At the time of the Hearth Tax Hillmorton was a parish in the Rugby District of the Knightlow Hundred in the County of Warwickshire.
Hearth Tax returns were photographed by The Mormons in 1959 from original documents and the resulting microfilm is available from the CRO and also online. The period from 1662 – 1684 is covered but not equally for each place or year. There are returns for six years from Hillmorton.
Warwick County Record Office holds the originals and both sources were used when carrying out this research. The Record Office also has a collection of index cards for Hearth Tax returns for parishes in the county and the Hillmorton cards record who paid how much tax for the years 1662, 1670, 1673 and 1674.
“Warwickshire Hearth Tax Returns: Michaelmas 1670” edited by Tom Arkell with Nat Alcock was the main source of information about the purpose and administration of the tax and it’s interpretation. This publication also gave transcribed returns for 1670 which provided a basis from which to proceed in this research.
Ways of Recording the Hearth Tax
This varied throughout the period in which the tax was collected. The core year of this research, 1670, divided properties into just two groups, “ch” – chargeable and “C” certified, ie having a certificate of exemption.
Table 1, below, is based on Table 8 in Arkell’s book showing his total Hearth Tax entries for Hillmorton. He makes use of returns for the years 1665 and 1666 which were not found for this research. It does not include 1662 or 1672 which were.
The drop in numbers of returns for 1666 was noted and the appropriate burial register for St. John the Baptist Church, Hillmorton was looked at to see if plague was responsible. There was no mention of plague in the register at all and the difference in the number of burials for 1666 and adjacent years was little different to other years around then. The column for entering the age of the deceased however was left empty which precluded other possible lines of enquiry.
The 1670 returns when looked at more closely, show that 35% of the hearths were exempt from tax and, of those that did pay, 48% did so for only one hearth. Only 3% of the village –i.e. three houses – had five or six hearths. This is not a description of a wealthy village and is partly accounted for by its situation on Dunsmore Heath. The church was built on a slight rise to keep it above the boggy area and even today in 2018 the surrounding fields are severely waterlogged in winter and during periods of heavy rain. There is a hill raising up from that area to where the main part of Hillmorton is situated.
Despite this the Sessions Order Book for Epiphany 1666 records the town of Rugby as including Hillmorton in the list of twenty five surrounding villages which it asked to contribute to the upkeep of the Rugby poor as the town council had difficulty doing so.
A numbered list of households as they were recorded in the 1670 record shows that between list numbers 95 and 107 there are five of the twelve houses with the highest number of hearths. No maps or plans were found in the course of this research to confirm if they formed a cluster in the centre of the village, or, were on higher, better drained ground. No addresses were given for the village either.
He was in place for forty two years, from 1652 – 1694, according to the list of vicars in the parish church. In 1662 he was taxed on one hearth but in later records on two. The Hearth tax returns gave no indication if this was possibily due to promotion from curate to vicar but the online Church of England clerical list provided an answer.
Thomas Norton was ordained in 1656 and appointed vicar of St John’s Hillmorton immediately. According to the same source he was ”instituted by the Triers”. The Commission of Triers was appointed by Oliver Cromwell in 1654 to approve those who preached in public and lectured before their admission to office in the church. Politics also influenced clergy appointments under Charles II and in 1665 Mr. Norton’s record stated that “he had subscribed and was also a licensed preacher” This referred to his subscription to the Act of Uniformity while already being in office. He had had to show his allegiance to the king as he had been appointed during The Commonwealth. He was never given the title of Reverend.
Other than the minister only three people were given any title. Mr. Rich Pettipher and Mr. Thomas Marriott who paid for 4 hearths and Mr.Edward Bromidge who paid for 6 hearths which was the highest recorded number.
William Bustard & Richard Robins were recorded in The Court Rolls during the period of the Hearth Tax as being allowed settlement in Hillmorton. Allowing settlement was a process granted as part of the poor relief programme at the time.
Groups of parishioners were referred to in other court rolls but without any individuals being named. They were usually petitioning for a reduction of rents or taxes.
13 women are named in the record for 1670 including 7 widows. Only three ladies paid hearth tax, Widdow Hambleton and Widdow Walton each paid for one hearth and Elizabeth Harrison for two. Widow Hambleton’s property was recorded as empty in 1672, the other two lady’s returns were the same. None of them appeared in any other reports.
The church registers for the period are available but did not provide sufficient, accurate, personal information which would have allowed for biographies to be compiled.
The paucity of corroborative information prompted a change from investigating a small village to the nearby city of Coventry where Little Park Street Ward was selected. That had a wide range of premises from those with one hearth to one of eighteen and six having over ten.
This blog is the fourth blog written by Anne Cripps, Anne Foster and Anne M Thomas, three University of the Third Age (U3A) researchers working on the Shared Learning Project on the Restoration hearth tax and early modern history. The work was undertaken at the Warwick Record Office, following training provided by the members of the Centre for Hearth Tax Research. It will be followed by a blog looking at the great fire in Warwick in the 1690s and one on the administrative background. The Centre for Hearth Tax Research is grateful for the opportunity to publish this research.
This research started with the expectation of unearthing great secrets about the small Warwickshire village of Budbrooke, which, dates back to the time of the Domesday book. In 1086 Ralph de Limesi held Budebroc and the church of St Michaels which still stands today. The Victoria County History says that before that the parish was held by Earl Eadwine of Mercia. The village is to west the Warwick and century the manor passed through various hands, until the early seventeenth when it was granted to Sir Robert Dormer, whose family who still own much of the land today, in the manor known as Grove Park. The county of Warwickshire was divided into 4 hundreds, Budbrooke was in the hundred of Barlichway.
At the time of the hearth tax between 40 and 60 properties are recorded in Budbrooke but not all of them paying hearth tax. There is no trace of this village, beyond the map that shows an unexcavated medieval village in one of the fields near the church. This is clearly shown on the Ordnance Survey map South East of the church, between the church and the modern village of Hampton Magna.
An extract from OS221 showing site of medieval village, the church and the later railway, canal and major roads.
There are also properties listed in the tax returns for Hampton-on-the-Hill and Lower Norton, Hampton-on-the-Hill is still part of the modern parish, but there is no specific area known as Lower Norton. It was expected that a comparison with Henley Street, Stratford-on-Avon might highlight the poverty of the countryside, however that does not appear to be true. In the 1663-4 return for Henley Street 35 properties were listed as having only 1 hearth, from a total of 67 entries and in most cases, there seems to have been no tax collected. What follows is a summary of the findings with some comparisons with data for Henley Street in Stratford.
Appendix 4.Budbrooke Hearth Tax return for 1663, the original is available in the Warwick Records Office. In comparison to some it is fairly easy to read.
Warwickshire is fortunate to have some of the most complete records of hearth tax return, photos of the original returns for Budbrooke are in appendix 4. In Warwick Records Office there is also a set of index cards summarising the records for each parish in Warwickshire, it is believed that these were the index cards painstakingly compiled by John Styles in 1930s and 40s and cross referencing with the original suggest that they are accurate. The data in the appendix tables is drawn from these cards as well as the original records.
Hearth Tax and its records
Why study the hearth tax in Restoration England, in particular in Warwickshire? The tax records are the closest there is to a census, though as this study will show it is not always easy to judge how accurate the records are. Warwickshire, unlike other counties has an almost complete collection of hearth tax returns. The tax was levied after the Restoration of 1660, and all money collected was for the crown; various methods were used to collect the tax including receivers and tax farmers. Budbrooke was a very small community, but one notable local was Francis Dormer who was the receiver in 1664 until his death which is recorded in the parish records in 1664.
Budbrooke in 1662
Nothing remains of the village, except the church and the ruins of the medieval village shown on the Ordnance Survey map. Most of the houses would have been small.
Another building from Grove Park, no longer in existence. It is likely to be similar in character to the many one hearth homes recorded in Budbrooke, whose inhabitants, as the records show often did not pay the hearth tax. (Photo from History of Budbrooke 1122-1968)
This cottage has been pulled down and may not have been in the original village, however one chimney suggests one hearth and it may well have been typical of the type of dwellings that were in Budbrooke at the time the hearth tax was collected. The returns show that at least 20 houses had only one hearth houses. Of the remainder it is interesting to note how the number of their hearths varied between tax collections. There was debate about whether forges and ovens should be taxed, and this could account for some of the variation. In Budbrooke the few larger properties were however consistent, for instances the Dormers paid for 16 hearths in each return. Thomas Horne in Henley Street paid for 4 hearths in 1662, 6 in 1668, but only 5 in 172, and 6 for the remaining collections. Sometimes claims were made that hearths and been pulled down or boarded over.
It is worth noting that tax collectors had the right to enter properties to check the number of hearths. Arkell in an article in Warwickshire Histories volume V1(p193) suggests that in the 1669-70 returns were perhaps up to 8% lower than the actual number of houses, he suggests hardly surprising as those collecting the tax were essentially amateurs, and the non-paying households not necessarily recorded accurately.
In contrast to parts of Coventry and Warwick Henley Street in Stratford does not boast many large properties or houses. The largest seem to be two Inns, The White Lion and the Swan, neither of which are still standing. Henley Street was considered as at first glance it has many half-timbered houses and is home to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Closer inspection reveals that the current half-timbered houses are 19th and 20th Century rebuilds. Henley Street now as then is at the heart of Stratford on Avon, the labourers, maltsters, glovers and skinners having been replaced with shops, restaurants, and more coffee shops
Initially Sheriffs were charged with collecting the hearth tax, by spring 1664 it had become clear that they were failing to collect more than 1/3 of the expected £300, 000. The king had demanded dedicated tax collectors acting under his control. In 1664 the second Revising Act was passed appointing receivers with responsibility for all aspects of the tax administration in their areas, who appointed their own deputies, or ‘chimney men’, who when accompanied by a constable were empowered to enter a property and check the number of hearths. The receiver for Warwickshire was a resident of Budbrooke, Francis Dormer, who lived at Grove Park. He died in September 1663 and his death is recorded in the church records. Francis Dormer’s family had owned land in Grove Park for over 50 years, his family had been and would become again prominent Catholics, but they do not appear to have been recusants. The Dormer family were created Baronets by Charles I and one of Francis’s relations was the Earl of Caernarvon, who was killed at the Battle of Newbury in 1643 whilst fighting on the side of the king. The Catholic Church of St Charles Borromeo in modern day Hampton on the Hill was the bequest of the Dormer family.
In Budbrooke 10 properties had 3 or more hearths and it has been possible to find out very little about them. The Dormers paying for 16 hearths, even after the death of Francis had the largest property. It has also been possible to identify the two clergymen who served the parish Thomas Spencer and Samuel Hawes; they each paid for 3 hearths, so it would seem to have been a modest vicarage, but not the one occupied by the current incumbent. In the church there is a list of all the ‘Incumbents and Vicars’, both Hawes and Spencer names are on the list. Warwick Records Office also holds a small amount of hand-written information from the Grove Park estate, included in this are notes about a dispute between the church wardens of St Michaels and a builder who was employed to carry out repairs to the church. The builder Stephen Bolton sued the church wardens, one of whom was Ralph Blick, churchwarden. He appears in the hearth tax records and paid for one hearth in Hampton on the Hill.
As this research was being carried out, I met someone who was tracing her family tree. Whilst from Coventry herself she had records of ancestors living in Budbrooke in the mid-17th century, one of whom was William Edwards and quite possibly the William Edwards in all the returns.
One reason for the comparison with Henley Street was the expectation that there may have been more wealthy residents. This was not true, in 1663-64 returns of 67 entries, 35 had only one hearth and the tax was not collected, perhaps reinforcing the need for a more efficient method of collection. The new receiver does not seem to have made much difference as there were still many small dwellings where no hearth tax was levied. There were a few notable residents. The street boasted two inns, neither of which remain, the Swan and the White Lion. The owner of the Swan, Thomas Horne was also mayor and is shown as paying tax for between 4 and 6 hearths, though not in 1663-64. Another notable, if rather poorer resident was the widow Hart who is recorded as a ‘not levied’ for her one hearth, so why is she important? It is likely that the house that she occupied is now part of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and that she was a descendant of Shakespeare’s sister Joan, who is recorded as living in the property until 1646. Shakespeare left no male heirs, so the name had died out in Stratford by the time of the hearth tax.
Earning a Living
There do not appear to be any records of occupations of the people of Budbrooke, the table in the appendix includes 2 yeomen, several widows and the previously mentioned clerics. As the village is rural it is likely that work was agricultural; there is one gentleman, who lived in an area known as Lower Norton, who paid for 4 hearths in the first return, the payment was continued by his widow. James Masters and Edward Hopkins are listed as yeomen, one in Lower Norton, the other in Hampton on the Hill. It has not been possible to find out any more about the work of the people of Budbrooke
On the other hand, Styles’s record cards give occupations of more of the residents of Henley Street, though it has not been possible to identify the source of this information. There were two glovers, William Hall and Nicholas Olney; Shakespeare’s father was a glover and there were still glovers working in Henley Street long after John Shakespeare died. There were also tailors and shoemakers. There were four maltsters, that is they malted barley before it was turned into beer. Were they malting the barley for the beer to be served in the two inns of Henley Street? Alternatively, they may have been brewing the small beer that was drunk in preference to water, before the days of tea and coffee. Richard Browne is listed as an ‘agricola’, perhaps a farmer or farm worker, from the Latin ‘agricola’ for farmer or cultivator. Richard and John Hornbee are identified as smiths and at one point 2 hearths are exempt as forges. There appears to have been debate and a lack of consistency regarding forges and whether they were exempt or counted as hearths. An inconsistency which is all too common in collection of the hearth tax.
Women appear in the returns, only as widows, with no apparent occupations; for instance, the widow of Francis Dormer at Grove Park, or the widow of John Woodward who continued to pay for 4 hearths after his death. This is true in both Henley Street and Budbrooke, showing that many women outlived their husbands and remained in the family home.
Were the communities isolated?
Whilst Stratford on Avon does not seem to have been as affluent or its residents as influential as those of Coventry and Warwick, the community was not isolated, as the thriving inns would suggest, Henry Herbrige innkeeper increased the number of hearths from 7 to 11 during the time the hearth tax was levied and Henley Street was the site of a thriving market.
Budbrooke was rural but had at least two regularly used tracks going through the village, or rather one passed across the north and another to the south, going into Warwick and out into the surrounding countryside. The tracks may well date back to pre-history and more definitely Roman times as there may have been a route to a Roman villa at Shrewley (Warwickshire History XV1 p 108). Very different from today’s village which is bounded by 2 major roads (A46 and M40), a rail link to London and the Grand Union Canal, but in mid-17th century all this was still to come. The routes of the two A roads are visible on the earlier map – Birmingham Road is the modern A 4177 and Henley Waie is now the Henley Road
One reason for choosing to look at Henley Street as well as Budbrooke was in the hope of finding more evidence of buildings from 17th Century. At first glance there appear to be many half-timbered houses in Henley Street, there are, but on closer inspection they lack the traditional Tudor overhang and are relatively straight and upright; they were rebuilt during the 19th century. One exception to this is the Shakespeare Birthplace. The entrance is clearly modern late 20th Century. However, part of the site is a cottage with one hearth occupied by Shakespeare’s sister Joan Hart until her death in 1646. A cottage in Henley Street, occupied by George Hart and then his widow, is listed in the hearth tax returns except for 1662.
An example of a house in Henley Street Stratford-on-Avon. Like most of the half-timbered houses in Henley St this one was built in the 19th century. It is similar in style to earlier buildings, but it lacks the overhang of the original buildings. (author’s own photograph)
In these post are two photographs of properties in Budbrooke. The one below is a picture of the house at Grove Park, it looks as if it may have been the house with 16 hearths that belonged to the Dormers, however Victoria County History explains that this is a nineteenth century property rebuilt around the older house and retaining a few of its earlier features.
Grove Park, home of the Dormer family. The photo below shows the last house on the site, a rebuilding of the 17thcentury house, rebuilt in the 19th century and knocked down in the mid-20th century. It gives some idea of the scale of the 16-hearth house that the Dormer family paid the hearth tax for. (photo from A History of Budbrooke 1122-1968).
The other is a picture of a cottage with one hearth (one chimney), whilst it is impossible to date the property the style may well have been similar to those listed in the returns with one hearth. (posted above ).
Inns and Alehouses
The community of Budbrooke is not shown to have any inns or alehouses, nor apparently did it have until mid-20thcentury.
Henley Street in Stratford has two listed, the White Lion and the Swan, neither of which still exist. In nearby Rother Street there is a White Swan that would have been there in 17th century but is not the one in the list of tax returns. There is a White Swan still in Stratford, in nearby Rother Street there is a White Swan, which dates back to 1450, though in the 1660s it was known as the King’s Head.
Budbrooke as a rural parish does not have records of office holders. However as mentioned above it has been possible to identify the vicars and at least one church warden who paid hearth tax. Briefly, until his death Francis Dormer was the receiver for Warwickshire (Arkell p 16)
Papers in the Warwickshire Record Office also give a picture of life in the 1660s, then as now builders fell out with their clients. Stephen Bolton, the builder brought an action against Ralph Blick, and other church wardens. The dispute went on until 1666 when a countersuit was brought. The repairs were eventually completed, and a plaque marks the repairs in the church. Whilst Stephen Bolton was not a Budbrooke resident, Ralph Blick’s name does appear on the list.
Whilst London was enduring plague and fire it seems that the rural towns and villages, well parts of Stratford-on-Avon and Budbrooke continued life as it had been for many years. It is sad to note that whilst the hearth tax roles give names and details of hearth tax payers, little remains to show where they lived and worked, particularly in Budbrooke. There is much information about other villages in Warwickshire and it would be interesting to compare this work with other villages in Warwickshire.
This blog is the third of three blogs written by Anne Cripps, Anne Foster and Anne M Thomas, three University of the Third Age (U3A) researchers working on the Shared Learning Project on the Restoration hearth tax and early modern history. The work was undertaken at the Warwick Record Office, following training provided by the members of the Centre for Hearth Tax Research. It will be followed by a blog looking at the great fire in Warwick in the 1690s and one on the administrative background. The Centre for Hearth Tax Research is grateful for the opportunity to publish this research.
The 1694 Great Fire destroyed many of the mainly medieval vernacular buildings in the centre of Warwick: timber-framed. These properties were characterised by wattle and daub walls, jettied upper stories, gables and thatched roofs.
The materials for these were largely obtained locally due to high transport costs. Timber came from nearby in the river valleys, with more substantial timbers from the oaks of the Forest of Arden nearby, though these were becoming depleted by the demand for fuel by developing industry in Birmingham. The clay, lime and laths for the walls all came from nearby, as did thatching grass. All were highly flammable materials.
Bricks and tiles were coming into use for gentry houses and substantial farms, made nearby where there were deposits of suitable clay. For rebuilding after the Great Fire these deposits were in St Mary’s common; the commoners reluctantly agreed as it was for the public good, but there were disputes about the disturbance to the commoners’ cattle and the brickmakers straying from the agreed trackway for removing the bricks. Heat for firing was obtained by burning furze, but coal is also mentioned, from the coalfields in north Warwickshire.
The stone buildings of the town: the castle, St Mary’s church, the town gates, or for foundations and ornament, were built from quarrying the surface outcrop of Warwickshire sandstone on the spot, in the castle grounds, in the churchyard and so on. The handsome market hall in Market Place, built in 1670, the year of this Hearth Tax return, was also built of Warwickshire sandstone.
Chimney stacks were of brick, occasionally stone, and most houses seem to have fireplaces only on the ground floor; a second hearth might be in the kitchen. Hearths in upstairs rooms are thought to have been rare at this time, though probably less so in gentry houses. Wood as a fuel was beginning to be replaced, or supplemented, by coal in the later seventeenth century, in areas of Warwickshire where transport costs from the North Warwickshire coal fields were not too high. Some probate inventories list the grates necessary for coal burning.
The 1610 map of Warwick appears to show houses packed close together and double-storied. It seems likely in an urban situation that the ground floor was occupied by a shop or workroom, with the family living upstairs. The houses front on to the street, but from the Great Fire records of structures retaining thatched roofs there was a substantial area behind the houses filled by barns, stables, malthouses, brewhouses, hovels, lean-tos, slaughterous houses of office, and pig sties.
1610 map by John Speed
Even before the Great Fire houses of brick, tile and stone were beginning to be built in the new fashionable classical style with flat-plane facades, a central front door between symmetrical windows, but the reconstruction regulations afterwards reinforced this with a uniform frontage and height along the main streets, making for an elegant and urbane townscape, which has been maintained to the present. This did not extend to the rest of the town, however, increasing the gap between rich and poor in the seventeenth century.
From M W Farr The Great Fire of Warwick 1694, based on the 1710 map of Warwick
The rebuilding after the Great Fire launched the career of Francis Smith, who has been described as one of the most successful master-builders in English history. He was a mason who, together with his brother William, a bricklayer (master builders had only one trade themselves: bricklayer, mason, carpenter or joiner, and engaged sub-contractors for other work), set up an extensive workshop and business with stores of marble, stone, and timber in Marble House, bought from Mrs Margaret Yardley, a 10-hearth house in Saltisford in the 1670 Hearth Tax return. He built many of the new houses in Warwick, and, until his death in 1738, many of the country houses within a 50-mile radius of Warwick.
THE MARKET AND SHOPS, INNS & ALEHOUSES
The first fair was in 1261, eight days round 1 August, another in 1268 of seven days at Michaelmas (moved in 1413 to 23-25 August), and in 1290 of fifteen days around 29June. After this flurry in the thirteenth century, no more were granted until 1479 when two three-day fairs were granted round 28 October & 1 May. By 1683 there were seven fairs. Markets and fairs were controlled through the bailiff who was ex officio clerk of the market. By 1611 the court leet appointed bread weighers, flesh tasters, leather sealers and ale tasters, but the corporation retained control of the general administration of the market and collected the market dues. The first reference to markets was in the twelfth century and Market days were Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The centre of trading activity was in the Market Place, but the sale of specific goods had spilled out to a variety of nearby sites. Butter and cheese were sold at High Cross, wheat in Castle street, barley in Church street and beef in Jury street, but on Saturdays the market was in Market Place. There were shops under the Wool Hall and a Butter House, as well as Booth Hall, which had stalls on the northern and southern sides of the hall and overflowing into the street. The corporation enjoyed the rents from about 45 stallholders of between five shillings and £2 a year.
The inadequacies of stalls in Booth Hall and the rising volume of trade in the mid-seventeenth century led to the building by public subscription in 1670 of a stone-build fine classical Market House in Market Place. It contained an arcaded ground floor for the sale of produce and an upper floor meeting room. It currently houses the Warwick Museum, and is still used for meetings
By 1683 there were seven fairs held in the town, like the markets particular places were allocated to individual commodities: cloth in the High Street between the braziers and shoemakers stalls, and grain in Castle street. Certain commodities came to be associated with particular fairs: fish was a speciality of the March fair; cheese & cattle in May; wool & cattle in August; cheese, cattle & hops in November; horses were sold at every fair, but particularly in May. The corporation receiving fourpence for each sale, and eightpence for each exchange.
As well as the Swan, the Bell and the King’s Head catering for the gentry, as a market town and site of fairs there were other inns and alehouses to cope with the demand for accommodation, food and drink. The area around the market in 1694 had the Bird in Hand, the Black Raven, the Green Dragon and the Crown, the White Horse, the Bull, the Peacock, the Black Swan, the George and the Blue Bell As well as the Swan the High Street housed the White Lion, and the Bear; and Swan Lane crossing it had the King and Queen’s Head and the Red Lion.
Open air markets and fairs spilling out on to the streets were subject to bad weather and municipal oversight, and this period saw a growth of individual shops selling a wide variety of goods, stimulated by the rising demand. The growth of retail, with shops no longer limited to the days of markets and fairs, paralleled the decline of trade companies’ restrictions. No grocers as such are mentioned in late seventeenth century Warwick; groceries were stocked by other retailers such as mercers, drapers, apothecaries, and ironmongers.
The 1670 Hearth Tax returns show Warwick on the cusp of change, leaving the medieval world behind and quickening into the very different economy of the eighteenth century, with the Great Fire acting as a pivotal turning point in this transformation.
This blog is the second of three blogs written by Anne Cripps, Anne Foster and Anne M Thomas, three University of the Third Age (U3A) researchers working on the Shared Learning Project on the Restoration hearth tax and early modern history. The work was undertaken at the Warwick Record Office, following training provided by the members of the Centre for Hearth Tax Research. It will be followed by a blog looking at the great fire in Warwick in the 1690s and one on the administrative background. The Centre for Hearth Tax Research is grateful for the opportunity to publish this research.
All references to the 1670 Michaelmas hearth tax have been taken from the transcript of published in Tom Arkell with Nat Alcock, eds, Warwickshire hearth tax returns: Michaelmas 1670 with Coventry Lady Day 1666 (2001); and/or the card index held in the Warwick Record Office, which was compiled by Philip Styles during the 1930s and 1940s.
Warwickshire is notable among English and Welsh counties because it has data from eight hearth tax assessments and returns as set out in Table 1:
The 1670 Michaelmas hearth tax return is the most complete surviving list as it was the first to be directly collected after the experiment of using tax farmers had collapsed and was administered from the Hearth Tax office in London. It had been subject to two archival studies. During the 1930’s and the 1940’s John Styles created a card index, held in Warwick Record Office, and in 2010 Tom Arkell published the return with an introduction and critical apparatus of people.
Total number of Households and exempt households in Warwick (Table 2)
In 1670 there were just over 600 households in Warwick, suggesting a population of around 2,500. Table 2 sets out the percentage of households that were exempt from the tax, and it is plausible to use the relative percentage of the exempt (i.e. those who were judged to lack the means to pay the hearth tax) to indicate the extent to which different locations provided intersections for the richer and the poorer sorts. Across the town 38% of households were exempt and no part of the town provided an exclusive enclave either for the wealthy or the exempt. The town can be divided into three types: those areas which were more socially exclusive; those areas where the balance between chargeable and exempt households was roughly 2:1; and those areas where chargeable households were in a minority. Those areas where households which could afford to pay the hearth tax were in a minority, with a ratio of 1: 1.5; and those areas where the balance between chargeable and exempt households was roughly 2:1; (2).
The figures show that the prosperity and comfort enjoyed by High Street, Market Place, and Jury Street did not extend to the rest of the town, and that West Street/Longbridge and Saltisford were the areas which has the greatest concentrations of those who were not that well off. In West Street were a number of vacant plots, this open plan is indicated in Hollar’s plan of 1654 and was only first developed in the 19th century. It can be said that its underdevelopment could be the cause of the poorest occupiers. It has been described as ‘wide and airy’ and consisted of ‘low houses inhabited by the working classes of the community’. The hearth tax collections confirm this impression of the small houses as shown in Table 2, 62% were not charged at all and the average for the district was under 2 Hearths.
Saltisford was densely populated, eight people in the areas were already receipt of parish relief and there were 121 hearths available within the ward. As shown in Table 2, 109 of those were not charged highlighting the poverty within the area and the clear divide between Saltisford and other areas. It was no longer developed after the 18th Century. It is clear when reviewing West Street and Saltisford, the lack of development has a key role when understanding the Social geography of the area, furthermore, they convey two opposite layouts, whereas West street was widely open, Saltisford was densely populated, both proving a problem for lack of wealth.
The receiver for Warwickshire and Coventry was John Newsham and William Weinman was the collector for the county of Warwickshire; his name appears under the return of each ward, together with that of a different constable. Constables had to enter each property to check the information given by the household; the large Market Place would require two constables. The occupiers rather than the owners of the dwellings were charged and, apart from the gentry, most houses in Warwick were rented and most people moved out, which also makes comparison between the years harder.
The hearth tax assessments show that the wards vary considerable in their degree of inequality:
Market Place appears as the most affluent ward with with 61 households out of the 113 households paying 3 or more hearths. This compares with the overall figure for Warwick, in which 35% of 611 households were in the category of 3 hearths or more.
The town of Warwick had been incorporated under the name of the ‘Burgesses of the town of Warwick’ in 1545 to receive the property of the dissolved College of St Mary the Parish Church. The religious guild also passed on its hall to Lord Leycesters Hospital in addition to other properties. Out of the income of this property, the corporation had to pay the clergy, schoolmaster stipends, the maintenance of the bridge over the river Avon. Not only this, but they also had to pay loans to poor tradesmen and the administration of charities. The rest was scattered in grants and cheap sales to prominent local families such as the Dudleys and Fishers who did not continue the support of the poor on the same level.
Another charter was obtained in 1554 under which the area of the Borough had been defined and divided into eight wards, with its government vested in bailiff and twelve principle burgesses to form a common council. Further charters granted some increase in revenue however they always had to be negotiated with the crown through gentry patrons. Twelve or 245 assistant burgesses laid down charters in order to give the common people some say but they were allowed very little power.
The bailiff/recorder who presided over the common council, was also a financial officer and responsible for the administration of charities vested in the corporation. The recorder came to be a political rather than an administrative office, and to be held by the Greville family from 1610. Duties from then on were then carried out by the town clerk, whom the 1613 charter required to be learned in English law.
The bailiff, then recorder or his deputy, became ex officio clerk of the market, and presided over markets and fairs, making orders for the regulation of trade, and for the assizes of bread and ale. Medieval trade guilds had become trade companies, controlling craft apprenticeships and standards of workmanship, and prosecuting outsiders infringing their trade monopoly, but their influence was waning by the mid-seventeenth century and they were becoming largely social affiliations.
The parish vestry also had some administrative duties in setting poor rates and appointed churchwardens, but this was limited compared to the work of parish councils in rural areas, and the same elite of burgesses/aldermen and interested local gentry controlled the town. Each of the eight wards elected a constable and thirdborough to keep the peace, who were not employees, but paid a fee for particular services, such as collecting the hearth tax. This principle seems to have applied in most operations of central and local government at this time – higher government officials were awarded with lands and property, lower orders less generously.
At the top of this complex of administrative structures were the quarter sessions and assizes held in Warwick four times a year and dealing with a wide range of legal disputes, from vagrancy, bastardy and theft cases to property disputes, in which there were many. Justices of the peace were appointed by the Crown from among local landed gentry and were the main means of communication and control between the Crown and local administration. There was also a county-wide structure of sheriffs, lord-lieutenants and members of parliament. These posts, which conferred considerable status in the patronage networks, were eagerly competed for.
The burgesses/aldermen of the corporation were conservative in religious and political matters, and successfully resisted attempts to allow election to the common council by popular acclaim; they continued to be a self-selected oligarchy. Many of the local gentry, including the Greville family, were puritan and champions of dissent in Warwick, while other local gentry had remained Catholic. This three-sided tension had reached its peak in the Civil War and Interregnum, but after the Restoration and the dismissal of three dissenting aldermen who refused to take the oath of loyalty to King Charles II and attend communion in the Church of England, the Corporation of Warwick continued as before.
This blog is the first of three blogs written by Anne Cripps, Anne Foster and Anne M Thomas, three University of the Third Age (U3A) researchers working on the Shared Learning Project on the Restoration hearth tax and early modern history. The work was undertaken at the Warwick Record Office, following training provided by the members of the Centre for Hearth Tax Research. It will be followed by a blog looking at the great fire in Warwick in the 1690s and one on the administrative background. The Centre for Hearth Tax Research is grateful for the opportunity to publish this research.
All references to the 1670 Michaelmas hearth tax have been taken from the transcript of published in Tom Arkell with Nat Alcock, eds, Warwickshire hearth tax returns: Michaelmas 1670 with Coventry Lady Day 1666 (2001); and/or the card index held in the Warwick Record Office, which was compiled by Philip Styles during the 1930s and 1940s.
The people of Warwickshire:
Warwick is most famously known to be the seat for one of England’s greatest castles. Warwick castle had been given back to the crown due to the death of the last Dudley in 1590, who did not produce a legitimate male heir. King James I granted the castle to Sir Fulke Greville in 1604, who was from minor gentry family in south-west Warwickshire. He had successfully been a treasurer of the Navy, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Commissioner of the Treasury. Greville unfortunately had to spend £20,000 to restore and adorn the castle, after it fell into a state of disrepair. Before his death in 1628, he was made Baron Brooke in 1621 and his cousin Robert Greville, inherited the castle and estate and served in the Civil War as an English Roundhead General, until his death in 1643.
Table 1 Descendants of the Greville family and the years of their deaths:
This highlights that many of the Greville family only inherited the castle for 20-30 years each, before the present-day arrangement of 1759, in which they became Earls of Warwick. The manor of Warwick was linked to the castle from the eleventh-century Norman foundation until 1604 when, like the earldom, it was excluded from the grant of the castle to Sir Fulke Grenville, and it was sold in 1631 to William Bolton who was a London grocer. It remained in the Bolton family until Lord Brooke bought it in 1740.
Robert, Lord Brooke, held land all over England, and Warwick castle was the centre of his activities. With a house in London and a seat in the House of Lords, he also had a national role, as well his involvement in Warwick’s affairs. Furthermore, he owned substantial property in Warwick together with fishing rights and the grain mill over the river Avon. He was recorder of Warwick’s corporation, and a member of the Greville family or their nominees were Warwick’s two members of parliament from 1614 to 1826. However, this was occasionally contended by the Lucy, Puckering or Throckmorton families. Fulke Greville had a 14-hearth house in Jury Street.
The Great Fire
The balance of power between castle and town was demonstrated in 1694 when a great fire swept through the main streets of the town. Lord Brooke and other local gentry viewed the damage the next morning, offered immediate relief from their own pockets and set in motion three laws passed by parliament to enable further funds to be collected locally and nationally, to set up commission to administer these funds and to draw up and ensure adherence to guidelines for reconstruction after the fire. The fire court held eighty-six sessions with a total of thirty-five different men including the ex-officio mayor of Warwick, but the corporation’s presence was limited. Lord Brooke attended 50 sessions, and his son Francis 29, often dealing with petty matters.
This highlights that the elite possessed great wealth and had links with London and with other countries, but they also played a major role in local affairs. They were well educated- a third of the gentry, earlier in the seventeenth century, have been shown to have had higher education either at Oxford or Cambridge in the Inns of court. The elite provided Justices of the Peace and lawyers, and were intensely interested in history, particularly genealogy (study of families). It was a period when the College of Heralds made visitations throughout the country, examining the entitlement of those claiming gentry status.
The only landed gentry with houses in the town were:
Sir Henry Puckering, baronet (13 hearths in Smith Street and 36 in the Priory in Saltisford ward)
Thomas Archer (13 hearths in Jury Street)
Mr John Stanton/Staunton in Longbridge (10 hearths)
Nathanial Stoughton esquire of St. Johns in Smith Street (6 hearths)
A number however lived within relatively easy distance:
Thomas, Lord Leigh at Stoneleigh Abbey (70 hearths)
Richard Lucy esquire at Charlecote (42 hearths)
Sir Francis Throckmorton, baronet, at Coughton Court (37 hearths)
The Verneys at Compton Verny (21 hearths)
Henry Ferrers esquire at Baddesley Clinton (20 hearths)
Status of Warwick’s Inhabitants
Status networks was all-important in this period, and included a combination of descent, living like a gentleman, having influence and being part of patronage. The terms Mr (master) or Mrs (mistress) were beginning to be applied to some who had some of these attributes, but, not being descended from armigerous families, they were not entitled to use the title of esquire. Aldermen, who were largely leading merchants such as mercers, apothecaries or innkeepers, were granted it; it was probably not hereditary; Mrs did not seem to imply married status.
Table 2 shows the 10% in the Hearth tax return who were given status indication (Sir, esquire, Mr or Mrs)
Table 2 highlights that 90% of people with these titles had 3 hearths or more, suggesting that status had a correlative effect on wealth. There were also rising professionals, lawyers and doctors. John Newsham, the hearth tax collector for Warwickshire, later county treasurer, was a younger son of minor gentry in south Warwickshire who made a career in financial administration. By the 1670s he had moved to a 7/8 hearth house in Butlers Marston near Warwick and was county treasurer and an administrative workhorse on the 1694 Great Fire commission, together with his son John, for many years town clerk of Warwick. Stewardship of some of the large estates in the area was also career route for gentry younger sons with legal training. Mr John Jarvis, a surgeon in Market Place ward had a 3-hearth house, and Mr James Cooke, surgeon to the Brookes and Archers had a 5-hearth house in Jury Street.
Living and working in Warwick
Some families straddled the line between professional men and trade. The Eades family, with multi-hearth houses in Castle Street and Jury Street were mainly lawyers and stewards to the Greville and Throckmorton families, but John in a 10-hearth house in Castle Street was an apothecary, and William was vicar of St Mary’s, the parish church.
Most of the ‘leading men’ of the town, from whom the aldermen and mayor were drawn, were tradesmen, with retailers, especially mercers and apothecaries being the wealthiest. There were innkeepers, such as Moses Holloway, landlord of the Swan in the High Street, which had 20 hearths in 1670, and was an alderman from 1662 to 1687, and mayor from November 1681 to October 1682. The Swan was an exceptionally large inn where gentry, lawyers and public officials coming to Warwick for the Quarter Sessions or Assizes stayed. It contained two halls, six parlours and twenty chambers The Bell (17 hearths), kept by Thomas Stratford in the High Street, and the King’s Head in Castle Street (10 hearths) kept by widow Kerbey, were all ‘capacious inns which provided entertainment as to wine and other necessaries for man’s delight’.
Trade companies were the successors of medieval craft guilds, through which the corporation exercised economic control. Ordinances were issued by the corporation in the late 16th century for bakers, butchers, point makers, glovers, skinners, walkers (fullers), dyers, drapers, tailors, mercers, haberdashers, grocers and fishmongers, and early in the 17th century for masons, tilers, carpenters, joiners, saddlers, and wheelwrights. These companies, each with a hall for meeting, indicate increased economic development, but also greater control by the corporation which laid down that members had to be freemen of the town, and this could be exercised for political and social as well as economic reasons. Regulations protected the trade companies and discouraged outside traders These restrictions began to inhibit economic growth through the seventeenth century but as retailing became more prominent outside traders were encouraged so that by the end of the century the trade companies had become purely social gatherings.
Occupations are not included in the hearth tax returns, but a rough indication of changes to Warwick’s occupational structure can be estimated from the Tabulations of the Free & Voluntary Present to His Majesty, 1661.
Warwick Borough had 4 knights, 7 esquires, 25 gentlemen, 4 clergymen, and the trades which contributed were:
7 each Bakers, Malsters, Innkeepers
4 each Tailors, Butchers
2 each Chandlers, Tilers, Weavers, Cumers (possible midwives), Carriers
1 each Mason, Cooper, Barber, Glazier, Cook Limner (illuminator of manuscripts), Apothecary, Draper, Surgeon, Gardener, Schoolmaster, Wheelwright, Roper, Tobacco pipe maker, Tanner, Clockmaker, Dyer, and a Labourer.
There was a concentration of yeomen and husbandmen in Smith Street and Bridge End. Of the 25 persons in Warwick described as gentlemen, 12 served as the bailiff, the others were members of the Corporation. Corporate office seemed to confer status roughly equivalent to gentleman in a rural community.
The Enrolment of Freemen of the Borough of Warwick in 1684 lists 103 names in 12 companies. There were:
9 Walkers and Dyers
8 each Bakers, Shoemakers, Glovers, Masons and Tilers
5 each Saddlers, Carpenters, Joiners
2 Silk weavers and woollen weavers
1 Flax dressers
The Estimates of Loss lists in the Great Fire of Warwick, ten years later in 1694, expand the number of trades and tradesmen even more. The fire only affected a limited number of buildings, but they were in the core of the town. The Estimate of Loss lists 294 individual names, of whom 83 have no occupation (i.e. gentlemen, widows or simply listed). The next largest categories were:
16 Tailors and Innholders,
8 each Flax Dressers and Labourers,
5 Tallow chandlers,
4 each Attorneys, Blacksmiths, Carpenters, Maltsters (though many claiming fire damage included losses to malting facilities) and Weavers,
3 each Mercers, Chandlers and Joiners,
2 each Glovers, Woollen Drapers, Goldsmiths, Harpers, Seamstresses, Milliners, Hatters, Combmakers, Sadlers, Pipemakers, Water Carriers.
1 each a Bookseller, a Vicar, a Parish Clerk, a Bellringer, a Town Serjeant, a Goaler, a Bridewell Keeper, a Watchmaker, a Gunsmith, a Midwife, a Surgeon, a Physic Doctor, a Confectioner, a Milliner, a Hatter, a Bodice maker, a Collar maker, a Distiller, a Tapster, a Harness maker, an Ostler, a Mason, a Brazier (brass goods maker), Cutler (a dealer or repairer of knives), a Skinner, a Currier (one who dresses and colours leather after it is tanned), a Saddler, a Heelmaker, a Felmonger (dealer in skins or hides), a Jersey comber, a Spinster, a Flaxman, an Oatmeal maker, a Costermonger, a Husbandman, a Herder, a Nailor, a Timberman, and Tugerers (lathe splitters).
This list of claimants for damage from the Great Fire records demonstrate that, apart from gentry, most occupants of the town centre shared their living space with work, whether goods to sell, or equipment such as malting-houses and brew-houses, bakery ovens, blacksmithing forges, or flax ovens. There are a sprinkling of agricultural occupations reflecting the proximity of farming areas, some basic urban trades, but an increase in the trades servicing Warwick’s role as a county town catering for gentry. In the next century this role would be even further expanded as it became a town in which gentlemen and their families could live as agreeably and comfortably as in London. Warwick became even more gentrified than its role as county town had made it., but its prosperity was limited. It only had small-scale cottage industry (wool, silk and flax weaving, flour milling and malting for brewing). Other market towns nearby – Kenilworth and Stratford-on-Avon – competed for market trade, and it was not on any national roads. The Avon was not navigable, and Warwick was not connected to the canal system until late in the eighteenth century.
Of the 611 households listed in the 1670 returns, only 18% appear to have been headed by women, and 89% of these women were widows. Even fewer women (10%) are among the more substantial householders with three hearths or more, and 82% of these are widows. From the evidence of wills and probate inventories of the period, widows whose husbands were in a position to have drawn up wills were often relatively independent financially. Provision would have been made for them to have enough to live on, and to rear any minor children. They often carried on their husband’s business or were moneylenders. Significantly, there were two women goldsmiths, whose work included primitive banking, in the 1694 figures. There were many less fortunate widows, however, and one of the main provisions of charitable grants were for widows and orphans.
Table 3 shows the number of women with 3 hearths or more:
Table 4 shows the number of women living within a household and also the number of widows within the household:
Between January and June 2018, a shared learning project was run with the University of the Third Age in Greenwich. As with the London and Middlesex SLP, the team was charged with using the hearth tax returns as a starting point and following their interest to reveal stories of Greenwich and the people who lived there in the late seventeenth century. In this post, John McKinley looks to the connection of Sir Nicholas Crispe to Greenwich.
In looking at the Quarter Sessions Assessment (1664) – In the Lath of Sutton At Hone – The Hundred Of Blackheath I came across references to a Sir Nicholas Crispe who owned a property in Upper Deptford, which was chargeable (3 hearths and empty), and also a property in Lower Deptford, which was also chargeable (6 hearths and empty). Although he resided in Hammersmith (with a property costing 25,000 pounds, and containing 45 hearths!) in the parish of St Mildred, Bread Street, where his family are noted in respect of baptisms, marriages and burials, he held a considerable portfolio of properties, and was linked to Deptford through properties, and mercantile interests.
In his Diary, Samuel Pepys mentioned Sir Nicholas Crispe several times. On 11th February 1660, Pepys wrote, “Hence we went to a merchant’s house hard by, where I saw Sir Nicholas Crispe, (an eminent merchant and one of the Farmers of the Customs. He had advanced large sums to assist Charles I, who created him a baronet”. Crispe died 1667, aged 67.In January 1662 he mentioned a certain project of Sir Nicholas Crispe, who planned to make a great “sasse”, or sluice, in “the King’s lands about Deptford,” to be a wett-dock, to hold 200 sail of ships.” This project is also mentioned by John Evelyn and Lysons.
Sir Nicholas Crispe was the son of Ellis Crispe, Alderman and Sheriff of London, who died in 1625. His mother was a sister of John Ireland, first master of the Salters’ Company. The first references speak of him as Captain Crispe, so he had most probably been to sea as a trader in his early years, before settling down to mercantile activity in the city of London. Politically he was an English Royalist, and a wealthy merchant who pioneered the West African trade in the 1630s; a custom’s farmer (1640, and 1661 – 1666); a Member of Parliament for Winchelsea (1640 – 1641; a member of the Council of Trade (from 1660) and for Foreign Plantations (from 1661); and Gentleman of the Privy Chamber from 1664. He was knighted in 1640, and was made a baronet in 1665, a year before his death in February 1666 at the age of 67.
Portrait of Sir Nicholas Crispe
Crispe made his money from his brickworks in Hammersmith, which he then used to invest in other ventures. His main commercial interests were in the trades to India and Africa. Like his father he was a substantial stockholder in the East India Company, and throughout his twenties, he imported a wide variety of commodities, including cloves, indigo, silks, pepper, elephant tusks, calicoes and shells. The shells were specially purchased on his behalf by the company’s agents, and it is thought that they were used to finance the purchase of slaves in West Africa.
His daughter, Mary Crispe, married Richard (later Sir) Levett who was Sheriff, Alderman and later Lord Mayor of London (1699/1700). He was master of the Haberdasher’s Company. He founded the trading firm of Sir Richard Levett & Co, which sold Kew to the Royal family. One of the first governors of the Bank of England, he was also a member of the original East India Company. A pioneering merchant and politician, he counted among his friends and acquaintances Samuel Pepys, Robert Blackborne, John Houblon, physician to the Royal Family, and son-in-law Sir Edward Hulse, Lord Mayor Sir William Gore, his brother-in-law Chief Justice Sir John Holt, Robert Hooke, Sir Owen Buckingham, Sir Charles Eyre and others.
The Company of Adventurers of London traded with the ports of Africa, and became more commonly known as “The Guinea Company”. It was the first private company to colonize Africa for a profit, primarily exporting redwood (used for dyes) from the western parts of Africa. Nicholas Crispe started investing in the company in 1625, and became the controlling stockholder in 1628. Nicholas Crispe got most of his royalist support through the building of trading forts on the Gold Coast of Komenda and Kormantin, which the King, James 1, saw as offering great value to the future of England/Africa trade. It is estimated that Nicholas Crispe and his company made a profit of over 500,000 pounds through the gold they had collected with the period 1632 – 1644. According to British parliamentary records the company also appears to have been involved in the trade of enslaved Africans.
A sizeable assemblage of early 17th century glass beads “wasters” were discovered in association with a brick furnace in the grounds of the private estate of Sir Nicholas Crispe (on what is now Hammersmith Embankment) during excavation in 2005. Crispe had a patent for making and vending beads and he also obtained a patent for slave trading from Guinea to the West Indies, these beads were probably used for both the local and colonial markets, as researchers have uncovered similar beads in the Americas and in Ghana. This is the first clear archeological evidence for the manufacture of early post-medieval glass beads in England.
Elected to the Long Parliament in 1640, to represent Winchelsea, he was expelled in 1641 for collecting duties on merchandise which he used as security to loan money to the cash-strapped King Charles I without the authorization of Parliament. On New Years Day 1640, Charles knighted Crispe, recognizing his past services, but perhaps more importantly, anticipating his future service to the Crown.
Crispe supported the King in a number of ways throughout the Civil War and he was at the centre of a plan in March 1643 to head a force to take over London, but the idea failed. He was forced by Parliament to surrender his patents for making and vending beads and for slave trading from Guinea to the West Indies. An order relating to a debt owed by Sir Nicholas Crispe to the Navy was laid before the House of Lords in December 1643, the House of Commons of England had ordered that Crispe’s share in the Guinea company, his trading venture to Africa should be used to cover this debt. The arrival of gold from this adventure now prompted the House of Lords to confirm that Crispe’s share in this should be used to pay off the debt. However on the 6th May 1644, he was commissioned to equip 15 warships at his own expense and granted one-tenth of any prizes taken by them. Operating from West Country ports he ferried troops from Ireland and played an important role in shipping tin and wool to the Continent. He would also bring back arms and ammunition as a return cargo, and ultimately he held the important position of Deputy Controller-General of posts. His allegiance to the Crown was steadfast, even after Charles I was executed in 1649, and he was forced to flee to France, like many others. Family connections allowed him to return to England, but his politics had not changed, and in the run up to the Restoration, Crispe performed secret services and raised money for the exiled Charles II. He was among those London Royalists who signed the declaration in support of General Monck to restore the Stuart Monarchy. In May 1660 Sir Nicholas Crispe was one of the committee sent to meet Charles II at Breda, as he returned to England to take up the throne his father had vacated. Once the monarchy was restored he was paid back in part for all he had lost defending the Crown, the King also appointing him to a number of prominent offices to make up the deficit. He was returned to Parliament again in 1661 to represent Winchelsea until 1666. In 1665 Charles II honoured his loyal servant by creating him a Baronet.
In his will he directed that his embalmed heart should be placed in an urn beneath a bronze bust of Charles I which in his lifetime he had placed in St Mildred’s, Bread Street, East London where he had worshipped God. For a century and a half the heart was taken out on the anniversary of its burial and refreshed with wine. It then became “dust to dust”, but the memory of old Sir Nicholas, the marble monument, and the Kings bust would long survive it. The urn which once contained the heart of Sir Nicholas is now beneath a bust of the aforementioned King in St Paul’s church, Hammersmith. He was a great benefactor to the Borough of Hammersmith, supporting the building of Hammersmith’s first church, which later became St Paul’s, supplying both money and bricks. The memorial to Crispe was transferred to the newer church, built on the same site in 1883. On 18th June 1898 his remains and his heart were reunited in a chest tomb which stands in the churchyard of St Paul’s by the north-east door of the church. A horseshoe, like in his coat of arms is now present in the coat of arms of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The portrait appended below this report of Sir Nicholas Crispe is attributed to Robert Hartley Cromek. Crispe was also responsible for building Brandenburgh House in Fulham Palace Road at a cost of 25,000 pounds. A drawing of the same is again detailed below. Originally named “The Great House” by Crispe, this impressive residence was later the home of King George IV’s estranged wife, Queen Caroline. There is a Crisp road in Hammersmith named after him.
Site of Sir Nicholas Crispe’s mansion (later Brandenburgh house), Hammersmith, after Roque, 1746
Sir Nicholas Crispe’s home in Hammersmith
He founded the English slave depot and refreshment base for East India Shipping on the African Coast – Cormanton and in the later 1630s this London Customs Farmer and his faction sought a Royally backed monopoly on Moroccan trade. In 1631, Crispe and his partners were issued with a patent giving them a monopoly for 31 years on the entire West Coast of Africa and prohibiting all others from importing African goods into England. Crispe himself had been active in the Africa trade since 1625. On 22nd November 1632, Charles I, gave Crispe and five others, an exclusive right to trade the Guinea Coast with a 31 year patent. Crispe got redwood from Guinea and had the sole importation rights. The wealth Crispe received from slaving and other business in 1640 enabled him to contract for 2 large Customs farms “the Great and the Petty farm”, and on that security he and his backers gave King Charles I, use of 253,000 pounds. In May 1661 his son obtained the post of Collector of Customs for the Port of London. Thomas Crispe, together with John Ward, Thomas Walter, William Crispe, William Pennoyer, Maurice Thompson, Robert Thompson, Samuel Pennoyer and Roland Wilson, were active from 1649 in the Guinea Barbados slave trade. Sir Nicholas Crispe’s son Ellis, married Anne Strode, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Strode, died sometime after Lady Day 1664. In his Will Sir Nicholas Crispe bequeathed Anne Strode an annuity of 300 pounds per annum, which was quite generous possibly because he anticipated his own death. However her father, Sir George Strode displayed considerable bitterness towards Sir Nicholas Crispe in his own Will in 1664. In that Will, Sir George Strode criticized Sir Nicholas Crispe for misappropriating Anne Strode’s portion, Several Chancery records in the 1650s give evidence of protracted legal disputes between Sir George Strode and Sir Nicholas Crispe as to Anne Strode’s portion. (For example C6/41/131 Short title: Crispe v Strode. ) Ellis Crispe, Sir Nicholas Crispe’s eldest son, appeared in the Lady Day 1664 Surrey Hearth tax records in Mortlake with a house of 24 hearths. Sir Nicholas Crispe sired 7 children in total and records of births, deaths and marriages were held in the Parish records of St Mildred, Bread Street.
Sir Nicholas Crispe, apart from his trade activities in West Africa (including slaving) established copperas manufacture in Deptford, near Church Street. The works had their own dock on Deptford Creek. An account given to the Royal Society in 1678 described the copperas bed as “about 100 feet long, 15 feet broad at the top, and 12 feet deep, shelving all the way to the bottom. The bed had clay and chalk at the bottom with a wooden trough in the middle which led t a system. The iron pyrites stones were laid about 2 feet deep then left to ripen for 5 to 6 years in the sun and rain before they began to produce a liquor of sufficient strength. New stones would be laid on top every 4 years to refresh the bed. “At Deptford, Sir Nicholas Crispe, had in his lifetime, a very famous copperas work: as indeed, there that ingenious gentleman, one of the greatest improvers, and one of the most public spirited persons this nation ever bred, introduced several other inventions. Copperas was also formerly made, together with brimstone, in the Isle of Sheppey.” ( “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society”, No 142 page 1056 – 1059.
F.A. Crisp, Crisp Colls. Iv. 4-5; C.J. Feret, Fulham Old and New, iii. 68
Crisp, iv. 2-5; Feret, iii. 60-61; Clarendon, Life, ii. 232-3; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. Xv), 201; DNB; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1651; K. G. Davies, R. African Co. 40.
“The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983.
“The Crispe Family and the African Trade in the 17th Century”, R. Porter. The Journal of African History, vol. 9, No. 1 (1968), pp. 57-77.
Between January and June 2018, a shared learning project was run with the University of the Third Age in Greenwich. As with the London and Middlesex SLP, the team was charged with using the hearth tax returns as a starting point and following their interest to reveal stories of Greenwich and the people who lived there in the late seventeenth century. In this post, Lore Arthur looks to the connection of Samuel Pepys to Greenwich during the plague epidemic in 1665.
Samuel Pepys, Greenwich and the Great Plague of 1665 (Lore Arthur)
Samuel Pepys travelled a lot with considerable energy and lust for life. Most of his journeys centred in the City of London. If navy-related work demanded it, he went by boat, coach and on foot from and to the City to places such as Redriffe (now Rotherhithe) and Deptford, mainly because of its thriving dockyards and to Woolwich because of its all-important Rope Yard. His Diary with its daily entries covers the years between 1660 and 1669. Prior to 1665, the place of Greenwich is rarely mentioned. It was, however, during the course of the year 1665, when Pepys was Chief Secretary to the Admiralty, that Greenwich and its various locations became significant with numerous Diary entries. By then the plague ravaged the City of London and people were trying to escape the ‘sicknesses’. The Naval Office moved to Greenwich in the early autumn of 1665 for the same reason. Greenwich was thought to be a safer place to be. Likewise, Pepys’ wife Elizabeth moved to nearby Woolwich while Pepys himself had found lodgings in Greenwich. Here there were lots of places to eat, listen to music and generally have a good time and a lot of people to meet! At the end of the year 1665 he considered that despite the Plague he had never lived so merrily this Plague time. His diary entries reveal how closely linked were the areas of work, pleasure, and intimacy. His observations of national disasters such as the Plague provide real insight into his life at the time (1).They are also very human in spirit and highly entertaining.
The 1665 excerpts referred to here are taken from Samuel Pepys’s Diary, available online (2). John Evelyn’s diary which also covers the years 1640-1706, which included the time of the Plague, is not referred to here.
Samuel Pepys by John Hays (3)
It is not the intention to explain the causes and spread of the plague. However, it is estimated that the ‘Great Plague’ of 1665/66 killed about 100,000 people. The number of deaths were published each week in the Bills of Mortality, cited by Pepys from time to time, but such information referred to London only and figures given were only approximations since there was no duty to record each death of all those affected.
Artist unkown (4)
The table below refers to Greenwich. It clearly points to a sharp increase in the number of burials recorded before and during the years of the Plague.
The Greenwich burials register, however, does not distinguish plague burials, nor does it even mention the Plague. The numbers above are of all burials. Nevertheless, it is most likely that the sharp increase in the number of burials cannot be explained any other way.
Pepys first mentioned a sickness, and great fears in the City, in the Diary on April 30th, 1665, “it being said that two or three houses are already shut up. God preserve us all!”
This pending catastrophe was not a cause for concern until the summer months of June and July. In the meantime, Pepys was busy enjoying himself. The gardens of his friend John Evelyn were a source of delight. They became famous for their beauty.
After dinner to Mr Evelyn’s, he being abroad, we walked in his garden, and a lovely noble ground he hath indeed. And among other rarities, a hive of bees, so as being hived in glass, you may see the bees making their honey and combs mighty pleasantly. (5/5/65).
Increasingly, however, the plague began to occupy his mind. He wrote about people moving out of town, with coaches being full of people, and the mortality rate increasing all the time. Travelling home was becoming dangerous, houses being shut up which was a “sad sight” (26/6/65). At various times he wrote that the plague was “growing upon us” (12/7/65), “there is much to be feared”(3/7/65), “The sickness puts all out of order …people are afeared of London” (17/7/65), “sad news about the death of so many in the parish, of the Plague, the bell is always going” (26/7/65). Somewhat exasperated he noted that four or five had died in Westminster in one alley on Sunday last yet people thought the plague was receding (20/6/65)
So worried was Pepys about the plague in the City of London that he decided to move his wife Elizabeth and her companion Nicola Mercer to William Sheldon’s house in Woolwich, which was considered to be a very pretty house for them (30/6/65). William Sheldon had been appointed Clerk of the Cheques in 1660 and he was someone Pepys had known for many years.
Elizabeth Pepys by John Thompson (6)
Life in Greenwich
Not moving himself to Woolwich though, gave Pepys plenty of space to seek alternative amusements. Yet he frequently visited Elizabeth, visits he seems to have enjoyed though worries about the plague were never far from his mind.
By water to my wife whom I have not seen 6 or 5 days, and there supped with her, and mighty pleasant, and saw with content her drawings, and so to bed mighty merry. I was much troubled this day to hear at Westminster how the officers do bury the dead in the open Tuttle-fields pretending want of room elsewhere; whereas the New Chappell churchyard was walled-in at the publick charge in the last plague time, merely for want of room and now none, but such as are able to pay dear for it, can be buried there.(18/5/65).
On August 10, he reported that the Bill had risen to above 4000 this week …in all, 3,000 of the plague. However, all if this did not stop his lustfulness. There was young Mrs Bagwell, among many others, whom he had known intimately for quite some time. He wrote: “Very late I went away, it raining, but I had a design ‘pour aller a la femme de Bagwell and did so”. He never mentioned her first name (19/7/65).
On the 19th of August, 1665, during the height of the plague Pepys moved to Greenwich altogether as did the Navy Office which was then housed in Greenwich Palace. Pepys referred to it as either The Park or the Palace, or simply Greenwich House. It had been Royal Palace built in 1428 on the banks of the Thames, which fell into disrepair during the Civil War and was thereafter partially rebuilt by Charles II.
But the plague is ever present.
The plague having a great encrease this week, beyond all expectation of almost 2,000, making the general Bill 7,000, odd 100; and the plague above 6,000. I down by appointment to Greenwich, to our office, where I did some business, and there dined with our company and Sir W.Boreman, and Sir Theo Biddulph, at Mr. Boremans where a good venison pasty, and after a good merry dinner I to my office, and there late writing letters, and then to Woolwich by water, where pleasant with my wife and people, and after supper to bed (31/8/65).
What a busy day he had! Despite obvious concerns about the increasing number of deaths, he managed to enjoy good food and company before visiting Elizabeth at Mr. Sheldon’s, where, one must assume, he stayed overnight. Yet Pepys continues to fear the sickness and, having to take care of his family which “do fill my head” (13/10/65).
Lodgings in Greenwich
It is not quite clear where Pepys stayed once he had left home in Seething Lane in London. He certainly spent a few times in the house of Captain George Cocke, who lived in a house (15 hearths) in Crane South, a street which still exists in Greenwich, close to the Thames. Cocke’s name crops up throughout the Diary but particularly in 1665 when they met on an almost daily basis. Cocke shared with Pepys his love for the theatre, music and playing billiards. In Pepy’s view, he was garrulous, a conceited man with no logic at all, who had an enormous capacity to drink and whose company he found excellent (8). But there was also Mr Golding, the barber, who seems to have proved a great deal of pleasure. Golding as a fiddler who played very well and at all times. At one time he set out to compose a duo of counterpoint involving Pepys and himself (15/10/65).
Pepys liked Mark Cuttle’s (Cottell, Cottle in diary) house in Combes (Crooms) Hill, a road which still exists. Cuttle had a large house with 23 hearths, described by Pepys as “a very pretty house and a fine turret at top, with winding stairs and the finest prospect I know about Greenwich, save the top of the hill, and yet in some respect better than that” .(26/12/1665). Alderman William Hooker’ place, by contrast, did not appeal. Hooker, too, lived in Combes Hill in a house with 23 hearths. Yet Pepys, having been invited for dinner, thought it was the poorest, mean house with a dirty table in a dirty house, He thought Hooker to be a plain, ordinary and silly man who was also rich (20/12/65). He may have also stayed with lifelong friend Will Hewer, man servant and clerk, who gave him his own very fine room.
However, on October 11, Pepys sought lodgings with Mrs. Clerke, He was worried, that the plague might spread to Woolwich. He needed
to make an agreement for the time to come; and I, for the having room enough, and to keepe out strangers, and to have a place to retreat to for my wife, if the sicknesse should come to Woolwich, am contented to pay dear; so for three rooms and a dining-room (11/10/65) .
Pepys seems to have taken a shine to Mrs Clerke’s little boy Christopher, who was apparently not well on November 4th, it was feared it might be the Plague. But Christopher recovered so well that he was able to walk with him to Lambeth, “a very fine walker he is” (27/11/65).
In Greenwich, Pepys frequently referred to eating places such as the Bear or Beare Taverne, the Globe and, with most entries, the King’ Head. This was a great music house, he stated, visiting the place for the first time on September 27. Here he happen to meet Judith Pennington. Mrs. Pennington was, in his view, a fine witty lady, and after dinner he had most witty discourse. “One of the best I ever heard speake, and indifferent handsome” (8/10/65). The relationship clearly prospered for in December 1665 he wrote
and so home to Greenwich, and thence I to Mrs. Pennington, and had a supper from the King’s Head for her, and there mighty merry and free as I used to be with her, and at last, late, I did pray her to undress herself into her nightgowne, that I might see how to have her picture drawne carelessly (for she is mighty proud of that conceit) (20/12/65).
By the end of the year the plague seems to have eased so that Pepys and his wife thought about moving back to London as early as December 1665. Elizabeth did return on December 23rd, while Pepys continued to live with Mrs Clerke and her daughters well into the New Year. The care for his wife shines through the diary entries of that year. Looking back, Pepys is relieved that he and his family have survived it all.
It is true we have gone through great melancholy because of the great Plague, and I put to great charges by it, by keeping my family long at Woolwich, and myself and another part of my family, my clerks, at my charge at Greenwich (31st December 1665).
The plague subsided in the winter of 1666. Pepys finally moved back to his London home in Seething Lane. Thereafter Pepys never mentioned locations in Greenwich, though in June 1666 he dined at the Beare and the Kings Head, where he consumed a steak in what was once one of his favourite eating places during the autumn of 1665.
At this stage he did not know that the Great Fire of London in September 1666 would disrupt his and the life of City-dwelling Londoners once more.
Claire Tomalin. Samuel Pepys. The Unequalled Self. Penguin books. 2002
Between January and June 2018, a shared learning project was run with the University of the Third Age in Greenwich. As with the London and Middlesex SLP, the team was charged with using the hearth tax returns as a starting point and following their interest to reveal stories of Greenwich and the people who lived there in the late seventeenth century. In this post, Margaret Gravelle takes us on a journey around Billingsgate Street.
Billingsgate Street ran from Greenwich Churchyard to Billingsgate Dock on the riverside. It has been traced at least to the reign of Henry VI and probably earlier. Travers’ map shows Billingsgate at the northern end of High Street leading down to the river, close to where the entrance to the foot tunnel now stands. It was apparently reached through Brewhouse Lane, a narrow street which is not mentioned in the 1664 hearth tax returns but which is recorded by Kimbell as having a number of tenements, at least one cottage and a brewhouse. The Parish Overseers’ Accounts give details of donors to the church for the relief of the poor. In the 1690 records 12 properties are listed in Brewhouse Lane of which 2 were empty.
In Greenwich, the Medieval and Tudor streets on the eastern side of the town centre, including Fishers Alley, were wiped out about a decade before the railway (1838). Most of the changes had occurred there around 1828. The streets further to the west around the Billingsgate Dock comprising Brewhouse Lane and Dark Entry survived into the 1930s. The area was cleared before 1950 and is now under Cutty Sark Gardens.
Billingsgate Dock was the main dock in medieval Greenwich and important to the large Greenwich fishing fleet. It is first noted in 1449. Industrial archaeologists found the northern edge of the old Billingsgate Street down by the river and the intact road beneath a granite cobble surface. They found many layers down to the mediaeval, indicating that there had been access to the river here for many centuries. Documents from the reign of Elizabeth I refer to Billingsgate Dock and a ferry went from here at the time of the Abbot of Ghent.
Billingsgate dock was a draw dock, i.e. a ramp down onto the foreshore, and not truncated in a solid wall at the south end. Archaeologists suspect that may be very ancient . In 1850 the commissioners of Greenwich Hospital submitted plans to ‘improve Billingsgate Dock’ so it was evidently still in use at that time. It is the traditional landing place for the Greenwich
Ferry from the Isle of Dogs and some historians suggest that it was the destination of Watling Street. Greenwich ‘peter boats’ fished in the river and larger vessels went to the North Sea. Peter boats were typical of the Thames and its estuary. They were double ended, about 12 feet in length and mainly used for fishing.
Potter’s Ferry, also known as the Isle of Dogs Ferry, which plied between Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs, originated at Billingsgate but was transferred to Garden Stairs in 1672. Its existence is recorded in 1330 when it was known as Popeler Ferry. In 1550 Edward VI granted to Sir Thomas Wentworth (1501-1551) the lordships and manors of Stepney and Hackney which included rights of running the ferry. The name Potter’s Ferry, of uncertain origin, is first mentioned in a lease of 1626 to Nowell Warner of Greenwich. (Could this be the same person as Nowell Winch who lived in Billiingsgate?) Nowell’s son, John, bought the ferry outright in 1676. Pepys recorded that he used the ferry twice in 1665. He was left hanging around at Billingsgate – he “staid an hour” while the boat was “crossing the water to and again to get our coach and horses over.”
Billingsgate Dock was just to the west of Garden Stairs. Ann Boleyn is reputed to have been taken down these stairs to be imprisoned in the Tower.
The Ship Tavern, Billingsgate was famous for its whitebait suppers. A public house had stood on the site since the early 17th century, one of the first being the Blue Boar . ‘A child from the Blew Boar’ is recorded as having been buried in 1667. The Ship was finally destroyed during an air-raid in 1941.
Fubb’s Yacht pub was in existence at the end of Billingsgate and Brewhouse Lane in the early 18th century. At one time it was owned by Reffells Bexley Brewery Ltd. It was still a pub in 1846, then probably renamed Fuller’s Yacht, but in July 1847 it burnt down in a violent thunderstorm.
6 Billingsgate was the Sugar Loaf beer house. Now demolished, it was listed in various
directories until 1896. Dark Entry or Sugar House Lane ran beside the pub to Brewhouse Lane.
As might be expected for a location close to the river and to the commercial activity it attracted, many of the houses were smaller than those on Crooms Hill. 34 properties are listed with a total of 99 hearths making the average number of hearths 2.9, with a median of 2.
A number of births, marriages and deaths are listed in the parish records, whether they were the same people as appear in the hearth tax returns is hard to say.
Of the residents in Billingsgate; George Baker, (died 1670/1) Elizabeth, his daughter died in 1673/4. Their wills were at first kept ‘in the chest’ in St Alfege’s church. George left £50 to the poor of Greenwich and Elizabeth left £70. George had ‘been employed in building Greycoat school’, although whether he was actually a builder or was involved in a different capacity is not clear. Greycoat School was probably the modern John Roan School which was founded in 1677 as a charity for the ‘town born children of Greenwich’ and was recognised by the grey cloaks that the pupils wore.
John Deane, a potter, married Mary Hubbard in 1662. She died in 1666.
Mrs. Downes died in 1667 as did the wife of William Gill in 1666.
John Gammon, builder, paid tax in 1644. It is possible that his son, James, a skilled engraver, lived in Billingsgate. A Leonard Gammon of Greenwich married Susanna Malthus in 1661.
A John Hill had a daughter, Elizabeth in 1664 and a second daughter, Margaret in 1665.
Ralph Hodgkins‘ father -in-law was James Lutton who lived in East Lane East and died in 1663. Ralph married James Lutton’s daughter, Christian in 1664. Captain Ralph Hodgkins fathered a daughter, Elizabeth in 63 and another in 65. She was also called Elizabeth which suggests either that they were two different families or, perhaps the first child died. Twins, Ralph and John were born in 67 and another daughter , Christian in 1668. At about this time a Captain Ralph Hodgkins was involved in the slave trade as an agent-general for the Africa Company at Cape Coast Castle on the West African coast. There was an Isaac Hodgkin who was an alderman in 1684 and lived in Greenwich.
Thomas Hood was buried in 1668 and Thomas Hutchins in 1667 following the death of his wife the previous year.
Martin Hoult had a son in 1663 and a daughter two years later. A daughter, born in 1667 died at birth and another daughter was born in 1668.
Richard Kendall married Ursula Lockington at St. Alfege’s in 1658.
Thomas Paine is listed in burials for 1668.
The manor of Old Court owned land around East Greenwich, including four tenements that were occupied by George Reynolds, Nicholas Panton, Robert Wotton and two others whose names do not appear on the hearth tax returns. Nicholas Penton/Panton had a tenement and a small garden close to the river in Billingsgate Street, ‘also a little wharf and a potter’s kiln house’. He had two sons, born 67 and 68, and a daughter born in 1666.
Nicholas Penton died in 1667 and Robert Penton in 1666. Robert Penton’s daughter was born in 1664.
Henry Taylor died in 1665.
John Watson died in 1666 and a son of John Watson in 1665.
A Nowell Winch married Katherine Smith in 1639 and she appears on the burials in 1666.
Aslet, C (1999) The story of Greenwich
Barker, F (1993)Greenwich and Blackheath Past
Bowle, J (1981) John Evelyn and his world
Hamilton, O and N (1969) Royal Greenwich
Hasted (1778) History of Kent
Kimbell, J (1816 ) An account of the legacies, gifts, rents, fees et c. appertaining to the county of Kent
Platts, B (1973) History of Greenwich
Rhind, N and Watson, J (2013) Greenwich Revealed
Tomalin, C (2002) Samuel Pepys, the unequalled self
Withington, L (1980) Virginia Gleanings in England
Between January and June 2018, a shared learning project was run with the University of the Third Age in Greenwich. As with the London and Middlesex SLP, the team was charged with using the hearth tax returns as a starting point and following their interest to reveal stories of Greenwich and the people who lived there in the late seventeenth century. In this post, Jackie Davies uses the hearth tax to explore the relatively wealthy area of Dock and Tavern Row.
Greenwich, 1664: Dock and Tavern Row (35 households listed with chargeable hearths) (Jackie Davies)
In 1695 Tavern Row still exists. The area known as The Dock is already occupied by the Naval Hospital (B in the diagram). On the map below, a yellow ring is around where the Hearth Tax return for Dock and Tavern Row might have been.
The map comes from the National Maritime Museum Greenwich, as can be seen from the watermark. The interactive map is available online http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/540948.html?_ga=2.160168699.777766752.1519067640-1380402391.1518333452 and is described as the map where it is described as made by Samuel Travers Esqr. Surveyor General 1695 as part of a of the Kings lordship or manor of East Greenwich. In 1668 the Chancery pays (the estate of) Hamond Chadwick, who has a house in the Dock, £500 to pull down the house. I think this is evidence that the house is where the hospital now stands.
Dock and Tavern Row is a comparatively wealthy area with 74% of households with 3 or more hearths compared with an average of approximately 50%. Two of the 35 are heads of households are women. I have been able to find a few of the original people and more often their heirs in the 1695 work. I have also found reference to their families in baptisms, marriages and burials. Some have PCC wills (Prerogative court of Cantebury) and there are a few other scraps. Hamond Chadwick, already mentioned, is one of these people, and his will and other information are stet out below. I was delighted to find evidence that Reuben Goulding of this area was the musical barber who served Samuel Pepys, but I have not found evidence that Sarah Clarke was Pepys’ landlady. Unlike Combes Hill there are few people included in other histories from the Dock and Tavern Row area, however there is the first governor of St Helena: Captain John Dutton. I had expected to find lots of references to Taverns, but the records only confirm a few households as involved in the trade. The first person listed has a tenement called Lalmpbenn
Here are the Taxable households:
Ball, Elizabeth 12 hearths. May be the widow of Edward Ball. There are baptisms for Edward Ball’s children at St Alfege: Edward 1647, Edward 1648, Charles 1649, Elizabeth 1652. Elizabeth Ball, widow, bur. St Alfege 30 May 1711.
Ball, Luke, 2 hearths Wm Ball ‘a youth’ bur 9/1661, Luke Ball bur 7/1666, widow Ball 11/1666, In 1695 there is a Luke Ball, son of Luke Ball, waterman. (next generation?). Mar 1696 Luke son of Luke ball is bur. Luke Ball (Labourer) bur. 3/1708/9. Burial of Widow Ball (11/1666)
Bannester, William, 6 hearths. 4 children baptised at St Alfege to father William Bannester: Allen 1630, Sara 1635, Elizabeth 1637, Nathaniel 1640. Pepys met a Mr Bannister in Westminster in August 1666 (He travelled home to Greenwich with Capt Cocke on the same day – not a clear link to Wm B).
Blissett, Richard, 5 hearths. Baps of 4 children of Ric Blisset, at Greenwich: Jane (Feb 1654), Mary (Oct 1656), Wm (July 1658), Ric (Nov 1659). Richard Blisset was buried 19 May 1697 at St Alfege, as a resident of the almshouse, Trinity College:
Other Blissets include Mark Blissett, buried St Alfege, Sept 1679. (see Church Wall) Burials: Elizabeth Blissett, wife of Matt B, 5/1666, Widow Blisset 5/1668. In the earlier records of 1630, There is an Eizabeth Blysett, dr of Marke Blysett baptised, Jan 1637(8).
Bosvill, Mr. Robert, 6 hearths Possibly born Eynsford, Kent, in 1633 to Henry Bosvile (listed in the Visitation of Kent in 1663-1668). A Robert Bossevill (a son of Hen B) married Jane/Jone in 1657 in Eynsford.
Mr Bosseville ‘carried to London (22/8/1664 is probably Francis. There is a PCC will for a Francis Bosvile, gentleman of East Greenwich in 1664 (PROB 11/315/126) Francis was son of Walter Bosville of Beckenham Kent Esq (Francis and Walter are listed near Robert and Henry in the alphabetical work of the visitation of Kent 1663-1668). In his will, Francis Bosvill, gent, appointed Walter as his heir/executor, and witnesses incl Roger Clissold, Wm Bonford and Fras August (latter with 10 hearth house in Church Wall). Greenwich burials record August burial of a Mr Bossvill, whose body was then carried to London. Burial of Mr Bosseville 12/1666 may be Robert Bosvil.
Broughton, James, 2 hearths. June 1662 Charles Broughton, son of James Broughton, waterman of Greenwich, was apprenticed to John Worrell, vintner Webb’s index 1662 (p 39 in Webb). Burial of Broton, widow (11/1668), Bur Charles Broughton son of Samuel 1679
Browne, Thomas, 2 hearths. A Thos, son of Peter Browne, was bap at Greenwich, Sept 1639. He may also be the Warden of Trinity College in Crane Street. The warden, listed in the 1664 hearth tax list is Thomas Browne. There is a PCC will for a Henry Browne, ‘Warden of the Hospital of the Holy and undivided Trinity of East Greenwich’ in June 1673 PROB 11/342/162 MZ suggests Henry is a son or brother. Family recommendation was acceptable.
Brunton, Nicholas, 2 hearths. Only Nic Brunton found buried in Oxford Sept 1670 ‘Servitor’ (unlikely to be from Dock and Tavern Row??)
Buddell, William, 4 hearths. A Mary B, da of Wm Buddle, was bap in Greenwich, March 1658.
Castleman, Edward, 5 hearths. Four children of Edw C baptised at St Alfege: Mary (Dec 1651); Philip (Sept 1653); Eliz (May 1655); Edw (Aug 1657).
PCC will of Hamond Chadwick, vintner of East Greenwich, 1667, PROB 11/3234/466) incl:
To my son John Chadwick £60 which is in my house to be put out by overseers to good hands until son is 21. £20 to John for setting up and putting out to apprentice for some good trade as he shall like to set him, with his apparel.
To da Margaret Lewis, widow of Charles Lewis, household goods now in her house bought of her late husband as by his bill of sale.
Remainder to be divided
Half to my son John Chadwick
Half to my 3 daughters
Martha Gray, wife of Richard Gray, mariner
Margaret Lewis, late wife of Charles Lewis
Elizabeth Crow wife of Ralph Crow, mariner.
If John dies before he’s age 21, then his portion shall come to 3 daughters and their heirs. John Chadwick apt sole exec,with overseers Thomas Raymond of Deptford, brewer and Robert Smyth of East Greenwich,yeoman (referred to as friends). They to approve apprenticeship and marriage before 21. To TR and RS each £5. Witnesses James Hart and Samuel … July 26 1667.
Margt ‘Chidwick’ marr Charles Lewis, at Charlton, March 1657.
In 1668, in Calendar of Treasury Books, £500 to Hamond Chadwick for pulling down his house at Greenwich to make way for the King’s buildings, to be in lieu of a former order of Treasurer Southampton which was not executed. (So is it his son John who had £500 for the house to be pulled down?)
Charlton, Thomas, 2 hearths. Greenwich bap register: bap of Thos, son of Rog Charleton, Sept 1637; and of Thos, son of Thos Charlton, March 1645. Bur Kath Charlton 7/1661
Clarke, Sarah, 3 hearths. Some notes in Pepys website suggest she is the landlady of Pepys (but she only has 3 hearths!). A Sarah Girdler marr Thos Clarke in Greenwich, Feb 1648.
Burials: Clark, Jn (9/1666)
Clark, Jn’s wife (10/1665)
Clark, Mr, a mason (09/1664)
Clark, Thos (09/1665)
Clarke, Nic (5/1668)
Davis Mathew, 1 hearth. (In Kimbell’s collection, Travers 1695 survey has ‘widow Davis’ around the dock). In 1695 Mathew, son of Mathew Davis, waterman at the Crane, was buried. This might be the grandson of the Mathew in 1664. burials: Davis, Geo, ‘servant to Capt Crispe’ (3/1668) Davis, Powell (12/1668)
Denman, John, 2 hearths. A Jn Denman, waterman, was bur at Greenwich, Oct 1705.
Doe, Nicholas, 5 hearths. Bap at Greenwich of Nic, son of Nic Doe, Apr 1657 and bur 8 Feb 1658. and bap of Andrew, son of Nic Doe, Aug 1658. Bur Doe, Nic (5/1666) Nicholas Doe is listed as Petty Constable.
Dutton, John, Captain. 5 hearths. Edw, son of Jn Dutton, bap Greenwich, Feb 1656.
Governor of St Helena 28 Oct 1659-1661 (held by British Library: Asian and African Studies Reference: E/3/85 f 125. John may be the John Dutton, son of Hugh Dutton, waterman, 29 Nov 1630, baptised St Lawrence Pountney, City of London. (there are other John Duttons). History of St Helena says that Captain John Dutton’s wife travelled with 59-61. In May 1667 wife of Capt Dutton buried.
Edghill, Adam, 5 hearths From Parish registers on Ancestry.co.uk
Thomas Edghill baptised 22 Sep 1663 St Alfege, father Adam Edghill.
Adam Edgell baptised 7 Nov 1666 at St Alfege to father Adam Edgell.
Glanvill, Benjamin, 12 Hearths, London Merchant (mainly tin?) with significant involvement in the East India Company. Extensive notes made in Marine Lives including special agent to Bruges. A Richard, son of Benj Glanvile, bap in Greenwich, 31 May 1655, and bur 11 June 1656. There was a memorial to “Richard, son of Benjamin Glanvill, merchant, 1656” in the old St Alfege church (Michael has also found reference to burial of a sons in the church: Chas, son of Benj G, ‘bur in the church’ (02/1662) and Benj, son of Mr Ben Glanvil, in the church (06/1663). Bur of Mr Benj G at Greenwich, Feb 1681.
Benjamin may be a brother of William Glanville (1618-1702) listed in History of Parliamentary), of Wonford, Devon and Greenwich, Kent who was was MP for Queensborough 1681 and son–in-lawtoJn Evelyn.
Goulding, Reuben, 2 hearths. Baps of Wm, son of Reuben G (1651); Sim, son of Reuben G, 1654 (also bur 1654); Mary, da of Reuben G (1656) and another Mary, da of Reuben G (1659). Ruben Goulding’s youth bur 5/1666. Ruben Goulding’s wife bur 6/1666. He remarried Mary Bradshaw, spinster of G, at G, Oct 1666. Is this the musical barber liked by Pepys?? (1662, 1665):
There is also a Susan G, wife of Steph Goulding, bur in church (04/1664)
Milles, Henry, gent, 6 hearths. Baps at Greenwich of Thos, son of Hen Mills (May 1640); another son bap May 1647; and another Thos, son of Hen Mills (Aug 1648). A Hen Mills bur 10/1666. Wife of Hen Mills bur 8/1667.
PCC will for Henry Mills, yeoman of East Greenwich, June 1671 PROB 11/336/308 (Difficult to read – but gist is he must be older as leaving money to 6 grandchildren.) He has 5 friends as feoffees: Master Plume, minister of the Parish; Edward Nash (possibly Captain E Nash 9 heaths East Lane E; Francis Goone (maybe Francis Gunn of Stable Street); Geoge Petley of Tendridge/Tenterton/Tunbridge); John Stanford of Gt. Peckham,Kent, tanner. Legacies: to the poor, 40 shillings worth of bread. Feoffees to get £20 shillings a piece. Exec = grandchild Ric Mills; house and land at Tenterden called Percival to pay my daughter Damsical /Dansyval out of it £10 p.a. And if she dies to go to grandchild Richard; my tenant in house in Peckham shall have a new lease, paying old rent; to grandchild Olive Mends my 3 houses and gardens in Tunbridge [and another town/village]; to grandchild Henry Pointer, an annuity of 12 shillings at Clagget ward Turnbridge, bequest to John Huberts and his heirs; to my 2 grandchildren of Margt of Tunbridge, £1 each; to my 3 grandchildren of my dead son Sever, £1 each; book debts, bills and bonds which are from the king to be sold for the clearing up; Richard Mills is to be put to service; remainder to be divided between my 6 grandchildren. Wit: Edward Gray
Oxmond, John, 2 hearths.John Oxman has daughter baptised in St Alfege in 1642. (Ann)
Penn, Mathew (?mariner) 7 Hearths. Penn, Matt buried in the church (1/1669) November 1703 will of Mathew Penn, mariner belonging to their Majesties Ship Defiant of Saint Mary Whitechapel, Middlesex PROB 11/472/276 Mathew Penn of Whitechapel had a son bap Jan 1667 in Whitechapel. Also ref to Mathew Penn with mother Katherine in Whitechapel.
Smyth, Mr. William, 10 Hearths. In 1660 in the marriage licenses a Damaris Smyth (his daughter?) marries aged 24 with consent of Father William Smith 30th Oct. In the London Livery Company Apprentice Reg 1609-1800 (by Cliff Webb) Theophillis Avery, christened 1648 at St Alfege, son of a waterman called John Avery (deceased), was apprenticed to William Smyth in 1664. I think this is the son of Elinor Avery, also in the hearth tax. Wm Smyth’s wife dies 7/1667. 1668 William Smith bequeaths Blew Boar Tavern of Greenwich and wife Damaris. (In burials ‘A child from the Blew Boar’ bur 8/1667.) Reference to Sir William Smyth Swan and College in Kimbell. (another William Smith?) (There are people called Smith in the burial records, but not William or Damaris).
Burials for Smith/Smyth.
Smith, Giles, ‘drowned’ (11/1663)
Smith, Matthias (8/1666)
Smith, Robt’s wife, in the church (08/1664)
Smith, Thos’ wife (10/1665)
Smith, widow ‘of the Queen’s College’ (03/1663)
Smyth, Ant (4/1668)
Smyth, Robt, in the church (10/1668)
Smyth, Robt, in the church (10/1669)
Smyth, Thos, of the Lord’s College (5/1661)
Smyth, Wm’s wife (7/1667) [listed above]
Smyth, Thomas, Mr. 6 Hearths
There are two Thomas Smyths’. One of D&T and one of King’s Barn with 4 hearths. There is a PCC will for a Thos Smith, ‘Fisherman’ of Greenwich Nov 1665 (PROB 11/318/552. Thomas Smith dies 27th September and his wife Iana (Jane) dies 2 days later on 29th September 1665. The short will(s) are nuncupative. Thomas calls Jane, his wife, to his bedside, and freely gives to her all his chattels… witness Margaret Taylor, Joan Philpott, August Rochford and Peter Devitt. Two days later Jane leaves her goods to her sister Katherine Jacobs (possibly wife of Jacob Jacobs?) The burial of Thomas Smith’s wife in October 1665 is listed in the burials above. [This Fisherman is more likely to be CAPTAIN who is in King’s Barn. Captn Tho Smyth has a daughter Elizabeth in 1663.
There is also a second will for a Thomas Smith of East Greenwich 30/9/1671, butcher who leaves his estate in the hands of a wife Elizabeth to divide in to three between Tho Smith’s daughter once 18, Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s son (hard to read, but think that’s what is meant). If a dispute, to be settled by John Mann, Royal Official Master of His Majesty’s Barge. Witnesses Henry Morris [5 hearths, church wall] and Edward Turner [11 hearths High Street East] (PROB 11/337/230).
In 1695 Travers survey there is a reference to Thomas Smith(s). For example, in 1670(s) Thomas Smith proves by oath that Sir William Boreman cut down royal trees worth £100. WmS. also owns land near Crane Street.
In MarineLives Mr Thomas Smyth. Just possibly Thomas Smith (b. ?, d. ca. 1671), butcher, of East Greenwich (PROB 5/1208 SMITH, Thomas, of East Greenwich, Kent, butcher [Registered will: PROB 11/337] 1671; PROB 11/337 Duke 102-158 Will of Thomas Smith, Butcher of East Greenwich, Kent 30 September 1671)
Stevens, Henry, 3 hearths. Baptism in Greenwich of Henry,son of Henrey Stevens, Dec 1643. Wife of Richard Stevens bur 10/1663. Widow Stevens bur 9/1662 and 7/1666. Christian Stevens, wife of Mr Wm S bur 9/1664.A Hen Stevens was bur in Greenwich in July 1679. There is a reference to William Stephens in Kimbell. Francis Gunn in 1670 refers in his will to 5 tenements in the Dock of East Greenwich bought from James Moore Gent. These tenements are occupied by Henry Stevens, William Moore, Widow J/Tiney, widow Hogwood, [and another] widow.
Walker, Edward, 3 hearths. Bap of Edward, son of George Walker at Greenwich, 29 Aug 1628. Baps of John, son of Edw W (Dec 1654); Edw, son of Edw W (Oct 1656); and Fras, son of Edw W (Feb 1658). Matt Walker of the Lord’s College was bur. August 1996, Robt W bur. Sept 1665, Jn Walker “A poor man from John Walker’s” was buried Dec 1669.
Wray, Thomas, 5 hearths. Bap of Thos ‘Wrays’, son of Geo W, in Greenwich, Apr. 1632.
Two possible wills, neither are strong matches: 1709 Mariner on “The Ipswich” PROB 11/512/221 1679 Yeoman of Higham, Kent PROB 11/359/702
A Geo Wray was bur in Greenwich, June 1665. And widow Wray in December 1665
Between January and June 2018, a shared learning project was run with the University of the Third Age in Greenwich. As with the London and Middlesex SLP, the team was charged with using the hearth tax returns as a starting point and following their interest to reveal stories of Greenwich and the people who lived there in the late seventeenth century. In this post, Margaret Gravelle takes us on a journey of the wealthy street of Crooms Hill and the people and properties therein.
Crooms Hill- East Greenwich (Margaret Gravelle)
Crooms Hill was a wealthy street with a total of 34 properties mentioned in the hearth tax returns and 263 hearths, an average of 7.7 hearths per property, compared with an average of just over 4 hearths per property in the rest of East Greenwich.
Crooms/Combes Hill is an ancient road which runs from Greenwich centre up to the Roman Road and then on to Lee and Eltham. It winds up the west wall of Greenwich Park, and may be the oldest known road in London. The Celtic and Saxon origin of its name , ‘crom’ or ‘crum’, means crooked. At one time the southern end was called Heathgate Lane and there may have been a gate onto the Heath here. Heathgate House, which still stands at 66 could be the site of the gate.
In 1695 William III commissioned Samuel Travers to draw a map of East Greenwich so that the ‘diverse trespasses, encroachments and other abuses’ could be recorded and corrected. These had occurred as a result of the Commonwealth annexation of land in Greenwich Park which had belonged to the crown. Travers and his associates compiled a list of some 268 tenants, describing their holdings and listing the rent.
King James I had replaced the fence around the park with a 2 mile, 12 ft high brick wall, at a cost of £2,000. Much of the wall still exists. He gave the park and the palace that is now the Queen’s House, to his wife Anne of Denmark. In turn Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, spent much time there. In 1652, the Commonwealth requiring funds for their navy, the House of Commons resolved “that Greenwich House, park, and lands should be immediately sold for ready money”. However, although a survey was made, most of the land remained unsold and was eventually ‘appropriated’ by the Lord Protector as a residence. At the Restoration the grounds returned to the monarch, but by this time many of the buildings were in a poor state of repair and Charles II spent little time and less money on them. He ordered the building of a new palace, one wing of which was completed and this now forms part of the Old Royal Naval College.
James II proposed building a Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich although he did not see its completion. William, who was asthmatic, and Mary preferred their other residences to Greenwich and spent little time there, although Mary did oversee the completion of the palace as a hospital for disabled seamen. But lack of official oversight provided the opportunity for marginal land at the edge of the Park to be acquired without much opposition. As a consequence there were several properties which were ‘illegal’ constructions. In one of these Thornhill may have lodged when he was decorating the Painted Hall.
Much of the land was owned at one time by the courtier family of Compton but was acquired by Sir Thomas Lake (1561 – 1630). Sir Thomas, knighted by James I, had three sons, Arthur (died 1633),Thomas (died 1653) and Lancelot (1609 – 1680) who was knighted by Charles II. Sir Thomas may have lived in The Grange, (now 52) Crooms Hill, but also owned considerable land elsewhere. The Grange was once called “Paternoster Croft” and later “Grove House”. The house now looks 17th century but probably has a much older core – 18 inch timbers inside have been shown to be 12th century. The house is mentioned in a schedule of Ghent Abbey in 1281 and was restored in 1268.
Thomas Lake has been named as one of the first developers of the area. He was MP for Malmesbury and Lancelot, after a career tinged with scandal, became MP for Middlesex in 1660. However, by 1664 he is no longer named in the hearth tax returns. At this time The Grange was home to the Lanier family. They were a family of musicians.
Lanier’s family originally came from Rouen in France but, as Huguenots, fled to England due to the Protestant persecutions. The older Nicholas arrived in 1561 and served in Queen Elizabeth’s court. He married the daughter of another Italian musician, Anthony Bassano. They prospered and were able to buy property in Greenwich.
Their son, Jerome (1589 – 1659), had been a servant in the Tudor court. With the Civil War the family were all out of work, a fact which is referred to in Jerome’s will where he mentions his “poor little estate,” and were owed large sums of money by the crown. In lieu they were allowed to take some of the pictures originally owned by the crown but disposed of by Cromwell in order to raise money. These included a print of a portrait of Queen Elizabeth which John Evelyn mentions in his diary. The pictures were later restored to Charles II.
Nicholas’s grandson, or possibly nephew, Nicholas (1588 -1666) was baptised and buried in Greenwich. He was the son of John Lanier who was also a musician and composer and wrote music for some of the masques which were very popular at the time. Nicholas was the first to hold the title Master of the King’s Music and had his portrait painted by Van Dyck in 1628. It is said that, on the strength of this, he persuaded Charles I to invite Van Dyck to come to England. As an amateur painter himself Nicholas is said to have been responsible for advising the King on some of his purchases.
Mrs Mary Lanier, listed as having 5 hearths, died in 1676. She was unmarried, the title Mrs., at the time, not necessarily indicating married status. Contemporary paintings of Greenwich, such as that by Vorsterman (below), show a number of houses on Croom’s Hill. It is probable that number 16 and 18, which was originally one house, known as Lanier’s, and divided in 1780, was the home of one of the Lanier family. Thomas Lanier paid hearth tax on 8 hearths.
In 1664 The Grange, with 23 hearths, some of them very elaborate, was bought by Sir William Hooker (1612 – 1697)who was a wealthy city merchant and Sheriff of London, later to become Lord Mayor. He married twice, his first wife was Laetitia and on her death he married Susan(na) daughter of Sir Thomas Bendish. Hooker and his family were escaping the plague in central London and he appears to have enlarged the property, building stabling for eight horses and planting fruit orchards and a walnut tree court. Hooker also built a gazebo, probably designed by Robert Hooke, at the end of his garden, possibly so that he could look over the wall into the park. The gazebo still exists.
Pepys tells of an event in 1665 when Alderman Hooker, as he was then, prevailed upon him to allow a child who was the only survivor of a family in Gracious Street in London, to be taken to Greenwich for safety. Although later the same year Pepys describes Hooker as ‘a plain, ordinary, silly man, but rich’ and said he kept ‘the poorest mean dirty table in a dirty house that ever I did see any sheriff of London’.
Sir William Hooker made a number of bequests during his life, including providing an annuity for poor widows of Greenwich and an endowment to John Roan school. He owned property in Greenwich including ‘three tenements and gardens’ in Crooms Hill and some houses at the foot of the hill on the waste ground called ‘The Butts’. He also paid rent of £1.1s for land at the top of the hill on which he had ‘erected a house’ and had property in London Street.
Hooker was buried in his vault, now destroyed, at St Alfege and a handsome monument was placed in the south aisle, of white marble surmounted by a figure dressed in alderman’s robes. His portrait shows him wearing the robes and chain of office of a Lord Mayor of London.
There is some evidence that the house was almost completely demolished in 1784 and rebuilt two years later using some of the original materials.
Sir William Boreman ( 1612 – 1686) may also have lived, or lodged, at The Grange. He was Clerk Comptroller of the King’s Household and was largely responsible for overseeing the implementation of Le Notre’s design for Greenwich Park, for which he was paid £888. Le Notre probably never came to England despite his commission from Charles II in 1662, to redesign the park. In 1664 John Evelyn notes in his diary that elms were being planted in Greenwich Park.
After the death of Charles II Sir William was identified as having felled and sold timber from the park. ‘How the money arising thereby was accounted for or whether Sir William had any warrant for so doing…appears not.”
Sir William certainly had property in East Lane East where he is listed as having 11 hearths. In 1672 he founded a school, Greencoats, for the education, maintenance, and clothing of twenty poor boys of this parish; who are to be instructed in writing, accounts, and navigation, and in his will bequeathed this and surrounding land to the Drapers’ Company. This endowment, now worth £80,000 annually, still exists and supports young people in Greenwich. His will also provides evidence of his ownership of “All that upland and marsh land in East Greenwich which I bought of Sir Lancelot Lake now or late in the tenure or occupation of Thomas Patmore together with all those several parcels of land in Greenwich Marsh now occupied by Thomas Smith, John Borrell, John Heath. John Beris, Roger Raby, and Thomas Collins.” There are possible matches with hearth tax records only in the case of Thomas Smith (6 hearths in Dock and Taverne Row) and John Heath ( 3 hearths in High Street East). Boreman also owned the King’s Arms in East Lane. By 1709 the annual income from rents on properties in Greenwich alone amounted to £37.0.0. Sir William is buried in Greenwich churchyard.
Another large and distinctive house on Crooms Hill was that of Mark Cottell/Cottle, with 23 hearths. It is known to have existed in 1638 and was owned by the family between 1655 and 1719. Both Pepys and Evelyn visited the Cottles and admired the views from the roof where there was a distinctive turret. It was demolished in 1837.
Mark Cottell (died 1681)was a wealthy lawyer and Registrar of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. He also paid hearth tax on 10 hearths in St Bride’s Precinct and 4 hearths in St Gregory’s. According to Pepys he lived in a ‘very pretty house and a fine turret at the top and the finest prospect I know all about Greenwich’. It was called The Belvedere and had 23 hearths. On one occasion Pepys mentions a dinner he attended at the Cottell’s house where he was hoping ‘to get Mrs Knipp to us’, having written her a note signed Dapper Dicky, but she did not come and he had a ‘melancholy dinner’.
Mark Cottle (sic) married Frances Garrard in 1647. Cottell is listed in 1661 as Gentleman Pensioner in extraordinary. This was an honorary and ceremonial position with an annual salary of £100 p.a. As well as representing his clients Mark Cottell seems to have been litigious in his own right. He had a case brought against him by Mary Tempest who claimed that he had misappropriated a chest of ‘plate and jewels’ that was left in his care on her behalf.
Cottell owned other property in Greenwich including 9 houses on the east side of Crooms Hill (probably near Stockwell Street) on which he paid an annual rent of six pounds. He is recorded as having left considerable sums to charity including £40 to Greenwich alms houses or schools.
Heathgate House , which still stands, was built by William Smith in 1625. It was the home of the Mason family from 1634. Robert Mason had a chequered career. He trained as a civil lawyer and then in the early 1620s, became secretary to the King’s favourite, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. Mason stood for parliament in 1626 but failed to get elected. He was Chancellor to several Bishops of Winchester and Judge of the Admiralty Court on the Isle of Wight. In May 1643 he may have been attached to the Court at Oxford. During the Civil War, Robert Mason was a member of His Lordship’s regiment of horse. He was knighted in 1661 and married Judith Buckle of Banstead. They had at least two sons, Robert and Christopher and four daughters. He owned property around Greenwich, although John Evelyn in 1652, described the house as ‘wretched’. Robert died in 1662 in Bath where he had gone to ‘take the waters’. On inheriting, the younger Robert gambled away his fortune and the house had to be sold. Judith was permitted to live there by her son’s creditors until her death in 1675/6. Captain Christopher Mason, born about 1634, was commander of HMS Oxford. His commission was signed by Charles II and Samuel Pepys. Judith Mason paid tax on 29 hearths. She also had a sister or sister-in-law, Mary. In December 1667 the parish register records that ‘Mr Mason’s child died at Dr. Primrose’s.’
Primrose is an ancient Scottish family where they paid hearth tax, but there is no record of Francis. A Francis Primrose is recorded on Ancestry as having died in 1684, buried in St. Giles in the Field, Holborn and living in ‘Cromes Garden’. He was probably related to Frederick Primrose, doctor of ‘physick’, of East Greenwich. Frederick owned property including a barn, a garden and a wash-house in East Gate Street, but does not appear on the 1664 record.
Justice Abraham Harrison who was present at the trial of Titus Oates in 1685, is known to have lived in Crooms Hill. He is listed in rate books from 1703 but does not appear on the hearth tax records. The house, at the bottom of Crooms Hill, was earlier occupied by Sir Algernon May (died 1704) but his name does not appear on hearth tax records either.
Arthur Art may have been a haberdasher who died in 1685.
Stephen Boyer may have had a son, Stephen, baptised in 1661. There was a Stephen Bowyer who died and was buried in 1666.
A possible relation of Thomas Brewer, Dorothy Brewer, gifted a large silver baptismal bowl to St Alfege’s in 1708.
A Thomas Brimington had a son, Joseph, who was baptised in 1662.
A William Colson died in 1742 and was buried in Woolwich.
A butcher named Thomas Cooke died in 1666. He may have fathered a daughter in 1661.
John Culling may have been a son of Christopher. He married Martha Pearle in 1673.
A Richard Fisher, gardener, married Mary Brewer at St Alfege’s in June 1665. The burial of Richard Fisher’s wife is recorded in 1666.
Nathaniel Hilles was baptised at St Alphege’s in 1625. He may have been the same Nathaniel Hills who served as a Captain in Charles II army. By 1671 his widow is recorded as having paid hearth tax. John, Stephen and Thomas, all paid hearth tax on properties in East Greenwich.
In 1660 James Langrach/Langrick, mariner, of East Greenwich, married Elizabeth Phillipps, daughter of John, a tallow chandler. There is a record of a son, Percy and a daughter, Mary being baptised in 1664 and 1667. So the James Langrick who died in 1665 might have been their father.
Thomas Potter is recorded as having a son in 1661.
In 1665 a William Renolds married Elizabeth at St Alfege’s.
A Mrs. Rooper was buried in 1666.
A widow Rushin died in 1666. Zucary Ruthin (sic) is recorded in the 1641 tax records as paying a levy on a Crooms Hill property.
In 1666 Mathias Smyth was married by license in St. Alfege’s church or the record may refer to Mathew Smyth whohad a daughter Katherine in 62, another daughter, Mary, in 63 and a son, Roger, in 1664 and may have died in 1666.
There are a number of properties shown on the Travers map which were ‘encroachments’ and liable for rent. They include some waste land belonging to Charles Mason, two tenements belonging to William Hooker and a house and garden of Abraham Dry. The Dry family owned several properties around East Greenwich, including a cottage, one hearth, towards the top of Crooms Hill.
In 1695 a property was ‘encroached’ by George Scott but it had previously been the residence of Thomas Audry who died in 1650 but whose son, also Thomas, paid hearth tax on a house in High Street East. Thomas senior was a park keeper and tax collector. The Travers’ map also marks conduits of which the one at the top of Crooms Hill still exists.
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