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Index to Stow's original Survey of London written in 1598


Billingsgate ward beginneth at the west end of Tower street ward in Thames street, about Smart’s key, and runneth down along that street on the south side to St. Magnus church at the bridge foot, and on the north side of the said Thames street, from over against Smart’s key, till over against the north-west corner of St. Magnus church aforesaid, on this north side of Thames street, is St. Marie hill lane, up to St. Margaret’s church, and then part of St. Margaret Patten’s street, at the end of St. Marie hill lane. Next out of Thames street is Lucas lane, and then Buttolph lane, and at the north end thereof Philpot lane; then is Rother lane, of old time so called, and thwart the same lane is Little Eastcheape; and these be the bounds of Billingsgate ward.

Touching the principal ornaments within this ward. On the south side of Thames street, beginning at the east end thereof, there is first the said Smart’s key, so called of one Smart sometime owner thereof; the next is Belinsgate, whereof the whole ward taketh name; the which (leaving out of the fable, thereof feigning it to be built by King Beline, a Briton, long before the incarnation of Christ), is at this present a large water-gate, port, or harborough, for ships and boats, commonly arriving there with fish, both fresh and salt, shell-fishes, salt, oranges, onions, and other fruits and roots, wheat, rye, and grain of divers sorts, for service of the city and the parts of this realm adjoining. This gate is now more frequented than of old time, when the Queen’s hithe was used, as being appointed by the kings of this realm, to be the special or only port for taking up of all such kind of merchandises brought to this city by strangers and foreigners, and the drawbridge of timber at London bridge was then to be raised or drawn up for passage of ships with tops thither.

Touching the ancient customs of Belinsgate in the reign of Edward III., every great ship landing there paid for standage two-pence, every little ship with orelockes a penny, the lesser boat called a Battle a halfpenny; of two quarters of corn measured the king was to have one farthing, of a combe of corn a penny, of every weight going out of the city a halfpenny, of two quarters of sea coal measured a farthing, and of every tun of ale going out of England beyond the seas, by merchant[186] strangers, four-pence, of every thousand herrings a farthing, except franchises, etc.

Next to this is Sommer’s key, which likewise took that name of one Sommer dwelling there, as did Lion key of one Lion, owner thereof, and since of the sign of a Lion.

Then is there a fair wharf, or key, called Buttolph’s gate, by that name so called in the times of William the Conqueror, and of Edward the Confessor, as I have shown already in the description of the gates.

Next is the parish church of St. Buttolphs, a proper church, and hath had many fair monuments therein, now defaced and gone: notwithstanding I find, by testimonies abroad, that these were buried there; to wit, Roger Coggar, 1384; Andrew Pikeman, and Joan his wife, 1391; Nicholas James, ironmonger, one of the sheriffs, 1423; William Rainwell, fishmonger, and John Rainwell, his son, fishmonger, mayor 1426, and deceasing 1445, buried there with this epitaph:

“Citizens of London, call to your remembrance,
The famous John Rainwell, sometime your Maior.
Of the staple of Callis, so was his chance.
Here lieth now his corps; his soule bright and faire,
Is taken to heaven’s blisse, thereof is no dispaire.
His acts beare witnes, by matters of recorde,
How charitable he was, and of what accorde,
No man hath beene so beneficiall as hee,
Unto the Citie in giving liberallie,” etc.

He gave a stone house to be a revestrie to that church for ever; more, he gave lands and tenements to the use of the commonalty, that the mayor and chamberlain should satisfy unto the discharge of all persons inhabiting the wards of Belinsgate, Downegate, and Aldgate, as oft as it shall happen any fifteen, by parliament of the king to be granted, also to the Exchequer, in discharge of the sheriffs, ten pounds yearly, which the sheriffs used to pay for the farm of Southwark, so that all men of the realm, coming or passing with carriage, should be free quitted and discharged of all toll and other payments, aforetime claimed by the sheriffs. Further, that the mayor and chamberlain shall pay yearly to the sheriffs eight pounds, so that the said sheriffs take no manner of toll or money of any person of this realm for their goods, merchandises, victuals, and carriages, for their passages at the great gate of the bridge of the city, nor at the gate called the Drawbridge, etc. The overplus of money coming of the said lands and tenements, divided into even portions; the one part to be employed to instore the granaries of the city with wheat for the release of the poor commonalty,[187] and the other moiety to clear and cleanse the shelves, and other stoppages of the river of Thames, etc.

Stephen Forstar, fishmonger, mayor in the year 1454, and Dame Agnes his wife, lie buried there. William Bacon, haberdasher, one of the sheriffs 1480, was there buried, besides many other persons of good worship, whose monuments are all destroyed by bad and greedy men of spoil.

This parish of St. Buttolph is no great thing, notwithstanding divers strangers are there harboured, as may appear by a presentment, not many years since made of strangers, inhabitants in the ward of Billingsgate, in these words: “In Billingsgate ward were one and fifty households of strangers, whereof thirty of these households inhabited in the parish of St. Buttolph, in the chief and principal houses, where they give twenty pounds the year for a house lately letten for four marks; the nearer they dwell to the water-side the more they give for houses, and within thirty years before there was not in the whole ward above three Netherlanders; at which time there was within the said parish levied, for the help of the poor, seven and twenty pounds by the year; but since they came so plentifully thither, there cannot be gathered above eleven pounds, for the stranger will not contribute to such charges as other citizens do.” Thus much for that south side of this ward.

On the north side is Bosse alley, so called of a boss of spring water continually running, which standeth by Billingsgate against this alley, and was sometime made by the executors of Richard Whittington.

Then is St. Marie hill lane, which runneth up north from Billingsgate to the end of St. Margaret Pattens, commonly called Roode lane, and the greatest half of that lane is also of Belinsgate ward. In this St. Marie hill lane is the fair parish church of St. Marie, called on the hill, because of the ascent from Billingsgate.

This church hath been lately built, as may appear by this that followeth. Richard Hackney, one of the sheriff’s in the year 1322, and Alice his wife, were there buried, as Robert Fabian writeth, saying thus:—“In the year 1497, in the month of April, as labourers digged for the foundation of a wall, within the church of St. Marie hill, near unto Belinsgate, they found a coffin of rotten timber, and therein the corpse of a woman whole of skin, and of bones undissevered, and the joints of her arms pliable, without breaking of the skin, upon whose sepulchre this was engraven:—‘Here lieth the bodies of Richard Hackney,[188] fishmonger, and Alice his wife.’”[174] The which Richard was sheriff in the 15th of Edward II. Her body was kept above ground three or four days without nuisance, but then it waxed unsavoury, and so was again buried. John Mordand, stock-fishmonger, was buried there, 1387; Nicholas Exton, fishmonger, mayor 1387; William Cambridge, mayor, 1420; Richard Goslin, sheriff, 1422; William Philip, sergeant-at-arms, 1473; Robert Reuell, one of the sheriffs 1490, gave liberally toward the new building of this church and steeple, and was there buried; William Remington, mayor, 1500; Sir Thomas Blanke, mayor, 1582; William Holstocke, esquire, comptroller of the king’s ships; Sir Cuthbert Buckle, mayor, 1594.

This lane on both sides is furnished with many fair houses for merchants; and hath at the north end thereof one other lane, called St. Margaret Pattens, because of old time pattens were there usually made and sold; but of latter time this is called Roode lane, of a roode there placed in the churchyard of St. Margaret, whilst the old church was taken down, and again newly built; during which time the oblations made to this rood were employed towards building of the church; but in the year 1538, about the 23rd of May, in the morning, the said rood was found to have been in the night preceding, by people unknown, broken all to pieces, together with the tabernacle wherein it had been placed. Also, on the 27th of the same month, in the same parish, amongst the basket makers, a great and sudden fire happened in the night season, which within the space of three hours consumed more than a dozen houses, and nine persons were burnt to death there: and thus ceased that work of this church, being at that time nigh finished to the steeple.

The lane on both sides beyond the same church to the midway towards Fenchurch street, is of Bellinsgate ward.

Then again out of Thames street, by the west end of St. Mary hill church, runneth up one other lane, of old time called Roape lane, since called Lucas lane, of one Lucas, owner of some part thereof, and now corruptly called Love lane; it runneth up by the east end of a parish church of St. Andrew Hubbert, or St. Andrew in East Cheap. This church, and all the whole lane called Lucas lane, is of this Belinsgate ward.

Then have ye one other lane out of Thames street, called Buttolph lane, because it riseth over against the parish church[189] of St. Buttolph, and runneth up north by the east end of St. George’s church to the west end of St. Andrew’s church, and to the south end of Philpot lane.

This parish church of St. George in Buttolph lane is small, but the monuments for two hundred years past are well preserved from spoil, whereof one is of Adam Bamme, mayor 1397; Richard Bamme, esquire, his son, of Gillingham in Kent, 1452; John Walton, gentleman, 1401; Marpor, a gentleman, 1400; John St. John, merchant of Levant, and Agnes his wife, 1400; Hugh Spencer, esquire, 1424; William Combes, stock fishmonger, one of the sheriffs 1452, who gave forty pounds towards the works of that church; John Stokar, draper, one of the sheriffs, 1477; Richard Dryland, esquire, and Katherine his wife, daughter of Morrice Brune, knight, of Southuckenton in Essex, steward of household to Humfrey Duke of Glocester, 1487; Nicholas Patrich, one of the sheriffs, 1519. In the churchyard: William Forman, mayor, 1538; James Mumford, esquire, surgeon to King Henry VIII., buried 1544; Thomas Gayle, haberdasher, 1340; Nicholas Wilford, merchant-tailor, and Elizabeth his wife, about the year 1551; Edward Heyward, 1573, etc. Roger Delakere founded a chantry there.

Then have ye one other lane called Rother lane, or Red Rose lane, of such a sign there, now commonly called Pudding lane, because the butchers of Eastcheap have their scalding house for hogs there, and their puddings, with other filth of beasts, are voided down that way to their dung boats on the Thames.

This lane stretcheth from Thames street to Little East Cheape, chiefly inhabited by basket-makers, turners, and butchers, and is all of Billinsgate ward. The Garland in Little East Cheape, sometime a brewhouse, with a garden on the back side, adjoining to the garden of Sir John Philpot, was the chief house in this East Cheape; it is now divided into sundry small tenements, etc.

This ward hath an alderman, and his deputy, common councillors, constables eleven, scavengers six, for the wardmote inquest fourteen, and a beadle; it is taxed to the fifteen in London at thirty-two pounds, and in the Exchequer at thirty-one pounds ten shillings.