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The London Wards - Portsoken Ward in 1756

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Portsoken Ward in 1756 neatly engraved from a New Survey

Index of London wards in 1756 by William Maitland

Chap. XXVI.

Portsoken Ward.

With a Plan, neatly engraved from a New Survey.

Its Name. Bounds. ancient State. Extent. Modern State. Government. Aldermen and Common Councilmen. Parishes and Churches. Priory of the Holy Trinity St. Catherine's Trinity Church and Canons. East Smithfield. New abby. Minories. Goodman's fields. Nunnery of St. Clare.

Portsoken signifies a Franchise at the Gate : Of which below, under the Antiquities of this Ward.

It is bounded on the East by the Parishes of Spital fields, Stepney, and St. George's in the East ; on the South by Tower hill ; on the North by Bishopsgate Ward ; on the West by Aldgate Ward. In describing the Extent of this Ward, our best Direction is to follow the Order of the yearly parochial Perambulation, as follows :

Walking down Houndsditch, Northward, they cross the Way Eastward into Still and Hand alley; Passingon along by the Garden Wall, they proceed to Petticoat lane, in the Middle of which is the Partition between the two Parishes of Whitechapel and St. Botolph : There they go on to the Bars in the common Street, and, crossing the Way Southward, go through a Tavern, some Time the Castle; and then, turning Westward, pass on to the Minories till they come to the Bars ; where Ends the Ward and the Parish within the Freedom.

There, at the farther End, they turn down into an Alley, called Brown's alley, and so as far as Goodmans fields ; then turn up the Street again, and go down Red lion alley, passing directly into Rosemary lane, and thence down Nightingale lane, on the West Side, to the Hermitage bridge, and so round St. Catharine's, and then passing over Tower hill, they come again into the Freedom, and go directly up the Minories Northward till they come under Aldgate.

In this Ward the principal streets and Places are Whitechapel, the Minories, and Houndsditch, together with the West Side of Petticoat lane ; in which Streets are divers Alleys, Courts, &c. of which in their Order.

Whitechapel is a spacious Street for Entrance into the City Eastward, and somewhat long, reckoning from the Lay stall East unto the Corner of Houndsditch West. It is a great Thorough fare, being the Essex Road, and well resorted to, which occasions it to be well inhabited, and accommodated with good Inns for the Reception of Travellers, Horses, Coaches, Waggons, &c.

Here on the South Side is a Hay Market three Times a Week.
The South Side within the Bars, as well as a little Way without, is taken up by a great many Butchers, who carry on a great Trade, both Wholesale and Retail.
On the North Side are divers considerable Inns, much Resorted to, as the Three Nuns, the Crown, the Black bull, the Blue boar ; with several Shops which have great Trade out of the Country.
About the Bars ply a great Number of Stage Coaches, for the Conveniency of carrying Passengers to Stratford, Bow, Low layton, Laytonstone, West ham, East ham, Walthamstow, Woodford, Wansted, Barking, &c.
Places of Name in this Street within the Bars are as follow, beginning at St. Botolphs Church and so Eastward :

First, Hatchet alley, pretty well built, but hath a narrow Entrance White Bear alley, hath a long, narrow, and dark Passage into it, but within are good Brick Buildings. Sun and Trumpet alley, very ordinary, near unto this Alley is the Bell Brewhouse, of a good Trade ; and near unto the Blue boar Inn, is the Boars head Tavern, being a house of pretty good Trade.
Red Cross court, well built, with new Brick houses, hath a pretty large Passage into Petticoat lane. Anchor and Harp alley, both narrow and ordinary. Harrow alley, containing two large Courts, and a long Alley that leads into Goodmans fields ; and at the upper End of this Alley, is a Place called the Blue gate ; all but indifferently built and inhabited. Chequer yard, also but ordinary : And a new Street is lately built, which leads also into Goodmans fields, and called Somerset street.

From Aldgate North West to Bishopsgate, says Stow, lyeth the Ditch of the City, in that Part called Houndsditch, because that in old Time, when the same lay open, much Filth (conveyed forth of the City, efpecially dead Dogs) was there laid or cast.
Into this filthy Ditch King Canutus commanded Edrick, a noble Saxon, who had basely slain his King and Lord Edmund Ironside, to be drawn by the Heels from Baynard's castle through the City, and cast in there, after he had first been tormented to Death by lighted Torches. Rich. of Ciciter.
Of later Time a Mud Wall was made, enclosing the Ditch, to keep out the laying of such Filth as had been accustomed.
Over against this Mud Wall, on the other Side of the Street, was a fair field, sometime belonging to the Priory of the Trinity, and since by Sir Tho. Audley given to Magdalen College in Cambridge.
This Ground contained a Messuage, a Dove house, and a Garden of about seven Acres. There was also adjoining to this Garden a great Gate, and a Building over, and a Street or Lane leading from Houndsditch thither. For all this Sir Tho. Audley obtained of King Henry special Letters Patents, dated March 23, in the 25th of his Reign, as belonging to the Priory, to this Tenor :

On the Ditch Side of this Street, the Mud Wall is also (by little and little) taken all down, the Bank of the Ditch being rased, made level Ground, and turned into Garden Plats and Carpenters Yards, and many large houses are there ouilded. The Filth of which Houses, as also the Earth cast out of their Vaults, is turned into the Ditch : By which means the Ditch is filled up, and both the Ditch and Wall so hidden, that they cannot be seen of the Passers by.

Houndsditch is now built into houses ; and, besides the Street, which is taken up by Brokers, Joiners, Brasiers, Salesmen, and such as deal in Cloaths, Linnen and Upholltery Ware, (for which, at present, it is a Place of considerable Trade) here are a great many Courts and Alleys. We shall only take Notice of these in this Ward, beginning at Still alley ; the others, which lie in Bishopsgate Ward, being there treated of.

Still alley hath a narrow Entrance, but is very large, containing several Turnings to other Places ; as, the Lower Ground, which hath a Passage into Gravel lane and Gutteridge rents; which hath pretty good Buildings ; and out of this Place is a Passage down Steps into a Court, which leads into Devonshire square, treated of in Bishopsgate Ward.
Greyhound alley; small and ordinary. Fleur de Lis court, a square Place, with old decayed Buildings, ill inhabited. Wool Sack alley leads into Gravel lane, a large Place, with pretty good Buildings, and contains several Places ; as Crab court, where there is a large Brewhouse ; and over against this Place is Pine apple court, which hath a Free stone Pavement, and contains four good Brick houses.
Here is also Star court, with three or four indifferent Places without a Name. Hand alley, small and ordinary. Skinners alley, also small and ordinary, with old Timber houses. Castle yard hath a long turning Passage with good houses, indifferently well inhabited. Ball and Shear court, small and mean ; and adjoining to this is another small Place without a Name. Angel alley, long and narrow, falls into Gravel lane. Fire ball alley, big, but ordinary. Fire ball court, a handsome open Place, well built and inhabited, with a Passage into Gravel lane. Cock and hoop yard, a large open Place, with Buildings fit for good Inhabitants. Red lion court, a square Place, with indifferent good Buildings. Shepherd and dog alley , both small and mean. Three bowls court, small and ordinary. Walnut tree yard, but small. Joiners court hath tolerable good Buildings, with a Free stone Pavement. Harrow alley, but small. Cock and wheatsheaf ally, likewise small, and separate each from the other by a Pale. Rose and crown court, a neat Place with good Buildings, well inhabited, with a Free stone Pavement. Seven star alley, indifferent good ; and to some of these Houses there are Gardens.

Church lane, very large and open, the North Side fronting St. Botolphs Church and Church yard, hath a Row of good Buildings, of which two are large ; and at the upper End is Mr. Smith the Carpenter's Yard, with Livery Stables over against it. Gun yard, a very handsome square Court, with good large houses very well inhabited, with an Entrance wide enough for Coach or Cart.
Gravel lane, very large, branching itfelf into several Parts, as Seven step alley, Blackamoor court, which fall into Petticoat lane. Shrewsbury court, a pretty handsome square Place. Honey lane, somewhat long, and falls into Petticoat lane. Suttons Rcnts, small and ordinary. Wood Greens court, a pretty handsome open square Place, indifferently well inhabited. Harrow alley, long and narrow, falls into Petticoat lane. Clarkes court, pretty handsome. Hand and crown court, a good open Place. New George court hath indifferent good Brick Buildings, with a Free stone Pavement. Vine court, a handsome square Place, with new Brick Buildings, and a Free stone Pavement. Pease porridge alley, small and ordinary.
King's kead court, pretty large. Almost over against this Court is Olivers court, small and ordinary. Hand alley hath a Passage into Bishopsgate street.

Petticoat lane, formerly called Hog lane, is near Whitechapel Bars, and runs North ward towards St. Mary Spital. On both Sides this Lane, in ancient Times, were Pledge rows and Elm trees, with pleasant Fields to walk in, insomuch that Gentlemen used to have houses there for the Air; and Mr. Strype saith, when he was a Boy, there was one commonly called the Spanish Ambassadors house, who, in King James's Ist's Reign, dwelt there, and whom he takes to be the famous Count Gondomar; And a little Way off this, on the East Side the Way, down a paved alley, now called Strypes court, from his Father's inhabiting there, was a large house with a good Garden before it, built and inhabited by Hans Jacobson, the said King James's Jeweller, wherein Mr. Strype was born.

But after, many French Protestants, who in the said King's Reign, and before, fled their Country for their Religion, and planted themfelves here, viz. in that Part of the Lane near Spitalfields, to follow their Trade, being generally Broad Weavers of Silk, it soon became a contiguous Row of Buildings on both Sides of the Way.

In this Petticoat lane are divers Courts and Alleys, most of which on the West Side, which are in this Ward, have their Passage into, or out of Gravel lane; but those that have not are five Inkhorn court, a pretty open Place, with indifferent Inhabitants. Near tins Court is White hart court, which is but indifferent. Batess ysrd, very mean ; and Red cross court, which hath a Passage into Wbitechapel street. This Part of the Lane coming out at the Bars is not mighty well inhabited ; those of the most Account are Horners, who prepare Horns for other petty Manufacturers.

The Minories, of which there are the Great and the Little : The Great is a broad and spacious. Street, the Entrance into which is out of Aldgate street, over against St. Botolph's Church, and run neth Southward into Little Tower hill ; having on the West Side London Wall, where anciently the City Ditch went, as in Houndsditch, and was used to cast Filth in, and so lay open ; which being found inconvenient, noisome and dangerous, it was filled up, and the Ground converted to other Uses ; there being now a Row of Buildings next the Wall, and another on the Back of the Minories, it is become a Street, and bears the Name of
the Vineyard, and hath a broad Passage into it out of the Minories, which is very well inhabited by considerable Tradesmen in most Branches, but chiefly noted for the Gunsmiths, who drive a considerable Trade.

The Little Minories are the Buildings erected upon the Site of the Abbey of Nuns, called Minorites, containing two or three Courts, all pretty well inhabited : And here also is the Trinity Minories Church. Out of this Place is a Passage into Heydon yard.
Near this Nunnery, or Little ries, was a large Field and Farm, at which, Mr. Stow saith, he himself, when a Lad, fetch'd many a Half penny worth of Milk and had never less than three Pints in the Summer, nor less than a Quart in the Winter, for that Money. This was kept by one Goodman, whole Son afterwards let it out, and lived like a Gentleman upon the Rent of it. It still retains the Name of Goodman's Fields, tho' it is new converted into Streets, with very good Brick houses, inhabited by several Merchants and Persons of Repute ; and about 15 Years ago had a Theatre or Play house in one of them, built in a pretty good Taste.

To return therefore to this Street called the Minories; therein are several Courts or Alleys:
Beginning towards Aldgate there is Black boy court, being long, narrow, and ordinary. Maiden head alley, small, nasty, and beggarly. Three kings alley, pretty large, containing two Courts, one within another, and both indifferent good. Fountain alley, very mean. Shipyard, an indifferent large square Court, but very mean, with old houses. Well alley, but small, with a long and
narrow Passage to it. Shippeys yard, indifferent large, and pretty good, especially the upper Part.
Heydon yard, being broad enough for Coach or Cart : At the upper End is a good large Square, or open Place railed about, with a Row of Trees, very ornamental in the Summer Season, having on the East Side Coach houses and Stables; on the West Side a very handsome Row of large houses, with Court yards before them, and are inhabited by Merchants and Persons of Repute ; on the North, a Square of good Brick houses.
Out of this Yard, on the West, is a Passage into the Little Minories, on the East another into Goodmans fields. Browns yard, indifferent good, with a Passage down Steps into some Part of it. Squirrels alley, pretty well built, with a narrow paved Passage that goes down Steps. Swan alley, long and narrow, hath a Passage into Mansel street.
Goodmans yard, very large, and leads into Goodmans fields, almost over Peascod street, hath pretty good Buildings, and well inhabited. Red lion alley, long and narrow, with old built Houses. Red gate court, but small, with a Passage down Steps into Heathens court. Whalers yard, a pretty open Place. Bullock' s court, a pretty handsome open Place. Hamersmitb alley, ordinary, with a Passage to it down Steps. Walls court, a handsome Place, with a Passage to it paved with Pebble Stones. Black horse alley, containing two small Courts, which are but ordinary. Eales's court, pretty open, with a Passage for a Cart, and the houses are indifferently well inhabited. Weedens rents, with a descending steep Passage, very mean. Gooding' s yard, a handsome open Place, indifferently well built. Bellowess yard, indifferent, with a Passage to it down Steps. Star alley, but ordinary: At the lower End is another Court down Steps, also very mean. Three crown court, also but ordinary.

This Ward hath an Alderman, and five Common Councilmen, including the Deputy. It is assessed 4 l. 10 s. to the Fifteenth.

The nightly Watch confifts of a Constable, a Beadle, and sixty Watchmen.

The Jurymen returned by the Wardmote Inquest for this Ward are to serve as Jurors in the several Courts of Guildhall in the Month of January.

The Alderman is Sir William Calvert, Knt. LL. D. The Common Councilmen are, Mr. Robert Pycroft, Deputy, Mr. Philip Grafton, Mr. Richard Bridgman, Mr. Richard Wilson, Mr. Lodowick Mansfield.

We don't find any remarkable Buildings or Places in this Ward, except,

First. Two Parish Churehes : (1.) St. Botolph without Aldgate; and, (2.) Trinity Minories : Of which hereafter in our Parochial History.

Two Charity Schools : (1.) One founded in the Freedom for fifty Boys and forty Girls by Sir John Cass, Alderman ; of which already under the Account of Aldgate Ward, in which Gate the said School is taught at present. (2.) Another School for forty Boys and thirty Girls, founded by Sir Samuel Starling, Knt. and Alderman of the City of London ; who, by his last Will and Testament, bearing Date the seventh Day of August, Anno Dom. 1673, gave certain Copyhold Lands and Tenements, lying in East Smithfield, in the Parish of St. Mary Wbitechapel, belonging to the Manor of Stepney in the County of Middlesex, the Rents amounting to the Value of 22 l. yearly, as a Foundation of a Charity School, for the better Education of the poor Youths of the Parish of St. Botolph without Aldgate ; which Lands and Tenements he surrendered for the Use of his Will to Mr. Corfellis, Brewer, Mr. John Parsons, Brewer, and Thomas Heath, Scrivener ; Truftees of the said charity; The School Master to be a Batchelor of Arts or the University of Cambridge, and to teach School in a Brick house, which he, the said Sir Samuel Starling, built at his own Charge at the East End of the Town house, or Quell house, upon Little Tower hill, in the Manor of East Smithfield. The School Master to be chosen by the Inquest of the Ward of Portsoken, and the Leet Jury of the Manor of East Smithfield, and to be from Time to Time, establish for the due Government of the said School, on Pain of being removed and forfeiting his Right to receive the said Rents :

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

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