People Property and Charity

The Clothworkers' Company 1500-1688

Bow Lane

John Watson bequeathed one house to The Clothworkers’ Company at Bow Lane. This property is now 34, Bow Lane. Under the terms of his will, Watson (who also gave the Company properties in Basing Lane and St. Thomas Apostle) directed that The Clothworkers’ Company should pay an annual stipend of 20s. to the parish of St. Mary Aldermary, which was to be distributed to the poor of the parish. Watson stated that any residue of the monies should be given to the poorest freemen of the Company.[1] The first reference to the Bow Lane property comes in a July 1563 entry in the Court Orders, which highlighted that the then tenant, Anthony Wells had not paid his £40 fine for the lease of the property.[2] The Company agreed that if he did not pay the fine by the following Saturday, his lease would be made void.[3] Wells did pay the fine, but died during the following year. The Company assigned his lease to Mr. Whyte.[4]

In 1583, John Hodgkin made suit for a lease of the ‘great messuage’, then called ‘The Black Lion’ at Bow Lane.[5] Hodgkin received a lease in April 1584, following a survey by The Clothworkers’ Company. The Company granted him a lease for twenty-six years, at a rent of £4 a year. He also had to pay a £100 fine, and spend at least £5 on rebuilding and repairing the property.[6] In 1605, the Company surveyed the property, where they noted that Hodgkin’s needed to daub and plaster the house on the back side.[7] In 1608, Hodgkin’s made suit for a new lease of the property. The Company granted his request and offered him a lease for twenty-six years, to begin at Our Lady Day 1605.[8]  Hodgkin was to pay £4 rent and a fine of £200. Covenants, that he should surrender his previous lease and not assign his lease without permission from the Company; were also included.

In 1612, Treswell described the Black Lion as a substantial messuage in his survey. It was four storeys high, with a garret, cellars and a shop. The second story comprised a large hall, a buttery, a kitchen, a chamber and a garret. The third storey comprised three chambers, while the fourth storey had three garrets.[9] In 1613, John Hodgkins made suit for an addition of years to his lease.[10] He offered to repair the house as an incentive to the Company. Mr. Fox, the then Company Master, instructed him to go ahead and repair or rebuild the tenement, and informed Hodgkins that if the house was built to the liking of the Company that they would add additional years to his lease. In the following year, Hodgkins applied to the Court for permission to assign his lease.[11]

Between Hodgkin’s suit for an addition of years in 1613 and 1641, the capital messuage was rebuilt and the property divided into four houses. Several suits for the new houses are noted in the Company Court Orders in 1641, with one of the most substantial leases being granted to Mr. Clute for 21 years at a rent of £5 and a fine of £169.[12] In 1646, two of the properties were granted to Samuel Hutchins and Mr. Porch, and the activities of these two leaseholders are noted often within the Court Orders.[13] In 1661, for example, Porch petitioned the Court to have a lease of his house and the house next door.[14] The Company agreed that Porch could have the lease of the neighbouring property, then in the hands of Mrs. Marriott, on the expiry of her lease.[15]

In 1664, the properties at Bow Lane were examined and described by the surveyors as ‘two houses and two small tenements’.[16] The four properties were razed to the ground during the Great Fire of London in 1666. In the aftermath of the Fire, the Company granted plots of land to several leaseholders, including their pre-Fire tenants, Porch and Hutchins. One property suitor, Mr. Goodwin promised that if he received a grant of the lands he would rebuild the house on the lands according to the Act of Parliament that stated all properties must be rebuilt of stone in the aftermath of the Fire.[17] Rebuilding clauses were common in these post-Fire leases, placing much of the responsibility and cost of this rebuilding directly onto the tenant. In Goodwin’s case, this rebuilding clause meant that he received a lease for seventy-one years at a rent of £9 a year, but with no fine. He had to pay all taxes relating to the lands and give 10s. to the Company poor box.[18] The Company sold the Bow Lane property in 1855.


[1] ‘Report on the Charities of the Clothworkers' Company: Part II', City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 4 (1884), pp. 599-614. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=69738&strquery=report on the charities of the Date accessed: 10 March 2011.

[2] The Clothworkers’ Company Archive (hereafter CCA), Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 54r, Dispute with Anthony Wells, 6 July 1563.

[3] Ibid.

[4] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 63r, Wells’ lease assigned to Whyte, 11 April 1564.

[5] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 19v, Suit for the capital messuage at Bow Lane, 18 Janaury 1583.

[6] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 37v, Lease of the capital messuage at Bow Lane, 5 April 1584.

[7] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 245r, Survey at Bow Lane, 10 June 1605.

[8] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 23v, Lease to Hodgkins, 4 May 1608.

[9] CCA, Court Orders, Treswell Survey.

[10] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 148r, Suit for an addition of years by Hodgkins, 7 June 1613

[11] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 177r, Application to assign lease to Hodgkins, 2 August 1614.

[12] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 42r-43v, Lease to Mr. Clute, 17 August 1641.

[13] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 137v-138r and CL/B/1/8, f. 161v, Lease to Hutchins and assignment of lease to Porch, 13 and 15 April 1647.

[14] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/9, f. 168v, Suit for a lease by Porch, 1 February 1661.

[15] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/9, f. 168v, Lease granted, 27 March 1661,

[16] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/9, f. 242r, Survey of the Bow Lane properties, 27 January 1664.

[17] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/10, p. 203, Suit by Mr. Goodwin. 1 August 1669.

[18] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/10, p. 202-203,  Lease to Mr. Goodwin, 1 September 1669.