21 DECEMBER 1867, Page 13


THE accession of the House of Lancaster was signalized in London by the public burning at the Standard in West Cheap, by command of the new King, of the blank grants or charters (to be filled up with sums of money at the late King's discretion), to which Richard had compelled the richer citizens to affix their seals. The assistance rendered by the citizens to Henry on the discovery of the plot of the Duke of York's son, the Duke of Albemarle (Skakespeare's Aumerle), and others, to restore Richard, led to the repeal of some statutes obnoxious to them, and to the grant of extended privileges. The House of Lancaster, however, were Religious persecutors. In 1401, William Sautree, parish priest of St. Osyth, in Syth Lane, London, being con- demned by the Ecclesiastical Courts for Lollardism, was burned alive by virtue of the King's writ to the Mayor and Sheriffs of London, being the first victim to the " Act for Burning of Obsti- nate Heretics," passed in that year. In 1407, a great plague, which desolated England, swept away great numbers of the Londoners. In 1410, John Bradby, a tailor, was burnt to death in Smithfield for Lollardism under the above detestable Act. These executions seem to have begun to effect a change in the disposition of the Londoners, who had previously been strong opponents of Lollard- ism, for we find, on the alleged conspiracy of Sir John Oldcastle and the Lollards, soon after the accession of Henry V., the Mayor of London arresting many persons as engaged in this " plot" against the Established clergy, and rumours current that it was the " rude people's intent, if they did prevail, to destroy the monasteries of Westminster, St. Alban's, and St. Paul's, and all the houses of friars in London." Thirty-seven of the alleged con- spirators, who had been seized by the forces which the King had hastily collected, were " drawn from the Tower of London to Newgate, and so to St. Giles's, and there, in a place called Ficket's Field, were all hanged, and seven of them burnt, gallows and all." London was the theatre of more pleasant scenes in the same reign, on the occasion of the reception of Henry on his return from the Agincourt campaign, and again after his marriage with Katherine of France. During this time, Prince James of Scotland, the Duke of Orleans, and other royal and noble persons were occupants of the State Prison in the Tower of London, and romance and poetry relieved the seclusion of that dangerous domicile, in which the dungeon and the banqueting-hall were literally next-door neigh- bours. The solemn funeral of Henry V. ushered in for the citizens the wretched years of misgovernment, tumult, and civil war which constitute the remaining annals of the House of Lancaster. First, came the struggle between Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, and the Regent, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, in which the citizens generally sided with the latter. A more import- ant fact for London was the assertion by the citizens in the year 1428, in answer to an inquiry from the King, of a usage from time immemorial, that any servant or villein who had resided in the City for a year and a day, unreclaimed by his lord or master, was thenceforth free to remain there during his whole life, as freely and securely as if in the house or chamber of the King. Probably this cus- tom gave rise to the title we find frequently applied to London of " The King's Chamber" (Camera Regis). To this Shakespeare seems to allude in his Richard III., in which the Duke of Buckingham addresses the Prince of Wales, " Welcome, sweet Prince to London, to your chamber ;" and Lydgate also, in his address to Henry VL on his entry into London after his coronation in France, speaks of " your most notable cittee of London, other- wyse callyd your chambyr." An Act of Henry IV. was also repealed at this time, at the request of the Mayor and citizens, by which it had been enjoined that no person whatever, not possessed of land to the annual amount of 20s., should be at liberty to apprentice his child to any trade. In 1435 the Londoners dis- graced themselves by murdering many " Burgundian, Hollanders, and Flemings," subjects of the Duke of Burgundy settled in Lon- don, on account of the secession of that Prince from the English to the side of the Dauphin, Charles of France. In the next year the citizen levies did more honourable service abroad by aiding in compelling the Duke to raise the siege of Calais. In 1443 we find it recorded that there was a great tumult in Fleet Street, in which many persons were killed and wounded, in consequence of a quarrel between the students of the Inns of Court and the neighbouring citizens—in fact, a sort of "Town and Gown" riot. We have already described at some length the Jack Cade insur- rection, and the part taken in the affair by the Londoners. During

the gatherings of the rival parties of Yorkists and Lancastrians in London in the course of the negotiations in the year 1458, the Mayor, Sir Godfrey Bolleyn, kept watch in the day-time over the peace of the City with a guard of 5,000 citizens, while 2,000 others, under three aldermen, maintained order through the night.

The citizens in general, particularly the lower orders, were strongly in favour of the York party during the civil war which ensued— the misgovernment of the Queen's favourites and the murder of the popular Duke of Gloucester having mainly contributed to this result. When the Queen gained the second battle of St. Alban's, and was preparing to march on London, great excitement was created in the City. The Mayor, being summoned by the Queen to send carts laden with supplies of food, &c., forthwith to her army, was prevented from doing so by the common people, who stopped the carts at Cripplegate, and repulsed some of the Queen's Northern horse, who attempted to enter the city at that gate. On this, the Mayor and wealthier citizens, in alarm at the probable resentment of the Queen, sent a deputation to her Council at Barnet, engaging that her army should be admitted as, soon as the Commons were quieted. But the victory of the Earl- of March at Mortimer's Cross and his advance southwards re- lieved London from the impending dangers of plunder and fine, and young Edward entered the capital amidst the greatest demonstra- tions of joy. The citizens then received with general acclamations of assent the proposition for deposing Henry and placing Edward on the throne, and he was solemnly proclaimed King in London and the neighbouring places. After the battle of Towton which ensued, Edward returned to the metropolis, and was crowned in- Westminster Abbey. He rewarded this valuable adhesion- to his cause by the grant of two charters to the City in the second and third years of his reign, confirming and adding to its privileges. In 1465 King Henry fell into the hands of the Yorkists, and was brought to the Tower of London, which was then repaired, and strengthened by new works. When the short- lived revolution took place in 1470, Edward having fled to Holland, and his Queen leaving the Tower to take sanctuary in Westminster, that fortress was delivered up to the Mayor (Sir Richard Lee) and the Aldermen, who at once released King Henry, and conducted him in royal state to St. Paul's. During this short restoration, London and Southwark were pillaged by- a body of armed marauders, under the command of a Sir Geoffrey Gates, probably some of the " free lances " of the-

recent civil war. The houses of the foreign merchants in Blanch Appleton, now Mark Lane, particularly suffered from their lawless,

outrages. They were crushed, however, by a force under Clarence and Warwick, and many of the leaders were immediately hanged. The citizens had renewed their fealty to Henry, and therefore made a feint of resistance when Edward had again landed, and was marching southwards. But their hearts were with Edward's cause, partly, no doubt, from their general Yorkist leaning, and partly also, as the historian Philip de Comines tells us, " be- cause they were interested in Edward's restoration by the debts ho owed them, as well as teased by the importunity of their wives, with whom that Prince had formerly intrigued." So the Mayor secured the Tower for him, and he was received into the City with great rejoicings. The battle of Barnet which followed saved the- citizens from the probable results of this defection if Warwick had triumphed. King Henry was once more conducted through the City, but this time as a captive, and the gates of the Tower closed on him again, as it proved, for ever. The result of the battle of Tewkesbury consigned Queen Margaret to the same abode, where she remained for four years, till ransomed by the King of France. But before Edward could reach London. after this battle, Southwark had been occupied by a fragment of Warwick's forces under the Bastard Fauconbridge, who at- tempted to enter London, but was repulsed by the citizens, and retired to Sandwich on the approach of Edward. King Henry was found dead in the Tower on the 21st of May, the morning of the day on which Edward reached London. The victor had been met between Islington and Shoreditch by a pro- cession of the citizens, and he at once knighted the Mayor—John Stockton, the Recorder, and twelve Aldermen.

But London now performed a far greater service for England than any co-operation with one party or another in the resent civil contest. In 1472, William Caxton, citizen and mercer, in- troduced the art of Printing. The new reign was not free from the usual incidents of Royal exactions, though in this instance they were cloaked under the specious form of personal persuasion, and the parliamentary name of Benevolences. In 1478 the citizens pur- chased two charters from the King, partly in nominal repayment of money owing to them by Edward. By these they obtained permission to purchase lands in mortmain and some commercial privileges. But this and the following year were less favourably marked by another dreadful pestilence, which lasted more than a year. In 1482 we find a record of a Royal fits champetre given by the King to the Corporation and many citizens of London in Waltham Forest. On this occasion Edward sent to the Lady Mayoress and the Aldermen's wives a special present of two harts, six bucks, and a tun of wine, which were all disposed of at a feast in Drapers' Hall. The Tudor chroniclers are not to be relied on for the real sentiments of the citizens respecting the claims of Richard III. to the Crown, nor can we depend at all on their ver- sion of the events in London which preceded his coronation. The probability seems to be that the citizens were divided between a preference for the personal ability of Richard, and a partiality for the son of their old favourite, King Edward. In 1484 the growing intercourse of Italian and other foreign merchants with London was checked or attempted to be checked by one of the old unwise protective Acts of Parliament, under the fallacious plea of main- taining the ancient privileges of the citizens. Then came the change of dynasty, and five days after the battle of Bosworth Henry of Richmond entered London in triumph, and deposited his three standards in St. Paul's.

We now enter on the modern period of the history of London, when the incidents in its annals of public interest distinct from national events become fewer and fewer. At first, Henry VII.'s wise economy told much in his favour with the citizens. He repaid at the appointed time 3,000 marks which he had borrowed from them on his accession, and on the strength of this good faith was cheerfully lent 6,0001. in 1488. But in 1491, under pretext of war with France, he fell into the old ambiguous way of raising money by Benevolence; declaring he should esteem men as his friends according to the amount of their gifts to him. Henry's extortions grew with his advancing years, although all his acts were conducted under the form of law, old and obsolete laws being frequently pressed into his service and juries packed. Parliament, however, at last interfered, and by a new Act the qualifications of London jurors were more strictly defined, and additional penalties assigned to such jurymen as should be convicted of perjury or bribery. But the exactions of Henry's councillors continued to the end of his reign, and under various pretences of remissness in their duties, &c., heavy fines were inflicted on the wealthier citizens, as, for instance, upon Sir William Capel, who had been Mayor in 1503, and who on refusing payment was com- mitted to the Tower, where he remained till the King's death ; Sir Lawrence Aylmer, Mayor in 1507, who with his two Sheriffs was committed to prison for a similar cause ; Sir Thomas Knies- worth, Mayor in 1505, and his two Sheriffs, who had to purchase their release with 1,400/. ; and Christopher Hawes, mercer and alderman, who was worried by these exactions, it is said, out of his life. To counterbalance, however, these exactions, Lon- don, with the kingdom in general, now for the first time for centuries, felt the master hand of firm authority, and benefited proportionally so far as social order was concerned. But the citizens, we are afraid, preferred the lavish expenditure of the first years of Henry VIII., and cared little for the acts of oppression which that Sovereign directed almost entirely against the great men of the land. Ecclesiastical and re- ligious subjects now began to occupy men's thoughts, and in- spire their actions above all other considerations. The London clergy, by their dissolute and disorderly conduct, had rendered themselves generally hateful to the citizens ; and in the struggle which ensued as to the exemption of the clergy from the jurisdic- tion of Civil Courts in criminal cases, it was alleged piteously by the clerical advocates, that a London jury would condemn a clerk (clergyman) even if he were as innocent as Abel. We must not omit, however, to refer to an instance of the existence of another and older prejudice on the part of the citizens, which led to the events of what was called Evil May Day in 1517. This was the jealousy against the suburban foreign traders, who had settled in South- wark, at Temple Bar, Holborn, St. Martin's-le-Grand, St. John's Street, Aldgate, Tower Hill, and St. Catherine's. A violent man, Canon Ball, preaching the Spital Sermon on Easter Tuesday, blew this feeling into a flame. The authorities being forewarned, Car- dinal Wolsey charged the Mayor to see to the safety of the City on the approaching 1st of May, on which it was whispered some outbreak would take place. But the arrests then. made only pre- cipitated thd rising. The young men of the City poured forth from every house to the cry of " 'Prentices and Clubs !" the prisoners where forcibly released, and much injury done to the houses of foreigners before the authorities' could suppress the riot. Sir

Roger Cholmeley, Lieutenant of the Tower, went so far on this occasion as to fire on the City with some pieces of artillery. Dr. Ball was sent to the Tower and 300 rioters were arrested, but only one, of the name of Lincoln, was executed, at the Standard in West Cheap, on the 7th of May following, the Mayor and other City authorities escaping with a severe reprimand for their alleged wilful negligence. This occurrence, however, is said to have caused the disuse of the May-Day festival among the Lon- doners, and the partial discontinuance of the custom of erect- ing a great Maypole in L•eadenhall. In 1519 permission was granted to the citizens to hold their Sessions in Guildhall, in- stead of the Monastery of St. Martin-le-Grand. But an old grievance now reappeared. King Henry, who had soon spent his father's accumulated stores of money, obtained with great difficulty a loan from the City of London of 20,0001., on giving an obligation, signed by himself and Cardinal Wolsey, for its repayment. Fresh attempts at a general illegal levy of money on the kingdom caused such universal resistance that Henry dis- avowed his Ministers, and calling for the Mayor and Aldermen of London, declared that he would not exact anything from his people by compulsion, nor demand anything but by way of Bene- volence, as had been practised by his predecessors. By this word he probably meant the usual grants in Parliament, for which this was the technical term. Fresh irregular demands were resisted by the Corporation, the Recorder telling Wolsey, who refused to recognize Richard III.'s Act against such extortions, that although Richard did evil, yet in his time many good Acts were made, not by him only, but by the consent of the body of the whole realm, which is the Parliament. This determined resistance set the example to the rest of the kingdom, and the King, in the face of a threatened general rising, wisely abandoned his attempt. We cannot now speak of the frequent recurrence of great sick- nesses in London under various names. But the City now became involved in the general convulsion of society which attended the progress of the Reformation in England. First, came the burnings and hangings for heresy and treason, in which ultra- Protestants and Catholics suffered pretty equally during the rest of Henry's reign. Then came the suppression of the Monastic Houses, which, as London was full of great establishments of this kind, must have produced a great change in the social condition of the metropolis. The subsequent phases of the movement need not be entered upon here, for they are strictly national events. The Londoners were Protestants throughout, going, indeed, much further in their tendencies than the moderate Anglicanism of • the Tudor Princes. They were, however, loyal to excess in their feelings towards the Tudor family, and rallied round Queen Mary with general consent, when the ambition of Northumberland and the forebodings of some of the more ardent Protestant leaders led to the attempt to supersede her by the pretensions of Lady Jane Grey. Nor did they show any active favour towards Sir Thomas Wyat when he entered London, although the Spanish match had converted them into rather passive Royalists. Elizabeth's acces- sion, however, reconciled to a great degree their loyalty with their Protestantism, though her Catholic leanings in the religious services frequently provoked their ill-feeling and distrust. But Elizabeth, like her father Harry, knew how to be popular, and if, like him, she could give a sharp rebuke, she knew perfectly well the value and power of royal affability. Before leaving this period, however, we must allude to the measures taken by Edward VI.'s councillors for the relief of the destitute inhabitants of the metropolis. The monastic charity, however, irregular and injurious, and latterly at least insufficient, had now ceased altogether, and to supply the want thus aggravated, Sir George Barnes, the Lord Mayor, certain aldermen, and twenty-four com- missioners were ordered to divide the destitute into three classes ; first, the young and the fatherless, for whose relief and education Christ's Hospital was founded, " out of the revenues and within the precincts of the dissolved Convent of Grey Friars ; secondly, the lame, the aged, the helpless, and the sick, for whose reception were appropriated the Hospitals of St. Thomas in Southwark, and St. Bartholomew near Smithfield ; and thirdly, the idle, the dis- solute, and the unthrifty, for whose correction a portion of the old Palace of Bridewell was set apart, the rest being assigned to poor youths who had been virtuously brought up, and who were to be instructed in some useful trade. The Mayor, commonalty, and citizens of London were made perpetual governors of these new corporations of Christ, Bridewell, and St. Thomas. This was the first great social development of Protestantism in London, and one of the wisest and noblest.