
Hacoun—Sancti Nicholai Olof—Novum Templum—Ecclesia Omnium Sanctorum
de Fenchirche—Omnium Sanctorum de Colmannechirche—Omnium Sanctorum
de Berkyngchirche—Omnium Sanctorum de Honylane—Omnium Sanctorum
ad Fenum—Omnium Sanctorum super Cellarium—Omnium Sanctorum de
Bredstrete—Omnium Sanctorum de Garschirche—Omnium Sanctorum de
Staningchirche—Sancti Olavi in Judaeismo—Sancti Olavi juxta
Turrim—Sancti Olavi de Mocwelle—Omnium Sanctorum ad Murum—Sancti
Petri de Bredstrete—Sancti Petri supra Tamisiam—Sancti Petri de
Cornhulle—Sancti Petri in Foro de Westchep de Wodestrete—Sancti
Pancratii—Sancti Stephani de Colemannestrete—Sancti Swithini—Sancti
Sepulchri—Sacrista Sancti Pauli—Servientes Capituli—Sancti
Thomae Apostoli—Sanctae Trinitatis Parvae—Sancti Vedasti—Sanctae
Wereburgae—Sancti Christophori.



The patronage of the London Churches in the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries is given by the Chronicler called Arnold.

The Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s had nineteen London benefices in
their gift. The Archbishop of Canterbury had seven.

  The Prior of Holy Trinity, six.
  The Dean of St. Martin’s-le-Grand }
  The Bishop of London              }
  The Prior of St. Mary Overy       } five each.
  The Abbot of Westminster          }
  The Prioress of St. Helen’s       }
  The King                               }
  The Abbot of Bermondsey                } four.
  The Prior of Christ Church, Canterbury }
  The Master of Lawrence Pountney }
  The Abbot of Barking            } two.
  The Abbot of Tower Hill         }
  The Prior of St. Bartholomew’s }
  The Mayor and Aldermen         } two.
  The Prior of Botley, Suffolk   }
  The Bishop of Exeter, one.
  The Bishop of Hereford, one.
  The Bishop of Worcester, one.
  The Abbot of Alnwick, one.
  The Abbot of Evesham, one.
  The Abbot of Gloucester, one.
  The Abbot of Colchester, one.
  The Abbot of Malmesbury, one.
  The Abbot of Winchester, one.
  The Abbot of White Monks, one.
  The Prior of the Augustine Friars, one.
  The Prioress of Clerkenwell, one.
  The Prior of Elsyng Spital, one.
  The Master of St. Anthony, one.
  The Provost of Eton, one.
  The Master of St. Thomas Acon, one.
  The Master of Balliol College, Oxford, one.
  The Archdeacon of London, one.
  The Duke of Suffolk, one.
  The Earl of Shrewsbury, one.
  Gwins’ Company, one.
  Mercers’ Company, one.
  Merchant Taylors’ Company, one.
  Mr. Page of Dartford, one.


The “Glossarial Index of Festivals,” published in the _Liber
Custumarum_, will throw light upon the religious life of London. The
alphabetical table is followed by a yearly table for convenience.

Adventus Domini. The Advent of Our Lord; the four weeks preceding
Christmas, devoted by the Church to preparation for the Advent of

Almes. The Feast of All Souls, 2nd November.

Andreae Apostoli, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Andrew, the
Apostle, 30th November.

Ascensio Domini. The Ascension of Our Lord. A movable Festival held on
Thursday in Rogation Week, the week next but one before Pentecost, or
Whitsun, Week.

Barnabae Apostoli, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Barnabas, the
Apostle, 11th June.

Bartholomaei Apostoli, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Bartholomew,
the Apostle, 24th August.

Benedicti, Translatio Sancti. The Translation of Saint Benedict, 11th

Carnilevaria. The last day of the Carnival, or season preceding Lent.
Shrove Tuesday.

Carniprivium. The beginning of Lent.

Chaundelour, Chaundeloure, Chaundelure. Candlemas; the Purification of
the Virgin Mary, 2nd February. _See_ Mariae, Purificatio Sanctae.

Circumcisionis Domini Festum. The Feast of the Circumcision of Our
Lord, 1st January.

Clausum Paschae. The Close of Easter, or Sunday after Easter.

Clementis, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Clement, 23rd November.

Crucis Sanctae Exaltatio. The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, 14th
September. This Feast commemorated the raising of the Cross on which
Our Saviour suffered, after its Invention, or Discovery, by Saint
Helena, A.D. 307 or 325.

Dies Sabbati. The Sabbath day, Saturday.

Dunstani, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Dunstan, 19th May.

Edmond, le jour Seint; Edmundi Regis, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint
Edmund, the King, 20th November.

Edwardi Regis et Confessoris, Translatio Sancti. The Translation of
Saint Edward, King and Confessor, 13th October.

Epiphania Domini. The Epiphany, or Manifestation, of Our Lord, 6th
January. _See_ Tiphayne.

Gregorii Papae, Festum (Dies) Sancti. The Feast of Saint Gregory, the
Pope, 12th March.

Hillarie, la Sent; Hillere, la Seint; Hillarii, Festum Sancti. The
Feast of Saint Hillary, 13th January.

Hippolyti Martyris, Natale Sancti. The Nativity of Saint Hippolytus,
the Martyr, 13th and 22nd August; there having been two Martyrs of this

Indictio. A given year of the Indiction; so called from the Edicts
of the Roman Emperors; for as one such Edict was supposed to appear
every fifteen years, the years were reckoned by their distance from
the last Indiction. This mode of reckoning was employed, at Rome more
particularly, from the time of the Nicene Council (A.D. 325), but was
introduced into England so early as the time of King Edgar.

Innocentium Dies (Festum) Sanctorum. The Feast of the Holy Innocents,
Childermas Day, 28th December.

Jacobi Apostoli, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint James, the Apostle,
25th July.

Johan, la Feste Seint: Johannis Baptistae Nativitas. The Nativity of
Saint John the Baptist, Saint John’s day, 24th June.

Johannis Baptistae, Decollatio Sancti. The Decollation of Saint John,
the Baptist, 29th August.

Kalendarum Maii Caput. The beginning (or 18th) of the Calends of May,
14th April.

Lucae Evangelistae Festum; Lucie, la Feste Seinte. The Feast of Saint
Luke, the Evangelist; 18th October according to the Romish Calendar,
13th October according to that of Carthage.

Marci Evangelistae, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Mark, the
Evangelist, 25th April.

Margaretae, Festum Sanctae. The Feast of Saint Margaret, 20th July.

Mariae, Festum Sanctae. The Feast (of the Nativity) of Saint Mary, 8th

Mariae, Festum Annuntiationis Beatae. The Feast of the Annunciation of
the Blessed Mary, Lady Day, 25th March. _See_ Nostre Dame.

Mariae, Purificatio Sanctae (_or_ Beatae). The Purification of Saint
Mary, or Candlemas, 2nd February. _See_ Chaundelour.

Mariae Virginis, Festum Assumptionis Beatae. The Feast of the
Assumption, or ascent into heaven, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 15th

Mariae Magdalene, Festum Sanctae (or Beatae). The Feast of Saint Mary
Magdalene, 22nd July.

Martin, la Feste Seint; Martini, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint
Martin, or Martinmas, 11th November.

Matthiae Apostoli, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Matthias, the
Apostle, 24th February.

Michaelis, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Michael, or Michaelmas,
29th September (_passim_).

Michel, les Utaves de Seint. The Octaves of Saint Michael; one week
after Michaelmas. _See_ Octabae.

Natale Domini. The Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas Day, 25th December.

Nostre Dame (Daume) en Quarenne. (The Feast of) Our Lady in Lent;
Lady Day, or the Feast of the Annunciation. _See_ Mariae, Festum

Nowel. Christmas.

Octabae. The Octave, or Octaves. The eighth day after a festival
inclusively, in other words, that day week. The celebration of the
Octave is said to have arisen in the fact that the early Christians
celebrated their festivals for eight days, but made the last of those
days the one of greatest solemnity, on the authority of Leviticus,
xxiii. 36. Octabas was the A.S. name for the Octave.

Omnium Sanctorum Festum. The Feast of All Saints, or All-Hallows, 1st

Pasche; Pasqe. Easter.

Passionis Festum. The Feast of the Passion. The period between the
fifth Sunday in Lent and Easter Sunday. Since the Reformation, the term
“Passion Week” has been applied solely to the last week in Lent.

Pauli, Conversio Sancti. The Conversion of Saint Paul, 25th January.

Pentecoste; Pentecouste. Pentecost, or Whitsuntide.

Perpetuae et Felicitatis, Festum Sanctarum. The Feast of Saints
Perpetua and Felicitas, 7th March. These Saints are said to have
suffered martyrdom in the reign of the Emperor Valerian.

Petri ad Vincula, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Peter’s Chains, or
Saint Peter in Prison, 1st August.

Petri in Cathedra, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Peter’s Chair; in
commemoration of his founding the Cathedra, or Church, of Antioch, 22nd

Petri et Pauli, Festum Apostolorum. The Feast of the Apostles Peter and
Paul, 29th June.

Philippi et Jacobi, Festum Apostolorum. The Feast of the Apostles
Philip and James, 1st May.

Quadragesima; Quareme. Quadragesima, or Lent, the Fast of forty days
before Easter.

Ramis Palmarum, Dominica in. Palm Sunday, the First Sunday before

Simonis et Judae, Festum Apostolorum. The Feast of the Apostles Simon
and Jude, 28th October.

Swithini, Dies Sancti. The day (of the Deposition) of Saint Swithun, or
Swithin, 2nd July.

Swithini, Translatio Beati; Swythan, la Feste Seint. The Feast of the
Translation of Saint Swithin, 15th July.

Symonis et Judae, Festum Apostolorum. _See_ Simonis et Judae, Festum.

Thomae Apostoli, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Thomas, the Apostle,
21st December.

Thomae Martyris, Festum Beati; Thomae Martyris, Translatio Sancti. The
Translation of Saint Thomas, the Martyr, 7th July. The Passion of Saint
Thomas of Canterbury was 29th December; it is not clear whether, in the
first instance, that or his Translation is meant.

Tiphayne. The Epiphany, 16th January; a corruption of _Theophania_,
the Manifestation of God. But in the Greek Church the words θεοφάνεια
and ἐπιφάνεια were used as synonymous expressions for the day of Our
Saviour’s Nativity. _See_ Suicer’s _Thesaurus_, i. p. 1200, _and_
Hampson’s _Med. Ævi Kalendar_ ii. _s.vv._ Epiphania and Theophania.

Trinitatis, Festum Sanctae; Trinite, Feste de la; Jour de la. The Feast
of the Trinity, the Sunday after Pentecost, or Whitsuntide.

Trinitatis Sanctae Octabae. The Octave of the Holy Trinity; the Sunday
after Trinity Sunday.

Valentini, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Valentine. Probably that
celebrated on the 14th February; but there were other festivals in
honour of persons of this name, 16th April, 16th July, 13th November,
and 9th and 16th December.

Vincentii Martyris, Festum Sancti. The Feast of Saint Vincent, the
Martyr, 22nd January.

  (_Liber Custumarum_, Riley, vol. ii. pt. ii. pp. 841-844.)

  Jan.  1. Circumcision.
   „   13. St. Hilary.
   „   16. Epiphany.
   „   22. St. Vincent.
   „   25. Conversion of St. Paul.
  Feb.  2. Candlemas. Purification of the B. V. M.
   „   14. St. Valentine.
   „   22. Petri in Cathedra Festum.
   „   24. St. Matthias.
  Feb. or Mar. Shrove Tuesday and Carniprivium.
  Mar.  7. St. Perpetua and Felicitas.
   „   12. St. Gregory.
   „   25. Annunciation.
  Mar. or April. Easter. Sunday after Easter (_Clausum Paschae_).
  Apr. 25. St. Mark.
  May   1. St. Philip and James.
   „   19. St. Dunstan.
  June 11. St. Barnabas.
   „   24. St. John Baptist.
   „   29. SS. Peter and Paul.
  July  2. St. Swithin.
   „    7. St. Thomas Martyr.
   „   11. St. Benedict.
   „   15. Translation of St. Swithin.
   „   22. St. Mary Magdalene.
   „   22. St. Margaret.
   „   25. St. James the Apostle.
  Aug.  1. St. Peter at Vincula.
   „   13, 22. St. Hippolyte.
   „   15. Assumption of B. V. M.
   „   24. St. Bartholomew.
   „   29. Beheading of St. John Baptist.
  Sept. 8. Nativity of B. V. M.
   „   14. Exaltation of the Cross.
   „   29. St. Michael.
  Oct. 13. Translation of Edward the Confessor.
   „   18. St. Luke.
   „   28. SS. Simon and Jude.
  Nov.  1. Allhallows.
   „   11. St. Martin.
   „   20. St. Edmund.
   „   23. St. Clement.
  Dec. 21. St. Thomas.
   „   25. Christmas Day.
   „   28. Childermas.



“Soon after the present work was begun a strange hole was discovered in
the chancel wall, just at the turn of the apse on the north side. It is
about 4 feet high and 20 inches wide. There is no stonework. A roughly
rectangular hole has been broken through the flint wall, and the sides
of it plastered to something like a smooth face. There is no provision
for or mark of a door. And it was difficult to assign any reason for
the making of the hole. Yet it was certain that some reason for it had
been. Rough as it is, there is enough care bestowed on its making to
show that it was not one of the openings sometimes left in the walls
of buildings for the convenience of bringing things in during their
construction, and blocked up when done with. Besides, it is too small
for such a use. It was suggested that it may have been made to bring
in a coffin at some funeral. But it is too small for that also: and it
needs to be shown why men should have broken through the wall to bring
in a coffin when it was much easier to bring it in by a door. Then it
was guessed that it might belong to some extinct stove for warming the
church; but neither the position nor anything in the form of the hole
seemed likely for that use. It is too small to have been the entrance
to a vestry, though the position is a proper one; and certainly there
must have been a door had that been its purpose. Yet if the hole had
ever more than a temporary use, it must have led to some chamber
outside, for the church could not have been used if it were open to the

Some further light was thrown on the place a few months ago when a
coating of modern cement was stripped off the outside of the wall.
Then was found a second hole about the same size as the first, but cut
only part way through the wall. It is plastered inside with clay, and
was filled up with flints and clay. Rather above these holes, and east
and west of them respectively, are two smaller ones, such as may have
received the ends of timbers. These also were found stopped with clay.
The annexed illustration explains the work better than any description.

It seems that a little wooden hut has been built at some time against
the wall of the church. The smaller holes give its length from east
to west—about eight feet inside—and perhaps also its greatest height,
about six feet. But this last and the width from north to south are
uncertain, for there is nothing to show what was the shape of the roof,
and if there were ever any foundations they are not to be found now.
The walls were probably of stud and clay daubing, and the roof thatch.

The place can hardly have been other than an anker’s den. And it must
surely have been one of the least commodious. It is remarkable that so
few such have been identified, for the numbers of ankers in England
must at one time have been considerable. There is a good deal about
them in the second volume of the new edition of Mr. Bloxam’s _Gothic
Architecture_, and Mr. Bloxam would assign to ankers most of the
habitable chambers attached to churches, over vestries and porches and
elsewhere. Very likely some such were used by ankers of the easier
sort: but I think more were occupied by secular clerks and chaplains,
and the anker’s place was a hut built outside against the wall, under
the eaves of the church, as is said in the thirteenth-century _Ancren
Riwle_, which tells us more about ankers than any other book I know of.

A cell was so placed that the anker need not leave it, either for
worship or for any other reason. There was a window opening through
which he might join in the worship at the altar, and at times receive
the sacrament. And there was another window or hatch to the outside
through which necessaries might be received and conversation held with
visitors or servants. A window or squint is often found from a chamber
over a vestry towards the high altar, and there is sometimes one from
a porch chamber: but being on upper floors they could not well have
the other window, so I take most of them not to have been ankerholds.
Though as the degree of strictness varied much and seems for the most
part to have been fixed only by the anker himself, it is possible
that some may have been so used. The anker of the strictest sort was
inclusus—permanently shut up in his cell which he entered with the
license and blessing of the bishop. Such an one could scarcely have
inhabited an upper chamber. Whether our Bengeo Anker was inclusus or
not is uncertain. The entrance to his cell had no door, but it may
have been blocked, and a squint or loop towards the altar formed the
blocking. If it were open a curtain must have been hung across it,
perhaps a black cloth with a white cross like that ordered in the
_Riwle_ to be put to the ‘parlour’ window.

The recess in the church wall west of the doorway is the anker’s seat
and perhaps his sleeping place. And his bones may lie below: for it
seems to have been a custom for ankers to prepare their own graves
within their cells.”




The religious Houses and Churches of the City and its suburbs which
existed in the fifteenth century are enumerated in Arnold’s Chronicle.
Arnold, who lived and wrote towards the end of the fifteenth century,
belongs to Mediæval London, which Stow, of a hundred years later,
certainly did not. We shall adopt, therefore, from Arnold’s list,
as a guide to this survey of Mediæval London, the Churches and
ecclesiastical foundations which he considers as especially belonging
to London. His own spelling is followed here.

  Seint Martin’s Graunte
  Cryst Chirche
  The Chartur hous
  Seynt Barthū Priory
  Seynt Barthū Spitel
  Seynt Thom̄s of Acres
  Seint Antonis
  Seynt Johēs in Smythfeld
  Clerkenwell Nonry
  Halywelle Nonry
  Barmondsay Abbey
  Seint Mary Ouery Priory
  Seint Thom̄s Spitel
  Saint Giles in the Felde
  Seynt Helen’s Nonry
  Seynt Mary Spitel
  Seynt Mary at Beethelem
  The Menures Nonry
  Seynt Anne at the Tourhil
  Seynt Katerins
  The Crouched Fryers
  The Friers Augustines
  The Fryours Mynors
  The Fryours P’chars
  Seynt James in the Wall
  The Whit Fryers
  Seint Peter at Westm̄ Abbey
  Seynt James in the Temple
  Seynt Stephenys at Westminster
  Seint Thom̄s Chapel of the Bridge
  Seynt James in the Fields
  Seynte Mary Magdalene Yeldhall
  Seynt Mary Rouncyuale
  Seynt Ursula chapel in the Poultry



The following Notes are from the _Archæolog. Journal_:—

 “The traditions of the Dominican order required that the buildings
 should be arranged quadrilaterally, enclosing a plot of ground which
 formed the cloistral cemetery for the deceased of the community, one
 side being occupied by the church; but no fixed rule was adopted for
 the distribution of the offices. This is apparent from the plans of
 several of the English priories founded within the same period of
 twenty years. At Gloucester, Bristol, and Stamford, the church formed
 the north side of the quadrangle, whilst at Norwich and Canterbury
 it was on the south, and at Newcastle-on-Tyne it was on the east,
 being probably regulated by the conveniences of the localities; and
 even orientation was not uniformly preserved. The culinary offices
 at Gloucester were evidently on the south, whilst at Canterbury they
 stood on the west.

 The early Dominican churches were exceeding simple in arrangement
 and severe in details. A good example of them existed at Canterbury
 where the choir, nave, and two aisles were all included under one long
 unbroken roof, and a porch at the west end afforded entrance to the
 congregation. The church at Gloucester, consisting of choir, nave,
 north chapel or transept, and north aisle, being rebuilt about the
 beginning of the sixteenth century, departed somewhat from this plan,
 inasmuch as the chapel was covered with a distinct transverse roof. It
 occupied only about three-fourths of the side of the quadrangle, the
 rest being completed by monastic buildings. In the church were three
 altars; the steeple with two bells and the aisle have disappeared.

 The rest of the buildings which complete the quadrangle, about 73
 feet square, are doubtless the original structures of the thirteenth
 century. The dormitory forming the second storey of the south side,
 with its exterior stairs, is still perfect, even to the stone
 partitions of the separate cells. On the ground floor was probably the
 refectory. The triplet window in the south gable of the west building
 is deserving of notice. But the interiors of all these buildings have
 been so much changed and adapted for modern requirements, that it is
 difficult to ascertain their monastic destinations. The cellaring is
 extensive, but presents little worthy of remark.”


(_Survey made ante_ 1552)

[A Document of the Loseley MSS. at Loseley Hall, Guildford]

Blakfryer Survey.[23]

 Sm̃⁓xlvi li vjs viijd vlt̃  xiij vjs. xiijd. de redditibz woodman &
 vlt̃  xx li de redd Saunders in toto⁓lxxix li. xiijs. iiijd.

Itm A gallery oũ[24] the water cominge owt of the townedyche at
Holbo^rne runynge into the temys abuttynge vpon the highe waye leadinge
from brydwell to the watersyd on the west syd and vpon the tenemente
of James la forheye on the est syd conteyninge that waye in lengethe
xlij fote and abuttinge vpon A payre of stayers and waye leadinge from
the blackfryers to bryd well oư[25] the seid diche on the northe syde
and vpon the seide dyche runynge in to the temys on ye sothe syde
conteyninge in breddethe that wage xiiij fote.

Itm James la fforher broderer holdeth one tenemente abutinge vpon the
seid highe waye on the northe parte & vpon A garden therto adioyninge
vpon the sothe syde conteyninge in bredethe that waye xiiij fote
and abutt vpon the aforseide gallery on the weste syd and vpon the
tenemente of John Taylor on the est syd conteynynge in length that
waye xxxj fote wt A garden adioyninge to the same tenemente on the
northe syd and upon A garden And howse of ...[26] More or Creswell on
the sothe syd conteynunge that waye at the west end abuttinge vpon the
seide dyche xxiiij fote and at the est end abuttinge vpon the garden of
the seide tenement of John Taylor xxxj foote and in lenge from the east
ende to the weste end on the sowthe syde xxix ffoote and on the northe
syd xxxj ffoote payinge therefore by year ... lxvjs. viijd.

John Taylor Carpenter holdeth a tenemente Abuttinge vpon the tenemente
of James la fforheys on the weste syde and vpon the tenemente of Robt
Damanye on the easte syde conteyninge that waye in lengthe xxx ffote
and upon A garden thereto belonginge on the sowthe syde and vpon the
seid highewaye on the northe syd conteyninge in breddethe that waye
xiiij foote w^t A garden to the seid tenemente adioyninge on the
northe syd and upon A garden of ... Mr. Creswells on the sowthe syd
conteyninge in breddethe that waye att the weste ende xxxj fote and
at the eeste ende xlv ffoote & abuttinge v[p]on the garden of the
tenemente of James la fforhaye on the west syde & vpon the garden of
the tenement of Robt Damany on the este syd cont̃  in breddethe yt waye
at the northe end xxx ffoot and at the sowthe ende xxx ffoote payinge
... lxvjs. xiijd.

Robt Damany bokebynder holdethe A tenemente abutt on the seid highwaye
on the northe syde Conteynynge in lengethe xxiiij foote and vpon A
garden to the same belonginge on the sothe syde Conteyninge in lengethe
xvij ffote and on the weste syd vpon the seide highe waye vidz[27] from
the highwaye to the tenenenet[28] of John Tayler x foote and upon the
seide tenemente of John tayler xiiij ffoo beinge in the hole breddethe
at that the weste ende xxiiij foote and abuttynge on the este syde
vpon A tenemente in the tenure of Maryan Turner in breddethe xiiij
ffoote and vpon the garden of the tenement of the seide Maryan in
breddethe x foote beinge in the hole breddethe at y^l easte ende xxiiij
ffoote w[29] A garden therto adioyninge on the northe syde conteyne
in lengethe xvij fote and on the sowthe syde vpon A garden f[30] Mr.
Creswel xvij ffoote &c. on the weste syde vpon J. Taylers garden coñ
xlv ffoote and on the easte syde vpon the gardens of the tenementes
of Thomas Gemyny and ... coñ l^{te}[31] ffoote payinge therefore ...
lxvjs. viijd.

Maryan Turner ffounder holdethe A Tenemente abuttinge vpon the seid
highewaye on the Northe syde and coñ in lengethe that waye xl foote and
on the sowthe syd vpon a garden plott to the same tenement belonginge
& coñ xix foote and vpon A garden of the tenemente of Nicholas ...[32]
sadler cont xiiij fote and vpon the tenement of Robt Damanye vij ffoote
in the hole on that syde xl^{te} ffoote abutinge on the weste syde vpon
the tenement of Robt Damanye & coñ xiiij ffote and on the easte syd
vpon the garden of the tenement of Nicholas ... sadler iij foote and
vpon the tenemente of John de Horse hatmaker xj foote in the hole at
that ende xiiij foote. / w^t A garden therto adioynynge on the northe
syde & coñ xix ffoote and abuttinge vpon the garden of the tenement of
... Taylor on the sowthe syde & coñ xix foote and vpon the tenem̃  of
Robt Damany on the weste syde coñ x ffoote and vpon the garden of the
tenement of Nicholas ... the sadler on the easte syde coñ ix ffoote.
/ payinge therefore ad ij^{os} Ai Diuios[33]——lxvjs. viijd. John de
Horse hattmaker holdethe A tenement abuttinge on the northe syde vpon
the seide highewaye cont xxxj ffoote &c. / on the sowthe syd vpon A
tenement of Nicholas ... sadler coñ xviij ffoote and vpon the garden of
the tenement of the seide Nicholas xiiij f. in the hole on that syde
xxxij ffoote. / abutt^d on the weste vpon the tenement of Maryan turner
coñ xi ffoote & vpon an highewaye leadynge from Ludgate to the bridge
of the blacke ffryers on the easte syde coñ xj ffoote payinge therefore
by yeare ad ij^{os} Ai diuinos ... lxs.

  N̶i̶c̶h̶o̶l̶a̶s̶ ̶ ̶S̶a̶d̶l̶e̶r̶ [erased thus in the MS.].

A bridge and Stayers on the towne diche comynge ffrom Holbo^rne
bride[34] and forby Brydewell into the temys abuttyng weste vpon the
highewaye leadinge forby brydewell to the temys coñ x fote brode
abuttinge sothe and northe vpon the seid diche coñ on eache syde xxxix
ffote. / w^t A lane leadinge ffrom the seide bridge to the highwaye
leadinge from ludgate to the black ffryers bridge and abutt˜ easte upon
y^t highewaye coñ ... ffoote and abutt weste vpon the seide bridge of
bridewell coñ xij ffoote abutt sothe vpon all the seide tenemente of
James la fforhaye John Tayler Robt Damany, Maryan Turner and John de
horse. / and abutt northe vpon ... coñ in lengethe from the easte to
the weste Clii foote pased in lv pace. /

Itm the same lane is betwene brydewell bridge and the tenement of J
Damany xix foote brode and lij ffoote longe and betwene y^t tenement
and the highe waye leading to the blackfryers bridg x ffoote brode and
Ci[35] ffoote longe.

Nicholas ... Sadler holdethe A tenemente abuttinge easte vpon an highe
waye leadinge from Ludgate to the bridge of the blacke fryers coñ xv
ffoote / abuttinge weste vpon A garden belongynge to the same tenemente
coñ xiij foote / abuttinge northe vpon the tenemente of John de horse
coñ xviij foote and sothe vpon the tenent of Edward Charratt Tayler
coñ xxviij ffoote w^t A garden therto belongynge abutt̃  easte vpon thys
seid tenemente coñ xiij foote / weste vpon the garden of the tenement
of Maryan turner coñ x ffoote sowthe vpon the garden of the tenem^t of
Edw^{r}d Charrat tayler coñ xij ffoote / and northe vpon the tenement
of Maryan turner coñ xij foote ... lxvj s. viij d.

Edward Sharratt Tayler holdeth A tenement abuttynge easte upon the high
waye leadinge from ludgate to bridge of y^e blackffryers coñ xxx ffoote
/ weste upon A garden belonginge to the same tenemente coñ xxx ffoote
Sowthe vpon the tenement Thomas Gemeny coñ xxxv ffoote and northe vpon
the tenement of Nicholas ... con xxviij ffoote w^t A garden th to
adjoininge & abuttinge easte coñ xxx^t ffoote. / weste vpon the garden
of the tenement of Robt Damany coñ xxv fote / Northe vpon the gardens
of the tenemente of Maryan turner xviij ffoote and Nicholas his garden
xiij fote in the hole on that syd xxxj fote and Sowthe vpon the garden
of the tenement of Thomas gemeny coñ xxiiij ffoot‘ payinge vj^{li}
xiijs. iiijd.

Thomas Gemeny printer holdethe A tenemente Abuttinge easte vpon the
seid highewaye to the blackefryers bridge & coñ xxxiii ffoote and weste
vpon A garden to the same belongynge con xxx ffoote / Northe vpon the
tenemente of Edward Sharrat tayler coñ xxxv^{ts} foote / and Sowthe
vpon A garden of Mr. More or Mr. Cresswell coñ xxviij ffoote. / w^t A
garden thereto adioyninge and abutt easte coñ xxx ffoote weste vpon y^e
garden of ye tenement of Rbt Damany coñ xxviij ffoote. / Northe vpon
the garden of the tenemente of Edward Charrat tayler coñ xxiiij ffoote
and sothe vpon A garden of one Mr. More or Mr. Cresswell coñ xxviij
ffoote payinge vj^{li} xiijs. iiijd.

John Potter broderer holdethe A tenemente[36] abuttynge weste vpon the
seid high waye to the blackffryers bridge & coñ xxvij^t ffoote. / Easte
vpon A garden of Mr. Gernyng^{e}gams in the tenure of one Thomas Nasshe
Capper coñ xxvij ffoote Sowthe vpon A stable of the same Mr. Gernynghm̃
in the tenure of Sr Thomas Saunders knighte coñ xviij ffoote and Northe
vpon a tenemente of the seide Mr. gernynghm̃  in the tenure of the seide
T. Nasshe coñ xviij ffoote payinge ad ij^{os} Ai Diuios eq^a lz [ad
duos Anni divisiones equales] liijs. iiijd.

... Scryven gent holdeth A tenemente abutt northe vpon the seid highe
waye to the blacke fryers bridge coñ xxx^{ts} foote and weste vpon
the same highe waye coñ l^{ts}[37] ffoote. / Sowthe vpon the tenemente
of Jame ffremounte widowe coñ xxiiij ffoote. / and Easte vpon A vacante
place w^{ch} was the bodie of the Churche coñ lxij^{ts} ffote and vpon
the yarde of A howse in y^e tenure of T. ffillyppes xv ffoote in the
hole on that syde lxxvij ffoote wt a lofte saylinge[38] oư the entry of
the tenemente of the seide Jame ffremounte widowe. / being in lengethe
xxviij ffoote and in breddethe xij ffoote. / ... viij li.

Jame ffremounte wydowe holdethe A tenemente whereof the entrye is under
the seid tenemente of J (?) ... Scryven and thother[39] ioines [joines]
under the lodginge of the lord Cobam the hole abuttinge easte vpon the
late body of the churche of the blacke ffryers xxviij ffoote by est?
[estimation] and vpon the late Cloyster of the same churche xxj ffoote
in the hole on that syde xlix ffoote by estimacion. / weste vpon certen
howses one in the tenure of Mr. Harper coñ xlix foote & vpon y^e seid
high waye iiij ffoote beinge the rome of her dore in the hole liij
ffoote. Northe vpon the seid tenement of ... Scryven xxiiij foote vpon
the wall of the seide late bodie of the churche towarde theste[40] syde
xx ffoote & upon the seid howses in the tenure of Mr. harper towards
the weste syde xv ffoote in y^e hole on that syde deductynge seven
ffoote of the butt ageanst Mr. harpers howses w^{ch} is also A pcell
of the xxiiij foote abutted ageanst ... Scryvens tenemente lij ffoote.
and on the Sowthe side abutting vpon certen howses in the tenure of the
lorde Cobhm̃  coñ lii ffoote. / payinge by yeare liijs. iiijd.


[A document at Loseley Hall, near Guildhall, relating to the
Blackfriars, 2 Ed. VI.]

 [Howesses At the blacke ffryars in London.[41]

A Survey[42] of certen Edifices bildinge and vo[yde] grounde ... [a
word illegible? “&c.”] taken the ... [blank in MS.] of Marche in the ij
yere of the rayne of Kinge Edward the vj^{th} by ... [blank in MS.].

FFIRSTE A voyde grounde w^{th} A decayed Galerye theryn and voyde
romes therunder wheryn owlde tymber and carte wheles doe lye cont in
lengeth iiij∕xx x viij [_i.e._ 98] foote abuttinge ageanste bridewell
diche on the weste ende beinge there in breddethe at that ende lxxiiij
foote abuttinge on the este ende to the comune highe waye and lane that
goethe to the comune stayre at the temmes side ⁁ beinge in breddethe at
that ende iiij∕xx x iiij (94) foote And abuttinge on the Northe side
to the ladie or Mrs. Harpars garden and to one ffraunsis garden And on
the Sowthe syde to Sꝰ [Sir] Xpoffer Mores garden w^{ch} galery runnethe
alonge by the northe side of the seide voyde grounde from the est ende
te the weste ende as it is above bounded. /

 {Transcriber’s Note: ⁁ is used for a fish-hook-like symbol that may
 perhaps represent a caret mark indicating that “on the este ende”
 should be transferred to this point from the line above.}

Itm Cutchyn yarde an owlde cutchyn an entree or passage Joyninge to
the same cont in lengethe iiij∕xx iiij (84) foote, abuttinge on the
weste syde to the lane aforseide and beinge in breddethe at that ende
lxviij foote / and abuttinge ageanste the owlde buttrye on the este
side beinge there in breddethe at that ende lxxiiij foote Abuttinge on
the sowthe syde to Mr. Portmarys parler nexte the lane And to my lorde
Cobhm̃s brack wall and garden on the Northe syde. /

Itm an owlde buttery and enterye or passage w^{th} a greate Stayre
therin w^{th} Sellers therunder w^{th} a halle place at the upper ende
of the Stayre and an entree there to the frater over the same butterye
all w^{ch} conteyne in lengethe xxxv^{ts} ffoote / and in breddethe
iiij∕xx x v (95) fooet abuttinge to the cloyster on the Easte ende and
the Cutchin aforseide at the weste ende and on the Northe syde to the
lorde Cobhm̃s howse and on the Sowthe syde to A blynde pler that my
lorde[43] Warden did claim.

Itm A howse[44] called the upper frater   [?] in lengethe Cvij foote and
in breddethe lij foote /

Itm vnder the same A hall A pler A lytle Chaumber A litle Cutchen
therunder w^{th} iiij^{or} small sellers and darke holes therunder of
the same lengethe and breddethe aforeseide /

Itm A voyde rome cont in lengethe xxx^t foote and in breddethe xvij
foote //

Itm a Chaumber called the Duchie Chaumber w^{th} a darke loginge
therunder cont in lengethe l[45] foote and in breddethe xvj foote.



“The Hospital of Le Papey was founded in the year 1442, by Thomas
Symminesson, William Cleve, William Barnaby, and John Stafford, priests
in the diocese of London. Symminesson, otherwise written Symmesson, and
Symson, was Rector of All Saints, or All Hallows, on the Wall; Cleve
was priest of the charity of St. John Baptist in the church of St.
Mary Aldermary; Barnaby was a chantry priest in the Cathedral Church
of St. Paul; and of Stafford I know no more than that he was a priest
in the city of London. The Hospital was founded for those of their own
Order whom age or sickness disabled from the active performance of the
duties of their function.” (Late Rev. Thomas Hugo in _London and Midd.
Archæological Soc._, vol. v.)

“The name of the Hospital was derived from that of the church which,
as we shall see, was appropriated to it, ordinarily known as St.
Augustine’s de Papey.” (_Ibid._ 187.)

“The charter of foundation is as follows. It will supply various
particulars of interest which I have hitherto omitted for the sake of

To all the sons of our Holy Mother the Church to whom and to whose
knowledge these letters or the contents of them shall come, and those
whom the writing underneath do touch or shall hereafter touch, Thomas
Symminesson, Parson [vicar or curate, note in margin] of the Parish
Church of All Saints at the Wall of the City of London, together with
the Church of St. Augustine Pappey, of the same city, by ordinary
authority, and for true, lawful, and honest causes, joined, annexed,
and incorporated to the same Church of All Saints; and William Cleve,
chaplain of the Chantry founded at the altar of St. John Baptist in the
Church of the Blessed Mary of Aldermary Church of London; and William
Barnaby, one of the chaplains of the Chantry in the Cathedral Church of
S. Paul in London; and John Stafford, chaplain of the City of London,
send greeting in our Lord everlasting.

Know you all by these presents that the most excellent prince in
Christ, and our Lord and Master, the famous Henry the Sixth, King
of England and France, and Lord of Ireland, of his special grace,
sure knowledge, and mere motion, by advice and assent of this great
council, by his letters patents, the tenor of which is underwritten,
to us and to others hath graciously granted and given license for
him and his heirs, as much as in him is, that we three, or any two
of us, may begin, make, found, ordain, unite and establish, in the
honour of St. Charity and S. John Evangelist, a certain perpetual
Fraternity of Brotherhood, as well of ourselves and other Chaplains of
Chantries and hirelings [conducts, note in margin] as of other honest
men whatsoever, in some place convenient and honest of the said City
which we shall provide for that purpose, for the relief and sustaining
of poor priests destroyed [decayed, in margin] through poverty and
detained by diseases, having nothing to live on, but, as well to the
great displeasure of God as the reproach to the Clergy and shame to
Holy Church, do miserably beg, to pray devoutly as well for the healthy
state and happy prosperity of our said lord the king and kingdom of
England, and of the nobility and peers, of the Brethren also and
Sisters of the Fraternity aforesaid and also for the souls of all the
Faithful Departed, as in the aforesaid royal letters patent, to which
and the contents of the same we refer you, and which in the same here
inserted is more fully contained.

Wherefore we, William Cleve, William Barnaby, and John Stafford, the
Chaplains aforesaid,—considering that the premises are good, godly,
and meritorious, and firmly minding effectually to perform and surely
to fulfil them, and to found such aforesaid perpetual Fraternity, in
the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, the Father, the Son, and
the Holy Ghost, the Glorious Virgin Mary, St. Charity, and St. John
Evangelist, in whose honour the aforesaid Fraternity by the King’s
license given and granted, as is said, is founded and ordained [the
rights of all and singular persons interested ... in this part given
and conceded], begin and proceed after this order.” (_Ibid._)

“As so little is known of this ancient church and parish of St.
Augustine, I may perhaps be doing some of my readers a service, by
giving them here all the information which is believed to be extant, in
addition to that already included in the present memoir. Stow says that
an Earl of Oxford had his inn within its boundaries, and that the last
will of Agnes, Lady Bardolph, anno 1403, was dated from thence in these
words: ‘Hospitio, &c., from the Inn of the Habitation of the Earl of
Oxford, in the parish of St. Augustine’s de Papey, London.’ When or by
whom the church was founded I know not. But the names of the rectors,
so far as they are preserved in the episcopal registers, are as follows:

Stephen de Benytone, clerk, presented by the prior and convent of Holy
Trinity, Aldgate, xiij Kal. April (20 March), 1321-2.

Roger Oxecumb, ———?

Adam Long, priest, by the death of R. O., presented by the same, 21
October, 1372.

Adam Nunne, chaplain, by the death of A. L., presented by the same, 19
January, 1395-6.

I presume that he was the last rector. When he died, or otherwise
vacated his benefice, I have no means of determining. But, on his
avoidance, the church seems, as already mentioned, to have been too
poor to be worth accepting, and was incorporated accordingly in the
manner described. May I suggest, though with considerable hesitation,
that the little graveyard still noticeable in Camomile Street, and once
used as a place of sepulture by the neighbouring but not adjoining
parish of St. Martin Outwich, still marks the site of this ancient
church?” (_Ibid._)

“The brethren of the hospital were selected for their age and
infirmities. Poor they necessarily were on admission, and the slender
revenues of the house were bare