To the Honorable Assembly of the Commons House of Parliament, and to the Committie for grieuances of the same House.
The humble Petition of the whole companie of the poore Water-Tankerd-bearers of the Citie of London, and the Suburbs thereof, they and their families being 4000 in number, liuing and releeued thereby. Robert Tardy Water-bearer in the name and behalfe of the rest followes this Petition.
AMong the great multitude of poore distressed people of this kingdome, with ioyfull hearts and lifted vp hands to heauen, we your petitioners, haue iust cause to say. Blessed be the Lord God of Israell, that moued the heart of his gration Maiestie,1 to call so Honorable an assembly in Parliament, which will not suffer Gehazi, to take Tallents of Siluer, nor change of rayments, but that euery one, may sit vnder his owne Oliue-tree, and annoint himselfe with the fat thereof. Wee poore miserable people labouring hardly for a poore liuing, vnder great burthens, haue the bread taken out of our childrens mouthes, and our one, both contrary to good lawes established and all equity and good conscience.
For, most honourable assembly, to make this their grieuance plaine, that they are matters of truth, and no suggestions or inforcements. There was in the Parliament, holden in the 35. yeare of King Henry the eighth, an Act made and prouided, concerning the repayring, making, and amending, of the Conduits, in London, and that sweete holsome running waters, and fresh springs, might be conueyed by Conduits, and fountaines, to the said Conduits in London, and whereof the said City, had bin before time well furnished, and abundantly serued.
In the said Act there was a carefull prouiso, that it should not be lawfull, for the said Lord Maior nor commonaltie, nor to their successors, or ministers, to take away any water, or spring now brought, or hereafter to be brought, or conueyed, by Pypes or Trenches, to the mansion of any person or persons, nor for any person or persons, by any way, deceipt, meane, or any other craftie conueiance, shall vndermine, minish, withdraw, or abate any Spring, or springs, found or hereafter to be found, now brought or conueyed, stopped, abated, or otherwise altered, from his dew course, and conueyance to the Conduits in London.
That the said water brought to the said City, by vertue of the said Act, is the most wholsome, purest, and sweetest water, comming to the said City, is not to be doubted or disputable; and sufficient store thereof, at the spring heads. And yet notwithstanding the said former Act; most of the said water is taken, and kept from the said Conduits in London, by many priuate branches and Cockes, cut and taken out of the Pipes, which are layed to conuey the same, to the said Conduits; and laid into priuate houses and dwellings, both without and within the City; whereby it is drawne out of the wayes, and many times suffered to runne at waste, to the generall grieuance of all good Citizens, and all others; repayring to the same, hauing their meat dressed with other waters, neither so pure nor holsome, as the Conduits water is, as common experience teacheth; contrary to the true intent of the same statute.
There are, as was confessed by the Cities Plumber, one Mr Randoll, fifteene branches or Cockes, laid into priuate houses, and drawen from the Conduits, contrary to the prouiso in the same Act: and three branches or Cocks, laid by himselfe without warrant, only for his owne priuate gaine; by what warrant the other were granted to particular persons, and taken from the common Conduits, we humbly desire that first the said Randoll, may be sent for and examined, and afterwards such other persons as we shall produce, besides many others, who may priuately take in water out of our maine pipes, and as yet vnknowne to the Petitioners.
Secondly, the water granted vnto Newgate, for vse of that house only, is caried forth daily by fiue men to many places, which Tankerdbearers keepe no houres, but worke continually, and so exhaust and draw away the water from the other Conduits.
The Lady Swinnerton is allowed, but 2. gallons euery houre, (an ill president, and against the prouiso, of the said statute of 35. Henry 8. but that branch is so great, as it yeeldeth thirteene gallons and better euery houre as it hath beene tried, which many times runneth at waste, if this one branch or Cocke, within this City doth or may draw away aboue a thousand gallons extraordinarily from the Conduits in a weeke, what wrong so many branches without the City, where lesse care is had, is to be taken into your Honourable consideration.
Fourthly, the water that now serueth Alderman-bury Conduit, doth belong to the pipes of Cheapside, and was lately cut out of the same, and that water which should or would serue that Conduit of Alderman-bury, is wholy stopt or giuen to priuate houses by the way.
Fiftly, Cornehill and Gracious-street men, complayning for want of water in their Conduits, there was three houres in a day abated by the Chamberlaine of the City,2 at the request of the Plumber,3 from the Conduits in Cheapside, thereby to furnish them with the more store, being ill serued, by the same pipes, but yet Cornehill and Gracious-street Conduits haue neuer a whit more water, nor the houres yet restored to the Conduits in Cheapside.
Sixtly, one of the maine and chiefest pipes runneth vnder part of Saint Martins Lane, and the Couen garden, in which places there are lately erected many new buildings and dwellings of Bricke; and it is supposed that digging deeper for the foundations, and finding the Pipes, they may take some priuate branches, out of their due course.
Your Petitioners doe humbly desire, for that there is great defect of water, in the said conduits: and that it is a generall grieuance, to the whole City; and that diuers complaints, haue beene made by your Petitioners for redresse, but no reliefe can be procured, and are vtterly remedilesse, but by this Honourable assembly that wee the Petitioners, may be permitted to preferre our Bill into this Honourable house: For remedy of this grieuance, and as in duty we are bounden; so we will daily pray, that God may blesse all your counsels, to the benefit of all succeeding ages.


  1. I.e., King Henry VIII. (KL)
  2. I.e., Cornelius Fish. (KL)
  3. I.e., Mr. Randoll. (KL)

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MLA citation

Anonymous. Petition of the Water Bearers. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 6.6, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 30 Jun. 2021,

Chicago citation

Anonymous. Petition of the Water Bearers. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 6.6. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed June 30, 2021.

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Anonymous. 2021. Petition of the Water Bearers. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London (Edition 6.6). Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

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

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ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Petition of the Water Bearers
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
ET  - 6.6
PY  - 2021
DA  - 2021/06/30
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  -
UR  -
ER  - 

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