Survey of London: Orders and Customs

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Of Orders & Customes.
OF Orders and Customes in this Citie of old time Fitz Stephen saith as followeth: Men of all trades,
Men of all trades in di
stinct places. Wine in ships and wine in Tauernes. Cookes row in Thame
sellers of all sortes of wares, labourers in euerie worke, euerie morning are in their distinct and seuerall places: furthermore, in London vppon the riuer side, betweene the wine in shippes, and the wine to bee solde in Tauernes, is a common cookerie or cookes rowe, there dayly for the season of the yeare, men might haue meate, rost, sod or fried: fish, flesh, fowles, fit for rich and poore. If any come sodainely to

Of Orders and Customes.
any Cittizen from a farre, wearie and not willing to tarry till the meate be bought, and dressed, while the seruant bringeth water for his maysters handes, and fetcheth bread, hee shall haue immediately from the riuers side, all viandes whatsoe
uer he desireth, what multitude soeuer eyther of soldiers or straungers doe come to the Citie, whatsoeuer houre day or night according to their pleasures may refresh themselues, & they which delight in delicatenesse may bee satisfied with as delicate dishes there, as may be found els where. And this cookes rowe is very necessarie to the Citie: and (according to Plato in Gorgias) next to Phisicke, is the office of cookes, as part of a Citie.
Without one of the gates is a plain field,
Smithfield for a plain smooth ground, is cal
led smeth and smothie.
both in name and deede, where euery fryday (vnlesse it bee a solemne bidden holy day) is a notable shew of horses to bee sold, Earles, Bar
rons, Knights, and Citizens repayre thether to see, or to buy: there may you with pleasure see amblers pacing it deli
cately: there may ye see trotters fit for men of armes, sitting more hardly:
Market for horses and o
ther cattell.
ther may you haue notable young horse not yet brokē: there may you haue strong steeds wel limmed, geldings whom the buyers do especially regarde for pace, and swiftnes: the boyes which ride these horses, sometime two, sometime three, doe runne races for wagers, with a desire of praise, or hope of victorie. In an other part of that field are to be sold all implements of husbandrie, as also fat swine, milch kine, sheepe and oxen: there stand also mares and horses, fitte for ploughes and teames with their young coltes by them. At this citie
Marchants of all nations tra
ded at this Ci
ty, & had their seuerall Keyes and wharfes.
Marchante strangers of all nations had their keyes and wharfes:
The Authors opinion of this Citie, the anti
quitie thereof after some au
thors which he had reade.
the Arabians sent gold: the Sabians spice and frankensence: the Scithian armour, Babilon oile, Indian purple garments, Egipt precious stones, Norway and Russia Ambergrese, & Sables, & the French men wine. According to the truth of Chronicles, this Citie is ancienter then Rome,
This Citie de
uided into Wardes more then 400 years since, and also had then both Aldermen and Sheriffes.
built of the auncient Troians and of Brute, before that was built by Romulus, and Rhemus: and therefore vseth the aun
cient customes of Rome. This Citie euen as Rome, is diui
ded into Wardes: it hath yearely Shiriffes in steed of Con

Of Orders and Customes.
sulles: it hath the dignitie of Senators in Aldermen. It hath vnder Officers, Common Sewers, and Conduictes in streetes, according to the qualitie of causes, in hath generall Courtes: and assemblies vpon appointed dayes. I doe not thinke that there is any Cittie, wherein are better customes,
Customes of London.
in frequen
ting the Churches, in seruing God, in keeping holy dayes, in giuing almes, in entertayning straungers in solemnizing Mar
riages, in furnishing banquets, celebrating funerals, and bury
ing dead bodies.
The onely plagues of London, is immoderate quassing a
mong the foolish sort, and often casualties by fire.
Casualtie of fires when houses were couered with thatch.
Most part of the Bishops, Abbots, and great Lordes of the land haue houses there, whereunto they resort, and bestow much when they are called to Parliament by the king, or to counsell by their Metropolitane, or otherwise by their priuate businesse.
Thus far Fitzstephen of the estate of these things in his time, whereunto may be added the present, by conference whereof, the alteration will easily appeare.
Men of trades and sellers of wares in this City haue often times since chaunged their places, as they haue found their best aduan
tage. For whereas Mercers and Haberdashers vsed to kéepe their shoppes in West Cheape, of later time they held them on London Bridg, where partly they yet remayne. The Gold
smithes of Gutherons lane, and old Exchaunge, are now for the most part remoued into the South side of west Cheap: the Pepe
rers and Grocers of Sopers lane, are now in Buckles berrie, & other places: the Drapers of Lombardstréete and of Cornehill, are seated in Candlewickstréete and Watheling streete: the Skinners from S. Mary Pellipers, or at the Axe, into Budgerow and Walbrooke: The Stockefishmongers in Thames stréete: wette Fishmongers in Knightriders stréete, and Bridge stréete: The Ironmongers of Ironmongers lane, and old Iury, in
to Thames stréete: the Uinteners from the Uinetrée into di
uers places. But the Brewers for the more parte remaine néere to the friendly water of Thames: the Butchers in East
, and S. Nicholas Shambles: the Hosyers of olde time in Hosyer lane, neare vnto Smithfield, are since remoued into Cord

Of Orders and Customes.
wayner stréete, the vpper part thereof by Bow Church, and last of all into Birchouerislane by Cornehill: the Shoomakers and Curryars of Cordwaynerstreete, remoued the one to S. Martins Le Graund, the other to London wall neare vnto Moregate, the Founders remayne by them selues in Lothebery: Cokes, or Pastelars for the more part in Thames street, the other dispersed into diuers parts. Powlters of late remoued out of the Powltry betwixt the Stockes and great Conduite in Cheape into Grasse
and S. Nicholas Shambles: Bowyars, from Bowyer
by Ludgate, into diuers places, and almost worne out with the Fletchers: Pater noster Beade makers and Text Wri
ters are gone out of Pater Noster Rowe into Stationers of Paules Church yard: Patten makers of S. Margaret Pat
tens lane
, cleane worne out: Laborers euery worke daye are to bee found in Cheape about Sopars lane ende, horse coursers and Sellars of Oxen, Sheepe, Swine, and such like, remaine in their olde market of Smithfilde &c.
That Marchants of all Nations had their Keyes and wharfes at this City whereunto they brought their Marchandises before, and in the raigne, of Henry the second mine author wrote of his owne knowledge to be true, though for the antiquitie of the citie, he tooke the common opinion. Also that this citie was in his time and afore deuided into wards, had yearly Sherifs, Aldermen, ge
neral courts, and assemblies, & such like notes by him set down, in commendation of the cittizens (whereof there is no question) hee wrote likewise of his owne experience, as being borne & brought vp amongst them.
And concerning Marchandises then thither transported (wher
of happily may bee some argument) Thomas Clifforde (before Fitz Stephens time) writing of Edward the Confessor, saith to this effect: King Edward intending to make his Sepulcher at Westminster, for that it was neere to the famous citie of Lon
and the Riuer of Thames, that brought in all kinde of Mar
chandises, from all parts of the world &c. And William of Malms
, that liued in the raygne of William the first and seconde, Henry the first, and king Stephen , calleth this a noble Citie, full of wealthie cittizens, frequented with the trade of Marchandises

Of Orders and Customes.
from all parts of the world. Also I reade in diuers records that of olde time no woade was stowed or harbored in this Citty but all was presently solde in the ships, except by licence purchased of the Sheriffes, till of more latter time, to wit, in the yeare 1236. An
drew Bokerell
being Mayor, by assent of the principall Citizens, the Marchants of Amiens, Nele and Corby, purchased letters insealed with the common seale of the Cittie, that they when they come, might harborow their woades, and therefore should giue the Mayor euery yeare 50. markes starling: and the same yeare they gaue 100.£. towards the conueying of water from Tyborne to this Citie. Also the Marchants of Normandie made fine for licence to harbor their woads, till it was otherwise prouided. In the yeare 1263. Thomas Fitz Thomas, being Mayor, &c. which proueth that then (as afore) they were here, amongst other nati
ons priuiledged.
It followeth in Fitz Stephen, that the plagues of London in that time were immoderate quaffing among fooles, and of
ten casualties by fire
. For the first, to wit of quaffing, it conti
nueth as afore, though greatly qualified among the poorer sort not of any holy abstinencie, but of méer necessitie, Ale and Béere being small, and wines in price aboue their reach. As for preuention of casualties by fire (the houses in this citie being then builded all of timber and couered with thatch of straw or réed) it was long since, thought good policie in our forefathers, wisely to prouide, namely in the yeare of Christ 1189.
Li. Constitu
the first of Richard the first,
Li. Horne.
Henry Fitzalwine being then Mayor,
Li. Clarken
that all men in this cittie shoulde build their houses of stone vp to a certaine height, and to couer them with slate, bricke or tyle: since the which time (thanks be giuen to God) there hath not happened the like, often consuming and deuouring1 fiers in this cittie as afore. But now in our time in steade of these inormities: others are come in place no lesse meet to be reformed: and first, and namely, Purprestures,
Purpresture in and about this citie. W. Patten. Carres and Drayes not well gouerned in this Citie, daungerons 2.
or incroch
ments on the high wayes, lanes, and common grounds, in and a
bout this citie, wherof a learned & graue citizen hath lately written & exhibited a booke (as I heare) to the Mayor and communaltie.
Then the number of Carres, Drayes, and Coatches, more then hath beene accustomed, the streetes and lanes being strength

Of Orders and Customes.
ned, must needes be daungerous, as dayly experience proueth. I know that by the good lawes and customes of this cittie, shodde cartes are forbidden to enter, except vpon reasonable causes, (as seruice of the Prince, or such like) they be tollerated. Also that the forehorse of euery cariage should bee lead by hande: but these good orders are not obserued. Of old time coatches were not knowne in this Island, but chariots, or Whirlicotes, and they onely vsed of Princes or great estates, such as had their footmen about them: I reade that Rychard the second being threatened by the rebelles of Kent, rode from the Tower of London to the Myles end,
L.S. Mary Aborum.
and with him his mother in a Wherlicote,
Riding in Wherlicotes.
the Earls of Buckingham, Kent, Warwicke, and Oxford, Sir Thomas Perie, Sir Ro
bert Knowles
, the Mayor of London, Sir Auberie de Vere, that bare the Kinges sword, with other Knightes and Esquires attending on horsebacke. But in the yeare next following the said King Richard tooke to wife Anne daughter to the King of Bo
, that first brought hither the riding vpon side saddles,
Riding in side saddles, that were wont to ride a stride. Riding in Coaches.
and so was the riding in Wherlicoates and chariots forsaken, except at coronations and such like spectacles: but now of late yeares the vse of coatches is taken vp, and made so common, as there is ney
ther distinction of time, nor difference of persons obserued.
Last of all mine Author in this Chapter hath these words: Most part of the Bishops, Abbots, and great Lordes of the land, as if they were Citizens & free men of London, had many fayre houses to resort vnto, and many rich and wealthy gentlemen spent their money there. And in an other place hee hath these words: Euery Sonday in Lent a fresh company of young men comes into the fields on horsebacke, and the best horsemen conducteth the rest: then martch forth the Citizens sonnes, and other young men with disarmed launces and shieldes, & practise feates of warre: many Courtiers likewise and atten
dants of noble men repaire to this exercise, & whilst the hope of victorie doth enflame their mindes, they doe shewe good proofe how seruiceable they would be in martial affaires &c
. Againe he saith: This Citie in the troublesome time of King Stephen shewed at a muster 20000. armed horsemen, and 40000. footemen, seruiceable for the warres. &c. All which

Of Orders and Customes.
sayinges of the said Author well considered, do plainely proue, that in those dayes, the inhabitantes & repayrers to this Citie of what estate soeuer, spirituall or temporall, hauing houses here, liued to
gether in good amitie, euery man obseruing the customes and or
der of the Citie, and chose to be contributarie to charges here, ra
ther then in any part of the land wheresoeuer: This cittie being the hart of the Realme, the Kinges chamber, and Princes seate whereunto they made repayre, and shewed their forces, both of horses and of men, which caused in troublesome time (as of king Stephen) the Musters of this Citie to be so great in number.
The causes of great shewes and musters in this citie of old time, more then of late.
And here to touch somewhat of the great families and housholds kept in former times I reade that in the 36. of Henry the sixt, the great estates being called vp to London, the Earle of Salesbury came with 500. men on horsebacke, and was lodged in the Her
ber: Richard Duke of Yorke with 400. men lodged at Bay
nards Castle
: the Dukes of Excester, and Sommerset with 800. men. The Earle of Northumberland, the Lord Egre
, and the Lord Clifford with 1500. men. Richard Ne
Neuill Earle of Warwicke. R. Fabian manuscript.
of Warwicke with 600. men, all in redde iackets, im
brodered with ragged staues before and behind, and was lodged in VVarwicke lane: in whose house there was oftentimes sixe Oxen eaten at a breakefast, and euery Tauerne was full of his meat, for he that had any acquaintance in that house, might haue there so much of sodden and roste meate, as hee coulde pricke and carry vpon a long dagger. Nicholas VVest Bishoppe of Ely
Liber Ely. West Bish. of Ely.
in the yeare 1532. kept continually in his house, an hun
dred seruants giuing to the one half of them 53. . foure pence the peece yearely: to the other halfe each 40. . the péece: to euery one for his winter gowne, foure yardes of broad cloth, and for his sommer coate three yardes and a halfe: hee dayly gaue at his gates besides bread and drinke, warme meat to two hundred poore people. The house kéeping of Edward late Earle of Darby is not to be forgotten who had 220. men in Checke Rolle: his fée
ding aged persons, twice euery day sixtie and odde, besides all com
mers thrice a weeke, and euery good Fryday 2700. with meate drinke and money.
Thomas Audley
Tho. L. Audley
Lord Chauncelor, his family of gentlemen,

Of Orders and Customes.
before him in coates garded with Ueluet, and chaines of Golde: his yeomen after him in the same liuery not garded. VVilliam Powlet Lord great mayster, Marquis of Winchester, kept the like number of Gentlemen and yeomen in a liuery of Reding Tawney. Thomas Lord Cromwell Earle of Essex kept the like or greater number in a liuerie of gray marble, &c. the gen
tlemen garded with Ueluet, and the yeomens with the same cloth.
These, as all other of those times gaue great reliefe to the poore, and I haue oft séene at that Lorde Cromwels gate, more then two hundred persons serued twice euery day with breade, meate, and drinke.
Edward Duke of Sommerset was not inferior in kéeping a number of tall Gentlemen and yeomen. These (I say) and all other men of honour and worshippe then lodging in this Citie, or within the liberties therof, did without grudging, beare their part of charges with the Citizens, according to their estimated estates, without the which, those musters of old time could not haue béene so great.
And thus I end touching vsuall Orders and Customes of this citie.


  1. I.e. deuouring (SM)
  2. I.e. dangerous (SM)

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MLA citation

Stow, John, and William fitz Stephen. Survey of London: Orders and Customs. The Map of Early Modern London, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 20 Jun. 2018,

Chicago citation

Stow, John, and William fitz Stephen. Survey of London: Orders and Customs. The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed June 20, 2018.

APA citation

Stow, J., & fitz Stephen, W. 2018. Survey of London: Orders and Customs. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London. Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

RIS file (for RefMan, EndNote etc.)

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

A1  - Stow, John
A1  - fitz Stephen, William
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Survey of London: Orders and Customs
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
PY  - 2018
DA  - 2018/06/20
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  -
UR  -
ER  - 


RT Web Page
SR Electronic(1)
A1 Stow, John
A1 fitz Stephen, William
A6 Jenstad, Janelle
T1 Survey of London: Orders and Customs
T2 The Map of Early Modern London
WP 2018
FD 2018/06/20
RD 2018/06/20
PP Victoria
PB University of Victoria
LA English
OL English

TEI citation

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