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


Of orders and customs in this city of old time, Fitzstephen saith as followeth: “Men of all trades, sellers of all sorts of wares, labourers in every work, every morning are in their distinct and several places: furthermore, in London, upon the river side, between the wine in ships and the wine to be sold in taverns, is a common cookery, or cooks’ row; there daily, for the season of the year, men might have meat, roast, sod, or fried; fish, flesh, fowls, fit for rich and poor. If any come suddenly to any citizen from afar, weary, and not willing to tarry till the meat be bought and dressed, while the servant bringeth water for his master’s hands, and fetcheth bread, he shall have immediately from the river’s side all viands whatsoever he desireth: what multitude soever, either of soldiers or strangers, do come to the city, whatsoever hour, day or night, according to their pleasures may refresh themselves; and they which delight in delicateness may be satisfied with as delicate dishes there as may be found elsewhere. And this Cooke’s row is very necessary to the city; and, according to Plato in Gorgius, next to physic, is the office of cooks, as part of a city.

“Without one of the gates is a plain field, both in name and deed, where every Friday, unless it be a solemn bidden holy day, is a notable show of horses to be sold; earls, barons, knights, and citizens repair thither to see or to buy; there may you of pleasure see amblers pacing it delicately; there may you see trotters fit for men of arms, sitting more hardly; there may you have notable young horses, not yet broken; there may you have strong steeds, well limbed geldings, whom the buyers do specially regard for pace and swiftness; the boys which ride these horses, sometimes two, sometimes three, do run races for wagers, with a desire of praise, or hope of victory. In another part of that field are to be sold all implements of husbandry, as also fat swine, milch kine, sheep, and oxen; there stand also mares and horses fit for ploughs and teams, with their young colts by them. At this city, merchant strangers of all nations had their keys and wharfs; the Arabians sent gold; the Sabians spice and frankincense; the Scythian armour, Babylon oil, Indian purple garments, Egypt precious stones, Norway and Russia ambergreece and sables, and the Frenchmen wine. According to the truth of Chronicles, this city is ancienter than Rome, built of the ancient Troyans and of Brute, before that was built by Romulus[74] and Rhemus; and therefore useth the ancient customs of Rome. This city, even as Rome, is divided into wards; it hath yearly sheriffs instead of consuls; it hath the dignity of senators in aldermen. It hath under officers, common sewers, and conduits in streets; according to the quality of causes, it hath general courts and assembles upon appointed days. I do not think that there is any city wherein are better customs, in frequenting the churches, in serving God, in keeping holy days, in giving alms, in entertaining strangers, in solemnising marriages, in furnishing banquets, celebrating funerals, and burying dead bodies.

“The only plagues of London are immoderate quaffing among the foolish sort, and often casualties by fire. Most part of the bishops, abbots, and great lords of the land have houses there, whereunto they resort, and bestow much when they are called to parliament by the king, or to council by their metropolitan, or otherwise by their private business.”

Thus far Fitzstephen, of the estate of things in his time, whereunto may be added the present, by conference whereof the alteration will easily appear.

Men of trades and sellers of wares in this city have oftentimes since changed their places, as they have found their best advantage. For whereas mercers and haberdashers used to keep their shops in West Cheape,[92] of later time they held them on London Bridge, where partly they yet remain. The goldsmiths of Gutheron’s lane and Old Exchange are now for the most part removed into the south side of West Cheape, the peperers and grocers of Soper’s lane are now in Bucklesberrie, and other places dispersed. The drapers of Lombard street and of Cornehill are seated in Candlewick street and Watheling street; the skinners from St. Marie Pellipers, or at the Axe, into Budge row and Walbrooke; the stock fishmongers in Thames street; wet fishmongers in Knightriders street and Bridge street; the ironmongers, of Ironmongers’ lane and Old Jurie, into Thames street; the vintners from the Vinetree into divers places. But the brewers for the more part remain near to the friendly water of Thames; the butchers in Eastcheape, St. Nicholas shambles, and the Stockes market; the hosiers of old time in Hosier lane,[75] near unto Smithfield, are since removed into Cordwayner street, the upper part thereof by Bow church, and last of all into Birchoveris lane by Cornehill; the shoe-makers and curriers of Cordwayner street removed the one to St. Martin’s le Grand, the other to London wall near unto Mooregate; the founders remain by themselves in Lothberie; cooks,[93] or pastelars, for the more part in Thames street, the other dispersed into divers parts; poulters of late removed out of the Poultrie, betwixt the Stockes and the great Conduit in Cheape, into Grasse street and St. Nicholas shambles; bowyers, from Bowyers’ row by Ludgate into divers places, and almost worn out with the fletchers; pater noster makers of old time, or bead-makers, and text-writers, are gone out of Pater noster row, and are called stationers of Paule’s churchyard;[94] patten-makers, of St. Margaret, Pattens’ lane, clean worn out; labourers every work-day are to be found in Cheape, about Soper’s land end; horse-coursers and sellers of oxen, sheep, swine, and such like, remain in their old market of Smithfield, etc.

That merchants of all nations had their keys and wharfs at this city, whereunto they brought their merchandises before and in the reign of Henry II., mine author wrote of his own knowledge to be true, though for the antiquity of the city he took the common opinion. Also that this city was in his time and afore divided into wards, had yearly sheriffs, aldermen, general courts, and assemblies, and such like notes by him set down, in commendation of the citizens; whereof there is no question, he wrote likewise of his own experience, as being born and brought up amongst them.

And to confirm his opinion, concerning merchandises then hither transported, whereof happily may be some argument, Thomas Clifford[95] (before Fitzstephen’s time), writing of Edward the Confessor, saith to this effect: “King Edward, intending to make his sepulchre at Westminster; for that it was near to the famous city of London, and the river of Thames, that brought in all kind of merchandises from all parts of the world, etc.”[76] And William of Malmesbury, that lived in the reign of William I. and II., Henry I., and King Stephen, calleth this a noble city, full of wealthy citizens, frequented with the trade of merchandises from all parts of the world. Also I read, in divers records, that of old time no woad was stowed or harboured in this city, but all was presently sold in the ships, except by license purchased of the sheriffs, till of more later time; to wit, in the year 1236, Andrew Bokerell, being mayor, by assent of the principal citizens, the merchants of Amiens, Nele, and Corby, purchased letters insealed with the common seal of the city, that they when they come might harbour their woads, and therefore should give the mayor every year fifty marks sterling; and the same year they gave one hundred pounds towards the conveying of water from Tyborn to this city. Also the merchants of Normandie made fine for license to harbour their woads till it was otherwise provided, in the year 1263, Thomas Fitz Thomas being mayor, etc., which proveth that then as afore, they were here amongst other nations privileged.

It followeth in Fitzstephen, that the plagues of London in that time were immoderate quaffing among fools, and often casualties by fire. For the first—to wit, of quaffing—it continueth as afore, or rather is mightily increased, though greatly qualified among the poorer sort, not of any holy abstinence, but of mere necessity, ale and beer being small, and wines in price above their reach. As for prevention of casualties by fire, the houses in this city being then built all of timber, and covered with thatch of straw or reed, it was long since thought good policy in our forefathers wisely to provide, namely, in the year of Christ 1189, the first of Richard I., Henry Fitzalwine[96] being then mayor, that all men in this city should build their houses of stone up to a certain height, and to cover them with slate or baked tile; since which time, thanks be given to God, there hath not happened the like often consuming fires in this city as afore.

But now in our time, instead of these enormities, others are come in place no less meet to be reformed; namely, purprestures, or encroachments on the highways, lanes, and common grounds, in and about this city; whereof a learned gentleman and grave citizen[97] hath not many years since written and exhibited a book to the mayor and commonalty; which book, whether the same have been by them read and diligently considered upon, I know[77] not, but sure I am nothing is reformed since concerning this matter.

Then the number of cars, drays, carts, and coaches, more than hath been accustomed, the streets and lanes being straitened, must needs be dangerous, as daily experience proveth.

The coachman rides behind the horse tails, lasheth them, and looketh not behind him; the drayman sitteth and sleepeth on his dray, and letteth his horse lead him home. I know that, by the good laws and customs of this city,[98] shodde carts[99] are forbidden to enter the same, except upon reasonable cause, as service of the prince, or such like, they be tolerated. Also that the fore horse of every carriage should be lead by hand; but these good orders are not observed. Of old time coaches were not known in this island, but chariots or whirlicotes, then so called, and they only used of princes or great estates, such as had their footmen about them; and for example to note, I read that Richard II., being threatened by the rebels of Kent, rode from the Tower of London to the Myles end, and with him his mother, because she was sick and weak, in a whirlicote, the Earls of Buckingham, Kent, Warwicke, and Oxford, Sir Thomas Percie, Sir Robert Knowles, the Mayor of London, Sir Aubery de Vere, that bare the king’s sword, with other knights and esquires attending on horseback. But in the next year, the said King Richard took to wife Anne, daughter to the King of Bohemia, that first brought hither the riding upon side-saddles; and so was the riding in wherlicoates and chariots forsaken, except at coronations and such like spectacles; but now of late years the use of coaches, brought out of Germany, is taken up, and made so common, as there is neither distinction of time nor difference of persons observed; for the world runs on wheels with many whose parents were glad to go on foot.

Last of all, mine author in this chapter hath these words:[100] “Most part of the bishops, abbots, and great lords of the land, as if they were citizens and freemen of London, had many fair houses to resort unto, and many rich and wealthy gentlemen spent their money there.” And in another place he hath these words: “Every Sunday in Lent a fresh company of young men comes into the fields on horseback, and the best horsemen conducteth the rest; then march forth the citizens’ sons, and other[78] young men, with disarmed lances and shields, and practise feats of war; many courtiers likewise and attendants of noblemen repair to this exercise, and whilst the hope of victory doth inflame their minds, they do show good proof how serviceable they would be in martial affairs, etc.” Again he saith: “This city, in the troublesome time of King Stephen, showed at a muster twenty thousand armed horsemen and forty thousand footmen, serviceable for the wars, etc.” All which sayings of the said author, well considered, do plainly prove that in those days the inhabitants and repairers to this city, of what estate soever, spiritual or temporal, having houses here, lived together in good amity with the citizens, every man observing the customs and orders of the city, and those to be contributary to charges here, rather than in any part of the land wheresoever. This city, being the heart of the realm, the king’s chamber and prince’s seat, whereunto they made repair, and showed their forces, both of horses and of men, which caused in troublesome time, as of King Stephen, the musters of this city to be so great in number.

And here, to touch somewhat of greater families and households kept in former times by noblemen, and great estates of this realm, according to their honours or dignities,[101] I have seen an account made by H. Leicester, cofferer to Thomas Earl of Lancaster, for one whole year’s expenses in the Earl’s house, from the day next after Michaelmas, in the seventh year of Edward II., until Michaelmass in the eight year of the same king, amounting to the sum of £7957 13s.d. as followeth:[102]

To wit, in the pantry, buttery, and kitchen, £3405, etc.: for one hundred and eighty-four tons, one pipe of red or claret wine, and one ton of white wine bought for the house, £104 17s. 6d.

For grocery ware, £180 17s.

For six barrels of sturgeon, £19.

For six thousand eight hundred stock-fishes, so called for[79] dried fishes of all sorts, as lings, habardines, and other, £41 6s. 7d.

For one thousand seven hundred and fourteen pounds of waxe, with vermelion and turpentine to make red waxe, £314 7s.d.

For two thousand three hundred and nineteen pounds of tallow candles for the household, and one thousand eight hundred and seventy of lights for Paris candles, called perchers, £31 14s. 3d.

Expenses on the earl’s great horses, and the keeper’s wages, £486 4s.d.

Linen cloth for the earl and his chaplains, and for the pantry, £43 17s.

For one hundred and twenty-nine dozen of parchment, with ink, £4 8s.d.

Sum, £5230 17s.d.

Item, for two cloths of scarlet for the earl against Christmass, one cloth of russet for the Bishop of Angew, seventy cloths of blue for the knights (as they were then termed), fifteen cloths of medley for the lords’ clerks, twenty-eight cloths for the esquires, fifteen cloths for officers, nineteen cloths for grooms, five cloths for archers, four cloths for minstrels and carpenters, with the sharing and carriage for the earl’s liveries at Christmasse, £460 15s.

Item, for seven furs of variable miniver (or powdered ermine), seven hoods of purple, three hundred and ninety-five furs of budge for the liveries of barons, knights, and clerks, one hundred and twenty-three furs of lamb for esquires, bought at Christmas, £147 17s. 8d.

Item, sixty-five cloths, saffron colour, for the barons and knights in summer, twelve red cloths, mixed, for clerks, twenty-six cloths, ray, for esquires, one cloth, ray, for officers’ coats in summer, and four cloths, ray, for carpets in the hall, for £345 13s. 8d.

Item, one hundred pieces of green silk for the knights, fourteen budge furs for surcoats, thirteen hoods of budge for clerks, and seventy-five furs of lambs for the lord’s liveries in summer, with canvas and cords to truss them, £72 19s.

Item, saddles for the lord’s liveries in summer, £51 6s. 8d.

Item, one saddle for the earl of the prince’s arms, 40s.

Sum, £1079 18s. 3d.

Item, for things bought, whereof cannot be read in my note, £241 14s.d.


For horses lost in service of the earl, £8 6s. 8d.

Fees paid to earls, barons, knights, and esquires, £623 15s. 5d.

In gifts to knights of France, the Queen of England’s nurses, to the Countess of Warren, esquires, minstrels, messengers, and riders, £92 14s.

Item, one hundred and sixty-eight yards of russet cloth,[103] and twenty-four coats for poor men, with money given to the poor on Maundy Thursday, £8 16s. 7d.

Item, twenty-four silver dishes, so many saucers and so many cups for the buttery, one pair of pater nosters, and one silver coffin, bought this year, £103 5s. 6d.

To divers messengers about the earl’s business, £34 19s. 8d.

In the earl’s chamber, £5.

To divers men for the earl’s old debts, £88 16s.d.

Sum, £1207 7s. 11¾d.

The expences of the countess at Pickering for the time of this account, as in the pantry, buttery, kitchen, and other places, concerning these offices, £285 13s.d.

In wine, wax, spices, cloths, furs, and other things for the countess’ wardrobe, £154 7s.d.

Sum, £439 8s.d.

Sum total of the whole expenses, £7957 13s.d.

Thus much for this Earl of Lancaster.

More I read, that in the 14th of the same Edward II., Hugh Spencer the elder (condemned by the commonalty) was banished the realm; at which time it was found by inquisition that the said Spencer had in sundry shires, fifty-nine manors: he had twenty-eight thousand sheep, one thousand oxen and steers, one thousand two hundred kine, with their calves, forty mares with their colts, one hundred and sixty drawing horses, two thousand hogs, three hundred bullocks, forty tuns of wine, six hundred bacons, eighty carcases of Martilmasse beef, six hundred muttons in larder, ten tuns of cider; his armour, plate, jewels, and ready money, better than £10,000, thirty-six sacks of wool, and a library of books. Thus much the record, which provision for household showeth a great family there to be kept.

Nearer to our time, I read,[104] in the 36th of Henry VI., that the greater estates of the realm being called up to London,

The Earl of Salisbury came with five hundred men on horseback, and was lodged in the Herber.


Richard, Duke of York, with four hundred men, lodged at Baynard’s castle.

The Dukes of Excester and Sommerset, with eight hundred men.

The Earl of Northumberland, the Lord Egremont, and the Lord Clifford, with fifteen hundred men.

Richard Nevill, Earl of Warwick, with six hundred men, all in red jackets, embroidered with ragged staves before and behind, and was lodged in Warwicke lane; in whose house there was oftentimes six oxen eaten at a breakfast, and every tavern was full of his meat; for he that had any acquaintance in that house, might have there so much of sodden and roast meat as he could prick and carry upon a long dagger.

Richard Redman, Bishop of Ely, 1500, the 17th of Henry VII.,[105] besides his great family, housekeeping, alms dish, and relief to the poor, wheresoever he was lodged. In his travelling, when at his coming or going to or from any town, the bells being rung, all the poor would come together, to whom he gave every one six pence at the least.

And now to note of our own time somewhat. Omitting in this place Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of Yorke, and cardinal, I refer the reader to my Annals, where I have set down the order of his house and household, passing all other subjects of his time. His servants, daily attending in his house, were near about four hundred, omitting his servants’ servants, which were many.

Nicholas West, Bishop of Ely, in the year 1532, kept continually in his house an hundred servants, giving to the one half of them 53s. 4d. the piece yearly; to the other half each 40s. the piece; to every one for his winter gown four yards of broad cloth, and for his summer coat three yards and a half: he daily gave at his gates, besides bread and drink, warm meat to two hundred poor people.

The housekeeping of Edward, late Earl of Derby, is not to be forgotten, who had two hundred and twenty men in check roll: his feeding aged persons twice every day, sixty and odd, besides all comers, thrice a week, appointed for his dealing days, and every Good Friday two thousand seven hundred, with meat, drink, and money.

Thomas Audley, lord chancellor, his family of gentlemen before him, in coats garded with velvet, and chains of gold; his yeomen after him in the same livery, not garded.

William Powlet, lord great master, Marquis of Winchester,[82] kept the like number of gentlemen and yeomen in a livery[106] of Reading tawny, and great relief at his gate.

Thomas Lord Cromwell, Earl of Essex, kept the like or greater number in a livery of grey marble; the gentlemen garded with velvet, the yeomen with the same cloth, yet their skirts large enough for their friends to sit upon them.

Edward, Duke of Sommerset, was not inferior in keeping a number of tall and comely gentlemen and yeomen, though his house was then in building, and most of his men were lodged abroad.

The late Earl of Oxford, father to him that now liveth, hath been noted within these forty years to have ridden into this city, and so to his house by London stone, with eighty gentlemen in a livery of Reading tawny, and chains of gold about their necks, before him, and one hundred tall yeomen, in the like livery, to follow him without chains, but all having his cognisance of the blue boar embroidered on their left shoulder.