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


Seeing that of every of these wards I have to say somewhat, I will begin with Portsoken ward without Aldgate.

This Portsoken, which soundeth[125] the franchise at the gate, was sometime a guild, and had beginning in the days of King Edgar, more than six hundred years since.[126] There were thirteen knights or soldiers, well-beloved to the king and realm, for service by them done, which requested to have a certain portion of land on the east part of the city, left desolate and forsaken by the inhabitants, by reason of too much servitude. They besought the king to have this land, with the liberty of a guild for ever. The king granted to their request, with conditions following: that is, that each of them should victoriously accomplish three combats, one above the ground, one under ground, and the third in the water; and after this, at a certain day in East Smithfield, they should run with spears against all comers; all which was gloriously performed; and the same day the king named it Knighten Guild, and so bounded it, from Aldgate to the place where the bars now are, toward the east, on both the sides of the street, and extended it towards Bishopsgate in the north, unto the house then of William Presbiter, after of Giffrey Tanner, and then of the heirs of Colver, after that of John Easeby, but since of the Lord Bourchier, etc. And again towards the south unto the river of Thames, and so far into the water, as a horseman, entering the same, may ride at a low water, and throw his spear; so that all East Smithfield, with the right part of the street that goeth to Dodding pond into the Thames, and also the hospital of St. Katherin’s, with the mills that were founded in King Stephen’s days, and the outward stone wall, and the new ditch of the Tower, are of the said fee and liberty; for the said wall and ditch of the Tower were made in the time of King Richard, when he was in the Holy Land, by William Longshampe, Bishop of Ely, as before I have noted unto you.


These knights had as then none other charter by all the days of Edgar, Ethelred, and Cnutus, until the time of Edward the Confessor, whom the heirs of those knights humbly besought to confirm their liberties; whereunto he graciously granting,[127] gave them a deed thereof, as appeareth in the book of the late house of the Holy Trinity. The said charter is fair written in the Saxon letter and tongue. After this, King William, the son of William the Conqueror, made a confirmation of the same liberties, unto the heirs of those knights, in these words: “William, king of England, to Maurice Bishop, and Godffrey de Magum, and Richard de Parre, and to his faithfull people of London, greeting: Know ye me to have granted to the men of Knighten Guilde, the guilde that belonged to them, and the land that belonged thereunto, with all customes, as they had the same in the time of King Edward, and my father. Witnesse, Hugh de Buche, at Rething.”

After him, King Henry I. confirmed the same by his charter to the like effect, the recital whereof I pretermit for brevity. After which time, the church of the Holy Trinity, within Aldgate of London, being founded by Queen Matilda, wife to the said Henry, the multitude of brethren, praising God day and night therein, in short time so increased, that all the city was delighted in the beholding of them; insomuch, that in the year 1115, certain burgesses of London, of the progeny of those noble English knights; to wit, Radulphus Fitalgod, Wilmarde le Deucreshe, Orgar le Prude, Edward Hupcornehill, Blackstanus, and Alwine his kinsman, and Robert his brother, the sons of Leafstanus the goldsmith, Wiso his son, Hugh Fitzvulgar, Algare Secusme, coming together into the chapter-house of the said church of the Holy Trinity, gave to the same church and canons serving God therein, all the lands and soke called in English Knighten Guilde, which lieth to the wall of the city, without the same gate, and stretcheth to the river of Thames; they gave it, I say, taking upon them the brotherhood and participation of the benefits of that house, by the hands of Prior Norman. And the better to confirm this their grant, they offered upon the altar there the charter of Edward, together with the other charters which they had thereof; and afterward they did put the foresaid prior in seisine thereof, by the church of St. Buttolphe’s, which is built thereon, and is the head of that land. These things were thus done before Bernard, prior of Dunstable, John, prior of Derland, Geffrey Clinton, chamber[112]lain, and many other clerks and laymen, French and English. Orgar le Prude (one of their company) was sent to King Henry, beseeching him to confirm their gift, which the king gladly granted by his deed: “Henrie, king of England, to Richard Bishop of London, to the shireffes and provost, and to all his barons and faithfull people, French and English, of London and Middlesex, greeting: Know ye mee to have graunted and confirmed to the church and canons of the Holy Trinitie of London, the soke of the English Knighten Guilde, and the land which pertaineth thereunto, and the church of St. Buttolph, as the men of the same guilde have given and granted unto them: and I will and straightly commaund, that they may hold the same well and honourably and freely, with sacke and soke, toll and thea, infangthefe, and all customs belonging to it, as the men of the same Guild in best sort had the same in the time of K. Edward, and as King William, my father and brother, did grant it to them by their writs. Witnesse, A. the queene, Geffrey the chauncellor, Geoffrey of Clinton, and William of Clinton, at Woodstocke.” All these prescribed writings (saith my book), which sometime belonged to the priory of the Holy Trinity, are registered in the end of the Book of Remembrances, in the Guildhall of London, marked with the letter C, folio 134. The king sent also his sheriffs, to wit, Aubrey de Vere, and Roger, nephew to Hubert, which upon his behalf should invest this church with the possessions thereof, which the said sheriffs accomplished coming upon the ground; Andrew Buchevite, and the forenamed witnesses, and other, standing by; notwithstanding, Othowerus Acolivillus, Otto, and Geffrey, Earl of Essex, constables of the Tower by succession, withheld by force a portion of the said land, as I have before delivered.

The prior and canons of the Holy Trinity, being thus seised of the said land and soke of Knighten Guilde, a part of the suburb without the wall (but within the liberties of the city), the same prior was, for him and his successors, admitted as one of the aldermen of London, to govern the same land and soke: according to the customs of the city, he did sit in court, and rode with the mayor and his brethren the aldermen, as one of them, in scarlet or other livery as they used, until the year 1531, at the which time the said priory, by the last prior there, was surrendered to King Henry VIII., in the 23rd of his reign, who gave this priory to Sir Thomas Audley, knight, lord chancellor of England, and he pulled down the church; since the which dissolution of that house, the said ward of Portsoken hath been[113] governed by a temporal man, one of the aldermen of London, elected by the citizens, as the aldermen of other wards. Thus much for the out-bounds of Knighten guilde, or Portsoken ward, and for the antiquity and government thereof.

Now, of the parts therein, this is specially to be noted. First, the east part of the Tower standeth there, then an hospital of St. Katherine’s, founded by Matilda the queen, wife to King Stephen, by license of the priory and convent of the Holy Trinity in London, on whose grounds he founded it. Helianor the queen, wife to King Edward I., a second foundress, appointed there to be a master, three brethren chaplains, and three sisters, ten poor women, and six poor clerks; she gave to them the manor of Carlton in Wiltshire, and Upchurch in Kent, etc. Queen Philippa, wife to King Edward III., 1351, founded a chantry there, and gave to that hospital ten pounds land by year; it was of late time called a free chapel, a college, and an hospital for poor sisters. The choir, which of late years was not much inferior to that of Paules, was dissolved by Dr. Wilson, a late master there, the brethren and sisters remaining: this house was valued at £315 14s. 2d., being now of late years inclosed about, or pestered with small tenements and homely cottages, having inhabitants, English and strangers, more in number than in some city in England. There lie buried in this church the countess of Huntingdon, countess of the March in her time, 1429; John Holland, Duke of Exeter and Earl of Huntingdon, 1447, and his two wives, in a fair tomb on the north side the choir; Thomas Walsingham, esquire, and Thomas Ballarde, esquire, by him, 1465; Thomas Flemming, knight, 1466, etc.[128]

On the east and by north of the Tower, lieth East Smithfield and Tower hill, two plots of ground so called, without the wall of the city; and east from them both was sometime a monastery, called New Abbey, founded by King Edward III. in the year 1359, upon occasion as followeth:

In the year 1348, the 23rd of Edward III., the first great pestilence in his time began, and increased so sore, that for want of room in churchyards to bury the dead of the city and of the suburbs, one John Corey, clerk, procured of Nicholas, prior of the Holy Trinity within Aldgate, one toft[129] of ground near[114] unto East Smithfield, for the burial of them that died, with condition that it might be called the churchyard of the Holy Trinity; which ground he caused, by the aid of divers devout citizens, to be inclosed with a wall of stone. Robert Elsing, son of William Elsing, gave five pounds thereunto; and the same was dedicated by Ralph Stratford, Bishop of London, where innumerable bodies of the dead were afterwards buried, and a chapel built in the same place to the honour of God: to the which King Edward setting his eye (having before, in a tempest on the sea, and peril of drowning, made a vow to build a monastery to the honour of God, and our lady of grace, if God would grant him grace to come safe to land), built there a monastery, placing an abbot, and monks of the Cistercian, or White order. The bounds of this plot of ground, together with a decree for tithes thereof, are expressed in the charter, the effect whereof I have set down in another place, and have to show. This house, at the late general suppression, was valued at £546 0s. 10d. yearly; it was surrendered in the year 1539, the 30th of Henry VIII.; since the which time, the said monastery being clean pulled down by Sir Arthur Darcie, knight, and others, of late time in place thereof is built a large storehouse for victuals; and convenient ovens are built there, for baking of biscuits to serve her majesty’s ships. The grounds adjoining, belonging to the said abbey, are employed in building of small tenements.

For Tower hill, as the same is greatly diminished by building of tenements and garden-plots, etc. So it is of late, to wit, in the year of Christ 1593, on the north side thereof, and at the west end of Hog street, beautified by certain fair alms houses, strongly built of brick and timber, and covered with slate for the poor, by the merchant-tailors of London, in place of some small cottages given to them by Richard Hils, sometime a master of that company, one thousand loads of timber for that use, being also given by Anthonie Radcliffe, of the same society, alderman. In these alms houses, fourteen charitable brethren of the said merchant-tailors yet living, have placed fourteen poor sole women, which receive each of them of their founder sixteen pence, or better, weekly, besides £8 15s. yearly, paid out of the common treasury of the same corporation for fuel.

From the west part of this Tower hill, towards Aldgate, being a long continual street, amongst other smaller buildings in that row, there was sometime an abbey of nuns of the order of St. Clare, called the Minories, founded by Edmond, Earl of Lancaster,[115] Leycester, and Darbie, brother to King Edward III., in the year 1293; the length of which abbey contained fifteen perches and seven feet, near unto the king’s street or highway, etc., as appeareth by a deed, dated 1303.

A plague of pestilence being in this city, in the year 1515, there died in this house of nuns professed to the number of twenty-seven, besides other lay people, servants in their house. This house was valued to dispend £418 8s. 5d. yearly, and was surrendered by Dame Elizabeth Salvage, the last abbess there, unto King Henry VIII. in the 30th of his reign, the year of Christ 1539.

In place of this house of nuns is now built divers fair and large storehouses for armour and habiliments of war, with divers workhouses, serving to the same purpose: there is a small parish church for inhabitants of the close, called St. Trinities.

Near adjoining to this abbey, on the south side thereof, was sometime a farm belonging to the said nunnery; at the which farm I myself in my youth have fetched many a halfpenny worth of milk, and never had less than three ale pints for a halfpenny in the summer, nor less than one ale quart for a halfpenny in the winter, always hot from the kine, as the same was milked and strained. One Trolop, and afterwards Goodman, were the farmers there, and had thirty or forty kine to the pail. Goodman’s son being heir to his father’s purchase, let out the ground first for grazing of horses, and then for garden-plots, and lived like a gentleman thereby.

On the other side of that street lieth the ditch without the walls of the city, which of old time was used to be open, always from time to time cleansed from filth and mud, as need required; of great breadth, and so deep, that divers, watering horses where they thought it shallowest, were drowned, both horse and man. But now of later time the same ditch is inclosed, and the banks thereof let out for garden-plots, carpenters’ yards, bowling allies, and divers houses thereon built, whereby the city wall is hidden, the ditch filled up, a small channel left, and that very shallow.

From Aldgate, east, lieth a large street and highway, sometime replenished with few, but fair and comely buildings; on the north side whereof, the first was the parish church of St. Buttolph, in a large cemetery or churchyard. This church hath been lately new built at the special charges of the priors of the Holy Trinity; patrons thereof, as it appeareth by the arms of that[116] house, engraven on the stone work. The parishioners of this parish being of late years mightily increased, the church is pestered with lofts and seats for them. Monuments in this church are few: Henry Jorden founded a chauntry there; John Romany Ollarie, and Agnes his wife, were buried there about 1408; Richard Chester, alderman, one of the sheriffs, 1484; Thomas Lord Darcie of the north, knight of the garter, beheaded 1537; Sir Nicholas Carew, of Bedington, in Surrey, knight of the garter, beheaded 1538; Sir Arthur Darcie, youngest son to Thomas Lord Darcie, deceased at the new abbey on the Tower hill, was buried there. East from this parish church, there were certain fair inns for receipt of travellers repairing to the city, up towards Hog lane end, somewhat within the bars, a mark showing how far the liberties of the city do extend.

This Hog lane stretcheth north toward St. Mary Spitle without Bishopsgate, and within these forty years[130] had on both sides fair hedge rows of elm trees, with bridges and easy stiles to pass over into the pleasant fields, very commodious for citizens therein to walk, shoot, and otherwise to recreate and refresh their dull spirits in the sweet and wholesome air, which is now within a few years made a continual building throughout, of garden-houses and small cottages; and the fields on either sides be turned into garden-plots, tenter yards, bowling alleys, and such like, from Houndes ditch in the west, as far as White Chappell, and further towards the east.

On the south side of the highway from Aldgate were some few tenements, thinly scattered here and there, with many void spaces between them, up to the Bars; but now that street is not only fully replenished with buildings outward, and also pestered with divers alleys, on either side to the bars, but to White Chappell and beyond. Among the which late buildings, one memorable for the commodity of that east part of this city is a fair water conduit, hard without the gate; at the building whereof in the year 1535, Sir John Allen being mayor, two-fifteens were granted by the citizens for the making and laying of pipes, to convey water from Hackney to that place; and so that work was finished.

From Aldgate, north-west to Bishopsgate, lieth the ditch of the city called Houndes ditch; for that in old time, when the same lay open, much filth (conveyed forth of the city), especially dead dogs, were there laid or cast; wherefore of latter time a mud wall was made, inclosing the ditch, to keep out the laying[117] 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 Thomas Audley given to Magdalen college in Cambridge: this field (as all other about the city) was inclosed, reserving open passage thereinto, for such as were disposed. Towards the street were some small cottages, of two stories high, and little garden-plots backward, for poor bed-rid people, for in that street dwelt none other, built by some prior of the Holy Trinity, to whom that ground belonged.

In my youth, I remember, devout people, as well men as women of this city, were accustomed oftentimes, especially on Fridays, weekly to walk that way purposely there to bestow their charitable alms; every poor man or woman lying in their bed within their window, which was towards the street, open so low that every man might see them, a clean linen cloth lying in their window, and a pair of beads, to show that there lay a bed-rid body, unable but to pray only. This street was first paved in the year 1503.

About the latter reign of Henry VIII., three brethren that were gunfounders, surnamed Owens, got ground there to build upon, and to inclose for casting of brass ordinance. These occupied a good part of the street on the field side, and in a short time divers others also built there, so that the poor bed-rid people were worn out, and, in place of their homely cottages, such houses built as do rather want room than rent; which houses be for the most part possessed by brokers, sellers of old apparel, and such like. The residue of the field was for the most part made into a garden by a gardener named Cawsway, one that served the markets with herbs and roots; and in the last year of King Edward VI. the same was parcelled into gardens wherein are now many fair houses of pleasure built.

On the ditch side of this street the mud wall is also by little and little all taken down, the bank of the ditch being raised, made level ground, and turned into garden-plots and carpenters’ yards, and many large houses are there built; 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. This Portsoken ward hath an alderman and his deputy, common councillors six, constables four, scavengers four, for the wardemote inquest eighteen, and a beadle. To the fifteen it is cessed at four pounds ten shillings.