People Property and Charity

The Clothworkers' Company 1500-1688


The Company received two bequests of property at Cornhill. The first came from Oliver Claymond in 1540, when he granted the Company a property that ran between Cornhill and Threadneedle Street.[1] The second bequest of property at Cornhill came from John Lute in 1586, when he John Lute's Will, Book of Deeds and Wills, 1585granted the Company a house at 16, Cornhill.[2] This property had been Lute’s home, and remained the residence of his wife until her death in the 1590s. The house is referred to in the Company records as the Lute and Maidenhead in Cornhill.[3]

The Court Orders contain frequent references to the properties at Cornhill. From 1554, the Court Orders included a report on Claymond’s Cornhill property as part of the annual property viewings by the Company. In the 1550s, the property was in poor condition. In 1554, for example, the Court Orders noted that the property, rented to a Mrs. Thorowgood, had both decayed and cracked stone walls and a kitchen floor that was ready to fall in. The property was also unstable, and was sinking on one side.[4] By 1575, some of the problems had not been rectified, with the viewers noting that they directed Mr. Thorowgood to ‘amende the privie and the Seller of the tenements in Brodstrete ouer the backside of his owne house and to set the house vpright for it releth verie muche’.[5] The structural issues with the house, however, continued on to 1578, when the surveyors noted that the ‘howse reeleth Eastwarde for lack of principall tymber’.[6]

By 1585, the Company’s property at Cornhill had expanded due to the bequest of Mr. Lute. The Company did not formerly take possession of the property until after the death of Lute’s widow. Despite these conditions attached to the grant, the Company Court Orders in the late 1580s, however, bear frequent references to suits for leases of the property after the death of Mrs. Lute. In July 1588, Mr. Hollilande, for example, petitioned for a twenty-one year lease of the property, offering to pay a fine of £200 for both it and another house at Iremonger Lane.[7] In August 1492, Mr. Hobbes made a similar suit, offering to pay the accustomed rent for a twenty-one year lease.[8] The Court Orders do not provide the first reference to a lease of Lute’s property until March 1605, when a twenty-one year lease was issued to a Mr. Bill.[9] Under the lease, Bill agreed to pay £10 a year in rent, a fine of £200 and to keep the property in good repair. By March 1611, Bill was back at Court petitioning for an addition of years to his lease ‘due to the £120 expended on repairs and rebuilding over an above the sum stated in his lease’.[10] The Company undertook to complete a survey of the property before they would give a final decision on the addition of years.[11] By August 1611, however, the Company had informed Mr. Bill that his lease would not be extended, until his existing lease was within three years of expiration.[12] By 1617, Mrs. Bill was petitioning the Court, ‘to be allowed to assign the interest in the tenement, which her husband had from the company’.[13]

While the Company began to deal with Lute’s property at Cornhill, a new lease for Claymond’s property at Cornhill had been issued to a Mr. Ryder at £4 a year in rent and a £100 fine.[14] The lease was on condition that he surrendered his old lease, and kept the property in sufficient repair.[15] By May, however, he was back at the Court petitioning for an abatement of his fine.[16] The Company granted the abatement, but asked that he would spend 200 marks in building at the property.[17]In 1612, Treswell described the Claymond property at Cornhill, as consisting of two tenements ‘the one in Cornehill Called the wild man, and thother on the Backsyd northward in Threenedele streete, late in the tenor of Thomas Carpenter, & now in the Tenor of Mris Wood, both which lye in parish of St. Christopher’.[18] Both leaseholders had tenants in place - George Harwood and Thomas Collins – respectively, in place.[19] Treswell described the properties as each consisting of six stories. Collins’ property, for example, comprised a second story with a hall next to the street, and an adjoining kitchen;  a third storey with two chambers and two chimneys; a fourth storey of two chambers, one with a chimney; a fifth storey with a garret and sixth comprising a cellar.[20] The whole property was approximately twelve foot, east to west, and twenty-six foot north to south.[21]

Cornhill and Threadneedle Street, Treswell Street, 1612Treswell’s survey also provides the first detailed look at the property bequeathed by Lute at Cornhill.[22] The property consisted of a tenement and a yard, and lay in the parish of St. Michael in Cornhill. Cornhill High Street was to the north of the property, and a stone house in Lombard Street sat to the south.[23] The tenement comprised five stories above a cellar. The second storey contained a hall next to the street, a chamber, stairs, and a little gallery that ran over the yard into a new building and ‘also a compting howse ouer the staires & well’.[24] The third storey comprised two chambers and an ‘entry ouer the Comptinghowse Leading into a Chamber in the new building’, while the fourth storey included a chamber next to the street with a chimney and closet and an entry into the house of office.[25] A further chamber with a door out into two little garrets completed the floor. The fifth storey comprised a garret over the old building. The whole property sat over two cellars beneath the shop and warehouse.[26]

Following Treswell’s survey, the properties remained in the hands of their respective tenants for much of the 1610s. In April 1616, Mr. Bills petitioned the Court for an addition of forty years to his lease due to the large fine he had paid and the repairs he had undertaken at the tenement.[27] By November 1617, his wife Meryl was being named in the Court Orders as his executor, and was requesting permission to assign her husband’s interest in the property, now called the Red Lyon to Mr. George Benson, Merchant Tailor.[28]  In 1624, Thomas Carleton, Painter Stainer, received a lease of the tenement, formally held by George Harwood at Cornhill.[29] The property, bequeathed by Claymond, was granted on a twenty-one year, from midsummer 1624 at an annual rent of £10 and a fine of £120.[30] Carleton also undertook to give the Master, Wardens and Assistants a good fat buck of the season. Carleton’s early tenure at Cornhill was engulfed in controversy when, in April 1627, he was back at Court on order of the Company, as he had not paid forty pounds of his £120 fine.[31] The Court Orders noted how Carleton’s lease would have been forfeited due to the non-payment.[32] The Company, however, granted him an extension of his payment period until midsummer 1628 due to the decline of his business.[33]

By the 1640s, the leases granted in the 1620s had ended and new suitors for leases at Cornhill began to emerge. In June 1644, Peter Jackson, for example, received a lease for the Red Lyon at Cornhill.[34] The Company granted Jackson a twenty-one lease to begin on 16 March 1647, at an annual rent of £10 and on payment of £310.[35] In July 1644, the Company granted a further lease of one of Claymond’s tenements to William Walker for a twenty-one year term, to begin on 24 June 1646.[36] The lease contracted Walker to pay an annual rent of ten pounds and a £50 fine.[37] In August 1654, the Company granted another lease of a house (presumably the other house from Claymond’s bequest) to William Rowell. Rowell’s lease was to run for forty-one years from the 5 March 1654, with an annual rent charge of £10 and a fine of £200.[38]

The Company’s properties at Cornhill were completely destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666. In the aftermath of the fire, the Company’s Court Orders are full of references to disputes relating to the lands at Cornhill. In the immediate aftermath of the Fire, the Company entered into protracted negotiations with their tenant William Rowell over his claim to the land on which his leased property had stood. As early as April 1667, the Court Orders noted Rowell as petitioning ‘for a house in Cornhill, [which was] directed to the Judges at Clifford Inns, who had power to decide disputes between landlords and tenants regarding homes demolished by the fire’.[39] The Court ordered the Company to meet with Rowell to discuss the dispute.[40]  By December 1667, the Court had determined Rowell’s lease was to be made up to sixty-one years, to include the twenty-eight years that were still to run at the time of the fire.[41] Similarly in May 1668, the Court Orders noted multiple petitions for the tenement leased to William Walker.[42] On the same day, the Company’s other tenant at Cornhill, Peter Jackson, made suit to assign part of his land to a Mr. Colvell, who had a small tenement at the back of the plot.[43] The assignment would have enabled Colvell ‘to have doors of his own house into the company ground’.[44] The Company granted the request.[45]

By June 1668, the Company had issued a new sixty-one lease of land at Cornhill to William Bancks.[46] Bancks agreed to pay all arrears of rent and taxes on the lands.[47] In August 1668, the Company Court orders refer to a dispute between the Company and their neighbours regarding encroachments onto their lands at Cornhill ‘by the person in the next building towards the west’, which the Court of the Lord Mayor and alderman were demanding be settled by the Company Court.[48] Disputes relating to the Cornhill lands continued into 1669. In January, Samuel Pepys and Mr. Kerrington, who was the person encroaching on the Company lands, came to the Court about a piece of ground in Cornhill, which Pepys held of the Company.[49] The Company did not make any decision on the suit made by the men for a renewed lease and left it ‘to further consideration until the company and the company of Drapers between whom there is a dispute about the title of a piece of ground’.[50] In March, the Company undertook a survey of their lands to determine the extent of encroachment by their neighbour, Mr. Kerrington, who built a party wall on the lands.[51] In April 1668, the Company determined to allow the dispute to be resolved by their tenants at Cornhill, along with the city surveyor, Mr. Hooke.[52] Following this, both Samuel Pepys and Mr. Kerrington, made suit for longer leases at Cornhill.[53] As part of their petition, both parties offered to ‘be at the charge in building the yard as formerly’, and asked the Company to ‘sell unto them seven or eight inches of ground upon which Kerrington has encroached in the building of his party wall’.[54] The Company, however, ordered that no such lease would be used and that Kerrington was to remove the encroachment.[55]

By July 1669, the Company was issuing new leases again at Cornhill. Mr. Francis Burton, for example, received a lease of a yard at Cornhill for seventy years from 29 September 1680 at an annual rent £3 6s. 8d.[56] The lease contained the condition that Burton must rebuild and finish the yard and room or buttery there.[57] In December 1669, William Bancks petitioned the Court ‘for an abatement of arrears of rent due since the fire for the same; in consideration the ground did not appear to be the same dimension it was when he contracted for it’.[58] The Company ordered that £10 arrears be abated.[59] In August 1671, the future Company Master, Samuel Pepys came to Court and ‘demanded possession of [a] room’ at Cornhill, which he insisted had been granted him by the judges in the aftermath of the fire.[60]  The Company appointed a number of men to hear the opinions of all sides in the matter.[61] By April 1672, Pepys was back at Court requesting that he be excused from the payment of one noble, which he had to pay under his lease for the lights into the company’s yards.[62] The final entries in the Court Orders relating to Cornhill prior to 1688 noted extensive surveying of Pepys’ property at Cornhill throughout 1675.[63] The Company retained the Claymond property at Cornhill until 1765, when it was sold as part of the Old South Sea Annuities purchase.[64] Lute’s house was sold in 1899.[65]

The Cornhill properties were noted extensively in the Company accounts. Taken at twenty year intervals the monies accrued from the property can be noted. In 1600, the Company received a rental income of £4 from Cornhill.[66] This was based entirely on Claymond’s property. The acquisition of Lute’s property was still five years off. In the same year, no money was spent on repairs to the property.[67] In 1620, the annual rental income from Cornhill was £14, while £19 is noted as part of the expenditure for ‘Cornehill St. Larrance & St. Dionice Backchurch’.[68] This included the annual payment for an obit for John Lute and a clothing allowance from his property.[69]  By 1640, the annual income from Cornhill had risen to c.£23 pounds, with the annual expenditure noted as £5 14s. 8d.[70] By 1660, the annual income was £31 16s. 8d. with expenditure reaching £11 3s. 1 1/2d.[71] An additional £2 2s. is included as an expense in this account as monies were returned to the Company tenants, William Walker and Francis Burton, for tax payments.[72]  By 1680, in the aftermath of the Great Fire, the Company was receiving ten pounds annually from the Cornhill properties.[73] Their annual Cornhill expenses in this year amounted to £1 11s.[74]

[1] TNA PROB 11/28, The Will of Oliver Claymond, 28 February 1540 and A. Buchanan, ‘The Sources of the Wealth of The Clothworkers’ Company’, unpublished paper.

[2] The Clothworkers’ Company Archive (hereafter CCA), CL/G/Charity/Lute/A/1, The Will of John Lute, 12 May 1585

[3] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 124v, Leases granted to begin at the death of Mrs Lute, 29 August 1592.

[4] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/1, fd 195v-196r, Survey of property at Cornhill, 6 June 1554.

[5] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, ff 192r-192v, Survey of property at Cornhill, 14 March 1575.

[6] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, ff 228r-228v, Survey of property at Cornhill, 16 March 1578.

[7] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 84r, Suit for a lease by Mr. Hollilande, 2 July 1588.

[8] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 134v, Suit for a lease by Mr. Hobbes, 29 August 1592.

[9] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 243v, Lease to Mr. Bill, 14 March 1605.

[10] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 80r, Mr. Bill petitions for an addition of years, 15 April 1611.

[11] Ibid.

[12] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 89r, No addition of years, 6 August 1611.

[13] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 249r, Mrs. Bill asking for permission to assign lease, 26 November 1617.

[14] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 135r, Lease to Mr. Ryder, 7 March 1594.

[15] Ibid.

[16] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 243v, Lease granted to Mr. Bill of Lute’s property, 14 March 1605.

[17] Ibid.

[18] CCA, Treswell Survey, 1612.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid,.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 214r, Petition by Bills for an addition of years to his lease, 16 April 1616.

[28] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 249r, Assignment of Bills’ lease to George Benson, 26 November 1617.

[29] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/4, f. 16v, Lease to Carleton, 16 june 1624.

[30] Ibid.

[31] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 53v, Dispute regarding non-payment of fine by Carleton, 16 April 1627.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.

[34] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, ff 93v-94r, Lease to Peter Jackson, 4 June 1644.

[35] Ibid.

[36] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 95v, Lease to William Walker, 9 July 1644.

[37] Ibid.

[38] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/9, Lease to William Rowell, 2 August 1654.

[39] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, pp 54-55, Negotiations with William Rowell, 18 April 1667.

[40] Ibid.

[41] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 77, Agreement with Rowell, 4 December 1667.

[42] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 98, Suits for property at Cornhill, 18 May 1668/

[43] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 98, Assignment of land to Colvell, 18 May 1668.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, pp 105-106, Lease to Bancks, 26 June 1668.

[47] Ibid.

[48] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 125, Order from the court of the Lord Mayor regarding a dispute due to an encroachment on the company lands, 19 August 1668.

[49] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 163, Suit by Pepys and Kerrington, 27 January 1669

[50] Ibid.

[51] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 171, Dispute regarding an encroachment by Kerrington, 19 March 1669.

[52] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, pp 177-178, Dispute to resolved between Burton, Bancks and Hooke, 7 April 1669.

[53] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 178, Petition by Pepys and Kerrington, 7 April 1669.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 162, Lease to Burton, 21 July 1669.

[57] Ibid.

[58] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 218, Petition by Bancks,  14 December 1669.

[59] Ibid.

[60] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 274, Pepys petition for his room at Cornhill, 16 August 1671.

[61] Ibid.

[62] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 292, Petition for an abatement of payment of one noble, 2 April 1672.

[63] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, pp 385, 386 and 397, Viewings at Pepy’s property, 2 July 1675, 14 July 1675 and 5 October 1675.

[64] A. Buchanan, ‘The Sources of the Wealth of The Clothworkers’ Company’, unpublished paper.

[65] Ibid.

[66] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/4, Section 6, The Renter Warden accounts of Anthony Fawlkes, 1600, f. 1v.

[67] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/4, Section 6, The Renter Warden accounts of Anthony Fawlkes, 1600, f. 3av.

[68] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/5, Section 16, The Renter Warden accounts of Daniel Hall, 1620, f. 3r and ff 13r-13v

[69] Ibid.

[70] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/8, Section 4, The Renter Warden accounts of William Harris, 1640, f. 3r and ff 13r-13v. The  income figures cannot be accurately calculated due to damage to the originals.

[71] The Clothworkers’ Company Archive, CL/D/5/10, The renter warden accounts of Dennis Gawden, 1660, f. 3 and f. 12.

[72] The Clothworkers’ Company Archive, CL/D/5/10, The renter warden accounts of Dennis Gawden, 1660, f. 27.

[73] The Clothworkers’ Company Archive, CL/D/5/12, The renter warden accounts of Robert Stevenson, 1680, f. 3 and f. 9a.

[74] Ibid.