Greenwich Hearth Tax: Sir Nicholas Crispe (1660-1667)

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.


  1. F.A. Crisp, Crisp Colls. Iv. 4-5; C.J. Feret, Fulham Old and New, iii. 68
  2. 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.
  3. “The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983.
  4. “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. 

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Greenwich Hearth Tax: Samuel Pepys, Greenwich and the Great Plague of 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, 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) 

The Plague 

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).

Towards 1666

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. 


  1. Claire Tomalin. Samuel Pepys. The Unequalled Self. Penguin books. 2002
  3. Samuel Pepys by John Hays 1666. National Portrait Gallery.
  4. The Great Plague in London 1665. Wikipedia 
  5. Table of monthly burials in Greenwich St Alfege 
  6. Elizabeth Pepys, engraving by John Thomson, after John Hays 1666.Wikipedia 
  7. The Old Greenwich Palace of 1630.Lunerium, Wikipedia  
  8. Archer, W. (2000) in Sheppard. A. Withington P, (eds.)Social Networks in Stuart London, Manchester University Press. 

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The Greenwich Hearth Tax: Billingsgate Street.

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.

Sources;  Documents 

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




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Greenwich Hearth Tax: Dock and Tavern Row

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 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).

Chadwick, Hamond, 14 hearths. Burials: Chadwick, Harman’s wife (5/1666) 

    Chadwick, Harman,in the church (8/1667)

 PCC will of Hamond Chadwick, vintner of East Greenwich, 1667, PROB 11/3234/466)  incl:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. Remainder to be divided
    1. Half to my son John Chadwick
    2. Half to my 3 daughters
      1. Martha Gray, wife of Richard Gray, mariner
      2. Margaret Lewis, late wife of Charles Lewis
      3. 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 

Thomas Edghill baptised 22 Sep 1663 St Alfege, father Adam Edghill. 

Adam Edgell baptised 7 Nov 1666 at St Alfege to father Adam Edgell.  

Ellis, John, 7 hearths.    In Aug 1650 Elizabeth, da of Jn Ellis, baptised at St Alfege. Bur Mrs Mary Ellis, da. Of Robert Ellis 12/1667.  

Everist, Mr. John, 5 hearths. (several John Everist born in Kent,  None in Greenwich.) There is a John Everitt born Greenwich 1637.  Both were names in 1660s) 

Gladman, Mr Thomas, 6 hearths.  Bur Richard Gladman and his da. Mary 6/1666.  Does hte  family later live in Deptford?  In 1700s butchers called Gladman in Deptford.

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 sonin-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):

At noon Commr. Pett and I by water to Greenwich  … waiting upon us a barber of Mr. Pett’s acquaintance that plays very well upon the violin.  

And:  ‘Golding, my barber at Greenwich, for our fiddler, to whom I did give 10s’

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.

Worrell, Mr. John (?vintner),14 Hearths Baptisms in St Alfege: Elizabeth, da of John Worrell, 31 Dec 1657, and John, son of John Worrell, 1659. In Webb’s book on apprentices (at LMO) John Worrell, ‘vintner’ took on Charles Broughton, son of James, as an apprentice in 1662. Amy, da of Mr Jn W, bur in church  (10/1663). Mr Worrall’s maid bur 11/1665. Mr Worrall’s youth bur 5/1666. Mr John Worral’s child Edward bur 5/1668.. Kent Marriage licences  WARTER John, of the Inner Temple, London, gent, bachelor, 40, and Jane WORRELL, of Greenwich, Kent, spinster, 26, – at Christchurch, London. 15 Nov 1687. PCC will for a John Worrell, ‘masters   mate’ of the Breda of Bermondsey 11/494/78, in April 1707 (likely to be someone else?).  In 1674 John Worrell is witness to the will of Mary Gunn PROB 11/347/74

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

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The Greenwich Hearth Tax: Crooms Hill.

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’sAccording 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. 

Sources;  Documents 

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




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The Greenwich Hearth Tax: High Street East and the King’s Barne.

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, Michael Zell and Jackie Davies investigate the people that lived in the High Street East and King’s Barn areas of Greenwich.

Greenwich, 1664: High Street East – either 68 or 69 households

(Michael Zell)

On the map below there is a yellow ring around the area which may be described in the Hearth Tax return as High Street East and West. The map comes from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, as can be seen from the watermark, and is available online:  is a link to the map made by Samuel Travers, Surveyor General in 1695, of the King’s lordship or manor of East Greenwich.   

The actual extent of High Street East (and West) – to which no fewer than 126 taxable households were assigned in the 1664 Hearth Tax assessment – is still not clear to me. In the 1695 map of the lordship of Greenwich it is labelled as High Street or Church Street; yet the 1664 Hearth Tax return has a separate ‘Church Wall’ to which it assigns 33 taxable households. ‘High Street’ doesn’t even appear in the 1746 Laroque map, which labels all that space as ‘Church Street’, all the way up to Stockwell Street. My guess is that most of that distance was known as High Street in 1664, in the rough proportion as the numbers of taxed households [126 to 33]. It was one of the wealthier roads in Greenwich – measured in terms of the proportion of houses with 3 or more hearths: more than 80% of households in Crooms Hill had 3 or more hearths; in East Lane West it was 78.5%, next was Dock and Tavern Row (74%); then East Lane East (67%), and finally High Street East with 59% having 3 or more hearths.  But such descriptions of Greenwich roads as ‘wealthy’ or ‘poor’ rest on weak foundations. We don’t know in which roads the 96 not chargeable households were located; nor do we know the location of the 39 empty but chargeable households (only 4 of those 39 had fewer than 3 hearths).

The two parts of the ‘High Street’ constituted the most populous road in Greenwich – as counted by the hearth tax collectors in 1664; followed by East Lane (East & West) with 100 taxed households. 

High Street East:

Mean household size = 3.8 hearths Median = 3 hearths

% of houses with 3 or more hearths = 59% (40/68)

% of houses with 4 or more hearths = 41% (28/68)

Houses with 8 or more hearths = 4

Houses with 6 or more hearths = 17

Houses with 5 or more hearths = 21

Houses with 1 hearth = 2

Houses with 2 hearths = 26

% of female headed households = 13% (9/68)

Here are the taxable householders:

Allen, John, 2 hearths [Jn, son of Jn A bap. May 1665; earlier bap of a Jn, son Jn A, bap at G, 1638; another Jn A in Kings Barn, with 5 hearths; a Jn A marr Mary Clark in G, 1652; a Jn A, joiner, marr Bridget Boreman alias Jones, in G, 1662]

Audry, Thomas, 3 [a Thos Audry bap in Whitechapel, 1622; Thos, son of Thos A, bap 12/1662 and da Kath bap 3/1665]

Ball, Richard, 2. [?relative of Eliz Ball, in Dock & Tavern Row; bap of Ric, son of Ric B, in G, 10/1660; Edm, son of Ric, bap 10/1663; bur of ‘widow Ball’, 11/1666; bur of Ric Ball’s mother, 4/1670]

Barney, Joan, 2 [in transcript there are 2 entries for Joan Barney, both w/2 hearths; no baptisms; a Hen B bur 8/1661]

Bates, Roger, 6 [Petty constable in 1664 Hearth Tax; bap of Jas, son of Roger B, 1/1663;  of da Mary, bap 10/1665; of da Eliz, bap 1/1668;  – Bates bur 1/1666; a ‘Robt’ Bates bur. 12/1666]

Beaman, Henry, 2 [Ann, da of Hen B, bap 5/1667; Hen, son of Hen Beaman, bur Greenwich, 1656]

Beckley, Thomas, 3 [da Letitia bap. 7/1661; da Mary bap. 10/1663; son Thos bap 11/1666; a Thos B bur in G, 5/1669]

Bines, John, 1 [Isaac, son of John Byne of G, cordwainer, bound to Andrew Robinson, vintner, Feb 1664, in Cliff Webb, London Livery Co Apprenticeship Registers; Wm Bines of G, waterman marr Susannah Callaway, Feb. 1664; no baptisms]

Blundell, Ralph, 3  [Ralph B was a churchwarden of G in 1679; his kinsman, John B, lived in High Street West, 4 hearths; neither the 1653 will of Mary Blundell, wid of Greenwich (PROB 11/227/34), nor the 1655 will of John Blundell, gent of Greenwich (PROB 11/247/601) mention this Ralph B. Parish register entries for Ralph B: he marr Ann Baker in G, 8/1655; bap of Ralph, son of Ralph B, 3/1657, but bur 4/1658; baps of da Mary, 1/1661; son Wm  6/1663; son Ralph 1/1665; da Mary 7/1666; son Thos 2/1668; da Kath 4/1669;  ‘a maid at Ralph Blundell’s bur. 9/1669; Ralph B marr Ann Baker, in G, 8/1665; bap of Ralph, son of Ralph B, 3/1657, but bur 4/1658; later 2 das of Ralph B were bur in 1678 and 1679 and a son Thos bur in 1679. A Ralph B was bur in Woolwich, in May 1704, and a Mr Ralph B, ‘grocer’ was bur in G in Feb 1704, but neither of these may be our Ralph B.]

Bretian, George, 2  [?try Britain??] [‘Goodman Brittaine’ bur 7/1676]

Brierton, Mr James, 5 [Marr of Jas Bryerton of G to Susannah Bates of G, Jan 1663;   Eliz, da of Jas B, bap 12/1663; ‘a child from Jas Bryerton’s’ bur. 11/1665]

Bunce, Sir James, 12. [Sheriff of London, 1643-4; but discharged in1649 as a royalist. His lands may have been confiscated by the Republic, but were restored in 1660, and he was knighted. Gent of Privy Chamber, 1667; and Bt. He was well known to Samuel Pepys, who he chided in1665 for his former attachment to the Cromwellian regime (diary 15/12/1665). Son of Jas, MP London 1628; no children of Jas B bap in Greenwich, but PCC will refers to his sons Jn and Steph. He died in 1670 in the house of a friend, Fabian Phillipps, Esq, in Middx. Nuncupative will just names son Jn and Phillipps as execs. He was ‘of Greenwich’, and died of ‘the sickness’. PROB 11/344/361, will proved 1674. In 1670s a Dr Bunce, physician, lived in G: a child of his was bur in 1678]

Chapman, Margaret, 4 [bap of Eliz, da of Hen C, 8/1661; and of Hen, son of Hen, 2/1664; bur of 2 Hen Chapmans –  6/1666 and  11/1667; bur of a ‘Mrs Chapman’, 4/1665; and of ‘widow Chapman’, of Queen’s College, 4/1669]

Cheese, William, 2 [bap of Wm, son of Wm, 3/1663; of da Ann, 4/1666; of da   Millicent, 10/1668; bur of son Edw, 7/1673]

Clarriage, John, 6 [Jn Claridg of G, ‘glazier’ marr Ann Lewis at G, May 1661; but no     baptisms for a Claridge in G, 1661-9; burial of Jn Claridge’s wife in 8/1661 in G, and of Jn C in 12/1668; another Jn C bur 10/1673]

Elton, Anthony, 2  [Baps of And, son of Ant, 6/1661; of da Eliz, 12/1664; of son Wm, 7/1667; of da Joan, 9/1669]

Fiffee, Mr David, 10  [Bur of Mr David Fiffee, 10/1670, ‘in the church’. Nothing else in G; it’s a mystery who he is. There’s a bap of a David, son of David Fiffe, in Whitechapel, London, Feb 1677; a David Fife bur in Shadwell, Middx, Sept 1686; other Fifes in London area]

Firebarne, Robert, 2 [Drawn a complete blank on this man. He doesn’t turn up in Greenwich registers] Should I be looking at Fairbarnes?

Fisher, William, 6 [baps of das Fras, 7/1661 and Martha, 7/1666; a Wm Fisher bur 4/1669 in G; baps to both a John and Ric F in Greenwich]

Fortune, Thomas, 2  [Bap of  Wm, son of Thos F, 2/1655; bap of Thos, son of      Thos F, 1/1657; bur 1658; baps of another son Wm, 11/1662; of son Thos, 8/1665; marr to a Joyce Bridges, 4/1656, in G; bur of a Thos F in G, 8/1690]

Franck, Mr Thomas, 4 [Two of Mr Frank’s scholars bur in Greenwich, 7/1666; baps only of children of a Hen Franke; Mr Hen F, gent, marr Ann Needum, 8/1663]

French, John, 2  [Bap of a Jn F in Deptford, Aug 1646, son of Wm F; also bap of Jn

    F, son of Jn F, in G, 1658; bap of Eliz, da of Jn F, 10/1663]

Fuller, Jn, 2 [Jn Fuller, ‘mercer of G’, was a wealthy man when he died in 1678. His will (PROB 11/357/422) asks that he be buried in Greenwich churchyard ‘as near to the bodies of my first wife and my brother ‘[Geo F] ‘as conveniently may be’. He held property in St Clements Danes [London] , left to his eldest son Jn; a messuage and lands in Westerham, Kent, left to younger sons Geo & Thos; and dwelling messuage in G, left to 2nd wife Ann, on condition that she pays £150 to son Jn at age 21. Wife is sole executrix, and must pay £200 portions to Jn’s 5 das. Earlier will of Geo Fuller of G, chandler (1660: PROB 11/300/427), refers to brother Jn. Jn F had children bap in G in 1660s: da Eliz, 9/1661; a  child, bap 1/1663; son Ant, 5/1664; da Ann, 1/1668; da Sarah, 1/1669; bur of a Thos F in G, 6/1665; bur of Eliz, (first) wife of Jn F, 7/1665]. One might not guess at Fuller’s prosperity on the basis of his 2 hearth house of 1664.

Gardner, Avery, 5 [1695 case shows Thos Wigsell holding lands late Avery

Gardner’s: Kimbell, item nos. 190, 234; bur of ‘Goody’ Gardiner, 9/1666; bur of Mr Jn Gardiner’s man, 9/1661, and of a ‘poor man’ from Avery G’s, 5/1674; bur of a da of Avery G, 7/1665, and of a ‘child’ of Avery G, 9/1677]

Garrett, William, 4 [Bap of son Gabriel, 1/1665; of da Mary, 8/1668; Bur of Wm Garret in G, 6/1668; bur of ‘Goodman Garret’s wife’, 9/1665] 

Goding, Robert, 2 [no baps, 1661-9; bur of a Robt ‘Goddin’ in G, 5/1667; bur of Jane, wife of Wm Gooding, 3/1666]

Groves, Mrs Sarah, 5  [no baps, 1661-9; bur of ‘Mrs Groves’, in G, 7/1669]

Hart, John, 2 [bap of Fras, son of Jn H, gardener, 6/1661; bap of da Mary, 1/1664; bur of Jn H’s wife, 5/1664; bur of Thos H’s wife, 8/1664]

Heath, John, 3  [no baptisms, 1661-9]

Higgeson, Mr Francis, 6  [no baptisms, 1661-9; ?relation to Col. Humph Higginson, with 3 children bap in G, 1662-5

Holland, Robert, 4  [Not exactly clear who this Robt H was. A 1653 PCC will (PROB 11/230/646) of an older Robt H brings out the strong ties betw Greenwich and London: that Robt H called himself ‘of Greenwich’ as well as ‘Citizen and Ironmonger of London’, and asked to be buried in Greenwich church, next to his wife. He refers to a younger brother Ric H, and his exec was his son Ric H. Refers to a ‘kinsman’ Robt H, and left £3 to Greenwich poor. There were no baps in G, 1661-9 for Robt H, but see bap of a child of Jn H, in G, 2/1667]

Lambert, Capt James, 8. [Lambert was killed in action, 1665; had been Capt of D of York’s yacht, 1662; his will, as ‘mariner of Greenwich’, was written in1664, as he set off on a voyage for the King, and ‘not knowing how God will dispose of him’.  The will (PROB 11/317/634, proved Sept 1665) refers to his 3 unmarried das, to whom he left several shares of named ships, and his wife Mary, who was left the revenues coming from Crown Quay, a wharf at Milton next Sittingbourne, Kent. Execs were to be Lambert’s wife and his friend, Mr Ric Raynes of G. Lambert knew Pepys. G register records bap of Barbara, da of Capt Jas L, 3/1662; a da of Mr Thos Lambert, bur 10/1662]

Lord, Margaret, 6 [no Lord baps in G, 1661-9; a Jas L marr Eliz Stephens, wid,10/1659]

Marshall, Edward, 2 [bap of da Kath, 11/1661; wife of a Geo M, bur 11/1666 in G]

Marshall, William, 2 [no baps for a Wm M, 1661-9; but for children of Edw, Geo, Phil and Robt M in G, 1661-9]

Marten, Elizabeth, 2  [baps for Eliz and Jn, children of Jn M, 1666, 1669]

Maruin, Sarah, 2 [Bur of ‘Mrs Maruin’, 2/1665, ‘in the church’; bap of Sarah, da of 

   Thos Maruin at St Kath by the Tower, July 1642]

Mowe, John, 4 [Bap of Jn, son of Thos Mew, at G, Dec 1635; bap of Amy, da of Jn Mowe, 12/1661; of Jas, son of Jn, 3/1666; of Eliz, da of Jn, 11/1667; PCC will for

    Jn Mew, mariner of St Olave,1687; occasionally written Mew instead of Mowe]

Mowe, John, jun, 2 [no identified baps, 1661-9]

Muckleston, Hugh, 4 [bap of son Jn, 7/1668; of da Mary, 9/1669; bur of child of Hugh M, 7/1673]

Nicholas, Thomas, 2 [no baps for a Nicholas, 1661-9]

Patteson, Thomas, 3 [?son of Jn Patteson, vintner in G, who took Edw Domelaw as 

     apprentice in 1646/7 (Webb, p. 89). Bap of Avery, son of Thos P, 8/1662; of da Susan, 1/1664]

Peacock, Robert, 1 [a Jn Peacock had 5 children bap in G, 1662-1668]

Phillips, John, 7 [Bap of Joseph, son of Jn P, 3/1668; bur ‘in the church’, 1/1672; Will for Jn Phillips of G, tallow chandler, proved 1672 (PROB 11/338/328): leaves a house in G, rented out, to wife Mary. Sons Thos, Jn (£5) and Wm (£50), and das Eliz and Mary ‘Langrack’ (£5 each); Wife and son Thos = execs. Witness: Edw Turner.  N.B another Jn Phillips in 2 hearth house in Fisher Lane; a ‘widow Phillips bur 1/1669, and a ‘child of Jn Phillips’ bur 12/1677]

Phillips, Richard, 3 [no baps for a Ric P, 1661-9; a ‘widow Phillips’ bur in G in 1/1669]

Pitcher, John, 3  [no baps, 1661-9; a Robt P had 4 baps betw 1661-1668; a Robt P bur in 4/1668]

Ratford, William, 2 [a Fras Ratford, wid of G, married Jn Clements of G, mariner, in G, Sept 1664; a Chas ‘Radford’ bur in G in 1/1664]

Ratford, William, 3 [no Ratford baps 1661-9 in Greenwich]

Richardson, William, 3 [Bur Sept 1678 as apothecary and churchwarden; PCC will (PROB 11/357/492) as Wm R, apothecary of G, 1678: exec = wife Kath R; to da Eliz Hide, £50 plus reversion of all lands; to Greenwich poor, £5; refers to brothers Joseph & Matt R; brother-in-law Jn Abram; to Mary, da of Ric Smyth, £5; to sister Mary Phillips, £2; no Richardson baps 1661-9; he was involved in setting up Jn Roane school in 1677]

Rickman, Edward, 2  [Bap of Edw, son of Edw R, at Greenwich, 1641; 2 das of an Edw R bap in G, 9/1667 and 12/1668; Edw R, brickmaker, marr Eliz Davison, 6/1666; bur of ‘child’ of Edw R in 8/1675 and 10/1675; Eliz, da of Edw R bur 8/1680]

Robertson, Andrew, 3 [no Robertson baps in G, 1661-9; but an Andrew ‘Robinson’ had children bap in G, 11/1661, 1/1663, 3/1664, 3/1666, 2/1667 and 3/1668]

Robertson, Margaret, 5

Rochford, Mr John, 6  [a Jas R bur in G in 3/1662; no Roachford baps, 1661-9]

Ryly, Nathaniel, 6 [Bap of Jn, son of Nath R at G in 3/1642, and bap of Mary, da of Nath Ryly, 3/1659 in G; but no Ryly baps, 1661-9; bur of Wm R in 9/1667 and Jn R in 11/1667]

Saltmarsh, Mr Edward, 3 [no Saltmarsh baps, 1661-9]

Silstall, William, 2 [no Silstall baps, 1661-9]

Silverside, Thomas, 2 [Bap of 2 das of a Thos S, in G, in Oct 1637 and Aug 1641; no baps in G, 1661-9]

Sims, Francis, 2  [Bap of Rachel, da of Fras Sims, in G, Aug 1654; of da Eliz, 5/1661]

Smyth, William, 2  [bap of Wm, son of Wm S, 1/1669; many other Smyth baps; bur of a Wm Smyth’s wife in G in 7/1667; a ‘Wm Smyth’ bur 12/1677, but there were several of them. See also Wm Smyth w/10 hearth house in Dock & Tavern Row, and who owned Blue Boar tavern in 1668]

Swann, Humphrey, 3 [no Swann baps in G, 1661-9; bur of Humph S’s wife in G, 7/1666; may be churchwarden, and involved w/John Roane school]

Tarsell, Mr James, 7 [Bap of son Thos, 6/1664; of da Mary, 2/1668; Bur of Thos, son of Mr Tarsell, in the church, 3/1665; bur of the wife of Mr Jas T, 2/1668; bur of Mary T, in the church, 7/1667]

Thompson, William, 2  [bur of a Mrs Tompson, 11/1669; baps of 3 children of Ric T, 1663-1668]

Turner, Mr Edward, 11 [Bap and bur of Edw, son of Edw Turner, in G, 1654 & 1655; Edw Turner was witness to will of Thos Smyth in 1671 (PROB11/337/230) and will of Jn Phillips,1671 (PROB 11/338/328);  bur of Mr Edw T, 5/1672. Three baps for a Jn T, 1662-1665]

Upchurch, Henry, 6 [Bap of son Joseph, 11/1665; of son Hen, 1/1668; of da Sarah, 7/1669; marriage of Hen U in Greenwich, Oct 1666, to Sarah Churchman; Hen U married Edy Canton, in G, March 1664; bur of Hen U, sen, in 3/1667; called ‘cordwainer’ in 1666 marriage entry]

Webby, Richard, 7  [No baps for a Webby, 1661-9; baps for children of Jn and Wm Webbe in 1661-9; bur of a Mr Chas Webb, in the church, 4/1665]

Wethers, Elinor, 4 [Many Wethers living and marrying in Deptford, 1640s-50s; also

    a Hen Withers w/da bap in G, 1659; a Robt Withers w/da bap in G, 1654; and a Humph Withers w/da bap in G in 6/1661; wife of Humph Withers bur  9/1661

Whinnard [Whinyard], Elinor, 1 [In 1620s-1630s several children bap in Greenwich, of fathers Ric and Thos Whyniard of G; but not an Elinor. Bap of a da and a son of Ric Whinyard in G, in 1662 and 1667; bur of Ric Whinyard in 4/1665; and Wm Whinyard in 12/1669. NB Thos Whinard was exempt in a 2 hearth house]

Wood, John, 6 [Note: baps of children of a Ric Wood in G in 1661, 1664 & 1665; ?bur of a Jn Wood in G, 2/1669; and another in 12/1690] 

King’s Barne (Jackie Davies) 

Items from Travers 1695 survey referencing to the King’s Barns

51 George Creed  holdeth three messuages, new build, and a toft of waste land against
the King’s barns, late Smith’s, having the land of widow Beller’s west, north, and south,
and the waste against the King’s barns east and payeth yearly ……………………………………. 0 0 2

68 Samuel Willson holdeth six tenements and — acres of garden ground, have the
Ship Tavern north, Friars Road East, the King’s Barns west, Long Turnpin Lane
south and payeth yearly …………………………………………………………………………………………. 0 0 9

69 …. Bellers, widow, holdeth divers tenements, late Thomas Smith’s,  having the land
of Jonah Dodsworth north, Turnpin Lane south, the King’s Barns east, Church Street
west and payeth yearly ……………………………………………………………………………………………0 0 4

A George Creed is listed on London Street in 1664, the late Thomas Smith referred to in 51 could be Captain Thomas Smith 4 hearths The King’s Barne.  There is a (nuncupative) will for a fisherman in East Greenwich called Thomas Smith died 1665 and left a will. 

 Smyth, Thomas, Captain 4 hearths     

Elizabeth, daughter of Captain Thomas Smyth was baptised in 1663. There is a PCC will for a Thomas 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.  There are two Thomas Smith.  Captain in KB and Mr in D&T.  The wills are for a fisherman and a butcher. The fisherman is more likely to be ‘Captain’.  

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 the burials transcribed by MZ there is a reference to Thomas Smith’s wife in 10/1665, but none to Thomas 

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, Joseph, Mr.  4 Hearths  

Amongst the Travers 1695 items are:    

67 —- Peachey holdeth — acres of land with their appurtenances, late Joseph Smith’s
bounded on the south by the highway, next the park wall, on the north by the long
Turnpin Lane, East by Friars Road, and west by the Back Lane, alias King Street and
payeth yearly  ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 0 0 7 ½ 

Foster, Thomas,  1 hearth 

Underneath the items in Travers 1695 survey, on page 210 in Kimbell, is a heading ‘ The Manor, or Reputed Manor of the Old Courts’   In this section is a reference to Thomas Foster. 

Two tenements, consisting of about five or six rooms, adjoining at the east end of the aforesaid messuage or parsonage house: formerly in the occupation of John Browne and Thomas Foster, now in the possession of John Willbee

Burials with the name Foster include 

Foster, Dan  (9/1666)

Foster, Mary, Thos Foster’s sister  (01/1664)

Foster, widow  (7/1666)

Foster: ‘the Lady F from East Lane’  (11/1665)

Stewart, Ric, ‘a nurse child’ with Eliz Foster (12/1678)

Willoby, Thomas 2 hearths,  John Willbee mentioned above could be related to Thomas Willoby.  There is a burial for Jn Wilby’s wife 08/1662, and also for Rick Wilbie 11/1668. John Boreman’s will in 1684 leaves tenements to his wife Margaret, including 1 tenement now or late in the occupation of Colonel Wilbys. Wm Willoughby is mentioned in later documents. 

Malum, Richard,  8 hearths Mallum: ‘Mrs Mallum’s child, in the church’ (9/1666)

Pitcher, John, 2 hearths John Pitcher bap St Nicholas 1/1621.  Only burial at St Alfege: Robt Pitchar (4/1668)

Bap for John Pitcher, Greenwich :  St Nicholas     (01/1621)  

Burials for Pitch* at St Alfege       :  Pitchar, Robt  (04/1668)

John Pitcher is mentioned several times in Kimbell. There seems to be a John Pitcher and a John Pitcher Senior in 1695.  The 1664 JP is likely to be the senior

238 John Pitcher, Sen, holdeth two messuages and gardens, having the lands
of Sir William Hooker north and west , the highway east and payeth yearly          0 0 7

In 1691 John Pitcher is named as a feoffee on William Hooker’s annuity deed for poor widows of Greenwich.  (p 122 of Kimbell)

Waterman, John, 2 hearths. John Waterman bur. 8/1666

Allin, John, Mr., 5 hearths   June 1652, John Allin marries at St Alfege to Mary Clarke.  August 1662 John Allin (Joiner) married to Bridgett Boreman, alias Jones at the same parish, spinster. at St Alfege, Greenwich.     MZ suggests that Allin and Allen are interchangeable and the John Allen 3 hearths.

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The Hearth Tax and Church Wall, East Greenwich.

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, Carolyn Heathcote shows continuity in the exempt status of some people living in the Church Wall area of East Greenwich and finds references in the parish registers to people possibly connected with those living in Church Wall (who were listed in the hearth tax return).

Greenwich and Maidstone editions  1664 (Carolyn Heathcote)  

One of our first thoughts when taking on this project was to see whether the Hearth Tax returns for Greenwich contained any further information apart from the householders’ names and the number of hearths they owned. We were aware that in some areas the tax collectors had added information to their lists e.g. giving details of how some people reacted to being asked to pay this tax. Visits were therefore paid to the National Archives in Kew which holds a copy of the Kent Hearth Tax and to Maidstone to the Kent History and Library Centre which also had its own copy. The Greenwich Hearth Tax returns at Kew are in reasonable condition but vary as to how readable they are.  Church Wall is quite readable but when the same section of the tax in the Maidstone edition is compared with the Kew version one can see the difference. Unfortunately none of the tax collectors remarks have been recorded in Greenwich so no additional information was available. However there is another document at the National Archives E179 which is a list from Lady Day 1674 of those exempt the tax for various reasons. This document is more difficult to read as it is not in such good condition but we have transcribed this list to the best of our abilities. Many of those who are “non chargeable” are widows and the beginning of the document sets out the parameters for those who are to be exempted from the tax (see below).

Church Wall returns compared:


It was signed off on Lady Day 1674 by:                    

Thos. Plume vicar

John Wotton     ) Church

Tho. Sands       ) wardens

Although the second document is ten years later, some names which were in the East Greenwich 1664 non-chargeable list do recur in the 1674 list

Nani Cooke wid may be the relict of Thomas Cooke – now with only one hearth

Mary Dyer may be the same as Widdow Dyer but again with only one hearth

Elizth Benet wid may be the relict of Richard Bennett but with only one hearth

Ann Rogers wid with two hearths may be the relict of John Rogers who also had 2 hearths

Widd Wood with one hearth could be the same person as Susann Wood widd who had two hearths but there is also Jane Wood who had only one hearth in 1664

Wido Ffoster with one hearth could be the relict of Thomas Foster who had two hearths

Widd Jones with one hearth could be the relict of John Jones who had two hearths

Widd Lyon with one hearth could be the relict of Ralph Lyon who had two hearths

Widd Epsom with one hearth could be the relict of Thomas Epsome who had two hearths

Thomas Edwards with one hearth may be the son of Henry Edwards who also had one hearth

Jone Tomlin wid with one hearth may be the relict of Richard Tomling who also had one hearth

Katteryn Mattew with one hearth could be the relict of Edward Mathewes who had two hearths

Simon Ward with one hearth could be the son of Thomas Ward who had two hearths

Rich Hollaman with one hearth could be the same person as Richard Holliman who had two hearths

Widd Phillips with one hearth might be the same person as Joane Phillips with two hearths but it does not say the latter is a widow

Similarly Widd Simons with two hearths could be the same person as Jane Sim(m)ons with two hearths

John Green with two hearths could be the son of Robert Greene who also had two hearths

Mary /Glover wid with one hearth could be the relict of Lancelott Glover who had two hearths


It has not been possible to find a map giving the exact location of Church Wall but it must have been part of what was later described as Church Street. The following maps indicate that there were some buildings quite close to the church.

A survey of the Kings lordship or manor of East Greenwich  – Travers Map of 1695

Some of the houses must have been quite substantial given the number of hearths. Mr William Champlin had 12 hearths, Mr Francis August 10, Mrs Elizabeth Stacy wid and Mr John Bright both had 8 whilst Mr Richard Thomas had 6.  Of the remaining inhabitants:-

 5 had 5 hearths, 2 had 4 hearths, 5 had 3 hearths, 13 had 2 hearths and 3 had only one hearth.

It has been possible to find references in the parish registers to people possibly connected with all those living in Church Wall. Of the 33 householders only two were women – Mrs Elizabeth Stacy and Dorothy Partington – both were widows but neither apparently left any will giving details of their families or circumstances. 


August Francis Mr. (10 hearths) Marriage of Francis August (b) and Sarah Smith (s) St James, Duke’s Place, 8 January 1690/91 There are burials in St. Alfege, Greenwich in September 1668 for Francis August and Mrs. August and burials in the chancel of the church in September 1669 for both Francis and Mrs. August

Baker Thomas (2 hearths) There is a marriage of a Thomas Baker (Mariner –  residence Dover) to a Jane Mannoring at St. Alfege in Greenwich on 12 September 1660 and a will for a Thomas Baker  of East Greenwich who is a Basketmaker proved in 1687in Rochester Archdeaconry Court (Refs Dra/Pwr 2.47 and Dra/Pw 5)

Benton John (2 hearths) There is a burial of a John Bentons in St. Alfege, Greenwich on 15 May 1672

Blesset Mark (senr) (3 hearths)  Marke Blisset the son of Marke Blisset was baptised in Greenwich on 18  July 1659; the will of Mark Blisset, gardener resident in Greenwich was proved in the Rochester Consistery Court in 1679 (Refs. DRb/Pwr 25.371 and DRb/Pw 37)

Black John (2 hearths) There is a baptism of a John Black, son of John Black in St.Alfege, Greenwich on 25 December 1646

Bright John Mr. (8 hearths) There is a Mr. John Bright buried in St. Nicholas, Deptford on 14th March1670 which would seem to be likely to be the one with a residence in Church Wall but although there are more Brights in Southwark it is not possible to tie these in with the Greenwich Bright.

Buttler Robert (2 hearths) There is a burial of a Robert Buttler, son of Robert Buttler on 10 January 1685/6 at St. Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey. There is also a marriage of a Robert Buttler to Edith Bennett in the same church on 14 April 1617 but whether these are the Buttlers with hearths is Greenwich is questionable.

Champlin William Mr. (12 hearths) There is a William Champlin  hisabandman buried in Boughton-under-Beane in Kent ion 21 April 1668

Coales William (3 hearths)  William Coale, a potter was buried in St. Alfege on March 1st 1665

Dawes John (5 hearths) There is a Jane Dawes, the daughter of John Dawes, baptised in St. Alfege, Greenwich on 5th December 1664, born the 23rd November and the burial of Dawes, Jn, son of John Dawes mariner in September 1678 plus the burial of a John Dawes on 10th February 1679 and another on 21st  July 1679

Delton James (2 hearths)  James the son of James Delton was baptised on 19th April 1657 in St. Alfege, Greenwich and there is a burial of a Jone Delton on 4th April 1679.(wife of James?)

Dry Abraham (3 hearths) Abraham Drye, the son of Abraham Drye was baptised on 14 December 1651 and Rebeccah Drye the daughter of Abraham Drye was haptised on19 April 1657 in St. Alfege, Greenwich

Notes from Marine Lives on Abraham Dry

ï  Abraham Dry. Possibly Abraham Dry (b. ?, d. ca. 1700), gardener (PROB 5/1216 DRY, Abraham, sen, of Greenwich, Kent, gardener (account only) [Administration act: PROB 6/76] 1700; plus PROB 5/1217, PROB 5/1218, PROB 5/1219, PROB 5/1220, and PROB 5/2914 (all dated 1700); ‘Lease of a tenement in Churchfields, East Greenwich, late in the occupation of Abraham Dry, gardener (Includes a coloured plan showing the garden ground and ‘Captain Stratton’s House’),’ LMA/4442/01/01/02/009 1747 – 1764; ‘Counterpart lease of a tenement and garden in Brooks Marsh, Churchfields, East Greenwich, formerly in the occupation of Abraham Dry, junior,’ LMA/4442/01/01/02/010 1746; LMA: PAPERS MARKED ‘USELESS’ AND ORIGINALLY NUMBERED ‘ROAN C’ IN 1780 LMA/4442/01/01/03 [n.d.]: Draft notes concerning the leases of Mr Dry alias Drye, Thomas Phillips and Joseph Hatch LMA/4442/01/01/03/005 1679) 

Ellot John (5 hearths) There is a marriage for a John Elliott in February 1665 in St. Nicholas Deptford to a Margrett (no surname given) and a burial for a John Ellett on 27 September 1665 in St. Alfege, Greenwich which says he is from Deptford  plus a further burial in St. Alfege of a John Ellot at Deptford Bridge on 31st December 1667.and another marriage for a John Eliot on 9 July 1674 in St. Mary Magdalene, Woolwich to a Dorcas Wright. It is not possible to say how these relate to each other.

Foster Thomas – (1 hearth) There is a Thomas Foster, the son of Thomas Ffoster baptised on 9 October 1656 in St. Alfege, Greenwich and a further son Thomas Foster, baptised on 23 March 1662 in St. Alfege, Greenwich. There is also a burial of Mary Foster, the sister of Thos. Foster in January 1664

George Jeremy (2 hearths) A Jeremiah George got married on 27 May 1662 to Mary Bedford in St. Giles, Camberwell, Southwark and there is a burial in St. Alfege on 13th June 1665 of Jeremy George’s wife

Hatree Thomas (5 hearths)  There is a marriage for a Thomas Hatree and Hannah Russell in February 1665 at St. Nicholas, Deptford and a burial of a Thomas Hatree on 14th April 1671 in St. Nicholas, Deptford plus a will for a Thomas Hawtree dated 10th April 1671 although this was not proved (in accordance with his wishes) until  January 1674 .In this will be mentions his sons Thomas Hawtree, John Hawtree, William Hawtree and his daughters Jone Higgins, Ellen Crispp (?), Mary Mitchell, Jane Greene and  Mary Hawtree and his wife Mary Hawtree. There is also a baptism of a son Thomas to Thomas Hatree baptised on 22nd March 1667/8 (presumably the one who got married in 1665).

Hinsbey William (2 hearths) There is a baptism of an Ann Hinsbey the daughter of John Hinsbey in May 1663 in St.Alfege, Greenwich

Hollyman John (1 hearth) There is a burial of a Jone(?) Holliman on 21st September 1664 in St. Nicholas Deptford

Lock William (2 hearths) There is a Mr William Lock getting married to Mary Michell in February 1664 in St. Giles Camberwell but this seems unlikely to be the one registered for Hearth Tax in Greenwich.

Morris Henry (5 hearths) There is a son Henry son of Henery Meris baptised in St. Alfege, Greenwich on 17th October 1647

Ogam William (4 hearths)  Will Ougham is married to Elizabeth Backford on 2nd June 1656 at St. Alfege, Greenwich and a son William is christened in the same church on 8th November 1657

Page John (5 hearths)  There is a marriage for a John Page to Ruth Browne on 28th April 1638 at St. Nicholas, Deptford and a PCC will for a John Page or Deptford on 1st July 1674 (in Latin!) and  a London Apprenticeship for a Richard Page, son of John Page of Deptford  shipwright, (deceased) in 1692

Partington Dorothy (wid) (2 hearths) Hannah Partington, the daughter of John Partington was haptised on 3rd January 1654 in St. Alfege, Greenwich 

Priddeth Barnabus (3 hearths) Barnaass Preedeth was married to Joanna Jackson on 3rd November 1631 in St. Alfege, Greenwich and a Barnaby Predeth was buried on 10th March 1667/68 in St. Alfege, Greenwich

Sparkes Thomas (2 hearths)  There is a baptism of a Thomas Sparkes, the son of Thomas Sparkes on 24th July 1625 in Greenwich and a marriage of a Thomas Sparkes to Susan Chapman on 17th  February 1651 in Greenwich, plus the baptism of Thomas Sparkes, the son of Thomas Sparkes in Greenwich on 3rd April 1653.There also appears to be the burial of Thomas Sparkes on 5th September 1665 and of Thomas Sparkes child on 27th September 1665

Stacy (Mrs) Elizabeth wid (8 hearths) ~There is a marriage of a William Stacy to a Sarah Hill on 17th October 1665 in St. Nicholas, Deptford and the burial of an Elizabeth Stacy on 3rd September 1668 the daughter of William Stacy iin St. Nicholas Deptford. This latter might be the granddaughter of the Mrs Elizabeth Stacy but there is little information about Mrs Stacy despite her having a house with 8 hearths.

Thomas Richard (6 hearths) Richard Thomas married Margarett Kibbell on the 11th February 1640 in St. Alfege, Greenwich and baptised a son Richard on 20th September 1640 which might indicate that it was a “shotgun” wedding”!

Whitehead John (2 hearths) A John Whitehead married Mary Harts in St. Nicholas Deptford on 27th October 1655 and a son John Whitehead was baptised in St. Alfege, Greenwich on 20th May 1658 and a John Whitehead married Mary Whitehead on 28th October 1662 in St. Alfege, Greenwich A son John Whitehead was buried on 14th August 1664 in St Nicholas Deptford and a son John Whitehead was baptised in  St/ Nicholas Deptford on 24th April 1665. A Mary Whitehead was buried on 4th July 1665 in St. Nicholas Deptford. Interestingly on 26th of the same month the vicar or churchwarden of St. Nicholas, Deptford started to record which of those buried died of the plague but Mary Whitehead appears not to have died of the plague. Whether this is one or two families is impossible to establish without further information.

Wilshire Thomas (4 hearths) Thomas Wilshire (as spelled like this) does not come up on any of the genealogical websites. However, there is a record of the burial of a wife of Thos  Willsheire, (02/1663) in St. Alfege ‘s register in February 1662 and with this and similar spellings a whole family appears! There is the marriage of a Thomas Willseire to a Mary Sherlock in March 1662 in St. Alfege, Greenwich (could this be the one whose wife died the previous month?!) Then the baptism of a son Thomas Willsher on 30th May 1664 in St. Alfege followed by the burial of Jon son of Thomas Wilshire (a child)  on 19th July 1666 and the burial of a Thomas Wilshiere on 16th November 1667 on St. Alfege. There is also a marriage of a Mr. Thos Wilsheire to Mary Wild on 3rd February 1666/67 in St. Nicholas, Deptford and a burial of Tho. Willshier on 5th July 1674 in St. Alfege, Greenwich.

Wood Richard (2 hearths) There is a marriage for a Richard Wood  to Sarah Malin on 29th June 1641 in St. Alfege, Greenwich and a marriage of a Richard Wood to Jane Holt on29th August 1658 in S. Nicholas Deptford and also a marriage of a Richard Wood  to Frances Griffith on 31st March 1681 in St. Alfege, Greenwich

Woodnutt Phillip (2 hearths) There is a baptism on 7th January 1637 of a Phillip Woodnutt, son of George Woodnutt  in St. Alfege, Greenwich and the burial of a Phill Woodnut on 4th March 1669 in St, Alfege, Greenwich

Youngly William (3 hearths) There is the baptism of William the son of William Youngley on 23rd August1657 in St. Alfege, Greenwich and the burial of a daughter of Willilam Youngley on 3rd November 1665 in St. Alfege, Greenwich.

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The Greenwich Hearth Tax Project Blog Series

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. Over the next few weeks, we will share their work through the blog. In this post, Michael Zell, Hazel Beale and Margaret Gravelle introduce the area and the Hearth Tax for Lady Day 1664. 

Greenwich Hearth Tax return for Lady Day, 1664 (Michael Zell)

Our U3A group worked on the printed transcription of the Hearth Tax listing for the parish of (East) Greenwich, made for the ‘Lady Day’ (25 March) collection of the Hearth Tax in 1664, one of two collections per year. The Hearth Tax was introduced by Parliament and the government of Charles II in 1662, as a new tax that would better represent the wealth of English taxpayers, and supplement the traditional Parliamentary ‘subsidies’, whose values had become fossilized and no longer represented the wealth of the nation’s middle and upper classes. The hearth tax was meant to be a progressive tax: it assessed taxpayers on the value of the homes they occupied – based on the not unreasonable assumption that the wealthier lived in larger houses, as measured by the number of fireplaces their houses contained. The tax was levied on occupiers, rather than on owners, although the tax on medium and larger houses that were empty at the time of the assessment was levied on their owners.

There were provisions in the act to exempt from the hearth tax the poor – who usually occupied house with just 1 or 2 hearths – and it was left to parochial officials to interpret the rules governing tax exemption.  Adults who were not householders were not rated for the Hearth Tax, but the number of exempt ‘poor’ householders could vary significantly from one tax assessment to another. For example, the hearth tax assessment for Greenwich in 1662 listed more than twice as many ‘exempt’ householders than the assessment for 1664 which our group has been using as the basis of our investigations.

We are using the 1664 assessment because it was chosen by the Hearth Tax Project as the ‘best’ hearth tax listing for the county of Kent, and in the case of the return for Greenwich, the householders rated as taxable were assigned to named streets in Greenwich by the local assessors – which adds another dimension to our study of Greenwich in the 1660s. Unfortunately, of the roughly 625 households listed in the 1664 assessment, neither the exempt householders (just under 100) nor the unoccupied but chargeable households (about 40) were assigned to named roads in the tax listing. So our efforts to compare the wealth of different roads in Greenwich is not underpinned by complete information: we don’t know where the exempt poor lived in Greenwich.  But we can identify which roads had a higher proportion of larger houses than other roads. Today, we can stroll around Greenwich and walk along some of the roads listed in the 1664 listing – including  Crooms Hill, Church Street or Crane Street  [Crane South in the 1664 tax return] – but other roads where 1664 taxpayers lived have gone forever  – such as Dock and Tavern Row [which lies beneath the ‘Cutty Sark’]. Whichever tax return you consider, Greenwich was a densely-populated urban parish by the 1660s.  The 1662 hearth tax return, which is partly damaged, lists about 800 households, while the 1664 assessment has 625.  These numbers imply a parish population of between 2,800 and 3,600 people. Greenwich was probably the third largest town in late seventeenth-century Kent (after Canterbury and Deptford).


The town of Greenwich is now part of the London Borough of Greenwich, which was formed in 1965 by merging the former metropolitan boroughs of Greenwich and Woolwich. Greenwich Heritage Centre, which contains material on the Hearth Tax, particularly for Blackheath Hundred, is based in Woolwich. Maritime Greenwich, now classed as a World Heritage Site, includes the Royal Observatory and Meridian Line, the Old Royal Naval College, National Maritime Museum and Cutty Sark. Apart from the Queen’s House of 1616, most of the buildings which make up Greenwich’s tourist attractions date from the late 1600s or 1700s. For instance the present St Alphege’s church building by Nicholas Hawksmoor dates from 1712-14.

The current layout of streets in Greenwich also dates from the 1700s or later. Therefore it is often difficult to correlate current street names and configurations with names recorded on the Hearth Tax records of 1664. For instance the configuration of ‘High Street’ has changed over the years, and ‘Church Wall’ no longer exists. At the time of the Hearth Tax of 1664 the present town of Greenwich was called East Greenwich to distinguish it from West Greenwich or Deptford Strand to the west.

Greenwich and Deptford had two ‘golden ages’ – in the 16th century, when the palace of Placentia in Greenwich Park was the favourite resort of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and Deptford became a Royal Navy shipyard, and then again in the 18th century, when Deptford’s Royal Navy Victualling Yard became the largest food processing operation in Britain, if not in Europe

Going back to the origins of the town of Greenwich, the name is first mentioned in a Saxon charter of 918 AD, where it is referred to as Gronewic. In 964 it is recorded as Grenewic, and in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 1013 as Grenewic. In the Domesday Book of 1086 it is referred to as Grenviz, and as Grenewych in the Taxatio Ecclesiastica of 1291. ‘Wic’ or ‘wych’ means a settlement, so this was simply the Green Settlement.2

There is evidence of Roman occupation in Greenwich Park. There is also evidence of a Bronze Age settlement in the area and in the 9th century the Danes moored in the Thames off Greenwich while attacking Kent. The Domesday Book records Grenviz as being in the possession of Bishop Odo of Bayeux, half brother of William the Conqueror.

Henry VII gave Greenwich its ‘royal lustre’, according to Charles Jennings (Charles Jennings, Greenwich, Little, Brown and Co, 1999, p.9.). Henry VII made Greenwich his main residence. It was the birthplace of both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. It was Elizabeth I’s favourite summer residence, and the principal royal palace until Whitehall Palace was built in the 1530s. Elizabeth’s Spanish Armada Council planned their campaign at Greenwich palace in 1588.

Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 14.09.55

View of Greenwich in 1632 by Adriaen van Stalbemt

James I granted the manor to his wife Queen Anne of Denmark, who in 1616 commissioned Inigo Jones to build the Queen’s House in the park, straddling the main road, which was later moved further north to what is now Romney Road (Olive and Nigel Hamilton, Royal Greenwich, The Greenwich Bookshop, 1969, p.1-2.). The Queen’s House was completed for Charles I’s wife Henrietta Maria. The palace and park were seized by Cromwell in the Interregnum. By the time of the Restoration in 1660 the Palace of Placentia had fallen into disrepair and was pulled down. Charles II had a new palace built (this was the King Charles block in the four buildings that later made up the Royal Naval Hospital).

Deptford started off as a settlement on the site of a Celtic trackway, later paved by the Romans and named Watling street. Deptford Strand began as a fishing village on the Thames and was the site of the royal docks, built under Henry VIII in 1513. Trinity House, which governs navigation rules around the British Isles, was set up in Deptford in 1514, named after the church of Holy Trinity and St Clement which was next to the dockyard. Elizabeth I visited the royal dockyard in 1581 to knight Francis Drake after his circumnavigation of the globe. The East India Company had a yard in Deptford from 1607.  John Hawkins the slave trader (1532 – 1595) used Deptford as a base for his operations.

In the 1500s – 1700s, several generations of shipbuilders, the Pett family, were associated with Deptford, as well as with the shipyards of Wapping, Limehouse and Chatham. Peter Pett, baptised in St Nicholas’ church in 1630, was knighted in 1661 and became an MP in the Irish parliament. He became one of the first Fellows of the Royal Society in 1663, and in 1664 he was called to the bar at Middle Temple. An alternative spelling of Pett was Pate, as used by a branch of the family in America in the 1600s. They gave their name to Patetown in North Carolina.

In Nathan Dews’ words: ‘The names of Pett, Shish, Addey, Gasker etc occupy a place of pre-eminence in the annals of naval architecture during the 16th and 17th centuries, of which Deptford may be justly proud, and most of these men were born and lived in the riverside portion of the parish, which at the present day is so much despised”. (Nathan Dews, History of Deptford, Simpkin Marshall, 1884 – 1971 edition, p.253)

John Evelyn the diarist (1620-1706) lived at Sayes Court in Deptford from 1652. He introduced Grinling Gibbons, the wood sculptor, to Christopher Wren. Peter the Great of Russia stayed at Sayes Court in 1698 while studying shipbuilding in the dockyard. Nothing remains of Evelyn’s mansion today, except a small park (Sayes Court Park – opened in 1886) on the site where the mansion stood.

Evelyn’s memory lives on in the name of the main road (Evelyn Road), a sculpture in the form of a quill pen by the roadside, and the John Evelyn primary school, Deptford. A map of 1623 annotated by John Evelyn shows Sayes Court with its surrounding land and houses.

Samuel Pepys, who travelled a lot by boat, coach and on foot to and from and the City, frequently mentioned places such as Redriffe (now Rotherhithe), and Deptford with its thriving dockyards in his diary. He visited Woolwich because of its all-important Rope Yard and Greenwich to catch up with friends and acquaintances, to eat, drink, listen to music and be merry. In Redriffe he experienced considerable pleasure visiting Cherry Gardens and taking some cherries home. In his Diary he wrote:

“… by water to Greenwich and up to the top of the hill, and there played upon the ground at cards. And so to the Cherry Garden, and then by water singing finely to the Bridge and there landed, and so took boat again, and to Somersett House”. (15/6/64)

In the following year the Plague arrived, ruining and disrupting the lives of many Londoners and those living in Deptford and Greenwich.  Pepys seems to have remained surprisingly unscathed by the presence of the Plague, continuing his journeys up and down the river, visiting his friends and continuing his dalliances with women. However, his diary entries give a vivid account of such turbulent times.

Pepys’ entry for August 1665 states:

Thus the month ends, with great sadness upon the public, through the greatness of the plague. In the City died this week 7,496; and of them 6,102 of the plague. But it is feared that the true number of the dead this week is near 10,000 – partly from the poor that cannot be taken notice of through the greatness of the number, and partly from Quakers and others that will not have any bell rung for them (Robert Latham, Diary of Samuel Pepys, p,519)

This quote shows that even at the time of the plague there was a lack of precise information. The diaries of both Evelyn and Pepys have widely varying statistics regarding the plague, and little information regarding the poorer sections of the population. It is not surprising, therefore, that we struggle today to build up a clear picture of the families living in the streets of Greenwich and Deptford.


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Connecting to Secondary Schools: Hearth Tax Document Handling Workshops.

Between January and March 2020, as part of the Centre for Hearth Tax Research’s impact and outreach work, Aaron Columbus visited three secondary schools in London: Esher Sixth Form College in Surrey, Acland Burghley in Tufnell Park in north London and Alleyn’s School in Dulwich. These visits were organised as part of the Centre’s strategy to connect with secondary schools and help sixth form students enhance their understanding and confidence with primary sources. Students were provided with the opportunity to engage with and handle hearth tax sources and draw conclusions on wealth distribution in London on the eve of the Great Fire. Harry Crawshaw and William Bateson of Esher College reflected on their experience for this blog.

Harry Crawshaw:

Even as a history student, working with and assessing primary sources from a period about which I knew very little was quite a daunting prospect. However, it soon became clear that not only were the resources far more insightful than we may’ve first thought, but that the session was incredibly accessible even to an absolute beginner. As a group, we were introduced to the wider context surrounding the hearth tax concisely but effectively and soon felt that we had enough understanding of the period to tackle the primary sources put in front of us. We were clearly taught of new perspectives on how to approach a primary source, from never discounting the seemingly minutest number or detail to continually assessing the provenance and limitations regarding the sources (tax collection records from the eastern parish of St Botolph Aldgate).

While the hearth tax initially appeared to make sense as a way of staggering taxation based on wealth in a similar way to the later window tax, one of the most interesting aspects of the workshop was seeing the resentment with which it was embraced by those who were seemingly amongst the poorest in restoration London, those who by the very nature of the tax had to pay the least. This illustrated the state of poverty in the city in the 17th century, people so poor that they (in many cases) couldn’t pay tax on their one solitary chimney. Yet what perhaps said more was when on further examination it became apparent that in the same parish, often the same street as these simple one hearth homes were properties boasting as many as 20-30 chimneys, sometimes more. Great poverty juxtaposed in agonising proximity with great affluence and wealth, in many ways it’s become a story for the ages. Perhaps the recent Grenfell tower tragedy in the classically desirable Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea shows that even though the Hearth Tax sources are hundreds of years old, the observations and situations they reflect aren’t unfamiliar, even to the contemporary Londoner.

History has always appealed greatly to me as a subject, and this taster of a different side of history, one which further study may have to offer and it has only cemented my interest in studying the subject at a higher level. Be it out of a curiosity for the period or to learn how 17th century London relates to the modern city, I would urge anyone to make use of the Hearth Tax Digital Website. The sources are easily accessible, easy to engage with and I have been left with little doubt of their importance to greater understanding and appreciating the history of London.

William Bateson:

Before the workshop I had never thought so much detail could be learned from documents from the time through interpretation, from tax records stating both the financial situation of an area as well as its character and the feelings of the people toward the Hearth Tax. The detail that has remained from the documents and the interpretations which can be taken from them surprises me. Tax collectors would use their own notes and would use their own perception to decide if anything was worth taking or not.

I found working with the sources very enjoyable and I leant much about London and the UK in the given period that I otherwise would not have known. I found the fact that they would be copied by a collector and thereafter would be rewritten as records leading to other administrative workings fascinating.

I found the tasks with other students good and we had the chance to meet students from different history classes, which was highly engaging. Overall, I found that the information explained by Aaron about the Hearth Tax, what led up to it and its aftermath as well as other explained historical information was very useful as he pointed out many inferences that I wouldn’t have otherwise have noticed. I therefore found the workshops highly beneficial.

I found the hearth tax very insightful and much more human, with names and reactions of people towards tax collection as well as seeing the socio-economic stance of the given area and how people lived there, compared with today’s more artificial methods which do not involve the same practices as those used in the 17th century as more efficient tax collection methods are in place.

I’ve always wanted to study either History or Geography at university, as I have never done an analysis workshop in 17th century Britain. I feel that it has furthered my interests in pursuing and studying History later on.

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Thomas Padnall and the ‘Sunne’ inn, St Margaret New Fish Street in 1666.

This latest blog in our series from the work of University of the Third Age members participating in the Shared Learning Project with the British Academy Hearth Tax Project, Centre for Hearth Tax Research, is by Barbara Sanders. Using the hearth tax returns from the City of London and Middlesex as a starting point, Barbara reveals the life of Thomas Padnall, resident in the intramural parish of St Margaret New Fish Street in 1666. This builds on her earlier blogs, where the parish itself was detailed and the life of David Barton was revealed.

The 1666 Hearth Tax  shows Thomas Padnall living at the “Sunne” on Fish Street Hill, East Side, in the parish of  St Margaret, New Fish Street, in the City of London. His occupation is vintner and he has 13 hearths.

He appears in records variously as Padnall, Padnell, Padnoll and Padnol. He is referred to here as Thomas Padnall except where making a drect quote from a record.


His birth family

On 15 July 1611 Thomas Padnoll was baptised at Colchester St Mary at the Walls, Essex. His sister Em [Emma] was baptised there in 1614. Their father John Padnoll and their mother Lois, née Wilkinson, were both of Colchester. [Boyd]


It was probably his apprenticeship that brought Thomas to London, the thriving capital and a magnet for young men looking for opportunities. Thomas Padnall was apprenticed on 7 June 1626 to William Longe of the Vintners’ Company; such an apprenticeship was typically for seven years. Longe himself had been apprenticed in 1613, his family from Essex too. Finding a suitable master was often through business or family connections. Padnall in due course would train his own apprentices, the first one in 1637, the last shortly before his death. [See Appendix 2] The boys were not only sons of London citizens but from around the country. It is interesting to note that the sons of a haberdasher, grocer, tailor, butcher, fishmonger, and scrivener were not following in their fathers’ footsteps as would have been likely in previous times.

In 1660 Thomas took on his own son Robert.

The Artillery Company

A Thomas Padnell was a member of the volunteer Artillery Company(later to be known as the Honourable Artillery Company and still going strong). In the list “A Remembrance of Legacies and Gifts given to this Societie by divers well disposed Gent. of this Companie and others since ye reviving thereof, Anno 1611”, there is an entry in 1627 for Mr Thomas Padnell, a gift of £6 13s 4d. At this time our Thomas was only a year into his apprenticeship so unlikely to be wealthy enough; it could have been paid on his behalf by a benefactor such as a family member. I have found no evidence of a second Thomas Padnell at this time, but records of many sorts were lost in the upheavals of the Civil War and the later Fire of London.

The Fraternity or Guild of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handguns had been incorporated by Royal Charter in 1537 by Henry VIII for “The better increase of the Defence of this our Realm and maintenance of the Science and Feat of shooting Long Bows, Cross Bows and Hand Guns”. The Guild became known as “The Gentlemen of the Artillery Garden”, named after its practice ground. “Artillery” described archery and other missile weapons, while guns were known as “great artillery”. Its members did not commit to either side in the Civil War. I have found no evidence of Thomas’ part, if any, in the Civil War.

Marriage and Family

Apprentices were generally not free to marry until they had served their time. Thomas Padnol married Elizabeth Jackson on 16 February 1636 at St Dionis Backchurch in the City of London. [Boyd]

They had nine surviving children. Their two sons were Thomas (born 1637) and Robert (born 1642), who were educated at the Merchant Taylor’s School, admitted in 1646 and 1653 respectively. Their seven daughters were Barbara, Lois, Emma, Mary, Elizabeth, Anne and Rhoda. [Boyd]

The Sunne or Sun Inn

The inns on Fish St Hill were designed to cater for passing trade as well as local residents. At the bottom of the Hill was the approach to London Bridge, London’s only bridge across the Thames. It lead south to the roads through Kent and Surrey as far as the south coast. Travellers arriving via London Bridge from the south would need to pass up the steep Fish Street Hill on the way to their London destination or to the old city gates and beyond to the rest of the country. Later, debris from the Great Fire would be used as landfill to level out the steep incline of the street.

Travelling was an exhausting actvity whether by coach, by horse or on foot. Carriers were always busy moving goods to and from the wharves along the Thames. Coaches were as yet mostly unsprung and turnpike roads were yet to come. City streets generally were rough and narrow, often poorly maintained, being the responsibility of each parish they passed through; London streets were congested, with no rules of the road. Journeys around the country which now in the 21st century take just hours would take days, and necessitated stops for rest and refreshment for passengers, drivers and horses. Consequently the inns on Fish Street Hill did a roaring trade. They had multiple guest rooms and catering to accommodate travellers and business visitors, plus yards and stables to accommodate coaches and horses.

In the 1666 Hearth Tax one of these inns was run by Thomas Padnall, vintner, of the “Sunne”, the property listed as having 13 hearths, so clearly offering accommodation. This was not the largest inn on the Hill: Robert Whitborne, “Inhoulder” of the “Starr” had 29 hearths. The “Miter” had 12 but was “empty”; the plague had been at its peak in 1665, the previous year, but had not completely faded, so some properties were still deserted by their residents, either by death or, for the more fortunate, escape to a healthier place. The Kings Head, lower down the hill in the parish of St Magnus the Martyr, had 14 hearths.

By 1666 Thomas Padnall had been at the Sunne for nearly three decades. In 1638 he was already established at the “Sunn”, a Tavern, value £30, Fish Street the East Side [Inhabitants of London in 1638].  Again, as drawn up on 10 May 1640, Thomas Padnall, “vintener” was there in the list of  The Principal Inhabitants of London, those regarded as wealthy enough to contribute money to the cash-strapped King Charles I. In 1660 he is recorded as a Warden of the Vintners company [The Rulers of London 1660-1689]

The Churchwardens’ Accounts of St Margaret New Fish Street show frequent meetings, including food and drink, held at the Sunne, chargeable to the parish, though the Starr and the Mitre had their fair share too. A remarkable entry for “Holy Thursday” 1663 is for 16s 6d spent at the King’s Head followed by £1 1s  spent at the Sunne – remarkable because this is Maundy Thursday, the day of preparation for the solemnity of Good Friday, when leaders of the church traditionally wash the feet of the poor to signify humility.

Samuel Pepys in his diary of 1660 to 1669 makes several mentions of the Sunne, though not of its landlord. Pepys sees this as a place to entertain and be entertained, often in the company of senior men in the Navy or contractors for Navy supplies. Once even his long-suffering wife.  “Fine” and “merry” are typical adjectives he uses to describe the food and jovial atmosphere. The Sunne being on New Fish Street and close to the Fishmongers’ Hall and Billingsgate, it is hardly surprising that most of the food on offer is fish. Perhaps more surprising is that diners could take along fish bought elsewhere and have it cooked on the premises.

Appendix 1 shows Samuel Pepys’ quotes about the Sun.

The Padnall Bottle Seal or Token?

The illustration (right) is from the book “Treasure in the Thames” by Ivor Noel Hume (published 1956), where it is described as “a bottle seal”, found close to London Bridge. The sun motif and the initials T.P. clearly associate it with Thomas Padnall of the Sunne inn.

Padnell seal

I first assumed that it seemed more likely that this was not a bottle seal but a trader’s token, used instead of conventional coins. Wrong!  Thanks to Stephen Freeth of the Vintners’ Company I have discovered the following.

In the 17th century wine was imported in casks then bottled locally or sold straight from the barrel.  Vintners (and others) would often have personalised bottles made for them. During manufacture the bottles would be finished, before the glass cooled, with a disc of glass with an impressed stamp to identify the merchant or owner.

Thomas’ Status

Thomas was a man of substance.  In 1647 and probably other years, he was a churchwarden at his parish church of St Margaret’s New Fish Street.

He was elected a Warden of the Vintners Company, part of the governing body under the Master.  The Court Minutes are extant up to 1659 then missing until they resume in 1669. Unfortunately Thomas was elected in 1660 and died in 1668, so records of his period in office are entirely lost. It is likely that this gap in records is due to the Fire of London and the immediate aftermath.

The Court of Common Council was and is still the governing body of the City of London Corporation; Thomas was an elected Common Councilman for Bridge Ward in 1660, 1663 and 1666.

 Deaths of Thomas and Elizabeth

Thomas and Elizabeth survived the Great Fire in September 1666 but did not survive for long after. On 12th of June 1667 Elizabeth was buried in the nearby parish of St Andrew Undershaft. In little over a year later, Thomas too was dead.

The will of Thomas Padnoll, Vintner of London was proved 11 September 1668 (TNA  ref  PROB 11/328/38), just two years after the Fire . He provided for his sister Elizabeth Clarke and female cousin Elizabeth Tilley and there was a generous bequest to each of his children and to the grandchildren who were alive at his decease.

The Sunne was only yards away from Thomas Farriner’s bakery where the Great Fire broke out on 2 September 1666. There was virtually no insurance at this time so the sudden devastation of Thomas’ home and main business, earliest victims of the Fire with no time for a salvage plan, would have been a massive loss. He also owned a larger tavern with 14 public rooms in Leadenhall Street (as recorded in The Rulers of London), but this too would soon have been consumed. He clearly had other interests and survived financially, but the deaths of both Thomas and Elizabeth within 2 years suggest that they may have been damaged by the physical or mental trauma.

Thomas appears to own land and property elsewhere, so maybe he had taken his family to a place of safety; the public”s fear of mixing and travelling would have severely cut back his business even without the Fire.

It may be that Thomas, after living through civil war, plague and fire in a crowded and insanitary city did well to survive to 57 years. Elizabeth’s age is not known, but she, in additional to everything else, survived at least 9 pregnancies. They did well to live to see their grandchildren, as so many did not.


  • The Hearth Tax records for St Margaret’s New Fish Street
  • Margaret’s New Fish Street – Churchwarden’s Accounts and Vestry Minutes (manuscripts). London Metropolitan Archives
  • The Rulers of London 1660-1689: A Biographical Record of the Aldermen and Common Councilment of the City of London by J R Woodhead (London, 1966)
  • Genealogy websites: Family Search, Ancestry, Find My Past (especially Boyd’s records)
  • The Honorable Artillery Company website:
  • London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers, Vol.43, Vintners’ Company 1609-1800, ed.Cliff Webb
  • A register of the scholars admitted into Merchant Taylors’ School : from A. D. 1562 to 1874 by Robinson, Charles John, Rev., 1833-1898, published 1882
  • Inhabitants of London in 1638: St. Margaret’s, New Fish Street (British History Online)
  • Treasure in the Thames by Ivor Noel Hume, published 1956.
  • Society for Historical Archeology (USA) website:
  • The Will of Thomas Padnoll, Vintner of London, 11 September 1668 (TNA  ref,  PROB 11/328/38)
  • The Diary of Samuel Pepys websites:
  1. a) indexed by date or person:
  2. b) Searchable plain text:



Thanks to Stephen Freeth, Archivist of the Vintners’ Company, for advice.

Appendix 1

References in The Diary of Samuel Pepys to the Sun(ne) Tavern

1660    Mar 10

I went with the rest to the Sun tavern on Fish Street Hill, where Mr. Hill, Stevens and Mr. Hater of the Navy Office had invited me, where we had good discourse and a fine breakfast of Mr. Hater.

1660    Mar 15

So into London by water, and in Fish Street my wife and I bought a bit of salmon for 8d. and went to the Sun Tavern and ate it, where I did promise to give her all that I have in the world but my books, in case I should die at sea.

1660    Aug 1

I took boat and homewards went, and in Fish Street bought a Lobster, and as I had bought it I met with Winter and Mr. Delabarr, and there with a piece of sturgeon of theirs we went to the Sun Tavern in the street and ate them.

1660    Dec 22

At noon I went to the Sun tavern; on Fish Street hill, to a dinner of Captn. Teddimans, where was my Lord Inchiquin (who seems to be a very fine person), Sir W. Pen, Captn. Cuttance, and one Mr. Lawrence (a fine gentleman now going to Algiers), and other good company, where we had a very fine dinner, good musique, and a great deal of wine.

1661    Nov 6

Going forth this morning I met Mr. Davenport and a friend of his, one Mr. Furbisher, to drink their morning draft with me, and I did give it them in good wine, and anchovies, and pickled oysters, and took them to the Sun in Fish Street, there did give them a barrel of good ones, and a great deal of wine, and sent for Mr. W. Bernard (Sir Robert’s son), a grocer thereabouts, and were very merry, and cost me a good deal of money,

1661    Nov 8

Thence to Westminster Hall (it being Term time) and there met with Commissioner Pett, and so at noon he and I by appointment to the Sun in New Fish Street, where Sir J. Minnes, Sir W. Batten, and we all were to dine, at an invitation of Captain Stoaks and Captain Clerk, and were very merry, and by discourse I found Sir J. Minnes a fine gentleman and a very good scholler.

1661    Nov 14

At noon I went by appointment to the Sun in Fish Street to a dinner of young Mr. Bernard’s for myself, Mr. Phillips, Davenport, Weaver, &c., where we had a most excellent dinner, but a pie of such pleasant variety of good things, as in all my life I never tasted.

1666    Apr 5

At noon would have avoided, but could not, dining with my Lord Bruncker and his mistresse with Captain Cocke at the Sun Taverne in Fish Streete, where a good dinner, but the woman do tire me . . .

 Appendix 2

 Apprentices to Thomas Padnall, Vintner

Date Surname Forename Father of Occupation
20 Nov 1637 Marden Thomas Nicholas Blechingley, Surrey husbandman
4 Dec 1638 Jeophrys Thomas      
4 Feb 1639/40 Churchman Robert      
1 Dec 1640 Chatman * Robert William Blechingley Surrey butcher
3 Feb 1640/1 Tabor Thomas Thomas Baddow Essex yeoman
1 Mar 1641/2 Banister Vincent Richard Shawbury Shropshire gentleman (deceased)
7 Jun 1642 Hudson John John Bishops Hatfield, Hertfordshire yeoman
7 Mar 1642/3 Downes William William Greenwich, Kent scrivener
6 Jun 1643 Walker Thomas John   citizen and fishmonger
4 Jun 1644 Booke Mathew John   citizen and haberdasher


4 Jun 1644 Sharp Alexander Thomas Rochester, Kent grocer
1 Aug 1648 Bennett William William   citizen and dyer
3 Apr 1649 Burton Tobias Tobias Windsor, Berkshire gentleman
7 Jun 1653 Preston Graveley Richard Graveley, Hertfordshire yeoman
6 Dec 1653 Padnall John John Dover, Kent tailor
7 Aug 1655 Cawthorn John Henry Clare, Suffolk yeoman
8 Jan 1655/6 Blower Lewis William Edmonton, Middlesex yeoman
2 Feb 1657/8 Smith Thomas Thomas Croydon, Surrey yeoman
7 Feb 1659/60 Padnoll Robert Thomas   his father
5 Feb 1660/1 Jackson William Adam Nottingham, Nottinghamshire maltster
6 Sep 1664 Bruton John Robert Wymondley, Hertfordshire yeoman
4 Apr 1665 Rayley Henry James Woodmancote Sussex  yeoman (deceased)
25 Jan 1665/6 Webb Josiah Richard Hartlepool Durham gentleman

* in Wardens’ Accounts “Chapman”

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