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Galley Key

Galley Key was a port on the north bank of the Thames, east of London Bridge, and south of Lower Thames Street in Tower Ward. It is first mentioned in 1488 as part of the property of one William Marowe, whose family owned the key into the sixteenth century. Galley Key was a Legal Key and became a bustling site of trade. John Stow described it as a location where the Gallies were vsed to vnlade, and land their marchandizes and wares (Stow 1:136), which explains the source of the key’s name. The key was also used as a departure point for river travel; the Water Poet, John Taylor, declared it a place from which passage for men, and Carriage for Goods may be had from London to Barwicke (Taylor). Galley Key was such an influential centre of trade that it spread its name to almost everything connected with it, including people, money, and locations. There was a group of men called Gallie men, as men that came up in the Gallies (Stow 1:132) and unloaded their merchandise at Galley Key. These Gallie men carried a kind of half pence called the Gallye halfe pence (Stow 1:132), which ended up being forbidden as a form of legal currency twice, during the reigns of Henry the fourth and Henry the fifth. Finally, even the street adjacent to Galley Key, Galley Row, was named after the great galley ships. The buildings of Galley Row themselves were connected to the business of the key; the street was filled with fayre houses large for stowage, builded for Marchantes (Stow 1:136). As Stow reports, however, the history of the area lies further back than the river trade, the ancient buildings of stone the ruines whereof doe yet remaine, but the first builders and owners of them are worn out of memorie, wherefore the common people affirme Iulius Cesar to bee the builder thereof (Stow 1:136). These supposed Roman ruins were also believed to have later been the dwelling place for the Prince of Wales, a story that might explain why Galley Row is sometimes referred to by the alternate name of Petty Wales (Stow 1:136).


Cite this page

MLA citation

Ivie, Jordan. Galley Key. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 05 May 2022,

Chicago citation

Ivie, Jordan. Galley Key. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed May 05, 2022.

APA citation

Ivie, J. 2022. Galley Key. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London (Edition 7.0). Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

RIS file (for RefMan, RefWorks, EndNote etc.)

Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

A1  - Ivie, Jordan
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Galley Key
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
ET  - 7.0
PY  - 2022
DA  - 2022/05/05
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  -
UR  -
ER  - 

TEI citation

<bibl type="mla"><author><name ref="#IVIE1"><surname>Ivie</surname>, <forename>Jordan</forename></name></author>. <title level="a">Galley Key</title>. <title level="m">The Map of Early Modern London</title>, Edition <edition>7.0</edition>, edited by <editor><name ref="#JENS1"><forename>Janelle</forename> <surname>Jenstad</surname></name></editor>, <publisher>U of Victoria</publisher>, <date when="2022-05-05">05 May 2022</date>, <ref target=""></ref>.</bibl>