Search over 60 thousand pages of pub history and London history by surname, street name or pub.


BY ❦ JOHN STOW Citizen
of London



The Author to the Readerintroduction
The Antiquity of Londonantiquity
The Wall about the City of LondonCity Walls
Of the Ancient and Present Rivers, Brooks, Bourns, Pools, Wells, and Conduits of Fresh Water serving the Cityrivers
The Town Ditch without the Wall of the Cityditch
Bridges of this Citybridges
Gates in the Wall of this Citygates
Of Towers and Castlestowers
Of Schools and other Houses of Learningschools
Houses of Students of the Common Lawlaw students
Of Orders and Customs of the Citizenscustoms
Of Charitable Alms in Old Times givencharity
Sports and Pastimes of Old Time used in this Citysports
Watches in LondonWatches in London
Honour of Citizens, and Worthiness of Men in the sameHonour of Citizens
The City of London divided into PartsCity of London
Portsoken WardPortsoken
Tower Street WardTower Street
Aldgate WardAldgate
Lime Street WardLime Street
Bishopgate WardBishopgate
Broad Street WardBroad Street
Cornehill WardCornhill
Langborne Ward and Fennie AboutLangborne
Billingsgate WardBillingsgate/a>
Bridge Ward WithinBridge Ward
Candlewike Street WardCandlewick
Walbrook WardWalbrook
Downegate Warddowgate
Vintry Wardvintry
Cordwainer Street Wardcordwainer
Cheap WardCheap
Coleman Street Wardcoleman
Bassings hall Wardbassinghall
Cripplegate Wardcripplegate
Aldersgate Wardaldersgate
Faringdon Ward Infra, or Withinfaringdon
Bread Street Wardbreadstreet
Queen hithe Wardqueenhithe
Castle Baynard Wardcastlebaynard
The Ward of Faringdon Extra, or Withoutfaringdon without
Bridge Ward Without (the 26th in number), consisting of the Borough of Southwark, in the County of SurreySouthwark
The Suburbs without the Walls of the City, briefly touched, as also
without the Liberties, more at large describedsuburbs
Liberties of the Duchy of Lancasterliberties
The City of Westminster, with the Antiquities, Bounds, and Liberties thereof Westminster
Spiritual or Ecclesiastical Government422
Parish ChurchesParish Churches
Hospitals in this City and SuburbsHospitals
Of Leprous People and Lazar HousesLepers
Temporal Government of this CityTemporal Government
Aldermen and Sheriffs of LondonAldermen and Sheriffs
Officers belonging to the Lord Mayor’s HouseOfficers
Sheriffs of London; their OfficersSheriffs
Mayor and Sheriffs’ Livery475
Companies of London placed at the Mayor’s Feast476
Liveries worn by Citizens at Triumphs479
An Apology, or Defence, against the Opinion of some Men, which think that the Greatness of that City standeth not with the Profit and Security of this Realm482
The Singularities of the City of London485
Fitzstephen’s Description of London501



Conteyning the Originall, Antiquity,
Increase, Moderne estate, and description of that
City, written in the yeare 1598, by Iohn Stow
Citizen of London.

Since by the same Author increased,
with diuers rare notes of Antiquity, and
published in the yeare,

Also an Apologie (or defence) against the
opinion of some men, concerning that Citie,
the greatnesse thereof.

VVith an Appendix, contayning in Latine
Libellum de situ & nobilitate Londini: Written by
William Fitzstephen, in the raigne of
Henry the second.

Imprinted by Iohn Windet, Printer to the honorable
Citie of London.



Since the first publishing of the perambulation of Kent by that learned gentleman, William Lambert, Esq., I have heard of sundry other able persons to have (according to the desire of that author) essayed to do somewhat for the particular shires and counties where they were born or dwelt; of which none that I know (saving John Norden, for the counties of Middlesex and Hertford) have vouchsafed their labour to the common good in that behalf. And, therefore, concurring with the first, in the same desire to have drawn together such special descriptions of each place, as might not only make up a whole body of the English chorography amongst ourselves, but also might give occasion and courage to M. Camden to increase and beautify his singular work of the whole, to the view of the learned that be abroad, I have attempted the discovery of London, my native soil and country, at the desire and persuasion of some of my good friends, as well because I have seen sundry antiquities myself touching that place, as also for that through search of records to other purposes, divers written helps are come to my hands, which few others have fortuned to meet withall; it is a service that most agreeth with my professed travels; it is a duty that I willingly owe to my native mother and country, and an office that of right I hold myself bound in love to bestow upon the politic body and members of the same. What London hath been of ancient time men may here see, as what it is now every man doth behold. I know that the argument, being of the chief and principal city of the land, required the pen of some excellent artisan, but fearing that none would attempt and finish it, as few have essayed any, I chose rather (amongst other my labours)[xxiv] to handle it after my plain manner, than to leave it unperformed. Touching the dedication, I am not doubtful where to seek my patron, since you be a politic estate of the city, as the walls and buildings be the material parts of the same. To you, therefore, do I address this my whole labour, as well that by your authority I may be protected, as warranted by your own skill and understanding of that which I have written. I confess that I lacked my desire to the accomplishment of some special parts,[1] which some other of better ability promised to perform; but as I then professed, have since out of mine old store-house added to this work many rare notes of antiquity, as may appear to the reader, which I do afford in all duty, and recommend to your view, my labours to your consideration, and myself to your service, during life, in this or any other.



1236. The 20th of Henry III., the mayor, aldermen, sheriffs, and citizens of London, rode out to meet the king and his new wife, Queen Elianor, daughter to Reymond Beringarius of Aragon, earl of Provence and Narbone. The citizens were clothed in long garments, embroidered about with gold, and silk in divers colours, their horses finely trapped, to the number of three hundred and sixty, every man bearing a golden or silver cup in his hand, the king’s trumpets before them sounding, etc., as ye may read in my Annales.

1300. The 29th of Edward I., the said king took to wife Margaret, sister to Philip Le Beau, king of France; they were married at Canterbury. The queen was conveyed to London, against whom the citizens to the number of six hundred rode in one livery of red and white, with the cognizances of their mysteries embroidered upon their sleeves, they received her four miles out of London, and so conveyed her to Westminster.

1415. The 3rd of Henry V., the said king arriving at Dover, the mayor of London with the aldermen and crafts-men riding in red, with hoods red and white, met with the king on the Blacke hith, coming from Eltham with his prisoners out of France.

1432. The 10th of Henry VI., he being crowned in France, returning into England, came to Eltham towards London, and the mayor of London, John Welles, the aldermen, with the commonalty, rode against him on horseback, the mayor in crimson velvet, a great velvet hat furred, a girdle of gold about his middle, and a bawdrike of gold about his neck trilling down behind him, his three henxemen, on three great coursers following him, in one suit of red, all spangled in silver, then the aldermen in gowns of scarlet, with sanguine hoods, and all the commonality of the city clothed in white gowns, and[480] scarlet hoods, with divers cognizances embroidered on their sleeves, etc.

1485. The 1st of Henry VII., the mayor, aldermen, sheriffs, and commonality, all clothed in violet (as in a mourning colour), met the king at Shorditch, and conveyed him to Powles church, where he offered his banners.

Thus much for liveries of citizens in ancient times, both in triumphs and otherwise, may suffice, whereby may be observed, that the coverture of men’s heads was then hoods, for neither cap nor hat is spoken of, except that John Welles mayor of London to wear a hat in time of triumph, but differing from the hats lately taken in use, and now commonly worn for noblemen’s liveries. I read that Thomas earl of Lancaster in the reign of Edward II. gave at Christmas in liveries, to such as served him, a hundred and fifty-nine broad cloaths, allowing to every garment furs to fur their hoods: more near our time, there yet remaineth the counterfeits and pictures of aldermen, and others that lived in the reigns of Henry VI. and Edward IV., namely alderman Darby dwelling in Fenchurch street, over against the parish church of St. Diones, left his picture, as of an alderman, in a gown of scarlet on his back, a hood on his head, etc., as is in that house (and elsewhere) to be seen: for a further monument of those late times, men may behold the glass windows of the mayor’s court in the Guildhall above the stairs, the mayor is there pictured sitting in habit, party-coloured, and a hood on his head, his swordbearer before him with a hat or cap of maintenance: the common clerk, and other officers bare-headed, their hoods on their shoulders; and therefore I take it, that the use of square bonnets worn by noblemen, gentlemen, citizens, and others, took beginning in this realm by Henry VII. and in his time, and of further antiquity, I can see no counterfeit or other proof of use. Henry VIII. (towards his latter reign) wore a round flat cap of scarlet or of velvet, with a bruch or jewel, and a feather; divers gentlemen, courtiers, and others, did the like. The youthful citizens also took them to the new fashion of flat caps, knit of woollen yarn black, but so light, that they were obliged to tie them under their chins, for else the wind would be master over them. The use of these flat round caps so far increased (being of less price than the French bonnet) that in short time young aldermen took the wearing of them; Sir John White wore it in his mayoralty, and was the first that left example to his followers; but now the Spanish felt, or the like counterfeit, is most commonly of all[481] men both spiritual and temporal taken to use, so that the French bonnet or square cap, and also the round or flat cap, have for the most part given place to the Spanish felt; but yet in London amongst the graver sort (I mean the liveries of companies), remaineth a memory of the hoods of old time worn by their predecessors: these hoods were worn, the roundlets upon their heads, the skirts to hang behind in their necks to keep them warm, the tippet to lie on their shoulder, or to wind about their necks, these hoods were of old time made in colours according to their gowns, which were of two colours, as red and blue, or red and purple, murrey, or as it pleased their masters and wardens to appoint to the companies; but now of late time, they have used their gowns to be all of one colour, and those of the saddest, but their hoods being made the one half of the same cloth their gowns be of, the other half remaineth red as of old time. And so I end, as wanting time to travel further in this work.

Now since that I have given you an outward view of this city, it shall not be impertinent to let you take an insight also of the same, such as a Londoner born discoursed about twenty years gone, for answer (as it seemeth) to some objections that then were made against the growing greatness thereof. The author gave it me, and therefore, howsoever I conceal his name (which itself pretendeth not), I think I may without his offence impart it to others, that they may take pleasure in the reading, as I doubt not but he did in the writing. Long may they (that list) envy, and long may we and our posterity enjoy the good estate of this city.




Cities and well-peopled places be called Oppida, in Latin; either ab ope danda, or ab opibus, or ab opponendo se hostibus. They be named also Civitates a cöeundo, and urbes, either of the word urbare, because the first inclosure of them was described with the draught of a plough, or else ab orbe, for the round compass that they at the first had.

In the Greek a city is termed πόλις, either of the word πολὺς, multus, or of πολεῖνω πολένεον,[306] id est, habitare, alere, gubernare.

In the Saxon (or old English) sometimes Tun, which we now call town, derived of the word Tynan, to inclose or tyne, as some yet speak. But forasmuch as that word was proper to every village and inclosed dwelling, therefore our ancestors called their walled towns Burh or Byrg, and we now Bury and Borough, of the Greek word πύργος (as I think), which signifieth a tower or a high building.

The walls of these towns had their name of vallum, because at the first they were but of that earth which was cast out of the trench, or ditch, wherewith they were environed. But afterward, being made of matter more fit for defence, they were named a muniendo mœnia. By the etymology of these names, it may appear that common weals, cities, and towns, were at the first invented, to the end that men might lead a civil life amongst themselves, and be saved harmless against their[483] enemies; whereupon Plato saith, “Civitates ab initio utilitatis causa constitutæ sunt.” Aristotle, 1. Politicorum, 2. saith, “Civitas a natura profecta est: homo enim animal aptum est ad cœtus, et proinde civitatis origo ad viuendum, institutio ad bene viuendum refertur.” And Cicero, lib. primo de Inventione, in the beginning, saith, “Fuit quoddam tempus cum in agris homines passim bestiarum more vagabantur, etc. quo quidem tempore, quidam (magnus, viz. vir et sapiens) dispersos homines in agris, et tectis silvestribus abditos, ratione quadam compulit in unum locum, atque eos in unamquamq; rem induxit utilem et honestam. Urbibus vero constitutis fidem colere, et justitiam retinere discebant, et aliis parere sua voluntate consuescebant,” etc. The same man discourseth notably to the same effect in his Oration Pro Sestio, a little after the midst thereof, showing that in the life of men dispersed, vis, beareth all the sway; but in the civil life, ars is better maintained, etc. This thing well saw King William the Conqueror, who in his laws, fol. 125, saith, “Burgi et civitates fundata, et edificata sunt, ad tuitionem gentium et populorum Regni, et idcirco observari debent cum omni libertate, integritate et ratione.” And his predecessors, King Ethelstane and King Canutus, in their laws, fol. 62 and 106, had commanded thus: “Oppida instaurantur,” etc.

Seeing, therefore, that as Cicero, 2. Officior. saith, “Proxime et secundum Deos, homines hominibus maxime utiles esse possunt;” and that men are congregated into cities and commonwealths for honesty and utility’s sake, these shortly be the commodities that do come by cities, commonalties, and corporations. First, men by this nearness of conversation are withdrawn from barbarous feritie and force to a certain mildness of manners, and to humanity and justice; whereby they are contented to give and take right, to and from their equals and inferiors, and to hear and obey their heads and superiors. Also the doctrine of God is more fitly delivered, and the discipline thereof more aptly to be executed, in peopled towns than abroad, by reason of the facility of common and often assembling; and consequently such inhabitants be better managed in order, and better instructed in wisdom: whereof it came to pass, that at the first, they that excelled others this way, were called astuti, of the Greek word ἄστυ, which signifieth a city, although the term be now declined to the worst part, and do betoken evil, even as tyrannus, sophista, and some such other originally good words are fallen; and hereof also good behaviour is yet called urbanitas, because it is rather found in[484] cities than elsewhere. In some, by often hearing men be better persuaded in religion, and for that they live in the eyes of others, they be by example the more easily trained to justice, and by shamefastness restrained from injury.

And whereas commonwealths and kingdoms cannot have, next after God, any surer foundation than the love and goodwill of one man towards another, that also is closely bred and maintained in cities, where men by mutual society and companying together, do grow to alliances, commonalties, and corporations.

The liberal sciences and learnings of all sorts, which be lumina reipublicæ, do flourish only in peopled towns; without the which a realm is in no better case than a man that lacketh both his eyes.

Manual arts, or handicrafts, as they have for the most part been invented in towns and cities, so they cannot anywhere else be either maintained or amended. The like is to be said of merchandise, under which name I comprehend all manner of buying, selling, bartering, exchanging, communicating of things that men need to and fro. Wealth and riches, which are truly called subsidia belli, et ornamenta pacis, are increased chiefly in towns and cities both to the prince and people.

The necessity of the poor and needy is in such places both sooner to be espied, and hath means to be more charitably relieved.

The places themselves be surer refuges in all extremities of foreign invasion, and the inhabitants be a ready hand and strength of men, with munition to oppress intestine sedition.

Moreover, forasmuch as the force of the wars of our time consisteth chiefly in shot, all other soldiers being either horsemen or footmen, armed on land, or mariners at the sea, it seemeth to me that citizens and townsmen be as fit to be employed in any of these services, that on horseback only excepted, as the inhabitants that be drawn out of the country.

Furthermore, even as these societies and assemblies of men in cities and great towns are a continual bridle against tyranny, which was the cause that Tarquin, Nero, Dionysius, and such others, have always sought to weaken them: so, being well tempered, they are a strong fort and bulwark, not only in the aristocracy, but also in the lawful kingdom or just royalty.

At once the propagation of religion, the execution of good policy, the exercise of charity, and the defence of the country, is best performed by towns and cities; and this civil life approacheth nearest to the shape of that mystical body whereof[485] Christ is the head, and men be the members; whereupon both at the first, that man of God Moses, in the commonwealth of the Israelites, and the governors of all countries, in all ages since, have continually maintained the same; and to change it were nothing else but to metamorphose the world, and to make wild beasts of reasonable men. To stand longer upon this it were, in re non dubia, uti oratione non necessaria; and therefore I will come to London.


Whatsoever is said of cities generally, maketh also for London specially; howbeit, these things are particularly for our purpose to be considered in it. The situation; the former estimation that it hath had; the service that it hath done; the present estate and government of it, and such benefits as do grow to the realm by the maintenance thereof.

This realm hath only three principal rivers, whereon a royal city may well be situated: Trent, in the north, Severn in the south-west, and Thames in the south-east; of the which Thames, both for the straight course in length reacheth furthest into the belly of the land, and for the breadth and stillness of the water is most navigable up and down the stream; by reason whereof London, standing almost in the middle of that course, is more commodiously served with provision of necessaries than any town standing upon the other two rivers can be, and doth also more easily communicate to the rest of the realm the commodities of her own intercourse and traffic.

This river openeth indifferently upon France and Flanders, our mightiest neighbours, to whose doings we ought to have a bent eye and special regard; and this city standeth thereon in such convenient distance from the sea, as it is not only near enough for intelligence of the affairs of those princes, and for the resistance of their attempts, but also sufficiently removed from the fear of any sudden dangers that may be offered by them; whereas for the prince of this realm to dwell upon Trent were to turn his back or blind side to his most dangerous borderers; and for him to rest and dwell upon Severn were to be shut up in a cumbersome corner, which openeth but upon Ireland only, a place of much less importance.

Neither could London be pitched so commodiously upon any other part of the same river of Thames as where it now standeth; for if it were removed more to the west it should lose the benefit[486] of the ebbing and flowing, and if it were seated more towards the east it should be nearer to danger of the enemy, and further both from the good air and from doing good to the inner parts of the realm; neither may I omit that none other place is so plentifully watered with springs as London is.

And whereas, amongst other things, corn and cattle, hay and fuel, be of great necessity; of the which cattle may be driven from afar, and corn may easily be transported. But hay and fuel, being of greater bulk and burthen, must be at hand: only London, by the benefit of this situation and river, may be sufficiently served therewith. In which respect an alderman of London reasonably (as me thought) affirmed, that although London received great nourishment by the residence of the prince, the repair of the parliament and courts of justice, yet it stood principally by the advantage of the situation upon the river; for when, as on a time, it was told him by a courtier that Queen Mary, in her displeasure against London, had appointed to remove with the parliament and term to Oxford, this plain man demanded whether she meant also to divert the river of Thames from London, or no? and when the gentleman had answered “No,” “Then,” quoth the alderman, “by God’s grace, we shall do well enough at London, whatsoever become of the term and parliament.” I myself being then a young scholar at Oxford, did see great preparation made towards that term and parliament, and do well remember that the common opinion and voice was, that they were not holden there, because provision of hay could not be made in all the country to serve for ten whole days together, and yet is that quarter plentifully stored with hay for the proportion of the shire itself.

For proof of the ancient estimation of London, I will not use the authority of the British history, nor of such as follow it (although some hold it credible enough that London was first Trinobantum civitas, or Troja nova, that famous city in our histories, and then Ludstoune, and by corruption London, as they report), because they be not of sufficient force to draw the gainsayers. Neither will I stand much upon that honourable testimony which Gervas. Tilburiens. giveth to London in his book, De Otiis Imperialibus, saying thus, concerning the blessing of God towards it:—“In Urbe London. exceptione habet divulgatum id per omnes æquè gentes Lucani proverbium:

Invida fatorum series summisque negatum
Stare diu.


Nam ea annis 354 ante Romam condita nunquam amisit principatum, nec bello consumpta est.

But I will rather use the credit of one or two ancient foreign writers, and then descend to later histories. Cornel. Tacitus, lib. 4. Annal., saith, “Londinum copia negociatorum, et comeatu maxime celebris,” and Herodian, in the Life of Severus the emperor, saith, “Londinum urbs magna et opulenta.” Beda, lib. Ecclesiastic. 10. chap. 29, showeth that Pope Gregory appointed two archbishops’ sees in England, the one at London, the other at York. King Ethelstane, in his laws, appointing how many mint-masters should be in each city, allotteth eight to London, and not so many to any other city. The penner of those laws, that are said to be made by Edward the Confessor, and confirmed by William the Conqueror, saith, “London est caput Regni, et Legum.” King Henry I., in the third chapter of his Laws, commandeth that no citizen of London should be amerced above one hundred shillings for any pecuniary pain. The great charter of England, that Helena for which there was so long and so great war and contention, in the ninth chapter, saith, “Civitas London. habeat omnes suas Libertates antiquas,” etc. About the time of King John London was reputed “regni firmata Columna,” as Alexander Neckham writeth; and in the beginning of the reign of Richard II. it was called “Camera regis,” as Thomas Walsingham reporteth. I pass over the recital of the Saxon charter of King William the Conqueror, the Latin charter of Henry I. and II., of Richard I., of John, and of Edward I., all which gave unto the citizens of London great privileges, and of Edward III., who reciting all the grants of his predecessors, not only confirmed but also increased the same, and of the latter kings, who have likewise added many things thereunto. Only I wish to be noted by them, that during all this time, all those wise and politic princes have thought it fit, not only to maintain London in such plight as they found it, but also to adorn, increase, and amplify it with singular tokens of their liberal favour and good liking. And whether there be not now the same or greater causes to draw the like, or better estimation and cherishing, let any man be judge, that will take the pains to compare the present estate of London, yet still growing to better, with the former condition of the same.

It were too much to recite particularly the martial services that this city hath done from time to time; neither do I think that they be all committed to writing; only for a taste, as it were, I will note these few following.


Almost sixty years before the Conquest a huge army of the Danes (whereof King Sweyne was the leader) besieged King Etheldred in London (than the which, as the story saith, then he had none other refuge), but they were manfully repulsed, and a great number of them slain.

After the death of this Sweyne, his son Canutus (afterward king of England) besieged London, both by land and water; but after much labour, finding it impregnable, he departed; and in the same year repairing his forces, he girded it with a new siege, in the which the citizens so defended themselves, and offended him, that in the end he went away with shame.

In the dissension that arose between King Edward the Confessor and his father-in-law, Earl Goodwin (which was the mightiest subject within this land that ever I have read of), the earl with a great army came to London, and was for all that by the countenance of the citizens resisted, till such time as the nobility made reconciliation between them. About seventy years after the Conquest, Maude, the empress, made war upon King Stephen for the right of the crown, and had taken his person prisoner; but, by the strength and assistance of the Londoners and Kentishmen, Maude was put to flight at Winchester, and her brother Robert, then earl of Gloucester, was taken, in exchange for whom King Stephen was delivered: I dispute not whose right was better, but I avouch the service, seeing Stephen was in possession.

The history of William Walworth, the mayor of London, is well known; by whose manhood and policy the person of King Richard II. was rescued, the city saved, Wat Tiler killed, and all his straglers discomfited; in reward of which service, the mayor and other aldermen were knighted.

Jack Cade also having discomfited the king’s army that was sent against him, came to London, and was there manfully and with long fight resisted, until that by the good policy of the citizens his company was dispersed.

Finally, in the 10th year of the reign of King Edward IV., and not many days before the death of Henry VI., Thomas Nevill, commonly called the bastard of Fauconbridge, armed a great company against the king, and being denied passage through London, he assaulted it on divers parts; but he was repulsed by the citizens, and chased as far as Stratford, with the loss of a great many.

Thus much of certain their principal and personal services in war only, for it were infinite to repeat the particular aids of[489] men and money which London hath ministered; and I had rather to leave it to be conjectured at, by comparison to be made between it and other cities, whereof I will give you this one note for an example. In the 12th year of the reign of King Edward II., it was ordered by parliament that every city of the realm should make out soldiers against the Scots; at which time London was appointed to send two hundred men, and Canterbury, being then one of our best cities, forty, and no more: and this proportion of five to one is now in our age increased, at the least five to one, both in soldiers and subsidy. As for the other services that London hath done in times of peace, they are to be measured by consideration of the commodities, whereof I will speak anon. In the mean season, let the estate and government of this city be considered, to the end that it may appear that it standeth well with the policy of the realm.

Cæsar, in his Commentaries, is witness, that in his time the cities of Britain had large territories annexed unto them, and were several estates of themselves, governed by particular kings, or potentates, as in Italy and Germany yet be; and that Mandubratius was king of the Trinobants, whose chief city London is taken to have been. And I find not that this government was altered either by Cæsar or his successors, notwithstanding that the country became tributary unto them: but that it continued until at length the Britons themselves reduced all their peoples into one monarchy; howbeit, that lasted not any long season, for upon Vortiger their king came the Saxons our ancestors, and they drave the Britons into Wales, Cornwall, and Bretagne in France, and in process of war divided the country amongst themselves into an heptarchy, or seven kingdoms; of the which one was called the kingdom of the East Saxons, which having in manner the same limits that the bishopric of London now enjoyeth, contained Essex, Middlesex, and a part of Hertfordshire, and so included London. Again, it appeareth, that in course of time, and about eight hundred years after Christ, Egbert (then king of the West Saxons), ut pisces sæpe minutos magnus comest, overcame the rest of the kings, and once more erected a monarchy; the which till the coming in of the Normans, and from thence even hitherto hath continued.

Now I doubt not (whatsoever London was in the time of Cæsar), but that under the heptarchy and monarchy it hath been a subject, and no free city, though happily endowed with some large privileges, for King William the Conqueror found a portreeve there, whose name was Godfrey (by which name he[490] greeteth him in his Saxon Charter), and his office was none other than the charge of a bailiff or reeve, as by the self-same name continuing yet in Gravesend, and certain other places, may well appear: but the Frenchmen, using their own language, called him sometimes a provost and sometime a bailiff: whatsoever his name and office were, he was perpetuus magistratus, given by the prince, and not chosen by the citizens, as it seemeth; for what time King Richard I. needed money towards his expedition in the Holy Land, they first purchased of him the liberty to choose yearly from amongst themselves two bailiffs; and King John, his successor, at their like suit, changed their bailiffs into a mayor and two sheriffs. To these Henry III. added aldermen, at the first eligible yearly, but afterward by King Edward III. made perpetual magistrates and justices of the peace within their wards, in which plight of government it presently standeth. This, shortly as I could, is the historical and outward estate of London; now come I to the inward pith and substance.

The estate of this city is to be examined by the quantity and by the quality.

The quantity therefore consisteth in the number of the citizens which is very great, and far exceedeth the proportion of Hippodamus, which appointed ten thousand, and of others which have set down other numbers, as meet stintes in their opinions to be well governed; but yet seeing both reason and experience have freed us from the law of any definite number, so that other things be observed, let that be admitted: neither is London, I fear me, so great as populous; for well saith one, “Non idem est magna civitas et frequens, magna est enim quæ multos habet qui arma ferre possunt:” whatsoever the number be, it breedeth no fear of sedition; forasmuch as the same consisteth not in the extremes, but in a very mediocrity of wealth and riches, as it shall better appear anon.

And if the causes of English rebellions be searched out, they shall be found in effect to be these twain, ambition and covetousness; of which the first reigneth in the minds of high and noble personages, or of such others as seek to be gracious and popular, and have robbed the hearts of the multitude; whereas in London, if any where in the world, honos vere onus est, and every man rather shunneth than seeketh the mayoralty, which is the best mark amongst them; neither hath there been any strong faction, nor any man more popular than the rest, forasmuch as the government is by a pattern, as it were, and always the same, how often soever they change their magistrate. Covetousness,[491] that other sire of sedition, possesseth the miserable and needy sort, and such as be naughty packs, unthrifts, which although it cannot be chosen, but that in a frequent city as London is, there shall be found many, yet bear they not any great sway, seeing the multitude and most part there is of a competent wealth, and earnestly bent to honest labour. I confess that London is a mighty arm and instrument to bring any great desire to effect, if it may be known to a man’s devotion; whereof also there want not examples in the English history. But forasmuch as the same is, by the like reason, serviceable and meet to impeach any disloyal attempt, let it rather be well governed than evil liked therefore; for it shall appear anon, that as London hath adhered to some rebellions, so hath it resisted many, and was never the author of any one. The quality of this city consisteth either in the law and government thereof, or in the degrees and condition of the citizens or in their strength and riches.

It is besides the purpose to dispute, whether the estate of the government here be a democracy or aristocracy; for whatever it be, being considered in itself, certain it is, that in respect of the whole realm, London is but a citizen and no city, a subject and no free estate, an obedienciary and no place endowed with any distinct or absolute power; for it is governed by the same law that the rest of the realm is, both in causes criminal and civil, a few customs only excepted, which also are to be adjudged or forejudged by the common law. And in the assembly of the estates of our realm (which we call parliament) they are but a member of the commonalty, and send two burgesses for their city, as every poor borough doth, and two knights for their county, as every other shire doth; and are as straitly bound by such laws as any part of the realm is, for if contribution in subsidy of money to the prince be decreed, the Londoners have none exemption; no, not so much as to assess themselves, for the prince doth appoint the commissioners.

If soldiers must be mustered, Londoners have no law to keep themselves at home; if provision for the prince’s household be to be made, their goods are not privileged. In sum, therefore, the government of London differeth not in substance, but in ceremony, from the rest of the realm, as, namely, in the names and choice of their officers, and in their guilds and fraternities, established for the maintenance of handicrafts and labourers, and for equity and good order to be kept in buying and selling. And yet in these also are they to be controlled by the general law;[492] for by the statutes, 28 Edward III. chap. 10, and 1 Henry IV. chap. 15, the points of their misgovernment are inquirable by the inhabitants of the foreign shires adjoining, and punishable by such justiciars as the prince shall thereunto depute: to conclude, therefore, the estate of London, for government, is so agreeable a symphony with the rest, that there is no fear of dangerous discord to ensue thereby.

The multitude (or whole body) of this populous city is two ways to be considered, generally and specially: generally, they be natural subjects, a part of the commons of this realm, and are by birth for the most part a mixture of all countries of the same; by blood gentlemen, yeomen, and of the basest sort, without distinction, and by profession busy bees, and travailers for their living in the hive of this commonwealth; but specially considered, they consist of these three parts,—merchants, handicraftsmen, and labourers.

Merchandise is also divided into these three sorts,—navigation, by the which merchandizes are brought, and carried in and out over the seas; invection, by the which commodities are gathered into the city, and dispersed from thence into the country by land and negotiation, which I may call the keeping of a retailing or standing shop. In common speech, they of the first sort be called merchants, and both the other retailers.

Handicraftsmen be those which do exercise such arts as require both labour and cunning, as goldsmiths, tailors, and haberdashers, skinners, etc.

Labourers and hirelings I call those quorum operæ non artes emuntur, as Tullie saith; of which sort be porters, carmen, watermen, etc.

Again, these three sorts may be considered, either in respect of their wealth or number: in wealth, merchants and some of the chief retailers have the first place; the most part of retailers and all artificers the second or mean place; and hirelings the lowest room: but in number they of the middle place be first, and do far exceed both the rest; hirelings be next, and merchants be the last. Now, out of this, that the estate of London, in the persons of the citizens, is so friendly interlaced, and knit in league with the rest of the realm, not only at their beginning by birth and blood, as I have showed, but also very commonly at their ending by life and conversation, for that merchants and rich men (being satisfied with gain) do for the most part marry their children into the country, and convey themselves, after Cicero’s counsel, “Veluti ex portu in agros et possessiones:” I[493] do infer that there is not only no danger towards the common quiet thereby, but also great occasion and cause of good love and amity. Out of this, that they be generally bent to travel, and do fly poverty, “Per mare, per saxa, per ignes,” as the poet saith: I draw hope that they shall escape the note of many vices which idle people do fall into. And out of this, that they be a great multitude, and that yet the greatest part of them be neither too rich nor too poor, but do live in the mediocrity, I conclude with Aristotle, that the prince needeth not to fear sedition by them, for thus saith he: “Magnæ urbes magis sunt a seditione liberæ, quod in eis dominetur mediocritas; nam in parvis nihil medium est, sunt enim omnes vel pauperes vel opulenti.” I am now to come to the strength and power of this city, which consisteth partly in the number of the citizens themselves, whereof I have spoken before, partly in their riches, and in their warlike furniture; for as touching the strength of the place itself, that is apparent to the eye, and therefore is not to be treated of.

The wealth and warlike furniture of London is either public or private, and no doubt the common treasure cannot be much there, seeing that the revenue which they have hardly sufficeth to maintain their bridge and conduits, and to pay their officers and servants. Their toll doth not any more than pay their fee farm, that they pay to the prince. Their issues for default of appearances be never levied, and the profits of their courts of justice do go to particular men’s hands. Arguments hereof be these two: one, that they can do nothing of extraordinary charge without a general contribution; another, that they have suffered such as have borne the chief office amongst them, and were become bankrupt, to depart the city without relief, which I think they neither would nor could have done, if the common treasure had sufficed to cover their shame; hereof therefore we need not be afraid. The public armour and munition of this city remaineth in the halls of the companies, as it doth throughout the whole realm, for a great part in the parish churches; neither is that kept together, but only for obedience to the law, which commandeth it, and therefore if that threaten danger to the estate, it may by another law be taken from them, and committed to a more safe armoury.

The private riches of London resteth chiefly in the hands of the merchants and retailers, for artificers have not much to spare, and labourers have need that it were given unto them. Now how necessary and serviceable the estate of merchandise[494] is to this realm, it may partly appear by the practice of that peaceable, politic, and rich prince, King Henry VII., of whom Polidore (writing his life) sayeth thus: “Mercatores ille sæpenumero pecunia multa data gratuite juvabat, ut mercatura ars una omnium cunctis æque mortalibus tum commoda, tum necessaria, in suo regno copiosior esset.” But chiefly by the inestimable commodities that grow thereby: for who knoweth not that we have extreme need of many things, whereof foreign countries have great store, and that we may spare many things whereof they have need: or who is ignorant of this, that we have no mines of silver or gold within our realm, so that the increase of our coin and bullion cometh from elsewhere; and yet nevertheless we be both fed, clad, and otherwise served with foreign commodities and delights, as plentiful as with our domestical; which thing cometh to pass by the mean of merchandise only, which importeth necessaries from other countries, and exporteth the superfluities of our own.

For seeing we have no way to increase our treasure by mines of gold or silver at home, and can have nothing without money or ware from other countries abroad, it followeth necessarily, that if we follow the counsel of that good old husband, Marcus Cato, saying, “Oportet patrem familias vendacem esse, non emacem,” and do carry more commodities in value over the seas than we bring hither from thence, that then the realm shall receive that overplus in money; but if we bring from beyond the seas merchandise of more value than that which we do send over may countervail, then the realm payeth for that overplus in ready money, and consequently is a loser by that ill husbandry; and therefore in this part great and heedful regard must be had that symmetry and due proportion be kept, lest otherwise either the realm be defrauded of her treasure, or the subjects corrupted in vanity, by excessive importation of superfluous and needless merchandise, or else that we feel penury, even in our greatest plenty and store, by immoderate exportation of our own needful commodities.

Other the benefits that merchandise bringeth shall hereafter appear in the general recital of the commodities that come by London; and therefore it resteth that I speak a word of retailers, and finally show that much good groweth by them both. The chief part of retailing is but a handmaid to merchandise, dispersing by piecemeal that which the merchant bringeth in gross; of which trade be mercers, vintners, haberdashers, ironmongers, milliners, and all such as sell wares growing or made beyond the[495] seas; and therefore so long as merchandise itself shall be profitable, and such proportion kept as neither we lose our treasure thereby, nor be cloyed with unnecessary foreign wares, this kind of retailing is to be retained also.

Now that merchants and retailers of London be very rich and great, it is so far from any harm, that it is a thing both praiseworthy and profitable; for “Mercatura (saith Cicero), si tenuis est, sordida putanda est; sin magna est et copiosa, non est vituperanda.” And truly merchants and retailers do not altogether intus canere, and profit themselves only, for the prince and realm both are enriched by their riches: the realm winneth treasure, if their trade be so moderated by authority that it break not proportion, and they besides bear a good fleece, which the prince may shear when he seeth good.

But here, before I conclude this part, I have shortly to answer the accusation of those men, which charge London with the loss and decay of many (or most) of the ancient cities, corporate towns, and markets within this realm, by drawing from them to herself alone, say they, both all trade of traffic by sea, and the retailing of wares and exercise of manual arts also. Touching navigation, which I must confess is apparently decayed in many port towns, and flourisheth only or chiefly at London, I impute that partly to the fall of the Staple, the which being long since a great trade, and bestowed sometimes at one town and sometimes at another within the realm, did much enrich the place where it was, and being now not only diminished in force, but also translated over the seas, cannot but bring some decay with it, partly to the impairing of havens, which in many places have impoverished those towns, whose estate doth ebb and flow with them, and partly to the dissolution of religious houses, by whose wealth and haunt many of those places were chiefly fed and nourished. I mean not to rehearse particular examples of every sort, for the thing itself speaketh, and I haste to an end.

As for retailers, therefore, and handicraftsmen, it is no marvel if they abandon country towns, and resort to London; for not only the court, which is now-a-days much greater and more gallant than in former times, and which was wont to be contented to remain with a small company, sometimes at an abbey or priory, sometimes at a bishop’s house, and sometimes at some mean manor of the king’s own, is now for the most part either abiding at London, or else so near unto it, that the provision[496] of things most fit for it may easily be fetched from thence; but also by occasion thereof, the gentlemen of all shires do fly and flock to this city; the younger sort of them to see and show vanity, and the elder to save the cost and charge of hospitality and house-keeping.

For hereby it cometh to pass, that the gentlemen being either for a good portion of the year out of the country, or playing the farmers, graziers, brewers, or such like, more than gentlemen were wont to do within the country, retailers and artificers, at the least of such things as pertain to the back or belly, do leave the country towns, where there is no vent, and do fly to London, where they be sure to find ready and quick market. And yet I wish, that even as many towns in the low countries of King Philip do stand, some by one handy art, and some by another; so also that it might be provided here that the making of some things might (by discreet dispensation) be allotted to some special towns, to the end, that although the daintiness of men cannot be restrained, which will needs seek those things at London, yet other places also might be relieved, at the least by the workmanship of them.

Thus much then of the estate of London, in the government thereof, in the condition of the citizens, and in their power and riches. Now follow the enumeration of such benefits as redound to the prince and this realm by this city: in which doing I profess not to rehearse all, but only to recite and run over the chief and principal of them.

Besides the commodities of the furtherance of religion and justice, the propagation of learning, the maintenance of arts, the increase of riches, and the defence of countries (all which are before showed to grow generally by cities, and be common to London with them), London bringeth singularly these good things following.

By advantage of the situation it disperseth foreign wares (as the stomach doth meat) to all the members most commodiously.

By the benefit of the river of Thames, and great trade of merchandise, it is the chief maker of mariners, and nurse of our navy; and ships (as men know) be the wooden walls for defence of our realm.

It maintaineth in flourishing estate the countries of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, and Sussex, which as they lie in the face of our most puissant neighbour, so ought they above others to be conserved in the greatest strength and riches; and these,[497] as it is well known, stand not so much by the benefit of their own soil, as by the neighbourhood and nearness which they have to London.

It relieveth plentifully, and with good policy, not only her own poor people, a thing which scarcely any other town or shire doth, but also the poor that from each quarter of the realm do flock unto it, and it imparteth liberally to the necessity of the universities besides. It is an ornament to the realm by the beauty thereof, and a terror to other countries, by reason of the great wealth and frequency. It spreadeth the honour of our country far abroad by her long navigations, and maketh our power feared, even of barbarous princes. It only is stored with rich merchants, which sort only is tolerable; for beggarly merchants do bite too near, and will do more harm than good to the realm.

It only of any place in this realm is able to furnish the sudden necessity with a strong army. It availeth the prince in tronage, poundage, and other her customs, much more than all the rest of the realm.

It yieldeth a greater subsidy than any one part of the realm; I mean not for the proportion of the value of the goods only, but also for the faithful service there used, in making the assess, for no where else be men taxed so near to their just value as in London; yea, many are found there, that for their countenance and credit sake, refuse not to be rated above their ability, which thing never happeneth abroad in the country. I omit that in ancient time the inhabitants of London and other cities were accustomably taxed after the tenth of their goods, when the country was assessed at the fifteenth, and rated at the eighth; when the country was set at the twelfth, for that were to awake a sleeping dog; and I should be thought “dicenda, tacenda, locutus,” as the poet said.

It only doth and is able to make the prince a ready present or loan of money.

It only is found fit and able to entertain strangers honourably, and to receive the prince of the realm worthily.

Almighty God (qui nisi custodiat civitatem, frustrà vigilat custos) grant that her majesty evermore rightly esteem and rule this city; and he give grace, that the citizens may answer duty, as well towards God and her majesty, as towards this whole realm and country. Amen.



These all may be reduced to these few heads; for either the citizens have adhered, in aid or arms, to such as have warred upon the prince, or they have made tumult, and broken the common peace at home; or they have misbehaved themselves in point of government and justice; or finally, and to speak the plain truth, the princes have taken hold of small matters, and coined good sums of money out of them.

To the first head I will refer whatsoever they have done, either in those wars that happened between King Stephen and Maude the empress, being competitors of the crown, or between King John and his nobles, assisting Lewis, the French king’s son, when he invaded the realm; for it is apparent by all histories that the Londoners were not the movers of these wars, but were only used as instruments to maintain them. The like is to be said of all the offences that King Henry III., whose whole reign was a continual warfare, conceived against this city, concerning the bearing of armour against him; for the first part of his reign was spent in the continuation of those wars that his father had begun with Lewis; and the rest of his life he bestowed in that contention, which was commonly called the Barons’ wars: in which tragedy London, as it could not be otherwise, had now and then a part, and had many a snub at the king’s hand for it: but in the end, when he had triumphed over Simon Montford at Evesham, London felt it most tragical; for then he both seized their liberties and sucked themselves dry; and yet Edictum Kenilworth, made shortly after, hath an honourable testimony for London, saying, “Te London laudamus,” etc. As for the other offences that he took against the Londoners, they pertain to the other parts of my division.

Next after this, against whom the Londoners did put on arms, followeth King Edward II., who in the end was deprived of his kingdom, not by their means, but by a general defection both of his own wife and son, and almost of the whole nobility and realm besides. In which trouble, that furious assault and slaughter committed by them upon the bishop of Excester, then treasurer of the realm, is to be imputed partly to the sway of the time[499] wherewith they were carried, and partly to a private displeasure which they had to the bishop.

Finally cometh to hand King Richard II.; for these three only, in all the catalogue of our kings, have been heavy lords to London, who also had much contention with his nobility, and was in the end deposed. But whatsoever countenance and aid the city of London brought to the wars and uproars of that time, it is notoriously true that London never led the dance, but ever followed the pipe of the nobility. To close up this first part, therefore, I affirm, that in all the troublesome actions during the reign of these three kings, as also in all that heaving in and hurling out that afterward happened between King Henry VI. and King Edward IV., the city of London was many times a friend and fautor, but never the first motive or author of any intestine war or sedition.

In the second room I place a couple of tumultuous affrays that chanced in the days of King Richard I.; the one upon the day of his coronation against the Jews, which, contrary to the king’s own proclamation, would needs enter the church to see him sacred, and were therefore cruelly handled by the common people. The other was caused by William with the long beard, who after that he had inflamed the poor people against the richer sort, and was called to answer for his fault, took Bow church for sanctuary, and kept it, castle-like, till he was fired out.

Here is place also for the stoning to death of a gentleman, servant to the half-brother of King Henry III., which had before provoked the citizens to fury by wounding divers of them without any cause, 1257; for the riotous fray between the servants of the goldsmiths and the tailors, 1268; for the hurly burly and bloodshed between the Londoners and the men of Westminster, moved by the young men upon an occasion of a wrestling on St. James’ day, 1221; and made worse by one Constantine, an ancient citizen, for the brawl and business that arose about a baker’s loaf at Salisbury place, 1391; for the which, and some other misdemeanours, King Richard II. was so incensed by evil counsel against the Londoners, that he determined to destroy them and raze their city: and for the fight that was between the citizens and sanctuary men of St. Martin’s, 1454, under King Henry VI.: and finally, for the misrule on evil May-day 1519, and for such other like, if there have been any.

To the third head may be referred the seizure of their liberties, for a false judgment given against a poor widow, called Margaret Viel, 1246; the two several seizures in one year, 1258, for false[500] packing in collections of money and other enormities; and finally the seizure made by King Edward I. for taking of bribes of the bakers, 1285. But all this security in seizing and resuming of the liberties, which was in old time the only ordinary punishment, was at length mitigated by King Edward III. and King Henry IV., in their statutes before remembered.

In the last place stand those offences, which I repute rather taken than given, and do fall within the measure of the adage, “Ut canem cædas, cito invenias baculum:” for King John, in the 10th of his reign, deposed the bailiffs of London, because they had bought up the wheat in the market, so that there was not to serve his purveyors. King Henry III., his son, compelled the Londoners to pay him five thousand pounds, because they had lent to Lewis, the French king, the like sum, of a good mind to dispatch him out of their city and the realm, at such time as the protector and the whole nobility fell to composition with him for his departure. And the same king fined them at three thousand marks for the escape of a prisoner out of Newgate, of whom they took no charge; for he was a clerk, prisoner to the bishop of London, under the custody of his own servants; and as for the place, it was only borrowed of the Londoners to serve that turn. Hitherto of these things to this end, that whatsoever misdemeanour shall be objected out of history against London, the same may herein appear, both in its true place and proper colour.




Amongst the noble and celebrated cities of the world, that of London, the capital of the kingdom of England, is one of the most renowned, possessing above all others abundant wealth, extensive commerce, great grandeur and magnificence. It is happy in the salubrity of its climate, in the profession of the Christian religion, in the strength of its fortresses, the nature of its situation, the honour of its citizens, and the chastity of its matrons; in its sports too it is most pleasant, and in the production of illustrious men most fortunate. All which things I wish separately to consider.


There then

“Men’s minds are soft’ned by a temp’rate clime,”

not so however that they are addicted to licentiousness, but so that they are not savage and brutal, but rather kind and generous.


There is in St. Paul’s church an episcopal see: it was formerly metropolitan, and, it is thought, will be so again, should the citizens return to the island: unless perhaps the archiepiscopal title of St. Thomas, and his bodily presence there, should always retain that dignity at Canterbury, where it now is. But as St. Thomas has ennobled both these cities, London by his birth, and Canterbury by his death, each of them, with respect to the saint, has much to allege against the other, and with justice too. As regards divine worship, there are also in London and in the suburbs thirteen larger conventual churches, besides one hundred and thirty-six lesser parochial ones.



On the east stands the Palatine tower, a fortress of great size and strength, the court and walls of which are erected upon a very deep foundation, the mortar used in the building being tempered with the blood of beasts. On the west are two castles strongly fortified; the wall of the city is high and thick, with seven double gates, having on the north side towers placed at proper intervals. London formerly had walls and towers in like manner on the south, but that most excellent river the Thames, which abounds with fish, and in which the tide ebbs and flows, runs on that side, and has in a long space of time washed down, undermined, and subverted the walls in that part. On the west also, higher up on the bank of the river, the royal palace rears its head, an incomparable structure, furnished with a breastwork and bastions, situated in a populous suburb, at a distance of two miles from the city.


Adjoining to the houses on all sides lie the gardens of those citizens that dwell in the suburbs, which are well furnished with trees, spacious and beautiful.


On the north side too are fields for pasture, and a delightful plain of meadow land, interspersed with flowing streams, on which stand mills, whose clack is very pleasing to the ear. Close by lies an immense forest, in which are densely wooded thickets, the coverts of game, stags, fallow-deer, boars, and wild bulls. The tillage lands of the city are not barren gravelly soils, but like the fertile plains of Asia, which produce abundant crops, and fill the barns of their cultivators with

“Ceres’ plenteous sheaf.”


There are also round London, on the northern side, in the suburbs, excellent springs; the water of which is sweet, clear, and salubrious,

“’Mid glistening pebbles gliding playfully:”


amongst which, Holywell, Clerkenwell, and St. Clement’s well, are of most note, and most frequently visited, as well by the scholars from the schools, as by the youth of the city when they go out to take the air in the summer evenings. The city is delightful indeed, when it has a good governor.


This city is ennobled by her men, graced by her arms, and peopled by a multitude of inhabitants; so that in the wars under King Stephen there went out to a muster, of armed horsemen, esteemed fit for war, twenty thousand, and of infantry sixty thousand. The citizens of London are respected and noted above all other citizens for the elegance of their manners, dress, table, and discourse.


The matrons of the city are perfect Sabines.


The three principal churches possess, by privilege and ancient dignity, celebrated schools; yet often, by the favour of some person of note, or of some learned men eminently distinguished for their philosophy, other schools are permitted upon sufferance. On festival days the masters assemble their pupils at those churches where the feast of the patron saint is solemnised; and there the scholars dispute, some in the demonstrative way, and others logically; some again recite enthymemes, while others use the more perfect syllogism. Some, to show their abilities, engage in such disputation as is practised among persons contending for victory alone; others dispute upon a truth, which is the grace of perfection. The sophisters, who argue upon feigned topics, are deemed clever according to their fluency of speech and command of language. Others endeavour to impose by false conclusions. Sometimes certain orators in their rhetorical harangues employ all the powers of persuasion, taking care to observe the precepts of the art, and to omit nothing apposite to the subject. The boys of the different schools wrangle with each other in verse, and contend about the principles of grammar or the rules of the perfect and future tenses. There are some who in epigrams, rhymes, and verses, use that trivial raillery so much practised amongst the ancients, freely[504] attacking their companions with Fescennine licence, but suppressing the names, discharging their scoffs and sarcasms against them, touching with Socratic wit the failings of their schoolfellows, or perhaps of greater personages, or biting them more keenly with a Theonine tooth. The audience,

“well disposed to laugh,
With curling nose double the quivering peals.”


The artizans of the several crafts, the vendors of the various commodities, and the labourers of every kind, have each their separate station, which they take every morning. There is also in London, on the bank of the river, amongst the wine-shops which are kept in ships and cellars, a public eating-house: there every day, according to the season, may be found viands of all kinds, roast, fried, and boiled, fish large and small, coarser meat for the poor, and more delicate for the rich, such as venison, fowls, and small birds. If friends, wearied with their journey, should unexpectedly come to a citizen’s house, and, being hungry, should not like to wait till fresh meat be bought and cooked:

“The canisters with bread are heap’d on high;
The attendants water for their hands supply:”—Dryden.

Meanwhile some run to the river side, and there every thing that they could wish for is instantly procured. However great the number of soldiers or strangers that enters or leaves the city at any hour of the day or night, they may turn in there if they please, and refresh themselves according to their inclination; so that the former have no occasion to fast too long, or the latter to leave the city without dining. Those who wish to indulge themselves would not desire a sturgeon, or the bird of Africa, or the godwit of Ionia, when the delicacies that are to be found there are set before them. This indeed is the public cookery, and is very convenient to the city, and a distinguishing mark of civilisation. Hence we read in Plato’s Gorgias, “Juxta medicinam esse coquorum officium, simulantium et adulationem quartæ particulæ civilitatis.” There is, without one of the gates, immediately in the suburb, a certain smooth field in name and in reality. There every Friday, unless it be one of the more solemn festivals, is a noted show of well-bred horses exposed for sale. The earls, barons, and knights, who are at[505] the time resident in the city, as well as most of the citizens, flock thither either to look on or buy. It is pleasant to see the nags, with their sleek and shining coats, smoothly ambling along, raising and setting down alternately, as it were, their feet on either side: in one part are horses better adapted to esquires; these, whose pace is rougher but yet expeditious, lift up and set down, as it were, the two opposite fore and hind feet together; in another the young blood colts, not yet accustomed to the bridle,

“Which upright walk on pasterns firm and straight,
Their motions easy, prancing in their gait.”—Dryden.

in a third are the horses for burden, strong and stout-limbed; and in a fourth, the more valuable chargers, of an elegant shape and noble height, with nimbly moving ears, erect necks, and plump haunches. In the movements of these the purchasers observe first their easy pace, and then their gallop, which is when the fore-feet are raised from the ground and set down together, and the hind ones in like manner, alternately. When a race is to be run by such horses as these, and perhaps by others, which in like manner, according to their breed, are strong for carriage, and vigorous for the course, the people raise a shout, and order the common horses to be withdrawn to another part of the field. The jockeys, who are boys expert in the management of horses, which they regulate by means of curb-bridles, sometimes by threes, and sometimes by twos, according as the match is made, prepare themselves for the contest. Their chief aim is to prevent a competitor getting before them. The horses, too, after their manner, are eager for the race; their limbs tremble, and, impatient of delay, they cannot stand still; upon the signal being given, they stretch out their limbs, hurry over the course, and are borne along with unremitting speed. The riders, inspired with the love of praise and the hope of victory, clap spurs to their flying horses, lashing them with their whips, and inciting them by their shouts. You would think with Heraclitus, that all things were in motion, and that Zeno’s opinion was altogether erroneous, when he said, that there was no such thing as motion, and that it was impossible to reach the goal. In another quarter, apart from the rest, stand the goods of the peasants, implements of husbandry, swine with their long sides, cows with distended udders,

“Oxen of bulk immense, and woolly flocks.”

There, too, stand the mares fitted for the plough, the dray, and the cart, of which some are big with foal, others have their frolic[506]some colts running close by their sides. To this city, from every nation under heaven, merchants bring their commodities by sea,

“Arabia’s gold, Sabæa’s spice and incense,
Scythia’s keen weapons, and the oil of palms
From Babylon’s rich soil, Nile’s precious gems,
Norway’s warm peltries, Russia’s costly sables,
Sera’s rich vestures, and the wines of Gaul,
Hither are sent.”

According to the evidence of chroniclers London is more ancient than Rome: for, as both derive their origin from the same Trojan ancestors, this was founded by Brutus before that by Romulus and Remus. Hence it is that, even to this day, both cities use the same ancient laws and ordinances. This, like Rome, is divided into wards; it has annual sheriffs instead of consuls; it has an order of senators and inferior magistrates, and also sewers and aqueducts in its streets; each class of suits, whether of the deliberative, demonstrative, or judicial kind, has its appropriate place and proper court; on stated days it has its assemblies. I think that there is no city in which more approved customs are observed—in attending churches, honouring God’s ordinances, keeping festivals, giving alms, receiving strangers, confirming espousals, contracting marriages, celebrating weddings, preparing entertainments, welcoming guests, and also in the arrangement of the funeral ceremonies and the burial of the dead. The only inconveniences of London are, the immoderate drinking of foolish persons, and the frequent fires. Moreover, almost all the bishops, abbots, and great men of England, are, in a manner, citizens and freemen of London; as they have magnificent houses there, to which they resort, spending large sums of money, whenever they are summoned thither to councils and assemblies by the king or their metropolitan, or are compelled to go there by their own business.


Let us now proceed to the sports of the city; since it is expedient that a city be not only an object of utility and importance, but also a source of pleasure and diversion. Hence even in the seals of the chief pontiffs, up to the time of Pope Leo, there was engraved on one side of the Bull the figure of St. Peter as a fisherman, and above him a key stretched out to him, as it were, from heaven by the hand of God, and around him this verse—

“For me thou left’st thy ship, receive the key.”


On the obverse side was represented a city, with this inscription, Golden Rome. It was also said in praise of Augustus Cæsar and the city of Rome,

“All night it rains, the shows return with day,
Cæsar, thou bear’st with Jove alternate sway.”

London, instead of theatrical shows and scenic entertainments, has dramatic performances of a more sacred kind, either representations of the miracles which holy confessors have wrought, or of the passions and sufferings in which the constancy of martyrs was signally displayed. Moreover, to begin with the sports of the boys (for we have all been boys), annually on the day which is called Shrovetide, the boys of the respective schools bring each a fighting cock to their master, and the whole of that forenoon is spent by the boys in seeing their cocks fight in the school-room. After dinner, all the young men of the city go out into the fields to play at the well-known game of foot-ball. The scholars belonging to the several schools have each their ball; and the city tradesmen, according to their respective crafts, have theirs. The more aged men, the fathers of the players, and the wealthy citizens, come on horseback to see the contests of the young men, with whom, after their manner, they participate, their natural heat seeming to be aroused by the sight of so much agility, and by their participation in the amusements of unrestrained youth. Every Sunday in Lent, after dinner, a company of young men enter the fields, mounted on warlike horses—

“On coursers always foremost in the race;”

of which

“Each steed’s well-train’d to gallop in a ring.”

The lay-sons of the citizens rush out of the gates in crowds, equipped with lances and shields, the younger sort with pikes from which the iron head has been taken off, and there they get up sham fights, and exercise themselves in military combat. When the king happens to be near the city, most of the courtiers attend, and the young men who form the households of the earls and barons, and have not yet attained the honour of knighthood, resort thither for the purpose of trying their skill. The hope of victory animates every one. The spirited horses neigh, their limbs tremble, they champ their bits, and, impatient of delay, cannot endure standing still. When at length

“The charger’s hoof seizes upon the course,”

the young riders having been divided into companies, some[508] pursue those that go before without being able to overtake them, whilst others throw their companions out of their course, and gallop beyond them. In the Easter holidays they play at a game resembling a naval engagement. A target is firmly fastened to the trunk of a tree which is fixed in the middle of the river, and in the prow of a boat driven along by oars and the current stands a young man who is to strike the target with his lance; if, in hitting it, he break his lance, and keep his position unmoved, he gains his point, and attains his desire: but if his lance be not shivered by the blow, he is tumbled into the river, and his boat passes by, driven along by its own motion. Two boats, however, are placed there, one on each side of the target, and in them a number of young men to take up the striker, when he first emerges from the stream, or when

“A second time he rises from the wave.”

On the bridge, and in balconies on the banks of the river, stand the spectators,

“well disposed to laugh.”

During the holydays in summer the young men exercise themselves in the sports of leaping, archery, wrestling, stone-throwing, slinging javelins beyond a mark, and also fighting with bucklers. Cytherea leads the dances of the maidens, who merrily trip along the ground beneath the uprisen moon. Almost on every holyday in winter, before dinner, foaming boars, and huge-tusked hogs, intended for bacon, fight for their lives, or fat bulls or immense boars are baited with dogs. When that great marsh which washes the walls of the city on the north side is frozen over, the young men go out in crowds to divert themselves upon the ice. Some, having increased their velocity by a run, placing their feet apart, and turning their bodies sideways, slide a great way: others make a seat of large pieces of ice like mill-stones, and a great number of them running before, and holding each other by the hand, draw one of their companions who is seated on the ice: if at any time they slip in moving so swiftly, all fall down headlong together. Others are more expert in their sports upon the ice; for fitting to, and binding under their feet the shinbones of some animal, and taking in their hands poles shod with iron, which at times they strike against the ice, they are carried along with as great rapidity as a bird flying or a bolt discharged from a cross-bow. Sometimes two of the skaters having placed themselves a great distance apart by mutual agreement, come together from opposite sides; they[509] meet, raise their poles, and strike each other; either one or both of them fall, not without some bodily hurt: even after their fall they are carried along to a great distance from each other by the velocity of the motion; and whatever part of their heads comes in contact with the ice is laid bare to the very skull. Very frequently the leg or arm of the falling party, if he chance to light upon either of them, is broken. But youth is an age eager for glory and desirous of victory, and so young men engage in counterfeit battles, that they may conduct themselves more valiantly in real ones. Most of the citizens amuse themselves in sporting with merlins, hawks, and other birds of a like kind, and also with dogs that hunt in the woods. The citizens have the right of hunting in Middlesex, Hertfordshire, all the Chilterns, and Kent, as far as the river Cray. The Londoners, then called Trinovantes, repulsed Caius Julius Cæsar, a man who delighted to mark his path with blood. Whence Lucan says,

“Britain he sought, but turn’d his back dismay’d.”

The city of London has produced some men, who have subdued many kingdoms, and even the Roman empire; and very many others, whose virtue has exalted them to the skies, as was promised to Brutus by the oracle of Apollo:

“Brutus, there lies beyond the Gallic bounds
An island which the western sea surrounds:

To reach this happy shore thy sails employ:
There fate decrees to raise a second Troy,
And found an empire in thy royal line
Which time shall ne’er destroy, nor bounds confine.”

Since the planting of the Christian religion there, London has given birth to the noble emperor Constantine, who gave the city of Rome and all the insignia of the empire to God and St. Peter, and Pope Sylvester, whose stirrup he held, and chose rather to be called defender of the holy Roman church, than emperor: and that the peace of our lord the Pope might not, by reason of his presence, be disturbed by the turmoils consequent on secular business, he withdrew from the city which he had bestowed upon our lord the Pope, and built for himself the city of Byzantium. London also in modern times has produced illustrious and august princes, the empress Matilda, King Henry the Third, and St. Thomas, the archbishop and glorious martyr of Christ, than whom no man was more guileless or more devoted to all good men throughout the whole Roman world.


Ed. Woorkes of Geffrey Chaucer, 1561; Summarie of Englyshe Chronicles, 1565; other editions, 1566, 1570, 1574, 1575, 1590; The Summary abridged, 1566, 1567, 1573, 1584, 1587, 1598, 1604, 1607, 1611, 1618; ed. Matthew of Westminster’s Flores Historiarum, 1567; ed. Matthew Paris’s Chronicle, 1571; ed. Thos. Walsingham’s Chronicle, 1574; The Chronicles of England, 1580; re-arranged as The Annales of England, 1592; other editions, 1601, 1605; re-edited by Edmund Howse, 1615, 1631; The Successions of the History of England, 1638 (Lourdes); ed. second edition of Holinshed’s Chronicle, 1585-1587; A Survey of London, 1598, 1603; enlarged edition by Anthony Munday, 1618 and 1633; by J. Strype, 1720, 1754; modernised by Wm. J. Thoms, 1842, 1876; by Henry Morley, 1890, 1893 (with index), 1908; by C. L. Kingsford, 1908; Selections from A Survey of London, ed. by A. Barter, 1910.

Biographies.—By Edmund Howe (in Annales of England), 1615; by J. Strype (in Survey of London), 1720; by Wm. J. Thoms (in Survey of London), 1876; by C. M. Clode (in The Early History of the Guild of Merchant Taylors), 1888; by C. L. Kingsford (in Survey of London), 1908.



a Bushops gate streete.
b Papie.
c Alhallowes in the wall.
d S. Taphyns.
e Syluer streete.
f Aldermanburye.
g Barbican.
h Aldersgate streete.
i Charterhowse.
k Holborne conduct.
l Chauncery lane
m Temple barr.
n Holbourn.
o Grayes Inn lane.
p S. Androwes.
q Newgate.
r S. Iones.
s S. Nic shambels.
t Cheap syde.
u Bucklers burye.
w Brode streete.
x The Stockes.
y The Exchannge.
z Cornehill.
2. Colman streete.
3. Bassings hall.
4. Honnsditche.
5. Leaden hall.
6. Gratious streete.
7. Heneage house.
8. Fancshurche.
9. Marke lane.
10. Minchyn lane.
11. Paules.
12. Eastcheape.
13. Fleetstreete.
14. Fetter lane.
15. S. Dunshous.
16. Themes streete.
17. Lodon Stone.
18. Olde Baylye.
19. Clerkenwell.
20. Winchester house.
21. Battle bridge.
22. Bermodsoy streete.
  • UK Towns and Cities
  • London history
  • Accessible Travel etc
  • London Pub history
  • And Last updated on: Sunday, 19-Nov-2023 14:08:31 GMT