The London Wards - Billingsgate in 1756

Billingsgate and Bridge Ward in 1756 neatly engraved from a New Survey

Billingsgate and Bridge Ward in 1756 neatly engraved from a New Survey

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Index of London wards in 1756 by William Maitland



With a Plan on a Copper Plate, neatly engraved from a New Survey.

Situation, Bounds, and Contents of Billingsgate Ward. Whence it derives its Name. Parishes and Parish Churches. Government and Present State. Billingsgate Market. Keys or Decks. Butchers Hall. Fire of London. Antiquities.

Billingsgate Ward is situated on the River Side, and is therefore bounded on the South by the Thames, on the East by Tower Street Ward, on the North by Langborne Ward, and on the West by the Ward of Bridge Within. It begins at the West End of Tower street Ward in Thames street, about Smart's Key, and runs along that Street, on the South Side, to St. Magnus Church, at the Bridge Foot, and on the North Side of the said Tbames street, from over against Smart's Key, till over against the North West Corner of St. Magnus Church aforesaid.
The Contents, from Thames Street to the North, are the Street of St. Mary at Hill, Love lane, Botolph' s lane, Pudding lane, Little East cheap, and a considerable Part of Rood lane and Philpot lane, with several other Cross Lanes, Alleys, and Courts.
As to the Derivation of the Name given to this Ward, Authors are not agreed ; but the most probable Opinion refers us to some eminent Person, who, in ancient Times, had large Possessions in this Part of the City, or held this Ward by the same Tenure, as the Billings, &c. held other Wards , and tho' we do not attempt to support the exploded History of King Belinus, related by Fabian and others, it is certain this Name appears in the first List of Wards.

The present State and Condition of this Ward:
Thames Street is a Place of very considerable Trade, on Account of its convenient Situation near the Water, the Custom house, Billingsgate, and the several Wharfs and Keys for lading and unlading Merchants Goods, &c. and is very well built for that Purpose.
The Keys, Wharfs, and Docks, which are new assigned and allowed to be lawful by an Act of Parliament, for shipping, lading, and landing of Goods and Merchandizes, are these : 1. Brewer's key, 2. Chester's key, 3. Galley key, 4. Wool dock, 5. Customhouse key, 6. Porter's key, 7. Bear's key, 8. Sab's key, 9. Wiggan's key, 10. Toting's key, 11. Rafe's key, 12. Dice key, 13. Smart' s key, 14. Billingsgate, 15. Somer's key, 16. Lions key, 17. Botolph's key, 18. Hamon's key, 19. Gaunt's key, 20. Cock's key, and Fresh wharf.
These Keys or Wharfs are chiefly named from their first Proprietors, or particular Use or Situation; as Botolph's wharf, called in the Conquerors Days Botolp's gate: And we observe that this Wharf was in the Crown in Edward I's Time, who granted it to Richard de Kingdon :

Billingsgate is that from which the Ward takes its Name, being a large Water gate, Port, or Harbour for small Vessels, which here arrive with Fish, Salt, Oranges, Lemons, Onions, and several other Commodities; and in the Summer Season with Abundance of Cherries from Kent. Likewise Wheat, and other Grain at Smarts key. And these Stairs of Billingsgate are very much resorted unto by the Gravesend Watermen, this being the noted Place to land and take Water at, for that and other Eastern Towns down the River. And here the Coalmen and Woodmongers meet every Morning about Eight or Nine o'Clock, this Place being their Exchange for the Coal Trade, Which brings a great Resort of People, and occasions a great Trade to the Inhabitants.
Touching the ancient Customs of this Billingsgate, I have not read, saith Stow, in any Record, more than that in the Reign of Edward III. every great Ship landing there paid for Standage two Pence , every little Ship with Orelocks, a Penny; the less Boat, called a Battle, a Halfpenny. Of two Quarters of Corn measured, the King was to have one Farthing; of a Comb of Corn, a Penny; of every Weight going out of the City, a Half penny ; of two Quarters of Sea Coals measured, a Farthing; and of every Tun of Ale going out of England beyond the Seas, by Merchant Strangers, four Pence ; of every thousand Herrings, a Farthing, except the Franchises.
Altho' Stow saith these Payments were not made before the Reign of Edward III. yet it appears in Brampton's Chronicle, inter Leges Ethelredi, which was Anno 1016, that Tolls were then paid at Billingsgate.
An Act of Parliament was made (10 & 11 of William III.) to make Billingsgate a free Market for the Sale of Fish ; when it was enacted,

And this Place is now more frequented than in ancient Time, when Queenhithe was made Use of for the said Purpose, this being more commodious; and therefore it was ordained to be the only Port for all such Sorts of Merchandizes.
Boss alley, so called from a Bosse of Spring Water which was erected facing this Alley by the Executors of Richard Whittington, is long, but very ordinary, narrow, and dirty.
Near this Alley is St. Mary hill, which runs Northwards unto Eastcheap, facing St. Margaret Pattens Church. This St. Mary hill has very good houses on it, inhabited by several Merchants. On the East Side is Cross lane, which falls into Idle lane, against St. Dunstan's Church. Austin's court, but mean, lying Northwards of Cross lane. Massie's court, a little more Northwards, hath a dark Passage up Steps, and then is an open Court, but mean.
The Church here Stow calls St. Mary on the Hill, but others have called it St. Mary at Hill, because it stands not on the Hill, but at, or about the Middle of the Ascent from Billingsgate to Little Eastcheap. The back Part of the Church stands in Love Lane, and adjoining to it is an Alley called Church alley, which leadeth into Love lane, and hath Buildings only on the South Side, pretty good, the other Side lying open to the Church yard.
Love lane comes out of Little Eastcheap, and falls into Thames street, where it hath but a narrow Entrance only for a Coach or Cart.
St. Botolph's lane is also a Descent from Eastcheap into Thames street, but is well inhabited by wholesale Dealers in the Orange Trade, &c. It is narrow towards Thames street, but broader upwards, adjoining to the Church : And it must not be forgot, that the first London Bridge across the Thames abutted towards the South End of this Lane.
George's lane, on the North Side, gives an Entrance into the Church, and hath a good Passage into Pudding lane. Over against this Church is St. Botolphs alley, indifferently well inhabited, with a broad Free stone Passage into Love lane. More Southward is St. Botolphs Church yard, at the upper End of which are two or three ordinary houses.
Pudding lane, another Descent from Eastcheap into Thames street, is narrow and steep, but a Place of Trade, and well inhabited by considerable Dealers in foreign Trade. This was anciently called Rother lane, or Red rose lane, from such a Sign there. Stow says, it was afterwards called Pudding lane, because the Butchers of Eastcheap had their Scalding house for Hogs there ; and their Puddings, with other Filth of Beasts, were voided down that Way to their Dung Boats on the Thames.
In this Lane it was that the dreadful Fire of London, on the second of September, 1666, first began. See Bridge Ward within.

It was then a Baker's, now a Gentleman's house; and, in Commemoration thereof, there is erected a stately Monument of Free stone on the East Side of Fish street hill ; of which in Bridge Ward Within.
On the East Side of Pudding lane is George lane, and Fish yard, a small Court, with a Free stone Pavement. On the West Side is a Passage to Fish Street hill, by the Monument; and lower down, to the South, King's head alley, paved with Free stone.
Little Eastcheap is severed from Great Eastcheap by Gracechurch street and Fish street hill. It is well inhabited by different Sorts of Tradesmen. On the North Side, and at the Corner of Rood lane, stands St. Margaret Pattens Church, and betwixt Root lane and Philpot lane is Turner's alley, small and narrow.
Rood lane is well built, and inhabited by Merchants and others; as is also Philpot lane ; of which more in Langbourn Ward.
Talbot court, in Little Eastcheap, is a large and well inhabited Place , out of which a narrow Passage leadeth into another handsome Court, which hath an Entrance into Gracechurch street.
There are to watch at the several Stands in this Ward every Night, besides a Constable and Beadle, thirty Watchmen.
The Jurymen returned by the Wardmote Inquest for this Ward, are to serve as Jurors in the Courts of GnUdhall in the Month of May.
This Ward hath an Alderman and ten Common Councilmen, eleven Constables, six Scavengers, fourteen Men of the Wardmote Inquest, and a Beadle. It is taxed to the Fifteenth in London at thirty two Pounds, and in the Exchequer at thirty one Pounds ten Shillings.
The Alderman of this Ward is William Beckford, Esq; one of the present Representatives of this City in Parliament. The Common Councilmen are, George Woods, Deputy, Mr. Samuel Harris, Mr. Edward Robinfon, Mr. John Cheancy, Mr. Henry Cowling, Mr. Thomas Merrick, Mr. Charles Easton, Mr. William Harris, Mr. John Reed, and Mr. James Koffiter.

The most remarkable Things in this Ward are,
1. The three Parishes and Parish Churches of St. Mary at Hill, of St. Margaret Pattens, and of St. George Botolph lane; and two Parishes without their Churches, viz. the Parish of St. Botolph Billingsgate, and of St. Andrew Hubbard.
2. In Pudding lane is seated Butchers Hall, in which are three handsome Rooms, finely adorned with Fret work and Wainscot, viz. an upper and lower Hall, and a Parlour.
3. In Love lane, on the North West Corner, entering into Little Eastcheap, is the Weigh house, built on the Ground where the Church of St. Andrew Hubbard stood before the Fire of London, 1666; which said Weigh house was before in Cornhill. In this house are weighed Merchandizes brought from beyond the Seas by the King's Beam; to which doth belong a Master, and under him four Master Porters, with labouring Porters under them. They used to have Carts and Horses to fetch the Goods from the Merchants Warehouses to the Beam, and to carry them back.
The house belongeth to the Company of Grocers, in whose Gift the several Porters, &c. Places were. But of late Years little is done in this Office, as wanting a compulsive Power to constrain Merchants to have their Goods weighed, they alledging it to be an unnecessary Trouble and Charge. Over this Office or Weigh house is a large Room, now made Use of as a Meetinghouse for some Dissenters from the Church of England. On the Backside of this Building is a Passage into St. Botolph's lane. The chief Entrance into this Weigh house is in Little Eastcheap.
In this Ward there was a house called The Boar's Head, inhabited by William Sanderson, which came to King Edward VI. by the Statute about Chantries; which, with the Shops, Cellars, Solers, and other Commodities and Easements, he sold in the second of his Reign, together with other Eands and Tenements, to John Sicklemers and Walter Williams for two thousand six hundred and sixty eight Pounds, and upwards.
In the Parish of St. Mary hill there was a Place called Septem Camerae which was either one house, or else so many Rooms or Chambers, which formerly belonged to some Chantry ; the Rent where of went towards the maintaining of a Priest to pray superstitiously for the Soul of the Deceased, who left those Septem Camerae for that Use. these with other Lands and Tenements in the Citv, and elsewhere, were sold by King Edward VI. to Thomas Heybam and Thmnas Brand, for the Sum of nine hundred and eighty eight Pounds eight Shillings and a Penny.


And Last updated on: Friday, 15-Sep-2023 12:27:39 BST

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