Portsoken Ward


Portsoken Ward is east of Tower Street Ward and Aldgate Ward and is located outside the Wall. This ward was once called Knighten Guild, so named because the land which it encompasses was originally given to thirteen knights or soldiers who were the first members of the Knighten Guild, an order of chivalry founded by Edgar the Peaceful for valuable knights in his service. As the OED notes, portsoken refers to the district outside a city or borough, over which its jurisdiction extends (OED portsoken, 1). It follows that this ward, one of the twenty-six wards of London and located outside of the Wall, was later known as Portsoken Ward. Portsoken Ward’s eastern boundary runs off the eastern border of the Agas map; thus, our boundaries do not represent the ward in its entirety.
1720: Blome’s Map of Portsoken Ward. Image courtesy of British Library Crace Collection. 
                        © British Library Board; Maps Crace Port. 8.33
1720: Blome’s Map of Portsoken Ward. Image courtesy of British Library Crace Collection. © British Library Board; Maps Crace Port. 8.33

Links to Chapters in the Survey of London

1603 Description of Ward Boundaries

The following diplomatic transcription of the opening paragraph(s) of the 1603 chapter on this ward will eventually be subsumed into the MoEML edition of the 1603 Survey.1 Each ward chapter opens with a narrative circumnavigation of the ward—a verbal beating of the bounds that MoEML first transcribed in 2004 and later used to facilitate the drawing of approximate ward boundaries on our edition of the Agas map. Source: John Stow, A Survey of London (London, 1603; STC #23343).
This Portſoken, which ſoundeth the franchiſe at the gate, was ſometime a Guild, and had beginning in the dayes of king Edgar, more then 600. yeares ſince, there were thirteene Knights, or Soldiers welbeloued to the king and realme, for ſeruice by them done, which requeſted to haue a certaine portion of land on the Eaſt part of the Citie, left deſolate and forſaken by the Inhabitants, by reaſon of too much ſeruitude. They beſought the king to haue this land, with the libertie of a Guilde for euer: the king granted to their requeſt with conditions following: that is, that each of them ſhould victoriouſly accompliſh three combates, one aboue the ground, one vnder ground, and the third in the water, and after this at a certaine day in Eaſt Smithfield, they ſhould run with Speares againſt all commers, all which was gloriouſly performed: and the ſame day the king named it knighten Guild, & ſo bounded it, from Ealdgate to the place where the bars2 now are toward the eaſt, on both the ſides of the ſtreete, and extended it towards Biſhopſgate in the North, vnto the houſe then of VVilliam Presbiter, after of Giffrey Tanner, and then of the heyres of Coluer, after that of Iohn Eaſeby, but ſince of the Lord Bourchier, &c. And againe towardes the South unto the riuer of Thames, and ſo farre into the water, as a horſeman entering the ſame, may ride at a low water, and throw his ſpeare: ſo that all Eaſt Smithfield, with the right part of the ſtreete that goeth to Dodding Pond into the Thames, and alſo the Hoſpitall of Saint Katherins, with the Mils, that were founded in king Stephens dayes, and the outward ſtone wall, and the new ditch of the Tower are of the ſaid Fee and Libertie: for the ſaide wall and ditch of the Tower, were made in the time of king Richard, when he was in the holy land, by VVilliam Longſhampe Biſhop of Ely, as before I have noted vnto you. Theſe knightes had as then none other Charter by all the dayes of Edgar, Ethelred, and Cnutus, vntill the time of Edward the Confeſſor, whom the heires of thoſe knights humblie beſought to confirme their liberties, whereunto he graciouſly graunting, gaue them a deede thereof, as appeareth in the booke of the late houſe of the holy Trinitie. The ſaid Charter is faire written in the Saxon letter and tongue. After this king William the ſonne of VVilliam the Conqueror, made a confirmation of the ſame liberties, vnto the heyres of thoſe knights in theſe wordes. William king of England to Maurice Biſhop, and Godffrey de Magum, and Richard de Parre, and to his faithfull people of London, greeting: know yee mee to haue granted to the men of Knighten Guilde, the Guilde that belonged to them, and the land that belonged thereunto, with all Cuſtomes, as they had the ſame in the time of king Edward, and my father. Witneſſe Hugh de Buche: at Rething. After him, king Henry the firſt confirmed the ſame by his Charter, to the like effect, the recitall whereof, I pretermit for breuitie. After which time, the Church of the holy Trinitie within Ealdgate of London, being founded by Queene Matilde, wife to the ſaide Henrie, the multitude of brethren prayſing God day and night therein, in ſhort time ſo increaſed, that all the Citie was delighted in the beholding of them: inſomuch that in the yeare 1115. certaine Burgeſſes of London, of the progenie of thoſe Noble Engliſh knights to wit Radulphus Fitzalgod, WiThis text has been supplied. Reason: The ink has faded, obscuring the text. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on an external source. (JZ)lmarde le Deuereſhe, Orgare le Prude, Edward Hupcornehill, Blackſtanus, and Alwine his kinſman, and Robert his brother, the ſonnes of Leafſtanus the Goldſmith, Wiſo his ſonne, Hugh Fitzvulgar, Algare Secuſme, coming togither into the Chapter houſe of the ſaid Church of the holy Trinitie, gaue to the ſame Church and Canons ſeruing God therein, all the lands and ſoke called in Engliſh Knighten Guilde, which lieth to the wall of the Citie, without the ſame gate, and ſtretcheth to the riuer of Thames, they gaue it, I ſay, taking vpon them the Brotherhoode and participation of the benefites of that houſe, by the handes of Prior Norman. And the better to confirme this their graunt, they offered upon the Altar there, the Charter of Edward, togither with the other Charters, which they had thereof: and afterward they did put the foreſayd Prior in ſeiſine thereof, by the Church of Saint BThis text has been supplied. Reason: The ink has faded, obscuring the text. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on an external source. (JZ)uttolphes which is builded thereon, and is the head of that land: Theſe things were thus done, before Bernard Prior of Dunſtable, Iohn Prior of Derland, Geffrey Clinton Chamberlaine, and many other Clarkes and Laymen, French and Engliſh, Orgar le Prude (one of their Companie) was ſent to king Henrie, beſeeching him to confirme their gift, which the king gladly granted by his deede. Henrie king of England to R.B. of London, to the Shiriffes, and Prouoſt, and to all his Barons, and faithfull people, French and Engliſh, of London, and Middleſex, greeting. Know ye mee to haue graunted, and confirmed to the Church and Canons of the holy Trinitie of London, the Soke of the Engliſh knighten Guilde, and the land which pertaineth thereunto, and the Church of S. Buttolph, as the men of the ſame Guilde haue giuen and granted vnto them: and I will and ſtraightly commaund, that they may hold the ſame well and honourably and freely, with ſacke and ſoke, toll, and Thea, infangthefe, and all cuſtoms belonging to it, as the men of the ſame Guild in beſt ſort had the ſame in the time of K. Edward, and as king VVilliam my father, and brother3 did grant it to them by their writs. Witneſſe A. the Queene,4 Geffrey Clinton the Chauncellor, and William of Clinton at Woodſtocke. All theſe preſcribed writings (ſaieth my booke) which ſometime belonged to the Priorie of the holy Trinitie, are regiſtred in the end of the booke of Remembrances, in the Guildhall of London, marked with the letter C. folio 134. The king ſent alſo his Shiriffes to wit, Aubery de Vere, and Roger nephew to Hubert, which vpon his behalfe ſhould inueſt this church with the poſſeſſions hereof, which the ſaid Shiriffes accompliſhed comming vpon the ground, Andrew Bucheuite, and the forenamed witneſſes, and other ſtanding by, notwithſtanding, Othowerus Acoliuillus Otto, and Geffrey Earle of Eſſex, Conſtables of the Tower by ſucceſſion, withheld by force a portion of the ſaid land, as I haue before deliuered. The Prior and Chanons of the holy Trinitie, being thus ſeiſed of the ſaid land and Soke of knighten Guilde, a part of the Suburbe without the wall, (but within the liberties of the Citie) the ſame Prior was for him, and his ſuceſſors, admitted as one of the Aldermen of London, to gouerne the ſame land and Soke: according to the cuſtomes of the Citie, he did ſit in Court and rode with the Maior, and his Brethren the Aldermen, as one of them in Scarlet, or other leuery, as they vſed, vntill the yeare 1531. at the which time, the ſaid Priory by the laſt Prior there, was ſurrendred to king Henry the eight, in the 23. of his raigne, who gaue this Prorie to ſir Thomas Audley, knight, Lord Chauncellor of England, and he pulled downe the Church. Sithens the which diſſolution of that houſe, the ſayde Ward of Portſoken, hath béene gouerned by a temporall man, one of the Aldermen of London, elected by the Citizens, as by the Aldermen of other wardes. Thus much for the out boundes of Cnitten Guilde, or Portſoken Warde, and for the antiquitie and gouernment thereof.

Note on Ward boundaries on Agas Map

Ward boundaries drawn on the Agas map are approximate. The Agas map does not lend itself well to georeferencing or georectification, which means that we have not been able to import the raster-based or vector-based shapes that have been generously offered to us by other projects. We have therefore used our drawing tools to draw polygons on the map surface that follow the lines traced verbally in the opening paragraph(s) of each ward chapter in the Survey. Read more about the cartographic genres of the Agas map.


  1. The 1603 Survey is widely available in reprints of C.L. Kingsford’s two-volume 1908 edition (Kingsford) and also in the British History Online transcription of the Kingsford edition (BHO). MoEML is completing its editions of all four texts in the following order: 1598, 1633, 1618, and 1603. (JJ)
  2. I.e., Aldgate Bars (JZ)
  3. I.e., William II. (SM)
  4. I.e., Adeliza of Louvain. (MR)


Cite this page

MLA citation

Zabel, Jamie. Portsoken Ward. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 05 May 2022, mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/PORT1.htm.

Chicago citation

Zabel, Jamie. Portsoken Ward. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed May 05, 2022. mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/PORT1.htm.

APA citation

Zabel, J. 2022. Portsoken Ward. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London (Edition 7.0). Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/editions/7.0/PORT1.htm.

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  - Zabel, Jamie
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Portsoken Ward
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  - https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/PORT1.htm
UR  - https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/xml/standalone/PORT1.xml
ER  - 

TEI citation

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