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An Acte of Common Councell, concerning the
Preſeruation and clenſing of the Riuer of Thames, made the eight
and twentith day of September, in the thirtieth yeere of our Soueraigne
Lord King Henrie the eight

WHere by the Statute made in the ſeuen and twentith yeere of the Reigne of our Soue-
raigne Lord King Henrie the eight
, among other for reformation of the miſordering of the
Riuer of Thames, by caſting in Dung, or other filth, many great ſhelues and other riſings
haue beene of late growne and made within the ſame Riuer: By reaſon whereof, many
great breaches haue enſued by occaſion thereof: which of like ſhall be the occaſion of the
vtter deſtruction of the ſaid Riuer, vnleſſe that the ſame Law, be put in due execution, ac-
cording to the true intent and meaning thereof.

Wherefore, for a further reformation of the ſame, and to the intent that the ſaid good and wholſome Sta-
tute may be put in more execution, and better knowledge of the people: It is enacted by the authority of this
Common Councell, that Proclamation may be mad2e within this ſaide Citie, and the ſame to bee put in wri-
ting, and Tables thereof made and ſet vp in diuers places of this Citie, That it ſhall bee lawfull to euery
perſon or perſons, to digge, carry away, and take away Sand, Grauell, or any Rubbiſh, Earth, or any thing
lying, or being in any ſhelue or ſhelues within the ſaide Riuer of Thames, without let or interruption of any
perſon or perſons, and without any thing paying for the ſame: and after that, to ſell the ſame away, or other-
wiſe occupie or diſpoſe the ſaid Grauell, Sand, or other thing, at their free liberty and pleaſure. And that
all Pauiers, Bricklayers, Tilers, Maſons, and all other that ſhall occupie Sand, or Grauell, ſhall endea-
uour themſelues, with all their diligence, to occupie the ſaid Sand or Grauell, and none other, paying for
the ſame reaſonably, as they ſhould and ought to pay for other Sand or Grauell, digged out of other mens
grounds about the ſaide Citie, which after is filled againe with much filthy things, to the great infection of
the Inhabitants of the ſaide Citie, and all other repayring to the ſame. And that further, humble ſuite may
be made to the Kings Highneſſe, That all perſons hauing Lands or Tenements along the Riuerſide, vpon
certaine paine by his Highneſſe, and the Lords of his moſt Honourable Councell, to be limited, ſhall well and
ſufficiently repayre and maintaine, all the Walles and Bankes adioyning to their ſaid Lands, ſo that the
water may not, nor ſhall breake in vpon the ſame. And the ſame to be continued, vntill the time the ſaide no-
ble Riuer be brought againe to his old courſe and former eſtate. And that ſtrong grates of Iron along the
ſaid water ſide, and alſo by the ſtreete ſide, where any water-courſe is had into the ſaide Thames, bee made
by the Inhabitants of euery Ward,3 ſo along the ſaid Water, as of old time hath beene accuſtomed. And that
euery grate be in height, foure and twenty inches at the leaſt: or more, as the place ſhall neede: and in bredth
one from another, one inch. And the ſame to be done with all expedition and ſpeede. And if the Occupiers
of the ſaide Lands and Tenements make default contrary to the ordinance aforeſaide: or elſe if any perſon
or perſons, in great raines or other times, ſweepe their ſoylage or filth of their houſes into the Chanell and
the ſame after is conueyed into the Thames, euery perſon ſo offending, ſhall forfeite for euery ſuch default
twenty pence: and that vpon complaint to be made to any Conſtable next adioyning to the ſaide place, where
any ſuch default ſhall be found, it ſhall be lawfull for the ſaid Conſtable or his ſufficient Deputie for the time
being, from time to time to diſtraine4 for the ſame offence. And to retaine the ſame irreplegiable,5 and like law.
to be obſerued, and kept, and like penalty to be paide for euery perſon, that burne ruſhes and ſtraw in their
houſes, or waſh in the common ſtreets or Lanes, and to be recouered as aforeſaid: and the one moity there-
of to be to the Maior and Commonaltie: and the other moity to bee diuided betweene the ſaid Conſtable that
taketh paine, and the party finder of the ſaide fault. And if the Conſtable or his Deputie for the time being
refuſe to doe his dutie according to the true meaning of this Act, That then the Conſtable or his Deputie,
which ſhall ſo refuſe to do his dutie, as aforeſaid, ſhall forfeit and pay for euery time offending, three ſhillings
and foure pence. And the ſame penalty of the ſaide Conſtable to bee recouered and obtained by diſtreſſe irre-
plegiable, to be taken by any of the Officers of the Chamber of London, to the vſe of the Mayor and Com-
monalty of London.

And further, that no perſon or perſons, hauing any Wharfe or houſe by the ſaid waterſide, make not their
Layſtals6 nigh to the riuer aforeſaide, except onely the common Layſtalles, where the common Rakers7 of this
vſe to repoſe, and lay all their ſoylage, to be carried away by them with their Dung-boates. And that
the ſaide Rakers ſhall lay their ſaid dung, carried in their dung-boats to ſuch conuenient place or places, as
ſhall be appointed by the Lord Mayor of London for the time being, with the aduice of his brethren the Al-
of the ſame, and to none other place or places, vpon paine to forfeit for euery ſuch default, fiue pound
to be recouered in any of the Kings Courts8 within the Citie of London, by Bill, Plaint, moytie of debt, or in-
formation by any perſon, that will or ſhall purſue for the ſame: the one moytie thereof to bee to the Mayor
and Commonalty of London, and the other moytie to him or them that will or ſhall purſue for the ſame: in
which actions or ſuites, no wager of Law nor Eſſoile9 ſhall be allowed.

God ſaue the King.

Printed at London by Iſaac Iaggard, Printer to the Honourable Citie of London.


  1. This broadside act is a reassertion of a Henrician act. The date is contestable. The EEBO metadata gives 1623 as the date of printing. The 30th year of Henry VIII, mentioned in the title, was 1538. The 27th year of Henry VIII was 1535. 1539 is handwritten on the copy microfilmed by Early English Books and visible on the EEBO scan. Isaac Jaggard was not active as a printer until 1613 (AW)
  2. Gap in inking. Partially missing letter obvious from context and supplied by EEBO-TCP. (AW)
  3. For a list of wards in early modern London, see Wards in the placeography. (SKC)
  4. To seize goods or chattels (OED distrain, n.8.a). (JJ)
  5. Alternative spelling of irreplevisable, describing confiscated goods that cannot be replevied, or delivered by giving a surety to have the matter tried in a court of justice and to return the goods if the case is lost. See OED irreplegiable, adj. (AW)
  6. A place where refuse and dung is laid (OED laystall, n.2.a). (TLG)
  7. A street cleaner, a refuse collector; (also) a scavenger (OED raker, n.1). (TLG)
  8. I.e., courts of law. (TLG)
  9. Assoil means absolution. See LEME. (JJ)


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MLA citation:

“Act for the Preservation and Cleansing of the Thames.” The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Web. 28 March 2017. <>.

Chicago citation:

“Act for the Preservation and Cleansing of the Thames.” n.d. The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed March 28, 2017.

APA citation:

Act for the Preservation and Cleansing of the Thames. (n.d.). In J. Jenstad (Ed.), The Map of Early Modern London. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from

TEI citation:

<bibl> <title level="a">Act for the Preservation and Cleansing of the Thames</title>. (<date>n.d.</date>). In <editor><persName><forename>J.</forename> <surname>Jenstad</surname></persName></editor> (Ed.), <title level="m">The Map of Early Modern London</title>. Retrieved <date when="2017-03-28">March 28, 2017</date>, from <ref target=""></ref> </bibl>