People Property and Charity

The Clothworkers' Company 1500-1688


Dame Anne Packington (d. 1560) bequeathed property in Islington to The Clothworkers’ Company.Dame Anne Packington's Will, Book of Wills and Deeds, Clothworkers' Hall In her 1559 will, she granted her property at Islington to a group of trustees to regulate and manage, giving all the rents to The Clothworkers’ Company, who she charged with a number of annual tasks. The property comprised a messuage or tenement called the Crown in Islington; fourteen acres and one rood of land next to it called the prebend field; and three roods of lands known as Great Coleman’s field. She appointed George Dakers, John Byrche, John Rolle, John Payne, Francis Payne, Robert Shakerley, Rowland Shakerley, William Forrest, John Eve, Thomas Calowe, William Iremonger, Robert Marten,  John King, Roger Webbe, William Watson, Edward Wright, William Walker, Richard Marten, John King and John Iremonger as the trustees for the Islington property.[1] At the time of her will, the lands at Islington garnered an annual income of £16 16s. 9d.[2] Under the terms of the grant, she required The Clothworkers’ Company pay £3 13s. 4d. to the poor of the parish of St. Dunstons in the West.[3] Furthermore, the Company undertook to pay eight pounds to the parish in which she was buried, giving three pounds towards the education of students and three pound to the poor.[4] Further monies were to be expended on the preaching of a sermon in her name in the church in which she was buried, and the remaining forty shillings was to be paid in alms. Anne gave any leftover money from the rents to the Company. [5]

The first reference to the Islington property in The Clothworkers’ Company Court Orders came in 1565, when the Company agreed to issue letter of attorney to ensure that a member of the Court attended Islington Court from time to time concerning Packington’s properties.[6] Much of the Company dealings with the Islington estate in the 1560s concerned the ironing out of legal materials. Many of these arose due to the bequest of the lands in trust, which caused confusion regarding the Company’s title to both the lands and rental income. The prebend field at Islington became a long running area of dispute for the Company, with numerous claims of annuities and payments arising from the lands. In June 1568, Mr. Lute, Mr. Secondary and Mr. Longe met with Mr. Eden, the leaseholder of the field, regarding a claim for a noble a year, which he claimed from the rent of the prebend field.[7] The Company appointees were to determine what right he had to the money, and how long he had actually been paid it.[8] Further problems arose in the early 1570s, when the Company appointed Mr. Naillour, Mr. Phillipps, Mr. Carye, Mr. Rollesley, Mr. Hardinge and Mr. Browne to examine the Company’s title to the lands.[9] The Company directed the appointees to travel to Islington to view the property and to discuss the claim with Mr. Percy.[10]

Despite these disputes and claims, the Company continued to administer day-to-day matters relating to the lands. These included the granting of leases. In July 1572, they decreed that if they made any lease of the prebend field at Islington, then it would be to Robert House.[11] In December 1577, House petitioned the Court for a formal grant of the Islington lands.[12] He offered to undertake reparations, as the property was in decay, as well as offering £50 as a fine and the old rent.[13] He also accepted the responsibility to obtain the grant formally from the feoffees of the Islington lands.[14] Despite, his petition for a lease, it appears that House was somewhat tardy in his payment of the fine for the lease. A Court in May 1578 agreed that House should pay £154 6s 8d as a fine for the lands, yet by August he still had not paid the fine.[15] The Court ordered the payment, otherwise House would forfeit the lands.[16] House agreed to pay £100 of the fine within six days, and the remaining £54 6s 8d by Michaelmas. He also agreed to spend fifty pounds on repairs to the tenements within seven years.[17] Until the repairs had been made, House only received a year-to-year lease, with the Company agreeing to give him a twenty year lease should the conditions be met. The annual rental would be eighteen pounds.[18] It appears that House took the terms of his lease seriously, and in 1579, he petitioned the Court for permission to cut down six elm trees to repair the tenements at Islington.[19]

In 1581, a dispute arose again relating to the Company’s title to the lands at Islington.[20] The dispute was led by Mr. Iremonger, one of the original trustees of the land, who claimed title to it. The dispute continued through into 1582, when the Company agreed to enter discussions with Mr. Iremonger.[21] By July 1583, the Company had agreed to pay the sum of £40 to Mr. Iremonger and his co-claimant Mr. Wroth in order to clear the title of the lands in the prebend field.[22] In 1591, Mr. House received a new lease of the prebend field.[23] The lease required an annual rent of forty shillings be paid and ordered that he pay arrears of eight pounds and build and repair the gate house and other decayed houses by Michaelmas 1591.[24] The lease granted House the use of tree that had recently fallen down in the field towards the building of the house.[25] In 1592, the Company commissioned a survey of the lands at Islington, giving an insight into state of the property.[26] The report stated, for example, that the gatehouse was to be repaired; the small tenement next to gatehouse was in such a poor state that it needed to be pulled down; an old house with a hall and other rooms was in bad need of repair and was ready to fall down; and that the old barn was so decayed it needed to be pulled down.[27]

In 1596, the Company granted a new lease of land at Islington to Robert Cogan at the annual rent of forty pounds.[28] Under the terms of his lease, Cogan undertook to bestow £200 on building and repairing of messuages, tenements and houses and to keep them in good repair.[29] In 1602, the Company surveyed Cogan’s lands at Islington and estimated that repairs would cost £179 16s 4d.[30] They granted Cogan £100 towards the cost.[31] Cogan’s neighbour at Islington Mr. Thomas Miller, who had a parcel of land next to the prebend field, was less productive on his lands. In July 1602, he appeared at Court to answer charges that he had not paid rent for the previous six to seven years.[32] Miller offered the Court forty shillings for arrearages and a mark a year rent so that he continued to hold his twenty-one year lease.[33] The Company proposed more stringent conditions that asked Miller to pay £6 13s 4d in arreages and 14s 4d  rent per annum.[34]

In June 1602, the Company’s faced renewed petitions regarding their interest in the lands at Islington. John Tichborne, the heir of Anne Packington made suit to the Court for his interest in the lands at Islington.[35] He asked the Company for his interest or a sum of money in lieu of it, pleading poverty for his request. The Company agreed to consider his request, following a new survey of the lands.[36] By 1608, the Company had returned to the day-to-day management of the Islington lands. In May, Robert Cogan surrendered his lease of the lands at Islington, with the Company paying him £103 for his interest.[37] On the same day, suit was made at Court for a lease to be granted to John Swymmerton, who was already the tenant on the lands.[38] The Company granted the lease for a term of twenty-one years, to begin at Midsummer, with Symmerton paying a fine of £120 and an annual rent of forty pounds.[39] Symmerton agreed to keep the property in good repair and undertook not to cut down any trees on the lands without the specific permission of the Company.[40]

The Islington Lands, Ralph Treswell, 1612Problems regarding the extent of the Company’s holdings at Islington came to light in the Court Orders in 1610, when they agreed a writ of partition with Mr. Hillard, their neighbour at Islington for the three roods belonging to the Company and a number of feoffees to be completely defined.[41] In 1611, John Swymmerton, the Company’s tenant of the messuage at Islington, called the Crown and two other tenements, came to Court to petition for a longer lease, owing to the ruinous state of the property.[42] He offered to rebuild the tenements, if the Company would agree to the terms. The Court agreed to consider his offer, following a survey of the lands by Company appointees. By 1613, a small tract of the Company lands at Islington had been subsumed into the city water scheme.[43] The Company appointed Mr. Jackson and Mr. Pynder to measure the lands that had been taken to allow the conveying of water from Amivell Springs to the City of London to ensure that the Company received adequate compensation for their loss of lands.[44]

In April 1614, John Miller, gentleman, petitioned the Court for a lease of a small piece of land lying close to the Crown at Islington, held by John Swymmerton. He offered to establish the divide with a brick wall and give a fine of £4 for a twenty-one year lease. The Company deferred his offer. It appears that Miller’s petition was later accepted, as in September 1614, the Company appointed Mr Jackson, Mr. Gaylor, Mr. Hussey, Mr. Foxe, Mr. Beale and Mr. Dorrington to survey the land behind the Crown at Islington. The Company tenants, Mr. Swymmerton and Mr. Miller had agreed to build a wall between their respective holdings.[45]

In October 1614, the Company received instruction from the feoffees at Islington to confer with Mr. Hilliard, the owner of Great Coleman’s Field at Islington, regarding the purchase of the lands for £310.[46] The sale of the lands never transpired. The Company continued to petition Hilliard to establish proper boundaries on his lands, so that their three roods of lands within the field could be distinguished. He continually failed to define the lands. In September 1616, however, the Company agreed that Mrs. Symmerton, wife of John, the Company tenant at the Crown should hold the three roods of land for an annual rent of forty shillings.[47] In May 1618, twenty new feoffees were appointed for the lands at Islington.[48] These included Richard Waltham, John Carpenter, Joseph Jackson, Robert Parkhurst, Roger Walrond, Thomas Champney, James Munger, Christopher Barron, Thomas Wood, Thomas Gyppes, William Nicholls, John Crompton, Edward Hawes, John Burner, John Hangot, John Dunster, Adrian Evans, Anthonie Abey, John Harrison and John Waren.[49]

In August 1618, the Company agreed to purchase the lands at Islington from Hilliard.[50] The agreement called for the surrender of his lands, which would then be given to the control of feoffees. The Company would pay £410 for the clear purchase of the lands, and for the surrender of all title to the lands.[51] The Company granted the first lease of Great Coleman’s Field to Elizabeth Byfield. Byfield received the lease on a year to year basis, with the annual rent of twenty six pounds to be paid quarterly.[52] Following the purchase of the land, the Company appointed viewers to examine the lands at Islington.[53]

In 1624, Joan Symmerton came to Court to petition for a new lease of the Crown at Islington in her own name, following the death of her husband.[54] Extract, The Islington Lands, Ralph Treswell, 1612The Company were initially hesitant, questioning her regarding the dilapidated state of one area of her land. They relented, however, and granted her the lease for the duration of the lease held by her husband.[55] The Company viewed her lands in November 1624, and granted her a new lease in May 1625.[56] Under the terms of the lease, Joan agreed to build a barn of oak and timber at Islington and repair any defects to the existing building of the Crown. She received the lease for thirty-one years, at a rent of £66.[57] In 1628, the Company viewed the lands at Islington to examine the defects of the repairs that had been undertaken, and also to engage a carpenter and bricklayer to undertake the necessary repairs.[58] In March 1638, the Company entered dispute with Joan Swymmerton regarding her felling of trees on the property at Islington for her own use, which was a contradiction of her lease.[59] The Company ordered her to pay twenty pounds in compensation, but by August, she still had not done so.[60]

In April 1639, the Company’s lease with Mr. Miller for the lands adjacent to the Crown at Islington had expired.[61] They agreed to offer Miller a new lease, which if he did not accept would lead to his immediate eviction from the lands. The Company agreed to offer the lease to Mr. Drake should he not accept it.[62] By August 1640, however, Miller was dead, and three suits, including one by Joan Swymmerton were made to the Company for the lease of his garden plot at Islington.[63] The land was retained by John Miller’s wife, Lady Miller, in the immediate aftermath of his death. In July 1641, however, the Company threatened to remove the lands from her, as she had failed to pay her rent.[64] By October 1643, she had paid the arrears, and made suit with a Mr. Brewster for a new lease for seven to ten years.[65] The Company ordered them to pay three pounds for both the rent for the year and for arrears before they would consider making a lease. In February 1644, the Company granted a new lease to Brewster and Lady Miller.[66]

By 1643, the Company were surveying the lands at Islington to examine how many elm trees grew on the lands, and to estimate their value.[67]In 1655, the then leaseholder, Mr. Turpin made suit to the Company for a lease of the Crown Inn and lands at Islington.[68] Before they made any new grant, the Company undertook a new survey of the lands. [69] In 1657, Turpin renewed his suit for a lease, but the Company informed him that they would not grant  a new lease until the cow shed and three tenements there had been rebuilt.[70]

In March 1681, Samuel Lamnott, who seems to have held a lease of the Crown Inn and tenements on the farm at Islington, petitioned the Court for an allowance towards the repairs and building work he had undertaken at Islington.[71] He cited the disrepair left by the former tenant Captain Horn, as the catalyst for the works.[72] Lamnott intended to pull down some of the tenements and make alterations to other tenements belonging to the farm. He also proposed to build a cow house. The Court decided to give Mr. Lamnott all the money that he was due to pay to the house by Lady Day, which amounted to forty-four pounds.[73] They also proposed to give him an addition of twenty-five years to his lease once he had made the repairs.[74] The Company retained their interest at Islington, until the lands were sold in 1937.[75]

The Islington 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 £40 13s. 4d. from Islington.[76] The expenditure on the property in this year was £25 6s. 4d.[77] In 1620, the annual rental income from the Islington properties was £60 3s. 4d., while the expenditure on the property was £19 4s. 5d.[78] By 1640, the annual income from Islington had risen to £66, with the annual expenditure was noted as c.£19 9s.[79] By 1660, the annual income was £100 with expenditure reaching c.£21 13s. 8d.[80] By 1680, the Company received £100 annually from the Islington properties.[81] Their annual Islington expenses in this year amounted to £21 13s. 8d.[82]


[1] The Clothworkers’ Company Archive (hereafter CCA), Estate Records,  CL/G/Estates/Islington/A/1/1, Will of Dame Anne Packington, 24 November 1559.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.


[6] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 78r, Attendence at Islington court, 30 August 1565.

[7] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 119r, Dispute relating to the prebend field at Islington, 28 June 1568.

[8] Ibid.

[9] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/1, f. 154r, Dispute relating to lands at Islington, 24 July 1571.

[10] Ibid.

[11] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 162v, Grant of Islington lands to Robert House, 16 July 1572.

[12] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 213v, Suit for a lease by Robert House, 4 December 1577.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 219r, Payment of fine by Mr. House, 3 August 1578.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2,f. 229r, Petition by Mr. House, 7 April 1579.

[20] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 3v, Dispute with Mr. Iremonger, 25 October 1581.

[21] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 15v, Dispute with Mr. Iremonger, 7 August 1582.

[22] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 26r, Dispute with Mr. Iremonger, 1 July 1583,

[23] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 95r, Lease to House, 11 March 1590.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 121r, Survey of the lands at Islington, 13 June 1592.

[27] Ibid.

[28] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/13, f. 157v, Lease to Robert Coogan, 15 September 1596.

[29] Ibid.

[30] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, ff 216v-217r, Survey at Islington, 14 July 1602.

[31] Ibid.

[32] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 216v,  Agreement with Mr. Miller, 14 July 1602.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 214v, Suit by John Tichborne, 30 June 1602.

[36] Ibid.

[37] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f.25r, Surrender of lease by Robert Cogan, 25 May 1608.

[38] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f.25v, Lease to John Symmerton, 25 May 1608.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 59r, Agreement with Mr. Hilliard, 3 July 1610.

[42] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f.94r, Petition by John Swymmerton, 7 October 1611.

[43] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f.143r, Survey of lands taken for water course, 26 April 1613.

[44] Ibid.

[45] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, ff 180r-180v, Survey at Islington, 6 September 1614.

[46] CCA, Court Orders,  CL/B/1/5, f.183r, Sale of lands at Islington, 3 October 1614.

[47] CCA, Court Orders,  CL/B/1/5, f.226v, Lease to Mrs. Swymmerton, 30 September 1616.

[48] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f.260r, Appointment of feoffees at Islington, 15 May 1618,

[49] Ibid.

[50] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 264r, Purchase of lands by Hilliard, 19 August 1618.

[51] Ibid.

[52] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f278r, Lease to Elizabeth Byfied, 7 May 1619.

[53] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 287v, Survey at Islington, 9 October 1619.

[54] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 21v, Lease to Joan Symmerton, 19 October 1624.

[55] Ibid.

[56] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 22r, Viewing at Islington, 24 November 1624 and The Clothworkers’ Company Archive, CL/B/1/6, f. 27v-28r,  Lease to Joan Swymmerton, 20 May 1625.

[57] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, ff 27v-28r,  Lease to Joan Swymmerton, 20 May 1625.

[58] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 72r,  Survey at Islington, 28 April 1628.

[59] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/7, f. 115r,  Dispute with Joan Swymmerton, 14 March 1638.

[60] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/7, f. 127v,  Dispute with Joan Swymmerton, 21 August 1638..

[61] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/7, f. 149r,  Lease offered to Mr. Miller, 24 April 1639.

[62] Ibid.

[63] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 22v,  Suit for lands at Islington, 25 August 1640.

[64] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 41r,  Dispute with Lady Miller, 29 July 1641

[65] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 46r, Suit by Lady Miller and Mr. Brewster, 17 October 1643.

[66] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, ff 89v-90r, Lease to Lady Miller and Mr. Brewster, 6 February 1644.

[67] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8,  f. 95v, Survey at Islington, 9 July 1644.

[68] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/9, f. 62v, Suit for a lease at Islington, 4 July 1655.

[69] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/9, f. 77v, Survey at Islington, 8 July 1656.

[70] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/9, f. 88v, Suit by Turpin for a new lease, 15 April 1657.

[71] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 566, Petition by Mr. Lamnott, 24 September 1681.

[72] Ibid.

[73] Ibid.

[74] Ibid.

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

[76] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/4, Section 6, The Renter Warden accounts of Anthony Fawlkes, 1600, f. 2r.

[77] Ibid., f. 4r.

[78] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/5, Section 16, The Renter Warden accounts of Daniel Hall, 1620, f. 3v and ff 6v-7r.

[79] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts,  CL/D/5/8, Section 4, The Renter Warden accounts of William Harris, 1640, f. 7v and ff 9r-9v. The  income figures cannot be accurately calculated due to damage to the originals.

[80] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/10, The Renter Warden accounts of Dennis Gawden, 1660, f. 7and ff 16-17. The  income figures cannot be accurately calculated due to damage to the originals.

[81] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/12, The Renter Warden accounts of Robert Stevenson, 1680, f. 5.

[82] Ibid., f. 14.