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The London Wards - Cornhill in 1756

Broad street and Cornhill Wards  in 1756 neatly engraved from a New Survey

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Index of London wards in 1756 by William Maitland


Plan neatly engraved from a New Survey.

The, Name. Bounds. Extent. Modern State. Aldermen and Common Councilmen. Churches and Parishes. Royal Exchange. Royal Exchange Assurance Office. Great Fire in Cornhill, 1747. King Johns Court. Tun and Conduit, and the Standard.

This Ward also takes its Name from the principal Street therein, which was called Cornhill, from the Corn market kept there in ancient Times; and is bounded on the East by Cornhill Ward ; on the North by Broad Street Ward ; on the West by Cheap Ward ; and on the South by Langborn Ward. But it is of a very small Extent ; for beginning, on the North East, at the South East Corner of St. Martin Outwich's Church, it runs, in several Windings South West, to the West Extent of Cornhill.
Then beginning again on the North at about 50 feet from the South West Corner of Cornhill street; it runs South to St. Peter's alley in Gracechurch street, and from hence by divers to the South West Corner of Cornhill street.

This Ward contains only one principal Street, Modern Cornhill, which is entirely in it on both Sides. It was formerly chiefly occupied by Linen drapers : But at present is divided Amongst substantial Dealers in almost every Branch of Trade, viz.
Linen drapers, Woollen drapers, Haberdashers, Milliners, Hardwaremen, Clock makers, Book sellers, Toymen, and many genteel Taverns and Coffee houses, for the Entertainment of such whole Business calls them to the Royal Exchange, which Building, with two handsome Churches, is a great Ornament to this Street. On the North Side of this Street are several large Courts, as Star court, Weigh house yard, Newmans yard, Freemans court, well built, and chiefly inhabited by Merchants or substantial Tradesmen. Part of Finke or Finch lane, as far as Spread eagle court or about 113 Feet on both Sides from Cornhill:
The other Part is in Broad street Ward. Part of Sweeting's alley, as far as the East Entrance into the Royal Exchange ; and one Third of the South End of Castle alley ; which two last mentioned are chiefly occupied by Watch makers, Notaries Publick, Stationers and Coffee houses. About 60 Feet more to the West, where once the Globe, afterwards the Cross Keys Tavern stood, is the principal Warehouse for Bow China ; of which Manufacture more particularly in its proper Place. On the South Side is St. Peter's alley, well built and inhabited, and hath a Passage with a Free stone Pavement round St. Peter's Church yard into Gracechurch street. St. Michael's alley, inhabited by Tradesmen and Publicans. This Alley has a Passage to the South through the George and Vulture Tavern into George yard, Lombard street ; to the East through a narrow Passage into Bell yard, Gracechurch street; and to the West thro' Castle alley into Birclin lane.

More to the West is Burchover lane, so called from the first Builder and Owner, but now called Birchin lane, of which an hundred and seventy Feet on both Sides of the Way from Cornhill is in this Ward. It was formerly noted for Salesmen, or Dealers in Mens Apparel, for Coffee houses, and Eating houses ; but it has changed its Inhabitants in Part for Merchants, Woollen Drapers, Publick Notaries, and Brokers for tranfacting Business in the mercantile Way,

As for Exchange alley and Pope's head alley, further to the South West in Cornhill, only their Entrances and front houses are in this Ward : The former is very well built, with a Free stone Pavement, and three Passages, two into Lombard street, and one into Birchin lane ; and is known all over the mercantile World on account of the Business tranfacted there in Money Affairs, this being the grand Market for buying and selling Stocks, Lottery Tickets, &. so that the houses, Jonathan's, Garraway's, &. on this Site are contrived for the Reception and Entertainment of Merchants, Brokers, and others, who assemble here daily in great Numbers from all Parts, not only of these Kingdoms, but from distant Nations,' in Pursuit of Riches. The latter, which takes its Name from a Tavern situate therein, whose Sign is the Pope's Head, is very narrow, but well inhabited by Brokers, Book sellers, and such whose Business requires their Attendance near the Exchange.

This Ward maintains a Watch every Night of sixteen common Men, under a Beadle and Constable.
The Jury returned by the Wardmote Inquest for this Ward are to ferve as Jurors in the several Courts in Guildhall in the Month of January.
It is governed by an Alderman and six Common Councilmen, including the Deputy; to which are added four Constables, four Scavengers, sixteen Wardmote Inquest men, and one Beadle.
The present Alderman is Francis Cckayne, Esq , who is past the Chair ; and the Common Council men are, Mr. Francis Ellis, Deputy, Mr. William Meadows, Mr. John Young, Mr. James Walton, Mr. Thomas Cogan, and Mr. George Sherwin.

The most remarkable Things in the Ward of Cornhill are two Parish Churches, 1. St. Michael's, and, 2. St. Peter's ; of which more particularly in our Parochial History.

The greatest Ornament of this Ward, and one of the principal Buildings in the City, is the Royal Exchange, erected in the Year 1566, after this Order, viz. Certain houses upon Cornhill, and the like upon the Back thereof, in the Ward of Broad street, with three Alleys, the first called Swan alley, opening into Cornhill; the second New alley, passing through out of Cornhill into Bread street Ward, over against St. Bartholomew lane ; the third St. Christopher's alley, opening into Broad street Ward, and into St. Christopher's Parish ; containing in all four score houses ; were first purchased by the Citizens of London, as the Mayor and Aldermen, in an Answer set forth to the Lady Gresham's Supplication, say, at four thousand Pounds and upwards. All these houses were sold for four hundred and seventy eight Pounds, to such as would take them down and carry them thence. also the Ground or Flat was made plain at the Charge of the City, and then Possession thereof was by certain Aldermen, in the Name of the whole Citizens, given to Sir Thomas Gresham, Knt. Agent, to Queen Elizabeth, thereupon to build a Burse, or Place for Merchants to assemble in, at his own Charges : And he, on the seventh of June, laying the first Stone of the Foundation, being Brick, accompanied with some Aldermen, every of them laid a Piece of Gold, which the Workmen took up, and forthwith followed upon the same with such Diligence, that by the Month of November, in the Year 1567, the same was covered with Slate,
and shortly after finished.

In the Year 1570, on the twenty third of January, the Queen's Majesty, attended with her Nobility, came from her house at the Strand, called Somerset house, and entered the City by Temple bar, through Fleet street, Cheapside, and so by the North Side of the Burse, through Threadneedle street, to Sir Thomas Gresham's in Cornhill street, where she dined. After Dinner her
Majesty returning through Cornhill, entered the Burse on the South Side ; and, after she had viewed every Part thereof above Ground, especially the Pawne, which was richly furnished with all Sorts of the finest Wares in the City, she caused the same Burse, by an Herald and a Trumpet, to be proclaimed The Royal Exchange, and to be so called from thenceforth, and by no other Name.

The Rents of the Shops here brought in considerable Gains to Sir Thomas Gresham the Builder.
And, about five or six Years after, the Shops being all furnished with Wares, Gresham constrained all the Shopkeepers that had Shops above to take Shops below, where was an equal Number ; but these were in the lowest Vaults of the Exchange. At this Time each Person paid four Marks a Year for every Shop above, and he would have as much for every Shop below, or else they should not have one above : But, after they had kept Shop below a little while, what with the Damp of the Vault, the Darkness of the Place, and the Unwillingness of Customers to buy their Wares there, they were so wearied, that they agreed among themselves to give four Pounds a Year for a Shop above, that they might be freed from keeping Shop below, and so Sir Thomas should turn the Vaults to what other Use he would, either for Merchants Goods, or otherwise : Which Offer he accepted ; and so the Tenants only furnished the Shops, above, as they remain to this Day. And the Vaults have been used now a long Time for stowing of Merchandize, and chiefly Pepper.

In the Year 1747, on the twenty fifth of March, about One o'Clock in the Morning, a Fire broke out in the Shop of Mr. Eldridge, a Barber, or in an Herb Stall or Shed close adjoining to it, behind the Swan, now the King's Arms Tavern, which spread with such Rapidity, that Mr. Eldridge, his Wife, Sister, and Children, were burnt in their Beds ; and all the houses, with most of their Furniture, &. from the North Entrance into Change alley to St. Michael's Church on the North, and from the North West Corner of the said Alley to the Church yard Of St. Edmund the King in Lombard street on the South East, from the said Church yard to the South East Corner of Change alley, leaving the front houses in Lombard street, and about four on each Side of the South End of Birchin lane, and from the South East End of Change alley into Cornhill; within which Tract were consumed, before Ten o'Clock in the Morning, one hundred houses, besides several more damaged.

The Distress which was hereby brought upon the Sufferers on this Occasion was so great, few of them being able to save their Goods, and many not insured, little dreading such a Misfortune in a Neighbourhood so well watched and provided with every necessary in such Accidents to defend them against Fires, that the Benevolent consulted immediately for their Relief, and raised a Subscription of five thousand seven hundred and seventy four Pounds nineteen Shillings and four Pence ; which was, after several Meetings, accounted for by a Committee appointed by the Contributors for enquiring into the Circumstances of the Sufferers, and to diftribute the same in an equitable Manner:

This, no doubt, was a very great Misfortune to the Individuals who were in it, but the spacious and commodious Buildings raised upon the Ruins prove a great Advantage to the Publick, and an Ornament to the City.
The Pope's head Tavern, with other houses adjoining, strongly built of Stone, were formerly in one, belonging to some Person of great State, or rather to the King, as may be supposed by the Arms, 'viz. Three Lions Passant Gardant, which was the whole Arms of England before the Reign of Edward III. who quartered them with the Arms of France. these Arms, supported by two Angels, were handsomely and largely carved in the fore Front of this house towards the high Street.

It has been said that King John had his Court in the aforesaid house, which is not unlikely ; for Matthew Paris saith in his History, that, in the Year 1232, Henry III. sent Hubert de Burgho, Earl of Kent, to Cornhill in London, there to answer all
Matters objected against him, where he wisely acquitted himself.
Down lower, on the high Street of Cornhill, was another great Tavern, called the Cardinals Hat, which had also a Thoroughfare into Lombard street.
In the Year of Christ 1282, a Conduit was first built of Stone, by Henry Wallis, Mayor of London, to be a Prison for Night walkers and other suspicious Persons, and was called the Tun upon Cornhill, because the same was built some what in Fashion of a Tun standing on one End.
Also without the West Side of this Tun was a Well of springing Water, curbed round with hard Stone.

To this Prison of the Tun the Night Watches of this City committed not only Night walkers, but also other Persons, as well Spiritual as Temporal, whom they suspected of Incontinency, and punished them according to the Customs of this City : But Complaint thereof being made about the Year of Christ 1297, King Edward I. forbid the Imprisonment of the Clergy therein.

About the Year of Christ 1299, the twenty seventh of Edward I. certain principal Citizens of London, to wit, T. Romane, Richard Gloucester, Nicholas Faringdon, Adam Helingbury, T. Saly, John Bunstable, Richard Ashwy, John Wade, and William Stratford, brake up this Prison called the Tun, and took out certain Prisoners ; for which they were sharply punished, by long Imprisonment and great Fines. It Cost the Citizens (as some have written) more than twenty thousand Marks, which they were amerced in before William de March, Treasurer of the King's Exchequer, to purchase the King's Favour, and the Confirmation of their Liberties.

In the Year 1383, the seventh of Richard 11. the Citizens of London taking upon them the Rights that belonged to their Bishops, first imprisoned such Women as were taken in Fornication or Adultery, in the said Tun; and after, bringing them forth to the Sight of the World, they caused their Heads to be shaved, after the Manner of Thieves, whom they named Appellators, and so to be led about the City, in Sight of all the Inhabitants, with Trumpets and Pipes sounding before them, that their Persons might be the more largely known : Neither did they spare such Kind of Men a whit the more, but used them as hardly, saying, they abhorred not only the Negligence of their Prelates, but also detested their Avarice, that studied for Money, omitted the Punishment limited by Law, and permitted those that were found guilty to live favourably by their Fines ; wherefore they would themselves, they said, purge their City from such Filthiness, left, through God's Vengeance, either the Pestilence or Sword should happen to them, or that the Earth should fwallow them.
In a Charge of the Wardmote Inquest in every Ward in this City were these Words :
" If there bee any Priest in Service within the Ward, which before time hath beene set in the Tunne in Cornehill for his Dishonesty, and hath forsworne the Citie, all such shall be presented."

In the Year 1401, the said Prison house called The Conduit the Tun was made a Cistern for sweet Water conveyed by Pipes of Lead from Tyburn, and was from thenceforth called the Conduit upon Cornhill. Then was the Wall planked over, and a strong Prison made of Timber, called a Cage with a Pair of Stocks set upon it, and this was for Night walkers, on the Top of which Cage was placed a Pillory, for the Punishment of Bakers offending in the Assize of Bread, for Millers stealing of Corn at the Mill, and for Bawds and Scolds, and other Offenders.

The foresaid Conduit upon Cornhill was in the Year 1475 enlarged by Robert Drope, Draper, Mayor, who then dwelt in that Ward : He enlarged the Cistern of this Conduit with an East End of Stone and Lead, and castellated it in comely Manner.

In the Year 1582, Peter Morris, a Dutchman, having contracted with the City of London for the erecting of an Engine under London Bridge to force Water into the Eastern Parts thereof, erected at the East End of Cornhill, in the Middle of the High Street, where four Ways part, a Water Standard, at the Charge of the City which Standard had four Spouts, that ran plentifully at every Tide, four Ways, to Bishopsgate, Aldgate, the Bridge, and to Wallbrook or Stocks market : This being at that Time supposed to be the highest Ground of the City.

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