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. I use “Thomas” (hoping he will forgive the familiarity) except where making a quote from a record.
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.
Probably it was his apprenticeship that brought him to London, the thriving capital and a magnet for the young looking for opportunities. Thomas Padnall was apprenticed on 7 June 1626 to William Longe of the Vintners’ Company. Longe himself had been apprenticed in 1613, his family from Essex too. Finding a suitable master was often though personal connections. Padnall in due course would choose his own apprentices, the first one in 1637, when he was free to set up on his own, until the last shortly before his death. The boys were the sons of his own tenants around the country, plus those of his haberdasher, grocer, tailor, maltster, butcher, fishmonger, and scrivener. In 1660 he took on his own son Robert.
The Artillery Company
Thomas was a member of the volunteer Artillery Company, later to be known as the Honorable 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 for 1627 for Mr Thomas Padnell – £6 13s 4d.
The Fraternity or Guild of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handgonnes 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 in 1636 at St Dionis Backchurch in the City of London.
They had nine surviving children. Their two sons were Thomas and Robert, who were educated at the Merchant Taylor’s School. Their seven daughters were Barbara, Lois, Emma, Mary, Elizabeth, Anne and Rhoda.
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 leading 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 decline of the street. Travelling was an exhausting activity 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 people, and yards and stables to accommodate coaches and horses.
In the 1666 Hearth Tax one of these inns was run by Thomas Padnell, vintner, of the “Sunne”, the property listed as having 13 hearths. This was not the largest 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 Padnell 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, according to the list of 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, regarded as wealthy enough to contribute money to the cash-strapped King Charles.
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 clearly 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.
The Appendix shows Pepys’ quotes about the Sun.
The Padnoll 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. In the mid 17th century the political upheavals meant, among many other things, that small change was in short supply. The more affluent lived on credit for their everyday purchases but this was not an option for the working population. Thus some traders issued their own local currency.
It seems very likely that this was not a bottle seal but a trader’s token. The sun motif and the initials T.P. clearly associate it with Thomas Padnall of the Sunne inn.
Thomas was a man of substance: in 1647 and probably other years, he was a churchwarden at St Margaret’s. In the 1660s he was a Warden of the Vintners Company, that is, part of the governing body under the Master. The Court of Common Council was and is still the governing body of the City of London Corporation and Thomas was an elected Common Councilman for Bridge Ward in the 1660s.
Death of Thomas and Elizabeth
Thomas and Elizabeth survived the Great Fire in September 1666 but neither lived to see much of its aftermath. 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. 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 an escape or 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.
Survivors of even a single house fire may have long term respiratory problems. This fire was all-consuming in a densely built-up area, generating soot containing poisonous elements, floating burning embers and noxious gases. Lung problems can be killers after the event as in emphysema and cancer.
Some Londoners caught but did survive the 1665 Plague (which was still lingering in 1666) but it would have left them debilitated. Everyone who remained in London, even those not infected, suffered food shortages. The prevalence of fish around Fish Street did still provide one important part of a balanced diet. But farmers and poulterers would not bring their meat animals to market in London. The benefits of fruit and vegetables, not well understood at the best of times, were lost when farmers and smallholders refused to deliver to the infected capital as they had previously. Thomas did own land and property elsewhere, so maybe he had taken his family to a place of safety; public fear of mixing and travelling would have severely cut back his business in any case.
The report of just a handful of deaths actually in the Fire is ludicrously small and subject to debate, but after surviving two years of unspeakable hardships, premature death must have been commonplace. There are records of longevity well beyond the biblical “three-score years and ten” (Psalm 90) in parishes such as on the South Downs, with fresh air, uncontaminated water, good local food and an established supportive community. Conditions were poor in the City of London, not yet overly knowledgeable or concerned about public health, so expectation of life was much lower.
So maybe Thomas, after living through plague and fire, 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: https://www.hac.org.uk/home/about-the-hac/history/south-african-war/
- 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,
- The Diary of Samuel Pepys:
- a) indexed by date or person: https://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia
- b) Searchable plain text:http://www.gutenberg.org/files/4200/4200-0.txt
References in Pepys’ Diary to the Sun inn
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 women do tire me . . .