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


The next ward to the south is Cornehill ward, so called of a corn market, time out of mind there holden, and is a part of the principal high street, beginning at the west end of Leaden hall, stretching down west on both the sides by the south end of Finks lane on the right hand, and by the north end of Birchovers lane; on the left part of which lanes, to wit, to the middle of them, is of this ward, and so down to the Stockes market; and this is the bounds.

The upper or east part of this ward, and also a part of Lime street ward, hath been (as I said) a market place, especially for corn, and since for all kind of victuals, as is partly showed in Lime street ward; yet it appeareth of record, that in the year 1522, the rippers of Rie and other places, sold their fresh fish in Leaden hall market upon Cornehill, but foreign butchers were not admitted there to sell flesh till the year 1533; and it was enacted, that butchers should sell[158], their beef not above a halfpenny the pound, and mutton a halfpenny half-farthing; which act being devised for the great commodity of the realm (as it was then thought) hath since proved far otherwise; for before that time a fat ox was sold in London for six-and-twenty shillings and eight pence at the most, a fat wether for three shillings and four pence, a fat calf the like price, a fat lamb for twelve pence, pieces of beef weighing two pounds and a half at the least, yea three pounds or better, for a penny, on every butcher’s stall in this city, and of those pieces of beef thirteen or fourteen for twelve pence, fat mutton for eight pence the quarter, and one hundred weight of beef for four shillings and eight pence, at the dearest. What the price is now I need not to set down; many men thought the same act to rise in price, by mean that graziers knew or supposed what weight every their beasts contained, and so raising their price thereafter, the butcher could be no gainer, but by likewise raising his price.[159] The number of butchers then in the city and suburbs was accounted six score, of which every one killed six oxen a piece weekly, which is in forty-six weeks thirty-three thousand one hundred and twenty oxen, or seven hundred and twenty oxen weekly. The foreign butchers for a long time stood in the high street of Lime Street[169] ward on the north side, twice every week, namely, Wednesday and Saturday, and were some gain to the tenants before whose doors they stood, and into whose houses they set their blocks and stalls; but that advantage being espied, they were taken into Leaden hall, there to pay for their standing to the chamber of London. Thus much for the market upon Cornhill.

The chief ornaments on Cornhill ward are these: first, at the east end thereof, in the middle of the high street, and at the parting of four ways, have ye a water standard, placed in the year 1582, in manner following. A certain German, named Peter Morris, having made an artificial forcier for that purpose, conveyed Thames water in pipes of lead over the steeple of St. Magnus church, at the north end of London Bridge, and from thence into divers men’s houses in Thames street, New Fish street, and Grasse street, up to the north-west corner of Leaden hall, the highest ground of all the city, where the waste of the main pipe rising into this standard, provided at the charges of the city, with four spouts did at every tide run (according to covenant) four ways, plentifully serving to the commodity of the inhabitants near adjoining in their houses, and also cleansed the channels of the street towards Bishopsgate, Aldgate, the bridge, and the Stockes’ market. But now no such matter, through whose default I know not.[160]

Then have ye a fair conduit of sweet water, castellated in the middest of that ward and street. This conduit was first built of stone in the year 1282, by Henry Walles, mayor of London, to be a prison for night-walkers, and other suspicious persons, and was called the Tun upon Cornehill, because the same was built somewhat in fashion of a tun standing on the one end.

To this prison the night watches of this city committed not only night walkers, but also other persons, as well spiritual as temporal, whom they suspected of incontinence, and punished them according to the customs of this city; but complaint thereof being made, about the year of Christ 1297, King Edward I. writeth to his citizens thus:—

“Edward, by the grace of God, etc. Whereas Richard Gravesend, bishop of London, hath showed unto us, that by the Great Charter of England, the Church hath a privilege, that no clerk should be imprisoned by a lay man without our command,[170] and breach of peace, which notwithstanding some citizens of London, upon mere spite, do enter in their watches into clerks’ chambers, and like felons carry them to the Tun, which Henry le Walleys, sometime mayor, built for night walkers; wherefore we will that this our commandment be proclaimed in full hustings, and that no watch hereafter enter into any clerk’s chamber, under the forfeit of twenty pounds. Dated at Carlisle the 18th of March, the 25th of our reign.”

More, I read about the year of Christ 1299, the 27th of Edward I., certain principal citizens of London, to wit, T. Romane, Richard Gloucester, Nicholas Faringdon, Adam Helingburie, T. Saly, John Dunstable, Richard Ashwy, John Wade, and William Stortford, 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 le March, treasurer of the king’s exchequer, to purchase the king’s favour, and confirmation of their liberties.

Also, that in the year 1383, the 7th of Richard II., 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 shaven, 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 studying for money, omitted the punishment limited by law, and permitted those that were found guilty to live favourably in their sin. Wherefore, they would themselves, they said, purge their city from such filthiness, lest, through God’s vengeance, either the pestilence or sword should happen to them, or that the earth should swallow them.

Last of all to be noted, I read in the charge of the wardmote inquest in every ward of the city, these words:—“If there be any priest in service within the ward, which before time hath been set in the Tun in Cornhill for his dishonesty, and hath forsworn the city, all such shall be presented.”

Thus much for the Tun in Cornhill have I read. Now for the punishments of priests in my youth: one note and no more.[171] John Atwod, draper, dwelling in the parish of St. Michael upon Cornehill, directly against the church, having a proper woman to his wife, such an one as seemed the holiest among a thousand, had also a lusty chantry priest, of the said parish church, repairing to his house; with the which priest the said Atwod would sometimes after supper play a game at tables for a pint of ale: it chanced on a time, having haste of work, and his game proving long, he left his wife to play it out, and went down to his shop, but returning to fetch a pressing iron, he found such play to his misliking, that he forced the priest to jump out at a window over the penthouse into the street, and so to run to his lodging in the churchyard. Atwod and his wife were soon reconciled, so that he would not suffer her to be called in question; but the priest being apprehended and committed, I saw his punishment to be thus:—He was on three market days conveyed through the high street and markets of the city with a paper on his head, wherein was written his trespass. The first day he rode in a carry, the second on a horse, his face to the horse tail, the third led betwixt twain, and every day rung with basons, and proclamations made of his fact at every turning of the street, as also before John Atwod’s stall, and the church door of his service, where he lost his chantry of twenty nobles the year, and was banished the city for ever.

By the west side of the foresaid prison, then called the Tun, was a fair well of spring water, curbed round with hard stone; but in the year 1401, the said prison house, called the Tun, was made a cistern for sweet water, conveyed by pipes of lead from Tiborne, and was from thenceforth called the Conduit upon Cornhill. Then was the well planked over, and a strong prison made of timber called a cage, with a pair of stocks therein 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, for bawds, scolds, and other offenders. As in the year 1468, the 7th of Edward IV., divers persons being common jurors, such as at assizes were forsworn for rewards, or favour of parties, were judged to ride from Newgate to the pillory in Cornhill, with mitres of paper on their heads, there to stand, and from thence again to Newgate, and this judgment was given by the mayor of London. In the year 1509, the 1st of Henry VIII., Darby, Smith, and Simson, ringleaders of false inquests in London, rode about the city with their faces to the horse tails, and papers on their heads, and were set on the pillory in Corn[172]hill, and after brought again to Newgate, where they died for very shame, saith Robert Fabian. A ringleader of inquests,[161] as I take it, is he that making a gainful occupation thereof, will appear on Nisi-priuses, or he be warned, or procure himself to be warned, to come on by a tales. He will also procure himself to be foreman when he can, and take upon him to overrule the rest to his opinion; such an one shall be laboured by plaintiffs and defendants, not without promise of rewards, and therefore to be suspected of a bad conscience. I would wish a more careful choice of jurors to be had; for I have known a man carted, rung with basons, and banished out of Bishopsgate ward, and afterward in Aldgate ward admitted to be a constable, a grand juryman, and foreman of the wardmote inquest: what I know of the like, or worse men, proffered to the like offices, I forbear to write, but wish to be reformed.

The foresaid conduit upon Cornhill, was in the year 1475 enlarged by Robert Drope, draper, mayor, that then dwelt in that ward; he increased the cistern of this conduit with an east end of stone, and castellated in comely manner.

In the year 1546, Sir Martin Bowes, mayor, dwelling in Lombard street, and having his back gate opening into Cornehill against the said conduit, minded to have enlarged the cistern thereof with a west end, like as Robert Drope before had done towards the east; view and measure of the plot was taken for this work; but the pillory and cage being removed, they found the ground planked, and the well aforesaid worn out of memory, which well they revived and restored to use—it is since made a pump; they set the pillory somewhat west from the well; and so this work ceased.

On the north side of the street, from the east unto the west, have ye divers fair houses for merchants and other, amongst the which one large house is called the Wey house, where merchandises brought from beyond the seas are to be weighed at the king’s beam. This house hath a master, and under him four master porters, with porters under them: they have a strong cart, and four great horses, to draw and carry the wares from the merchants’ houses to the beam and back again. Sir Thomas Lovell, knight, built this house, with a fair front of tenements towards the street; all which he gave to the Grocers of London, himself being free of the city, and a brother of that company.


Then have ye the said Finke’s lane, the south end of which lane on both sides is in Cornehill ward.

Then next is the Royal Exchange, erected in the year 1566, after this order, namely, certain houses upon Cornehill, and the like upon the back thereof, in the ward of Brode street, with three alleys, the first called Swan alley, opening into Cornehill, the second New alley, passing throughout of Cornehill into Brode street ward, over against St. Bartholomew lane, the third St. Christopher’s alley, opening into Brode street ward, and into St. Christopher’s parish, containing in all fourscore households, were first purchased by the citizens of London, for more than three thousand five hundred and thirty-two pounds, and were sold for four hundred and seventy-eight pounds, to such persons as should take them down and carry them thence; also the ground or plot was made plain at the charges of the city; and then possession thereof was by certain aldermen, in name of the whole citizens, given to Sir Thomas Gresham, knight, agent to the queen’s highness, thereupon to build a burse, or place for merchants to assemble, at his own proper charges. And he, on the 7th 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 fully finished.

In the year 1570, on the 23rd 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, Cheape, and so by the north side of the burse, through Threeneedle street, to Sir Thomas Gresham’s in Bishopsgate street, where she dined. After dinner her majesty returning through Cornehill, entered the burse on the south side; and after that she had viewed every part thereof above the ground, especially the pawn, which was richly furnished with all sorts of the finest wares in the city, she caused the same burse by an herald and trumpet to be proclaimed the Royal Exchange, and so to be called from thenceforth, and not otherwise.

Next adjoining this Royal Exchange remaineth one part of a large stone house, and is now called the Castle of such a sign; at a tavern door there is a passage through out of Cornehill into Threeneedle street; the other part of the said stone house was taken down for enlarging the Royal Exchange: this stone[174] house was said of some to have been a church, whereof it had no proportion, of others a Jew’s house, as though none but Jews had dwelt in stone houses; but that opinion is without warrant, for besides the strong building of stone houses against the invasion of thieves in the night, when no watches were kept, in the 1st year of Richard I., to prevent the casualties of fire, which often had happened in the city, when the houses were built of timber, and covered with reed or straw, Henry Fitz Alewine being mayor, it was decreed, that from henceforth no man should build within the city but of stone, until a certain height, and to cover the same building with slate or burnt tile; and this was the very cause of such stone buildings, whereof many have remained till our time, that for winning of ground they have been taken down, and in place of some one of them being low, as but two stories above the ground, many houses of four or five stories high are placed. From this stone house down to the Stocks are divers large houses, especially for height, for merchants and artificers.

On the south side of this high street is the parish church of St. Peter upon Cornehill, which seemeth to be of an ancient building, but not so ancient as fame reporteth, for it hath been lately repaired, if not all new built, except the steeple, which is ancient. The roof of this church, and glazing, were finished in the reign of Edward IV., as appeareth by arms of noblemen and aldermen of London then living. There remaineth in this church a table whereon it is written, I know not by what authority, but of a late hand, that King Lucius founded the same church to be an archbishop’s see metropolitan,[162] and chief church of his kingdom, and that it so endured the space of four hundred years, unto the coming of Augustin the monk.

Joceline of Furness writeth, that Thean, the first archbishop of London, in the reign of Lucius, built the said church by the aid of Ciran, chief butler to King Lucius; and also that Eluanus, the second archbishop, built a library to the same adjoining, and converted many of the Druids, learned men in the Pagan law, to Christianity. True it is, that a library there was pertaining to this parish church of old time, built of stone, and of late repaired with brick by the executors of Sir John Crosby, alderman, as his arms on the south end doth witness.

This library hath been of late time, to wit, within these fifty years, well furnished of books; John Leyland viewed and com[175]mended them; but now those books be gone, and the place is occupied by a schoolmaster and his usher, over a number of scholars learning their grammar rules, etc. Notwithstanding, before that time a grammar school had been kept in this parish, as appeareth in the year 1425, I read, that John Whitby was rector, and John Steward schoolmaster there; and in the 25th of Henry VI., it was enacted by parliament, that four grammar schools in London should be maintained, namely, in the parishes of Allhallows, in Thames street, St. Andrew in Oldbourne, St. Peter’s upon Cornehill, and St. Thomas of Acars.

Monuments of the dead in this church defaced: I read, that Hugh Waltham, Nicholas Pricot, mercer, alderman, Richard Manhall, 1503; William Kingston, fishmonger, gave his tenements called the Horse mill in Grasse street to this church, and was there buried about the year 1298; John Unisburgh, poulterer, 1410; John Law. Also Peter Mason, tailor, gave to this church seven pounds sterling yearly for ever, out of his tenements in Colechurch parish, and deceased about the year 1416. John Foxton founded a chantry there. A brotherhood of St. Peter was in this church established by Henry IV., the 4th of his reign. William Brampton and William Askham, fishmongers and aldermen, were chief procurers thereof, for the fishmongers of late buried there; Sir William Bowyer, mayor 1543; Sir Henry Huberthorn, mayor 1546; Sir Christopher Morice, master-gunner of England to King Henry VIII.; Edward Elrington, esquire, chief-butler to Edward VI.; Thomas Gardener, grocer; and Justice Smith, and other.

Then have ye the parish church of St. Michael th’ Archangel; for the antiquity whereof I find that Alnothus the priest gave it to the abbot and convent of Covesham, Reynold abbot, and the convent there did grant the same to Sperling the priest, in all measures as he and his predecessors before had held it; to the which Sperling also they granted all their lands which they there had, except certain lands which Orgar le Prowde had held of them, and paid two shilling yearly; for the which grant the said Sperling should yearly pay one mark of rent to the said abbot of Covesham, and find him and his lodging, salt, water, and fire, when he came to London. This was granted 1133, about the 34th of Henry I. Thus much for antiquity; of later time I find, that Elizabeth Peake, widow, gave the patronage or gift of this benefice to the Drapers in London; she lieth buried in the belfry, 1518: her monument yet remaineth.

This hath been a fair and beautiful church, but of late years,[176] since the surrender of their lands to Edward VI., greatly blemished by the building of lower tenements on the north side thereof towards the high street, in place of a green churchyard, whereby the church is darkened, and other ways annoyed. The fair new steeple, or bell tower of this church, was begun to be built in the year 1421, which being finished, and a fair ring of five bells therein placed, a sixth bell[163] was added, and given by John Whitwell, Isabel his wife, and William Rus, alderman, and goldsmith, about the year 1430, which bell, named “Rus,” nightly at eight of the clock, and otherwise for knells, and in peals, rung by one man, for the space of one hundred and sixty years, of late overhauled by four or five at once, hath been thrice broken, and new cast within the space of ten years, to the charges of that parish more than one hundred marks.

And here a note of this steeple: as I have oft heard my father report, upon St. James’ night, certain men in the loft next under the bells, ringing of a peal, a tempest of lightning and thunder did arise, an ugly shapen sight appeared to them, coming in at the south window, and lighted on the north, for fear whereof they all fell down, and lay as dead for the time, letting the bells ring and cease of their own accord; when the ringers came to themselves, they found certain stones of the north window to be razed and scratched, as if they had been so much butter, printed with a lion’s claw; the same stones were fastened there again, and so remain till this day. I have seen them oft, and have put a feather or small stick into the holes where the claws had entered three or four inches deep. At the same time certain main timber posts at Queene Hith were scratched and cleft from the top to the bottom; and the pulpit cross in Powle’s churchyard was likewise scratched, cleft, and overturned. One of the ringers lived in my youth, whom I have oft heard to verify the same to be true.

But to return. William Rus was a special benefactor to this church; his arms yet remain in the windows. William Comerton, Symon Smith, Walter Belingham, were buried there, and founded chantries there; John Grace, 1439; Robert Drope, mayor, buried on the north side of the choir, under a fair tomb of grey marble, 1485, he gave to poor maids’ marriages of that parish twenty pounds, to poor of that ward ten pounds, shirts and smocks three hundred, and gowns of broad cloth one[177] hundred, etc.[164] Jane his wife, matching with Edward Gray, Viscount Lisle, was buried by her first husband, 1500; she gave ninety pounds in money to the beautifying of that church, and her great messuage, with the appurtenance, which was by her executors, W. Caple and other, 1517, the 9th of Henry VIII., assured to John Wardroper, parson, T. Clearke, W. Dixson, and John Murdon, wardens of the said church, and their successors for ever, they do keep yearly for her an obite, or anniversary, to be spent on the poor, and otherwise, in all three pounds, the rest of the profits to be employed in reparation of the church. In the 34th year of Henry VIII., Edward Stephan, parson, T. Spencer, P. Guntar, and G. Grouch, churchwardens, granted to T. Lodge a lease for sixty years of the said great messuage, with the appurtenance, which were called the Lady Lisle’s lands, for the rent of eight pounds thirteen shillings and four pence the year. The parishioners since gave it up as chantry land, and wronged themselves. Also the said Robert Drope, and Lady Lisle, notwithstanding their liberality to that church and parish, their tomb is pulled down, no monument remaineth of them. Peter Hawton, late alderman, is laid in their vault, 1596. Robert Fabian, alderman, that wrote and published a Chronicle of England and of France, was buried there 1511, with this epitaph:—

“Like as the day his course doth consume,
And the new morrow springeth againe as fast,
So man and woman, by Nature’s custome,
This life to pass, at last in earth are cast,
In joy and sorrow, which here their time do wast,
Never in one state, but in course transitory,
So full of change is of this world the glory.”

His monument is gone. Richard Garnam, 1527, buried there; Edmond Trindle and Robert Smith;[165] William Dickson and Margaret his wife,[166] buried in the cloister under a fair tomb now defaced; Thomas Stow, my grandfather, about the year 1526, and Thomas Stow, my father, 1559; John Tolus, alderman, 1548, he gave to John Willowby, parson of that church, to Thomas Lodge, G. Hind, P. Bolde, churchwardens, and to their successors, towards the reparation of that church, and relief of the poor for ever, his tenement with the appurtenances in the[178] parish of St. Michael, which he had lately purchased of Alvery Randalph, of Badlesmeere in Kent; but the parish never had the gift, nor heard thereof by the space of forty years after; such was the conscience of G. Barne and other the executors, to conceal it to themselves; and such is the negligence of the parishioners, that being informed thereof, make no claim thereunto. Philip Gonter, that was alderman for a time, and gave four hundred pounds to be discharged thereof, was buried in the cloister about the year 1582, and Anne his wife, etc. Thomas Houghton, father to the said Peter Houghton, Francis Beneson, and William Towersan.

This parish church hath on the south side thereof a proper cloister, and a fair churchyard, with a pulpit cross, not much unlike to that in Paule’s churchyard. Sir John Rudstone, mayor, caused the same pulpit cross in his lifetime to be built, the churchyard to be enlarged, by ground purchased of the next parish, and also proper houses to be raised for lodging of choir men, such as at that time were assistants to divine service, then daily sung by note in that church. The said John Rudstone deceased 1531, and was buried in a vault under the pulpit cross; he appointed sermons to be preached there, not now performed; his tomb before the pulpit cross is taken thence, with the tomb of Richard Yaxley, Doctor of Physic to King Henry VIII. and other. The choir of that church dissolved, the lodgings of choir men were by the grave fathers of that time charitably appointed for receipt of ancient decayed parishioners, namely, widows, such as were not able to bear the charge of greater rents abroad, which blessed work of harbouring the harbourless is promised to be rewarded in the kingdom of heaven.

Then have ye Birchover lane, so called of Birchover, the first builder and owner thereof, now corruptly called Birchin lane, the north half whereof is of the said Cornehill ward; the other part is of Langborne ward.

This lane, and the high street near adjoining, hath been inhabited for the most part with wealthy drapers, from Birchover’s lane, on that side the street down to the stocks, in the reign of Henry VI., had ye for the most part dwelling Fripperers or Upholders, that sold old apparel and household stuff.

I have read of a countryman, that then having lost his hood in Westminster hall, found the same in Cornehill hanged out to be sold, which he challenged, but was forced to buy, or go without it, for their stall, they said, was their market. At that time also the wine drawer of the Pope’s head tavern (standing with[179]out the door in the high street) took the same man by the sleeve, and said, “Sir, will you drink a pint of wine?” whereunto he answered, “A penny spend I may;” and so drank his pint, for bread nothing did he pay, for that was allowed free.[167]

This Pope’s head tavern, with other houses adjoining, strongly built of stone, hath of old time been all in one, pertaining to some great estate, or rather to the king of this realm, as may be supposed, both by the largeness thereof, and by the arms, to wit, three leopards passant, gardant, which were the whole arms of England before the reign of Edward III., that quartered them with the arms of France, three fleur-de-lis.

These arms of England, supported between two angels, are fair and largely graven in stone on the fore front towards the high street, over the door or stall of one great house, lately for many years possessed by Mr. Philip Gunter. The Pope’s head tavern is on the back part thereof towards the south, as also one other house called the stone house in Lombard street. Some say this was King John’s house, which might so be; for I find in a written copy of Matthew Paris’ History, that in the year 1232, Henry III. sent Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, to Cornehill in London, there to answer all matters objected against him, where he wisely acquitted himself. The Pope’s head tavern hath a footway through from Cornehill into Lombard street. And down lower on the high street of Cornehill, is there one other way through by the Cardinal’s hat tavern into Lombard street. And so let this suffice for Cornhill ward. In which be governors:—an alderman, his deputy, common councillors four or six, constables four, scavengers four, wardmote inquest sixteen and a beadle. It is charged to the fifteen at sixteen pounds.