People Property and Charity

The Clothworkers' Company 1500-1688


John Hobby's Will, Book of Deeds and Wills, 1675John Hobby, Haberdasher, instructed his executors to purchase lands to the annual value of £170 that would be settled on fourteen trustees and their heirs.[1] Seven would be from Christ’s Hospital, with the other seven, being Assistants of The Clothworkers’ Company. Hobby stated that his will was that £40 from the rental incomes of these lands and tenements would be used for numerous charitable causes.[2] These properties were purchased in Plumstead, Woolwich and Watford, with control passing to The Clothworkers’ Company in 1574.  

The Courts Orders record the Company’s management of the estate at Plumstead. The first reference to the property came in 1682, when payment of £3 15s. 2d. was made to a solicitor, Mr. Moyses for dealings relating to the land.[3] Both a Mr. Hawkins and Mr. Trussell are noted as leaseholders on the Plumstead lands at this point. [4]No information survives as to the nature of his work, but it most likely that Mr. Moyses advised the Company in relation to the bequest of Mr. Hobby.  By April 1682, Thomas Fitts, a landholder in Plumstead, made suit for an abatement of 50s. from his rent.[5] The Company agreed to authorise the abatement on the basis that they had already made such grants to other tenants at Plumstead.[6] They set conditions that Fitts should pay 50s. of rent arrears by Lady Day and a further £10 by Michaelmas to cover the annual rent.[7] The Company also included the proviso that his lease would be sealed for fifteen years, with Fitts owing an annual rent of £20.[8]

In July 1682, a Mr. Briggs made suit for a lease of the Bird’s nest hole at Plumstead, which comprised a house and seven acres of land.[9] The Company granted Briggs a lease for one year at a rent of £4.[10] They set the condition that within that year, Briggs should repair the house with the quarter rent that fell due at Michaelmas.[11] They stated that as long as the Company was satisfied with the repairs, they would grant him a lease of eleven years.[12] Some of the tenants at Plumstead appear to have undertaken extensive repairs on the lands. In August 1682, a Plumstead tenant, Widow Essex, produced a bill of repairs for the house in which she dwelt.[13] The Company appointed Mr. Stevenson with a warden and the Company Clerk to view the repairs and to report on their findings to the Court.[14]  The improvements of the lands appear to have been a common pursuit by the Company and its tenants at Plumstead, with references to a general survey of the lands in the Court Orders in September 1682. [15]

The Company did not neglect their charitable responsibilities from the bequest of the Plumstead property.  In November 1682, reference is made to the auditing of the Hobby accounts, with the Company releasing £13 17s 9d from the rental profits of the estate to the Hobby charities.[16] The Company retained control of the Plumstead properties until 1959, when the estate was sold.[17]


Individuals associated with this property

  • - Briggs, Lease taker, 11-7-1682. Document reference: CL/b/1/10/p. 610-611 (Bird nest hole, Plumstead)
  • - Essex, Leaseholder, 16-8-1682. Document reference: CL/b/1/10/p. 614
  • - Everett, Leaseholder, 16-8-1682. Document reference: CL/b/1/10/p. 614
  • Thomas Fitts, Leaseholder, 5-4-1682. Document reference: CL/b/1/10/p. 605
  • Thomas Fitts, Suitor, 5-4-1682. Document reference: CL/b/1/10/p. 605
  • - Hawkins, Late occupier, 3-3-1682. Document reference: CL/b/1/10/p. 603
  • - Trussell, Late occupier, 3-3-1682. Document reference: CL/b/1/10/p. 603
  • - Wells, Leaseholder, 16-8-1682. Document reference: CL/b/1/10/p. 614
  • - Wells, Leaseholder, 16-10-1683. Document reference: CL/b/1/11/p. 11 (Plumstead)

[1] TNA PROB 11/347, Will of John Hobby, 12 March 1675.

[2] Ibid.

[3] The Clothworkers’ Company Archive (hereafter CCA), Court Orders, CL/B/10, p. 603, Payment to Mr. Moyses, 3 March 1682.

[4] Ibid.

[5] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/10, p. 605, Petition of Mr. Fitts, 5 April 1682.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid. 

[9] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/10, pp 610-611, Suit and lease to Mr. Briggs, 11 July 1682.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/10, p. 614, Survey of Widow Essex’s lands, 16 August 1682.

[14] Ibid.,

[15] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/10, p. 616, Repair of the Plumstead property, September 1682.

[16] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/10, p. 623, Charities of John Hobby, 17 November 1682.

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