People Property and Charity

The Clothworkers' Company 1500-1688

West Smithfield

WWilliam Heron's Will, Book of Deeds and Wills, 1580illiam Heron (d.c.1580), Citizen and Woodmonger, bequeathed property in West Smithfield and Cow Lane (both in the parish of St. Sepulchre), to The Clothworkers’ Company. His property bequest to The Clothworkers’ Company was slightly unusual, as he instructed his executors to make the decision as to whether to convey the property to the Woodmongers or the Clothworkers. In the case of Heron’s lands, however, his executors Edward Buggens, Robert Wood and Clement Rigges, all from Islington, decided to pass them entirely to The Clothworkers’ Company shortly after Herons’ death.[1] Heron gave specific instructions to The Clothworkers’ Company for the distribution of the rents from the properties at West Smithfield and Cow Lane amongst several family members, acquaintances and charities.[2] From his property, called the Maidenhead, in the parish of St. Sepulchre, London, he established an annuity of £20 to his wife, Elizabeth, on condition that she made no further claim on his lands.[3] If she did so, her annuity would cease. He also granted his brother, Thomas Heron and his heirs, £5 annually from his tenements in the parish of St. Sepulchres.[4] He instructed that both his stepdaughters, Katherine Bassett and Joan Hall, should receive an annual income of 40s. from these properties. He also advised the Company to pay a further 20s. annually to Katherine Bassett, and a further 20s. to John Hall, who may have been the husband or son of Joan. Heron also made provision for his servant, Margaret Bell, who was to receive 40s a year during her natural life.[5]

In his 1612 survey, Ralph Treswell defined the boundaries of the West Smithfield property as including all the lands that had previously been part of a parcel of an Inn called the Maidenhead, the Smithfield Pens to the east, Cow Lane to the south, lands in the parish lane of St. Mary Ongar and Blewbore Alley to the north.[6] The first reference to the West Smithfield property in the Court Orders came in March 1574, when the Company were in dispute with the leaseholder, John Walter, who had fallen into rent arrears with the Company.[7] The Company called Walter to Court to explain when he would pay the arrears. Walter was back at Court a week later requesting permission from the Company to be allowed to bring in ‘suerities for rent, [as] he was not in a position to pay the arrears’.[8] The outcome of his petition was not recorded in the Court Orders, but references to Walter at West Smithfield are not found in the records thereafter, suggesting that his petition was most likely unsuccessful, and that he later left the property.

By 1586, the Company’s major concerns at West Smithfield related to the necessary repairs to tenements that were identified in the annual viewing of Company properties.[9] Three tenements were singled out for particular criticism. Ryce ap David’s house, for example, lacked tiling, while the garret floor ‘[lacked] boarding’. The gable end of his house also ‘lacked daubing’. [10]  Similarly, the viewers described Nicholas Ottey’s house as ‘[lacking] tiling, and the gable end [lacked] mortering’.[11]  Allen’s house also had a gutter that needed to be repaired.[12] In July 1586, Ottey’s difficulties at West Smithfield were further exacerbated, as he appeared at Court regarding non-payment of rent.[13] The Company evicted him from his tenement.[14] In August, John  Oldham received a lease of Ottey’s former tenement for twenty-one years. Under the terms of his lease, Oldham agreed to pay an annual rent of £5 6s. 8d. and a £12 fine, as well as bearing the cost of all the repairs needed at the property.  In 1599, two further leases of property at West Smithfield were granted. The Company granted the first of these to William Hall, Clothworker, while the second, of the significant Maidenhead property was granted to Ellen Burton, the widow of Michael Burton, Clothworker, who had previously held the lease. Mrs. Burton’s lease was granted for twenty-one years at £7 rent a year and on payment of a £20 fine.[15] In May 1600, the lease was granted for twenty-one years to both Ellen and her new husband, Anthony Iveson, Fishmonger.[16]

In 1605, the Company undertook an extensive survey of their properties throughout London.[17] The properties bequeathed by Heron at West Smithfield and Cow Lane came under particular focus. At West Smithfield, problems were identified in five different houses. The viewers determined, for example, that Edward Drury needed ‘to pave his yard’, while the Widow ap David needed ‘to amend the platers in her yard and the stops in her kitchen’. [18] Both Henry Petit and David Price’s properties needed their gable ends mortered, while Widow Rice needed to undertake the tiling of her house and her yard.[19] At Cow Lane, the properties did not receive any better reporst. The viewers reported that ‘within the alley’ various repairs were needed to the properties of four tenants.[20] These included Pynner’s house, which needed repairs to the roof in terms in timber and tiling and Fludd’s house, which needed repairs ‘in the Somers over the cellar and the cellar stairs & the door of the cellar’.[21] Richard Hopkin's cellar also needed extensive repairs, as it was in danger of collapse, while the tenants in general, needed to address problems with the privy house and tiling and plastering of all the tenements.[22]

Following the 1605 survey, a flurry of activity surrounded suits for new leases of properties at West Smithfield. As early as July 1605, Henry Kendall made suit for a lease of a tenement, previously held by William Birchenshawe.[23] He petitioned for a lease for twenty-one years, offering £25 as a fine and the old annual rent of £8 10s.[24] The Company acknowledged his suit, but stated that no lease would be granted until the property had been surveyed. Similarly, in October, three suitors – Simon Neale, Henry Petitt and Henry Kendall - emerged for a lease of another tenement at West Smithfield, but they were again curtailed by the Company who stated that they would undertake a survey of the property before any lease would be issued.[25] In February 1606, the three suitors returned to Court and made suit ‘to have a lease in reversion of a tenement in West Smithfield called the Black Raven [then] in the tenure of the said Kendall’.[26] Simon Neale offered £40, Pettit £45 in hand and £5 at the commencement of the lease and Kendall £40 for a twenty-one year lease of the property.[27] All offered £8 10s. a year in rent.[28] The Company offered the lease to whichever of the suitors would pay £50 as a fine, but they all refused.[29]  The lease was eventually granted to Pettit in March 1605, when he received a twenty-one year lease, paying a £50 fine and agreeing to pay the £8 10s. rent.[30] He also agreed ‘to repair the tenement within four years, paying £50, to make a new cellar, and [to convey] the watercourse backward in convenient manner without annoyance’ to his neighbours.[31]

In 1607, the Company entered into negotiations with their tenant, John Walker, who came to Court to seek a lease in his own name for tenements that had West Smithfield, Treswell Survey, 1612been previously granted to John Evans, by the benefactor William Heron.[32] Walker’s major concern was to receive a lease for sixty-three years of the properties. He was, however, concerned about the potential knock-on effects of the cancellation of his lease on the legal standing of his five undertenants, who he believed would also have their leases terminated by his lease cancellation.[33] Walker requested, and was granted ‘a new lease in reversion from [the] Company of the said tenements with the appurtenances for 30 years after the expiration of the term of years in the said old lease contained’. This meant that Walker could receive his lease without surrendering his old lease.[34]  In June, Walker sent the Company six silver bowls, which were valued at £10 14s., which the Company accepted as part payment of his fine for the properties.[35]

By 1610, the upkeep and repairs of the properties at West Smithfield again became a key concern of the Company. In April, it was agreed between Edward Drury and Widow Pettitt, the wife of Henry Pettitt, the Company’s tenant who had died since taking his lease in 1605, that Drury would convey ‘water coming from his stable at his house in West Smithfield into the street’.[36] This would be less inconvenient to Widow Pettitt and her neighbours at West Smithfield. In 1612, Petitt was back at Court with her new husband, Christopher Askwith, Sadler, making suit to be allowed to mortgage the lease of her tenement in West Smithfield.[37] Askwith promised to rebuild the tenement in return for the grant. The Company agreed.[38]  Christopher Askwith’s property at West Smithfield was subsequently recorded in Treswell’s survey of the same year.[39] Treswell noted Askwith as the leaseholder of three tenements.[40] One of the properties contained four storeys over a cellar, while the other two tenements were of two stories over a cellar and with two garrets and one garret over the second respectively.[41]  Each tenement had a shop on the ground floor.[42]

It is through Treswell’s survey that the extent of the West Smithfield properties becomes obvious. In addition to the three tenements held by Askwith, Treswell also identified three further tenements along the west end of the Pens side of West Smithfield.[43] Treswell noted the substantial properties under lease to Edward Drury, Peter Clarke and Robert Seigers, a tenant of a Mrs. Bancks in the corner tenement. Each property comprised four floors.[44] Drury’s property, for example, contained  a second storey with a hall, a buttery, a chamber over a kitchen and little room just off the chamber; a third storey with a chamber over the hall and a chamber over the kitchen, which also contained a garret; and a fourth storey with a garret over a building next the Pens.[45] A cellar was also included under the kitchen.[46] Mrs. Banckes, the widow of John Walker, was by far the largest leaseholder in West Smithfield in 1612 Five of Bancks’ undertenants are noted by Treswell as resident in ‘West Smythfeild and Cow Lane’.[47]  All five – Tobias Haruist, Thomas Brettnor, John Showell, Thomas Andrews, tenant to Mris Banckes and Henry Perkins – were resident in  properties of three to four storeys.[48] Mrs Banckes was also the chief leaseholder in the area of ‘Phesant Courte’.[49] Four undertenants – William Halsom, Richard Andrews, Richard Laightburne and Nicholas Asbley - were noted as residents in four separate three storey properties at Pheasant Court.[50] The Company were again undertaking surveys at West Smithfield in January 1613.[51] The first survey was undertaken at the request of Christopher Askwith, as he was about to begin the rebuilding of two of the tenements, as per the terms of his grant in 1612.[52] Furthermore, the Company were also asked by Mrs. Banckes to view her property, due to an unidentified annoyance on her lands.[53]

By the early 1620s, the Company were again issuing new leases of the properties at West Smithfield. In January 1622, for example, Edward Drury’s former tenement was leased to Toby Harvest (presumably the ‘Tobias Harvist’ mentioned by Treswell in 1612 as a tenant of Mrs. Banckes).[54]  Harvest received a lease for a thirty-one year term at an annual rent of £8 and a fine of £80.[55] By the following month, however, it appeared the controversy had erupted over the property, as the Court Orders note an order of the Company to recover the property ‘by action of trespass against the said Drury’.[56] Harvest’s lease was mentioned again in July 1624, when the Company agreed to add four years to his lease to make it up to thirty-five years.[57]  In December 1624, the lease was formerly recorded for the thirty-five year period at an annual rent of £8 on condition that Harvest ‘remit to the company the hire of his coach which was used in the journey to Warley in Essex’.[58] Dorothy Askwith, the widow of Henry Pettitt, also received a formal grant of the lease held by her late husband for a term of twenty-seven years in 1625.[59] The lease came with the condition of the payment of a fine of £30 and an annual rent of £8 10s., as well as the surrender of the term of years in the lease made to her husband.[60] The Court Orders noted her payment of the final £10 of her fine in January 1628.[61] Further leases and assignments  were granted during the 1630s, including one to Richard Brigham, who sought to licence ‘to mortgage, set, alienate, assign and set over all the estate, right title interest and term of years to come to any person of good character’.[62] In lieu of his grant, the Company ordered him to pay them 40s.[63] The only reference to the West Smithfield properties in the 1640s came in a 1649 entry in the Court Orders, noting the Company’s order of a survey of two tenements in light of a suit for the properties by George Dodson.[64] The Company granted Dodson a twenty-five year lease of the property in February 1650.[65]

The West Smithfield properties featured frequently in the Court Orders throughout the 1650s. Three new leases of property were granted between 1650 and 1655, for example. The Company also entered into protracted disputes with some of their tenants during this decade. In 1655, for example, they pursued one of their tenants Mr. Ward for his rent arrears, going so far as to obtain a ‘letter of attorney to pursue Leonard Ward for arrears of rent’ as late as June 1657.[66] While not noted in the Court Orders, the dispute must have been settled as Ward was making suit for a new lease of his tenement as late as 1668.[67] As the Company properties at West Smithfield were not affected by the Great Fire in 1666, the renewal of leases, repairs to property and surveys of the tenements, feature prominently in the Court Orders from the late 1660s, 1670s and 1680s. In 1669, one of the Company’s then tenants at West Smithfield, Edward Rich, Esquire, made suit for a new lease of a house described as near the ship pens. The Company refused, however, to deal with him until he had undertaken the repairs he had promised to the property. [68] In January 1674, the Company undertook a survey of a house held by Thomas Phillips, Coachmaker, and the two adjoining houses held by Dodson.[69] Phillips was granted a new lease in the following April of his ‘house known by the sign of the coach and horses, against the sheep pens, West Smithfield’, for a period of twenty-one years, paying an annual rent of £8 10s and a fine of £85.[70] He was mentioned in the Court Orders again in 1686, when the Company granted him permission to come ‘to the next Court and treat for a new lease’.[71] In December, Phillips received the lease for twenty-one years, paying an annual rent of £8 and a fine of £100, and agreeing to undertake all repairs and give 10s to the poor box.[72]

The Company retained the properties until the nineteenth century. The Cow Lane property was later integrated into King Street and was part sold before 1841.[73] The remainder of the holdings were sold in 1875.[74] The West Smithfield properties featured prominently within the Company accounts. Taking the rent receipts and payments on the properties at twenty year intervals the income generated on the properties becomes obvious. In 1600, the Company accounts show an income of £52 16s 8d, with an expenditure of £51.[75] In 1620, the Company received an income of £52 16s 8d from the West Smithfield properties, with an expenditure of £53 10s.[76] In 1640, the annual income was £58 10s 10d., with an expenditure of £46.[77] In 1660, the annual income was £55 16s. 8d., with an expenditure at West Smithfield of £51.[78] In 1680, the annual income was £58 12s. 8d. and an expenditure of c.£51 [79]


[1] TNA PROB/11/62 ‘Will of William Heron’, 12 July 1580.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] CCA, Treswell Survey, 1612.

[7] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 36v, Dispute between the Company and John Walter, 24 March 1584.

[8] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 37r, Petition by John Walter, 31 March 1584.

[9] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, ff 58v-59r, Company survey of property, 14 March 1586.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 64v, Ottey evicted from West Smithfield, 19 July 1586.

[14] Ibid.

[15] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 188v, Lease to William Hall, 24 April 1599 and The Clothworkers’ Company Archive, CL/B/1/3, f. 191v, Lease to Ellen Burton, 21 August 1599

[16] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 195v, Lease to Anthony and Ellen Iveson, 20 May 1600.

[17] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, ff 246r-246v, Company survey of property, 27 May 1605.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 245v, Suit by Henry Kendall for a tenement at West Smithfield, 1 July 1605.

[24] Ibid.

[25] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/4, f. 2r, Suit for a lease of a tenement at West Smithfield, 8 October 1605.

[26] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/4, f. 4r, Suit for a lease in reversion of a tenement at West Smithfield, 3 February 1606.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/4, ff 5v-6r, Lease to Pettit, 19 March 1606.

[31] Ibid.

[32] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 6r, John Walker’s petition for  a new lease, 17 April 1607.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 6v, Walker sends six silver bowls to the Company, 2 June 1607.

[36] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 56v, Repairs to property at West Smithfield, 24 April 1610.

[37] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, ff 101r-101v, Petition by Widow Pettitt and Christopher Askwith, 28 January 1612.

[38] Ibid.

[39] CCA, Treswell Survey, 1612.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 133v, Surveys at West Smithfield, 18 January 1613.

[52] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, ff 101r-101v, Petition by Widow Pettitt and Christopher Askwith, 28 January 1612

[53] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 133v, Surveys at West Smithfield, 18 January 1613.

[54] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/4, f. 250v, Lease to Tobias Harvest, 28 January 1622.

[55] Ibid.

[56] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/4, f. 268v, Controversy at West Smithfield, 30 September 1622.

[57] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, ff 18r-18v, Addition of years to Harvest’s lease, 19 July 1624.

[58] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, ff 23r-23v, Lease to Harvest, 13 December 1624.

[59] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 29r, Lease to Dorothy Askwith, 15 June 1625.

[60] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 29r, Lease to Dorothy Askwith, 15 June 1625.

[61] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 66r, Payment by Dorothy Askwith, 9 January 1628.

[62] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 164v, Permission to assign lease granted to Richard Brigham, 7 March 1636.

[63] Ibid.

[64] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 212r, Survey of two tenements at West Smithfield, 7 December 1649.

[65] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 214v, Lease to Dodson, 26 February 1650.

[66] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/9, f. 70r and The Clothworkers’ Company Archive, CL/B/1/9,  f. 90v, Dispute with Leonard Ward, 8 November 1655 and 1 June 1657.

[67] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 90, Suit for a lease by Leonard Ward, 4 March 1668.

[68] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 177, Suit by Rich, 7 April 1669.

[69] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 349, Surveys at West Smithfield, 21 January 1674.

[70] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 351, Lease to Thomas Phillips, 15 April 1674.

[71] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/11, p. 104, Permission to treat for a new lease granted to Thomas Phillips, 30 November 1686.

[72] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/11, p. 105, lease granted to Thomas Phillips, 13 December 1686

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

[74] Ibid.

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

[76] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/5, Section 16, The Renter Warden accounts of Daniel Hall, 1620, f. 4v and ff 8v-9r.

[77] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/8, Section 4, The Renter Warden accounts of William Harris, 1640, f.5v and ff 10r-10v.

[78] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/10, The Renter Warden accounts of Dennis Gawden, 1660, f. 9 and f. 22.

[79] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/12, The Renter Warden accounts of Robert Stevenson, 1680, f. 8 and f. 18.