Economic History


Victoria County History



T.F.T. Baker (Editor)

Year published


Supporting documents




Comment on this article
Double click anywhere on the text to add an annotation in-line

Citation Show another format:

'Stepney: Economic History', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney, Bethnal Green (1998), pp. 52-63. URL: Date accessed: 18 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


(Min 3 characters)



The bishop's manor was assessed at 32 hides and valued at £48 in 1086, only £2 less than in 1066. (fn. 1) He held 24¼ hides in demesne in 1066, with 4 tenants holding 10 hides and 2 mills; by 1086 the demesne had been reduced to 14 hides by further subinfeudations and the bishop had 10 chief tenants holding 20¼ hides and 3 mills. It is not clear how much of the demesne, the tenants', or the villeins' land lay in Stepney parish. (fn. 2) Other land was granted out by the bishops, probably after 1086, to hold by suit and a money service, and some was assarted; the grant to Ralph the clerk in the late 12th century included 2½ a. assarted land near his house. (fn. 3)

By the 14th century the larger freehold estates had generally been built up by accumulating parcels, some as small as half-acre strips. They reveal an active land market from an early date (fn. 4) and some, therefore, were not solely held of the bishop: Poplar manor comprised freeholds held of Stepney and of the manors of Bromley belonging respectively to St. Leonard's priory, Stratford, and to Holy Trinity, Aldgate. (fn. 5) Where freeholders also held customary land of Stepney it seems sometimes to have been enfranchised and absorbed into the freehold estate, as on Philpot's manor of Hulls. Often, however, free and customary land continued to pass separately but to the same heir by means of surrenders to feoffees and later to the use of wills, bypassing inheritance custom. (fn. 6)

Customary tenure and works.

Of the 60 husbandmen in 1086, 7 held ½ hide each, 44 held 1 virgate each, and 9 held ½ virgate each. The 46 cottars occupying 1 hide for 30s. were, from the size of the rent and the proximity of London, probably craftsmen or market gardeners. (fn. 7)

Labour services had been commuted on c. 1,056 a. by 1362–3. (fn. 8) An incomplete rental, probably c. 1381, of the commuted service on each parcel of land, indicates 160 customary tenants, 146 with full and legible entries. It is not clear how many tenants lived in Stepney; some were citizens of London and others were also freeholders. (fn. 9) Any standard size for customary holdings had disappeared, the largest amount held by one person being 38½ a. and the smallest a plot. Frequent identification of strips of land by the names of previous holders, who were nonetheless still living, shows that few holdings passed intact, that there was a vigorous market for strips of 1 r. upwards, and that the same process of accumulation occurred as for freehold land. (fn. 10) Strips were also acquired to build up unified holdings in place of scattered parcels. (fn. 11)

Partible inheritance was customary, with land passing first to all sons, then to daughters, and then to next of kin of equal degree. (fn. 12) Some holdings, with or without a dwelling, were heriotable, but no heriot was taken if there were no animals. (fn. 13) In 1348–9 holdings were being surrendered to the use of the holder for life, to the use of another and their issue, or outright to another and their heirs. The fine payable was not a standard rate per acre, but its terms were not recorded. Mortgages occur in 1383, (fn. 14) and licenses to let for 21 years and surrenders to uses of will in 1582. (fn. 15)

Disagreements over customs led to payments by a group of copyholders to Henry, Lord Wentworth, in 1588 and by others, headed by Sir John Jolles, to his son, Thomas, later earl of Cleveland, for an agreement set out in a Chancery decree in 1617 and confirmed by Act 1623–4. (fn. 16) Under the agreement the lord could levy only specified fines, customs, or services, and could not grant away any copyhold, although he could grant the freehold to the holder. It was confirmed that enfranchised copyholders would continue to have common of pasture in the wastes and that the inheritance custom, as before, accorded no rights to the spouse surviving a holder; fines on admittance were fixed at 16d. an acre, 13s. 4d. for customary messuages with their courtyards and gardens, 10s. for a dwelling called a tenement with courtyards and gardens, 20d. for a cottage that could not be let for more than £3 a year and 10s. if let for more, and 16d. for buildings not used as dwellings. Surrenders for a marriage jointure paid half the fine. Holders could let for up to 31 years and 4 months without licence or fine; copyholders could dig up their copyhold ground at will and fell timber for their own profit; they were also allowed waste without forfeiture, whereas tenants for life or years committing waste could be fined by the homage. Copyholders could demolish and rebuild and dig gravel on the waste for building or repairs. Coheirs in dispute might request a precept for seven tenants to make a partition. Only the 343 copyholders (and their successors) that had contributed to the composition and were party to the agreement had the benefit of it. (fn. 17)

Tallage, paid in 1228, and maritagium, paid in 1318, (fn. 18) were not recorded later. A distinction in 1348–9 between copyholders who were free men and those who were nativi showed no practical effects, (fn. 19) and was no longer apparent by 1384. (fn. 20) Citizens of London were among those labelled as free men and were holding customary land in 1348, possibly before the commutation of labour services. (fn. 21) If cotmen, hidemen, schirmen, and molmen mentioned in the early 14th century had once been distinct classes of peasantry, works by then were attached to specific strips of arable and not to holdings or tenants; later in the century most tenants held more than one category of land. (fn. 22) It was perhaps unusual for labour services to survive in the 14th century so near London, but they were the only service paid for land. Some customary tenements were held for smokepennies, romepennies or helpennies, and some, including limekilns and other buildings, for a small money rent. (fn. 23)

Before commutation labour services fell into two categories. (fn. 24) The first were the week-works owed by cotmen and schirmen. Schirmen's works comprised 2,652 works from customary tenants holding a total of 8½ virgates of land, with each virgate owing 6 works a week, and 312 works from tenants holding a total of 2 virgates, each virgate owing 3 works a week; 4 virgates of the first group were accounted for in Hackney in 1362–3. (fn. 25) Cotmen's comprised 2,860 works from tenants holding 11 virgates (5 works a virgate a week), and 624 works from tenants holding 3 virgates (4 works a virgate a week); 52 works came from tenants holding half a virgate of ferthingland (1 work a week); and 260 works from tenants holding 1 virgate of boundyngland or bultingland (5 works a week), a total of 3,796 works. There was some confusion over the acreage of a virgate, but the accounts generally settled on 20 a. in 1362–3. (fn. 26) Allowances on all those works were made for serving a manorial office, for the weeks of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost and for feasts falling on a Friday, for performing specific boon works (below), and carriage inside and outside the manor. In 1335–6 allowances were also made for the schirmen's works on 6 virgates let for a money rent, possibly indicating commutation. In 1335–6 the lord used only 873 works, to hoe and thresh (380 works), make drainage furrows, purify rye seed of weeds, bundle straw, and carry to the bishop's castle at Stortford and to Newgate. After allowances he sold 2,129, either to the tenant owing the works or to a third party.

The second category of works comprised specific services owed by molmen and hidemen besides cotmen and schirmen: nedherths and benherths, which were ploughing services (1 nedherth ploughed 1 a.), (fn. 27) wodelodes and timberlodes, carrying services, nedreps, a reaping service, and falcones or mowing (1 work mowed 1 a.). The 6 virgates let or commuted owed for each virgate 4 nedherths, 2 benherths, 4 wodelodes, 2 timberlodes, 1 mowing work, and 4 nedreps. In 1335–6 the lord was entitled to 94 nedherths, of which 65 were owed by schirmen and cotmen and 29 by hidemen; he used 8 and sold 602/3 at 6d. each. Benherths totalled 167½, from schirmen, molmen, and hidemen, and over 152 were sold for 6d. each. Of wodelodes, 97 were owed by cotmen and schirmen and 233 by molmen and hidemen, and 301½ were sold at 4d. each. Of timberlodes, 48½ came from cotmen and schirmen and 116½ from molmen and hidemen, and 150¾ were sold at 6d. Of mowing works, 24½ were done by cotmen and schirmen and 7 by molmen and hidemen; the lord used 22. Forty-two nedreps were owed by schirmen in the harvest and 32 by molmen and hidemen.

The linking of works to strips may have arisen from partible inheritance, but the resulting complexity of holdings was probably not the reason for commutation, since the payments for the commuted services were equally complex, specifying sums as precise as fractions of a farthing. (fn. 28) More likely a diminishing need for works led to commutation: 70 timberlodes and 6 wodelodes were sold in 1313, and 73 wodelodes, 37 timberlodes, 35 shirman's works, and 450½ cotman's works were sold in 1318; few of the works were used in 1335–6. (fn. 29) Most of the demesne having been let, all the labour services were commuted by 1362–3, at rates of between 4d. and 2s. an acre according to type of land to reflect the number of works each type owed. (fn. 30) Some of the rates may have changed slightly later in the 14th century, (fn. 31) and the very different total acreage given c. 1400 perhaps included Hackney, (fn. 32) but thereafter the rates remained fixed and therefore increasingly favourable for the customary tenants.

The bishop's income from his tenants up to and including 1402–3 was c. £33 from rents of assize for free and customary tenants and c. £58 for the commuted works. In 1408–9 he received c. £66 for rents and services together. The approximate income varied little thereafter, an inexplicable loss to the bishop. (fn. 33)

Demesne production.

The bishop had 3 ploughteams on his demesne throughout the vill in 1086, compared with 22 held by the husbandmen, and in 1066 he had only had 6½ teams, suggesting little interest by him in demesne farming here. (fn. 34) That much of his 14-hide demesne consisted of the extensive meadow, pasture, and woods (possibly all the woodland for 500 pigs plus a surplus) listed in 1086 is made likely by the fact that in Stepney little wood belonged to medieval freeholders. (fn. 35) The demesne arable at first was probably concentrated between Bethnal green and Shoreditch High Street, overlapping into Hackney and on the south reaching Whitechapel Road, but lying mostly in the later hamlet of Bethnal Green. The demesne around the manor house, possibly as far west as Cambridge Heath and Bethnal green, was probably still woodland in 1086 and had been partially cleared by 1318. (fn. 36) Little is known of the exploitation of the demesne before the 14th century. Although both Harringay and Hackney probably had separate collectors within the manors by the 13th century, their accounts were often included in those for Stepney, which also contained totals for other manors. (fn. 37)

Rents of assize were received from an unknown number of tenants, and the 44 hens and 500 eggs sold in 1229 were received as rent; cumin, ploughshares, capons, and hens were customary rents in 1273. Other receipts were for tallage, aid and wardpenny, pleas and perquisites of court, sheriff's aid, pannage, a heriot, fugitive's chattels, and mills in 1229; helpenny and wardpenny in 1264; and for aid and recognitions of customary tenants in 1273. Other items included sales of 86 sheep in 1243 and cheese in 1264, when payments of barley and 13s. 6d. were made for guarding vines at Stepney.

In the early 14th century, as in the 13th, the mills, the fishery on the Lea, and escheated customary holdings were farmed out, but most of the rest of the demesne was managed directly. (fn. 38) It was used primarily to support the bishop's household, rather than to produce perishable products for the London market; there was also some coordination with other episcopal manors, principally Bencham. The main product at Stepney was grain, and in 1336 stock from the granary was used to sow 108 a. of wheat, 140 a. of rye, 124 a. of barley, 19½ a. of vetch, and 71 a. of oats, of which 8 a. of oats and 21 a. of rye were sown in Hackney. (fn. 39) No maslin was sown but wheat and rye were mixed and, with barley and oats, used for servants' liveries and animal feed. Unknown quantities of grain, with 10 quarters of vetch, were sold. (fn. 40) Similar crops were produced in 1303, 1318, and 1339. A distinction between old and new crops was applied to the contents of the granary in 1339, when long-term storage indicated a lack of interest in their commercial value.

The livestock consisted mainly of working animals, sheep bought in, and a few breeding pigs. In 1336 and 1339 six plough-horses, 14 stots, and 16 oxen were kept from year to year, with replacements bought when needed, and numbers in 1303 were similar. Other cattle acquired during the year, mainly as heriots, were disposed of; 30 cows from Bencham were grazed in Stepney on the stubble in 1335–6 but were not included in the stock at the end of the account. A flock of 43 wethers in 1335 was supplemented by 14 from Orsett (Essex); disposals, including 14 eaten by the bishop's household, left 37 at the end of the account. After Pentecost 108 yearling lambs were sent from Bencham, and remained at the end of the account; 140 of the bishop's sheep were grazed on the stubble. Wool from 39 sheep was delivered to Richard of Hackney, a woolmonger. Pigs in 1336 formed a small breeding herd of 1 boar and 2 sows, with 26 adult pigs, 31 under a year, and 33 under six months at the start of the account: the household used 33 of the youngest and 26 adults, most of the latter killed in the autumn. Twenty pigs and 45 piglets had been sold in 1303, besides 19 flitches of bacon.

Birds for the table in 1303 included geese, cranes, cygnets, and peacocks. In 1336 a flock of 62 geese was increased to 138 during the year, and 62 were eaten. The 9 hens and 1 cock were augmented by 42 received as rent at Christmas; 29 were eaten, a few were sold and the remaining 10 farmed out for 5s. The bishop still had a cock and 10 hens in 1339. He also received 450 eggs at Easter as rent and 55 more were bought in 1335–6; all were used by the household except for 25 given to the beadle. The only other important product from the manor was a rent of 300 sacks of lime from the kilns. (fn. 41) Pannage was usually sold, (fn. 42) 8 a. of vetch were sold growing for 56s. in 1335–6, while straw in stack fetched only 20s. because some was needed for the 30 cows from Bencham and the lord's horses. Straw in the field fetched only 33s. because 38 a. were ploughed in specifically to improve the soil and 8 a. bundled for thatching. Grazing on the stubble fetched only 13s. because part was used for the bishop's sheep. The gardens produced nothing in 1336 because the trees had not 'sprouted' (presumably fruit had not set), and the herbage fetched only 6s. 8d., one garden having been closed off and replanted.

Demesne meadow in the 14th century was probably the same as in 1550, when it lay in several places along the Lea from Mill fields in Hackney to Old Ford marsh in Stepney, with a small adjoining piece in West Ham (Essex). (fn. 43) In 1336 the bishop had 96 a. of meadow in demesne: hay was made on 82½ a. and mostly used for his horses. Another 13½ a. were sold in grass for 78s. Kechenfeld, near the manor house, was grazed in 1336 for the third year running by plough animals, as were Northwood and Southwood, the headlands in Combfield, and the fallow fields. Grazing on headlands around the winter corn was let for 15s. 6d. a parcel, but headlands around spring corn fetched only 11s., because Broomcroft, sown with oats, had no headland. By the 14th century demesne income also included rents for grazing on the earthen walls along the river banks, such as Nasflete and Blackwall, and for 'hopes' or enclosures of reeds such as Goodluckhope near Leamouth. Information on grazing sales in 1318 is not complete, but grazing at the quabba by the Lea in Hackney and in the Wylde near Limehouse were let in 1318 up to Michaelmas. Farm of a garden brought in 15d. for the 5 weeks up to Michaelmas, but nothing thereafter.

Three carters, 3 herdsmen, 3 drivers (ploughmen), a dairy maid, a shepherd, a swineherd, and a man to look after the animals for the six winter months, received money wages and corn liveries in 1336; liveries were also paid to a man chasing off birds and a man looking after the 30 cows from Bencham. The lord also used some of the labour services owed by his customary tenants. (fn. 44) Harvesting on the demesne was mainly done by the customary tenants owing weekworks: 498 man-days were done by Stepney tenants and 358 by Hackney tenants. Forty tenants from Stepney and 30 from Hackney carried the reaped corn, 32 men loaded and 8 stacked. During the harvest wages were also paid to another two stackers, to the beadles for Stepney and Hackney and their two grooms, and to the bishop's servants as overseers.

Threshing was largely paid for as piece-work, and most ploughing was presumably done by the wage labourers, as little was done by customary labour: the bishop used only 33 of c. 260 ploughing services he was entitled to in 1318, and only 8 in 1335–6. Similarly, only a third of his hay was mown and carried by customary labour, and most of the lifting, carrying, and the second mowing were paid for by piece-work. Smithy work on the ploughs was done by a customary tenant holding by that service, and some weekworks were used in carriage and other tasks for the bishop, (fn. 45) but most works were sold. The cost of labour services may have contributed to their decline: the 37 ploughs from Stepney and 39¼ ploughs from Hackney working the bishop's fields during the winter each received 4d. in 1318, while in 1335–6 every man performing labour services during the harvest received ½d. in bread and ¼d. in cheese each day, amounting to 62s. 9½d. that year.

Farm of the demesne.

Between 1339 and 1362 the bishop ceased to grow crops, and let all his land except some meadow. (fn. 46) In 1362–3 385 a. in the arable fields were let in 32 parcels ranging from 2 a. to 30 a., two parcels for 6 years and the rest apparently by the year. Most of the land was let at 2s. 6d. an acre, although 45 a. fetched 3s., 82 a. fetched 2s., and 13 a. were let at 1s. Usually the tenants were local free and customary tenants, such as William Potter, the older and younger John Reyson, Salamon Walthey the beadle, and John Shoreditch of Hackney. (fn. 47)

Closes, probably former woodland which had been sown in 1336, were let as grazing in 1362. They included Combfield (52 a.) and Newland (30 a.), let together for 6 years at 40s. to Adam Chaungeour (Adam of St. Ives), citizen and merchant, holder of Huscarl manor, and Broomcroft and Northwood, let for 6 years. Of the demesne meadow, 20 a. were let for between 6s. 8d. and 8s. an acre; another 8¾ a. were let with Bullivant mill and 1½ a. with Crachlegh mill. Mowing for the bishop's own use at the manor house continued on 49½ a. using wage labour. (fn. 48) Between 1408 and 1439 hay ceased to be made for the bishop, although his animals grazed for part of the year in the kitchen garden and a garden called Derehawe. Grazing had ceased by 1465, when the closes next to the house and the grange were all let. (fn. 49)

Rents for the demesne arable and from arable on escheated holdings had fallen by 1383–4. (fn. 50) About £100, a very high amount, was in arrears and the rents for farms of land had been reduced or could not be fully collected. The farm of land, meadow, and pasture fetched some £20 less than in 1363 and although eventually increased by leasing for industrial use, leasing for agricultural use was not to be so profitable again. The farm of land in 1384 included fields let as pastures in 1362–3. Combfield and Newland were still let to Adam of St. Ives but as arable and at 45s. for the two, of which only 33s. 4d. had been collected; Adam also rented Southwood and Kechenfeld. Broomcroft and Northwood were let for the same amount as in 1362, but most of the other demesne parcels fetched about 6d. less an acre than in 1362. Lollesworth or Spitelshot was let as 43 a. to Sir John Philpot at 18d. an acre (only 12d. an acre collected), instead of three or more smaller parcels as in the 1360s, although the total number of parcels had risen to 38 with the subdivisions of some furlongs. Possibly it had proved difficult to find enough substantial tenants.

Low rents continued into the 15th century, except for Lollesworth, now let to the hospital of St. Mary without Bishopsgate at 1s. an acre in 1402 and 2s. in 1409. Typical rates were for land in the Hyde, which fetched 2s. 6d. in 1363 and only 1s. 4d. in 1465. Between 1439 and 1465, however, c. 160 a. of the demesne in that area were amalgamated, with the result that 30 parcels became 14, ranging from 4 a. to 30 a. Another change was in land use: in Southhyde, near Whitechapel Road, three parcels possibly totalling c. 18 a. were let for brickmaking at a total rent of £10 17s. 4d., helping to restore the income from the demesne to the level of 1362– 3. (fn. 51)

Land in the marsh cut for hay fetched the highest rents, although they too fell. Two meadows along the Lea fetched 8s. and 6s. 8d. an acre respectively in 1362–3 but were 5s. and 6s. in 1383–4. Rent for the Wylde at Limehouse remained the same in 1383–4, (fn. 52) but had fallen slightly by 1395–6. Most rents for meadow had recovered slightly by 1398–9 and reached 7s. by 1401–2, but were only about 4s. an acre in 1464–5. (fn. 53) Pasture used solely for grazing fetched very little throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, despite the proximity of London.

Manorial income also came from escheated customary holdings: these were usually let from year to year until granted out again, but by the late 15th century some remained with the lord. They were surveyed in 1550 as part of the demesne, which then comprised 315¾ a. west of Cambridge Heath Road, enclosed into large parcels, and 195½ a. including the woods to the east around the manor house, a total of 511¼ a. accounting for the 14th- century demesne fields of 467 a., with c. 50 a. for woodland not given acreages in the medieval accounts. By 1550, however, there had been added, mostly from escheats, 41 a. in and near Eastfield, 17 a. south of Mile End Road, 30½ a. in Hackney excluding land by the Lea, and 90 a. unlocated. (fn. 54) Despite its fall in revenue from the late 14th century, Stepney generally made the third highest annual contribution to the bishop's temporal income after two Essex manors, and except in one account it always exceeded Fulham. An average of figures from 13 accounts between 1386 and c. 1480 shows Stepney providing just over 11 per cent of the bishopric's temporal income. (fn. 55)

Management by piecemeal or short-term leasing ended between 1518 and 1538 when the manor house and most of the demesne were divided between two leases granted for long terms. Small parts of the demesne had already been granted on long leases: in 1466 Richard Heyward, citizen and mercer, had been leased a messuage called the Bakehouse, a building called the stable and a 'hope' and wall at Limehouse with 1 r. of land nearby, for 99 years. (fn. 56) A lease of Spitelhope or Lollesworth (43 a.) to the hospital of St. Mary without Bishopsgate from 1498 for 99 years was sold to Robert Lorde in 1538 and held by Mr. Polsted in 1550; the freehold had been sold by the 1560s. (fn. 57) A 21-year lease from Bishop Tunstall of the manor and land around the manor house to Thomas Pilkington apparently became void on Tunstal's translation to Durham in 1530. (fn. 58)

In 1538 a 30-year lease known as the Bishopshall lease was made of the manor house and 97½ a. around it including Bishopswood, 92 a. called Broomfields, 26 a. in Eastfield, 47 a. in closes north and south of Mile End Road including Cordwains in Limehouse, Pawne farm and other meadow in Hackney totalling 67¾ a., together with parcage and poundage of the manor. The lessee was William Goddard of Shoreditch, merchant of the Staple of Calais, who at his death in 1548 also held the Bishopsfields lease, expiring in 1562, of the demesne fields between Shoreditch and Cambridge Heath Road, containing 268¾ a., with another 81 a. probably nearby. (fn. 59) Under his will (fn. 60) the Bishopshall lease had been sold by 1550, to Sir Ralph Warren, while the Bishopsfields lease was held by Goddard's widow and her husband Erasmus Leveningham. The rest of the demesne, comprising holdings of 11 a. and 40 a. meadow by the Lea in Hackney, the dusthills in Limehouse, Goodluckhope and other beds of reeds and osiers, three holdings totalling 472 a. in Stepney marsh, and 164 a. called the demesne of Hackney, were all let for terms expiring between 1563 and 1590. In 1550 only the two tileyards were still let on annual tenancies. (fn. 61)

A second lease of Bishopshall, for 80 years from 1568 at the same rent, was granted by the bishop in 1546 to Thomas Parsons alias Fairbrother. (fn. 62) Parsons assigned his interest to Thomas Wilson in 1564. By c. 1582 John Fuller held a lease for years of Bishopshall, (fn. 63) which he left to his wife in 1592: (fn. 64) it may, however, have been only a sublease, as a Bishopshall lease was sold by Wilson's widow Susan to Philip Wilson and was thereafter assigned to Simon Jackson and his wife Elizabeth and Thomas Coleman and his wife Margaret; its assignment by the latter to William Smyth in 1643 was part of the sales to pay the earl of Cleveland's debts. A 21-year lease from 1648, granted by the earl in 1636 to Philip Wilson, was also surrendered to Smyth in 1643. (fn. 65)

A reversion of the Bishopsfields lease was granted in 1547 by the bishop to Thomas Parsons and William Mountjoy for 90 years from 1562 at a revised rent. (fn. 66) The lease was held by John Heath in 1582 (fn. 67) and by Lady Bennet in 1638–9 and 1642, when some parcels sublet to the earl of Manchester and Mr. Smith (probably William Smyth) had been built on. (fn. 68)

By 1514–15 the bishop received income, £21 7s. 3d. in 1535, from leases of Stepney marsh, which was accounted for separately from the manor. (fn. 69) That land, in the Isle of Dogs, had been flooded in 1448 and drained by Bishop Thomas Kemp (1448–89) c. 1488. Kemp held 282 a. as part of the manor, a further 115 a. for 94 years and formerly belonging to his free tenants, and 85 a. conveyed by the abbot of St. Mary Graces and others. The bishop let the 115 a. in 1488 for 40 years to William Marowe, of Stepney, and seven others of Stepney, London, and Greenwich. When their land was again flooded, before 1524, the lessees enclosed and recovered it. As part of the bishop's personal estate, the remainder of the 94-year term was sold by his executors in 1521 to William Goddard, together with the rent due for the residue of the 40 years, and in 1524 Goddard sold his interest to John Botulph of London. (fn. 70) The rent agreed in 1488 was unchanged in 1550. (fn. 71) In 1588 it was said that in 1512 the abbot of St. Mary Graces had let c. 8 a. of flooded land for 80 years to Bishop Richard Fitzjames, who had let it with c. 130 a. called the Isle of Dogs, Saunders nase, and the drunken dock to Thomas Knight, brewer, of London for 80 years. (fn. 72) The acreages were probably higher, as Knight may have been holding all of the bishop's 282 a. in Stepney marsh by 1517–18. (fn. 73) After Knight's death c. 1559, the lease was surrendered to the lord. (fn. 74)

Another 75 a. adjoining the marsh was let to Thomas Samme and John Etgose by 1517–18; the lease had 34 years to run in 1550. (fn. 75) The Wete marsh, 40 a. reclaimed by Kemp, was let by St. Mary Graces c. 1529, having been flooded again. (fn. 76)

Tenants' production.

In 1086 the husbandmen in the vill held arable for 22 ploughteams, all under cultivation, with meadow to support all the teams and pasture for the cattle of the vill with a surplus valued at 15s. By the 14th century, though a little arable belonging to free and customary tenants lay among the demesne north of Whitechapel Road, most lay in open fields covering the rest of the parish except where watercourses were bordered by meadow. (fn. 77) Reclaimed land such as Walmarsh (including furlongs called Landmarsh, Middlemarsh and Southcroft), Stepney marsh (including furlongs called Summerleas, Hedwynesfield, Tunamcroft, Newland, and Stowland), and East marsh were open-field arable c. 1200. (fn. 78) A marsh called the Wylde, where 6 a. of arable were granted by the bishop in the 1190s, was probably the Wylde near Limehouse that was meadow and pasture in the 14th century. (fn. 79)

Individuals' holdings were very irregularly spread between different fields c. 1380. (fn. 80) Land of freehold estates and customary tenants lay intermixed in small strips in the open fields c. 1400, although there were some closes and blocks of strips. (fn. 81) The consolidation of strips was a gradual process, through purchases and exchanges, as was the piecemeal enclosure of parcels. In 1331 the Crown licensed a freeholder to exchange 24 a. with the bishop, (fn. 82) and in 1380 two prominent freeholders, John Hadley and Adam of St. Ives, exchanged 12 a. (fn. 83) Sir Henry Colet purchased copyhold parcels, some already in closes within the open fields, from several holders in the late 15th century to form an estate of three large blocks. (fn. 84) Such practices eventually created the field pattern shown in the first plan of the parish in 1703. (fn. 85)

Field names from c. 1200 do not indicate any unified system of communal management or of rotation within the manor or parish. The only reference to grazing on the stubble concerned the demesne and the lord's stock, (fn. 86) probably because extensive pasture on the waste and the meadows reduced the need for communal grazing on the arable.

Arable farming was probably dominant throughout the Middle Ages for both free and customary landholders. Evidence, however, is sparse: only 4 out of c. 120 commissary court wills between 1374 and 1500 mention agricultural produce or stock. (fn. 87) More frequent references to land do not indicate who was working it or how. The 80 a. demesne arable of Pomfret manor in the Isle of Dogs, which was owed harvest works in 1323, had by 1362 been abandoned to sheep grazing, but perhaps only because the manor house was no longer occupied. (fn. 88) Tenants living in the Marsh continued to cultivate arable until the floods of the mid 15th century: the will of William Potter of the marsh in 1380 mentioned 2 a. of wheat, 2 oxen, 1 horse, and 2 plough-teams in 1380. (fn. 89) Tenants of Stepney, Poplar, and Pomfret lost their holdings in the floods, which allowed a radical changed in land ownership and use: after the Isle of Dogs was reclaimed in 1488 pasturing became the dominant agriculture there. (fn. 90)

In 1364 Walter Page had freehold, leasehold, and customary land in Stepney, of which 7 a. were sown with wheat, 7 a. with barley, 8¾ a. with tares, and 14. a. sown with mixed wheat and barley; 2 a. were meadow and 3 a. fallow. (fn. 91) In 1383 c. 5 a. of pasture in northern Poplar were let to a Londoner, who in 1385 sublet it at a rent which suggests that it was mown for hay, rather than used merely for grazing. (fn. 92) Adam of St. Ives in 1393 had c. 50 a. of wheat, 23 a. of barley, and 16 a. of beans, peas, and vetches on 126 a. of arable in northern Poplar and Limehouse, but had only 16 a. of pasture and 5 a. of meadow. When the land was let in 1401–2 the meadow and pasture were let for between 2s. 6d. and 3s. an acre. (fn. 93)

Gardens at the manor house probably produced only top fruit as they were being grazed by stock; the fruit was valued at 4s. in 1362–3, and ½ a. formerly customary arable was let by the lord as garden for 4s. (fn. 94) Freehold messuages in Mile End Road east of White Horse Lane included a garden in 1325. (fn. 95) In 1383–4 the farm of a garden in Haliwellstreet once held by Gilbert at Stone was let for a reduced rent of 6s. 8d. to John Sperhankes, whose garden was in the hands of the lord in 1401–2 and let for the same rent to Richard Loxley, spicer of London. (fn. 96)

Another garden in Haliwellstreet was granted to Adam Kareswell in 1385 for a new customary rent. (fn. 97) The abbey of St. Mary Graces paid an unchanged rent for Champeneys garden, near Wapping, c. 1380 and c. 1400, as did the abbey of St. Osyth (Essex) for a garden next to Whitechapel church. (fn. 98) John Hadley also had a garden near the latter, part of his freehold estates, (fn. 99) and in 1464–5 2 a. of demesne in Southhyde north of Whitechapel Road were let as a garden. (fn. 1) Three gardens lay at the east end of Poplar street c. 1400, held by customary tenants of Stepney manor. (fn. 2)


In 1086 the bishop held in demesne four mills which rendered £4 15s. 8d. In addition a mill on the Thames which had been held by Doding in 1066 was held by Hugh de Berners, a mill on the Lea which had been built since 1066 was held by Edmund son of Algot', and an unlocated mill worth 20s. was held by Alwin son of Brihtmar, as in 1066. (fn. 4)

In 1228–9 the bishop received, besides issues from the mill of Hackney, rent for a fulling mill and a water mill in Stepney. In 1243 five mills paid him rent, including one held for a rent of assize and one held at fee farm by Ralph Alwy' (possibly for Aswy), and in 1264 three mills were held at farm. (fn. 5) In 1313 only rents from a water mill and a windmill were recorded. (fn. 6)

In the 14th century the bishop had two demesne water mills. Bolyfan (Bullivant) mill was let in 1318, 1335–6, (fn. 7) 1362–3, (fn. 8) and, as a fulling mill, in 1383–4 and 1391–2. (fn. 9) It was let on different terms by 1395–6 and was being repaired in 1401–2. (fn. 10) In 1438–9 rent was recorded from a fishery at the mill and meadows near it but not from the mill itself. (fn. 11) The mill presumably stood on the watercourse in Bow and Hackney called Bullivant river in 1550, possibly where it joined the Lea on the parish boundary. (fn. 12)

Crachehegh or Crachegg fulling mill paid rent to the bishop in 1318 and was repaired. In 1335–6 only part of the rent was received, because of disrepair, and a new waterwheel was put in. (fn. 13) The mill was not mentioned in 1362–3 and presumably had been alienated or abandoned; in 1550 a parcel of meadow, probably in Hackney, was called Crathe's mill. (fn. 14)

Land at the windmill in 1272 was bounded by the later Ratcliff Highway and Cable Street, in Wapping-Stepney, probably the bishop's windmill that lay next to land in the upper fields of Shadwell manor in the late 13th century. (fn. 15) The bishop's windmill was let in 1313 but in 1318 it was in ruins and without a miller. (fn. 16) In 1335–6 the windmill was let and part of the mill was renewed. (fn. 17) It was again in ruins and could not be let in 1362–3, and was so recorded thereafter until last mentioned in 1395–6. (fn. 18) In 1386 an acre between two highways in Wapping-Stepney lay next to Brendmill (Burnt mill) hill, whose name survived in 1427 (fn. 19) and may have been that of the ruined windmill. Another windmill seems to have stood in the demesne fields (north of the Colchester road) where a furlong was called Windmillshot in 1318, (fn. 20) and a close was called Millfield in 1362. (fn. 21)

Pomfret manor had a windmill in 1322, valued at 1 mark. (fn. 22) Simon Oliver conveyed a freehold windmill in Stepney to Richard of Croydon, citizen and fishmonger, before 1349. (fn. 23)

The mill held by Doding in 1066 and Hugh de Berners in 1086 may have stood in the parish of St. Botolph Aldgate, where Dudding pond lay and where Sir Ralph de Berners held two mills in 1274–5. It was taken into the site for the hospital of St. Katharine. (fn. 24)

In 1218 St. Paul's granted Wapping mill with the right to grind corn for the common bakehouse of the chapter to Terricus (Theodoricus) son of Edrich of Aldgate and his heirs to hold freely for 5 marks a year, (fn. 25) which was reduced in 1231 to 4 marks a year in return for surrendering the right to grind the chapter's corn. (fn. 26) Terricus then granted a moiety to his brother Adam but by 1239 they had sold the mills to the hospital of St. Thomas of Acre, which was to pay the rent to the dean and chapter and 1 Ib. of pepper to Terricus and his heirs. (fn. 27) In July 1239 Terricus's widow Florence claimed a third of the mills as dower. (fn. 28)

In 1269 the hospital granted their mills at Wapping to Richard of Ewell and his wife Maud, but in 1274–5 Richard of Ewell granted the property back to the hospital to endow a chantry. Richard's widow Aubrey and her husband Ralph de Munchensy recovered a third as dower, and Richard's son Richard of Ewell confirmed the grant to the hospital in 1286. (fn. 29) The property continued in the possession of the hospital until the Dissolution when it passed to the Crown. The mill house had a wharf and dock adjoining in 1537, and seems to have been used as a brewhouse, as was another house on the property. (fn. 30)

Despite the grant to the hospital, one mill at Wapping was granted with the manor of Ewell, both held for life by Aubrey wife of Ralph de Munchensy, by Eleanor daughter of Richard de Ewell to her nephew Richard son of John Neyrnuit in 1292. This mill continued in the Neyrnuit family until c. 1400, but may have passed to the hospital, as its later history is unknown. (fn. 31)

Shadwell mill was among purchases confirmed between 1189 and 1198 by Bishop Richard Fitzneal to Brice of Stepney, (fn. 32) who had probably obtained the mill on his marriage to Catherine, daughter of Salomon of Stepney. Brice's estate passed to his nephew Benet of Maneton, who in 1222 as Benet of Stepney sought to recover the mill from Brice's widow Catherine and her husband Adam le Despenser. At about that time Benet sold the estate and mill to Bishop Eustace of Fauconberg (d. 1228), to whom in 1223 Catherine's brother Daniel quitclaimed the mill. (fn. 33) The bishop left Shadwell, including the mill, to the dean and chapter of St. Paul's. A rental of before 1285 gave no income from the farm of the mill. (fn. 34) When Shadwell manor was farmed to Richard the bishop's beadle in 1334, the mill was in ruins and the watercourse dried up. (fn. 35) In 1652 the mill existed but was out of use. It lay by the Thames among extensive tidal channels. (fn. 36)

The Cressemills or Crash mills on the Thames near East Smithfield existed by 1233, when a judgement divided the tithes from the mills and its adjoining premises between the churches of Stepney and St. Botolph Aldgate. (fn. 37) John Elylond and his wife Clemence granted rent from the Crash mills in 1265. (fn. 38) The mills were acquired by Sir John Pulteney, lord of Poplar manor; he granted them with the manor in 1347 to Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex, who leased them back for 50 years. The mills were held of the bishop for fealty only. (fn. 39) They were settled by Pulteney's son Sir William in 1362 (fn. 40) and passed with Poplar manor to the abbey of St. Mary Graces, which kept them until the Dissolution. (fn. 41) In 1535 the mills were farmed out for a rent of flour. (fn. 42) In the 1530s the site, between Nightingale Lane and Wapping marsh, included the newly-built Katharine Wheel and a wharf, six other tenements and a garden, the Swan's Nest or Hermitage with a wharf, two gardens and a pond, and Crashmills meadow; the mills themselves were not mentioned. (fn. 43)

On the Lea the mill held by Edmund son of Algot' in 1086 (fn. 44) was evidently the fuller's water mill called Algodsmill. Abandoned because of lack of water, it was restored by Sir John Pulteney by means of a trench from the river. It was part of the estates held by Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex, in 1355 (fn. 45) and was presumably the fulling mill among the appurtenances of Poplar manor settled by Sir William Pulteney. (fn. 46) It passed to St. Mary Graces (fn. 47) but was not specified among the abbey's property in the 1530s. (fn. 48)

Old Ford mill was granted by Lettice, wife of William le Blund of Stepney, to the priory of St. Helen, Bishopsgate. In 1230 William confirmed that after her death a moiety that they held would revert to St. Helen's. (fn. 49) Its later history is uncertain, as is that of a water mill at Old Ford belonging to the priory of St. Bartholomew, West Smithfield, which obstructed the Lea in 1355. (fn. 50) John Henley, clerk, leased a water mill at Old Ford to Adam Smale, baker of Stratford Bow, who blocked the Lea adjoining the mill with turves and water-gates, flooding neighbouring meadows in 1394. (fn. 51) It is possible that these are all the same mill.

In 1287 a water mill at Stratford Bow called Rothleys mill was released by John son of Sir William de Chishull to Ralph Crepyn of Aldgate. (fn. 52) In 1303 Ralph granted to Walter of Gloucester, his son, 2 mills and other property in Stepney, Hackney, Stratford, and elsewhere. (fn. 53)

The Land mills were evidently the water mills which belonged to Sir Stephen Ashewy and were excluded from his release of the rest of his Stepney estate in 1324. (fn. 54) In 1412 two water mills in Stratford Bow called Land mills were quitclaimed by Henry, Lord Scrope of Masham, to John Lynne of Stratford Bow, (fn. 55) who in 1391 had been described as a baker. (fn. 56) By 1579 the mills formed a capital messuage called the Land Mills, held by Henry Alington in right of his wife Anne, widow of Richard Elkyn. (fn. 57) Early in the 17th century Monks mead, formerly belonging to the dean and chapter of Westminster, was claimed as part of the Land mills. (fn. 58)

A third of two mills in Stratford Bow was granted in 1353 by William of Causton, citizen and mercer, and his wife Christian to William of Tuddenham, citizen and mercer, and his wife Christine, being Christian's dower. (fn. 59) The mill was used for grinding corn in 1360. (fn. 60)

Westminster abbey is said to have purchased a mill in Stratford (Essex) from Robert Alleyn, citizen and fishmonger, in 1364–5, and the reversion of a mill and 12 a. from him in 1375–6. In 1392 Robert Alleyn and his wife Maud were granted a corrody in return for the mill at Stratford, (fn. 61) perhaps the mill with 35 a. in Stepney and Stratford Bow granted by Alleyn to feoffees in 1371 and quitclaimed to him and Maud in 1379. (fn. 62) An estate in Stepney which was assigned to the abbey's chamberlain in 1381 has been identified as the mill at Stratford (Essex) given by Ailnod of London. (fn. 63) The abbey's mill or mills may have been in the part of Stepney manor that lay in West Ham (Essex). Two water mills and land in Stepney, granted in 1520 by Lancelot Lyle and his wife Alice to William Knight, lay partly in Essex and so presumably on the Lea. (fn. 64)

Unlocated mills included one claimed by the bishop in 1228 from Hugh le Fraunceys, whose grant by a previous bishop had not received the assent of the chapter. (fn. 65) If he succeeded the bishop, who was establishing overlordship, probably made a new grant to Franceys. (fn. 66) In 1233 Henry Bucointe successfully claimed from Peter son of Roger two mills and appurtenances in Stepney. (fn. 67)

Robert de Mordon bought a mill from Edmund Crepyn in 1334. It was regained by Robert's daughter Mary in 1348 after the death of his brother William, who had taken possession illegally. In 1348 it was held with 5 a. of the dean and chapter of St. Paul's by fealty and a small rent, and was in bad condition. (fn. 68)


In 1086 the bishop's extensive demesne woods fed 500 pigs and were worth 40s.; his tenants' woods were probably not in what became Stepney parish. (fn. 69) The indeterminate boundary with Hackney near the manor house and the nature of nearby closes in the 14th century suggest that woodland stretched eastward from Bethnal green in 1086 and had been divided, enclosed, and partly cleared by 1318. Such closes may have included Combfield, Newland, Woodland, and Redding: although sometimes used for crops, they differed from the other arable in having no subdivisions; all, except for Redding, were let as whole units and not subdivided. (fn. 70) Mention of the bishop's woods east of Bethnal green before 1285 suggests that the woodland may have reached farther south, over the area later called Broomfields. (fn. 71)

In 1291 the bishop was granted free warren, probably as a preliminary to emparking, and in 1292 his petition to enclose two woods near his manor house for deer and other game was seen as a threat by Londoners to their traditional hunting rights. (fn. 72) By 1335 the woods around the manor house were used for grazing. (fn. 73) In 1363 the grazing in Southwood was let with 22 a. called Kechenfeld nearby, while Northwood was let with Broomcroft, which separated the two woods, as a pasture for 6 years. (fn. 74) The acreage of the woods probably did not exceed 50 a. by this time: they were included in 97 a. let with the manor house in 1550, (fn. 75) but all the former demesne to the east amounted to only 48 a. in 1703. (fn. 76) In 1539 the manor was said to include 26 a. of woodland, with little timber left on it. (fn. 77)


The bishop received rent for the farm of a fishery in 1263–4. (fn. 78) His fishery at Bullivant was let in 1313, for 1 mark a year, and in 1318. (fn. 79) The rent remained 13s. 4d. in 1335–6 and 1362–3, (fn. 80) but from 1383 to 1399 that sum was accounted for by the beadle of Hackney and from 1402 it was not recorded. (fn. 81) By 1439, however, a new farm of £1 18s. 4d. was accounted for under Stepney for a fishery at Bullivant mill, let to the widow of Richard Colliers with ½ a. at Algoryshyde. (fn. 82) In 1464–5 £2 6s. 8d. was received for the fishery at Bullivant mill with Lockacre and the hopes containing ½ a., let to Laurence Fanne. The bishop also received 40s. for all the fishing and fowling in Stepney marsh, which had been flooded 15 years previously, together with a moiety of the reeds, let for 10 years to Richard Daniel and Thomas Shipman. (fn. 83) The fishery at Bullivant mill was later let to Sir John Shaa and by 1518 to Sir John Raynesford at the same rent as in 1464–5. (fn. 84) In 1550 it was included in the Bishopshall lease. (fn. 85) The royalty of fishing on the Lea was valued at £5 in 1642 and 1652. (fn. 86)

INDUSTRY TO c. 1550.

Bakers supplied London by the early 13th century, paying city tolls for carrying bread from Bromley and Stepney; (fn. 87) in 1356 the City imposed a higher toll on carts carrying wheat or flour from Stratford Bow than on other carts. (fn. 88) Some millers at Stratford may also have been bakers: John Lynne, holder of Land mills, was so described in 1391. (fn. 89)

By the 15th century bakers and brewers of Ratcliff and Limehouse probably also helped to victual ships. Together with men in the lime, brick, and ironwork industries (below), they were often among Stepney's leading inhabitants, with substantial landholdings and financial and family connections with Londoners. Roger Clerk, baker, rented grazing along the river wall at Limehouse in 1391–2, (fn. 90) and bakers at Limehouse made wills in 1430 (Simon Cok), 1455 (William Canon), and 1472 (John Austyn), as did Thomas Aubrey of Stepney in 1440. (fn. 91) Early 16th-century bakers from Limehouse, Ratcliff, and Stratford Bow supplied royal ships refitting in the Thames. (fn. 92)

Brewers making wills included Vincent Syward of Limehouse in 1419 and William Brigge of Stepney, who had pledged his goods as security to citizens of London, in 1449. (fn. 93) John Debenham of Limehouse was mentioned in 1430 and 1450, William Peste of Stepney in 1456, and Thomas Mott of in 1449, possibly the Thomas Mote of Ratcliff who died in 1461. (fn. 94) John Allardson of Ratcliff, who paid a subsidy as an alien in the 1450s, pledged goods in 1461, and Thomas Mason of Stepney, with two others, was granted the goods of a London cooper as security in 1475. (fn. 95) William Potter, priest and member of a Poplar family, left a brewhouse to Nicholas Salle or Sawlle of Stepney and his wife Alice with land in Ratcliff in 1487; in 1496 Salle left a brewery called the Cherker and a brewery at Newbrigge, besides land in Poplar and Ratcliff. (fn. 96)

In 1549 meat for the king's ships at Ratcliff was supplied from 1,017 oxen brought there from outside London. The miller of Ratcliff (probably of Shadwell mill) let a close near the slaughterhouse to hold the animals, and men and buildings were hired for the slaughter and salting. Although the scale of the operation exceeded Ratcliff's own resources, some local facilities already existed for such provisioning. (fn. 97)

Lime used on the manor for building repairs in 1335 came from the 300 sacks received by the bishop each year as render for the limekilns near the later Limehouse dock. (fn. 98) In 1362–3 the manor received only 25 sacks and bought 42 more. (fn. 99) In 1398–9 the manor received 50 sacks of lime from the kiln of one tenant, and 25 each from the kilns of another four. (fn. 1) The same renders were paid in 1401–2 and 1408–9. (fn. 2) Money rents of 8d. or less were also paid c. 1400 for the kilns of four tenants. (fn. 3) The tenants of the limekilns included in the 14th century members of the Dike, Golding, atte Hatch, and Kent families, and William Edwin and Thomas Warris, who made wills in 1404 and 1443 respectively. (fn. 4) Several also held customary land or leased demesne in Limehouse, including Peter atte Hatch (d. 1405), who was beadle of Stepney in 1391–2. (fn. 5) In 1464–5 the five kilns rendered 25 sacks each and all the lime was sold. (fn. 6) The same render was due in 1517–18, when two kilns formerly in the tenure of Edmund Ratcliff were unlet. (fn. 7)

Richard Etgose or Etgoos, yeoman, had at his death in 1503 an extensive limeburning operation at Limehouse and Greenhithe (Kent). In 1491 he had taken a 99-year lease of the Dusthill, with a hope enclosed from the marsh, where he built a new house and had a chalk kiln, a wharf, and a chalk boat called the Katharine. He also had four tenements adjoining his dwelling with a tanhouse, a beerhouse, and 28 a. of marsh, besides four copyhold tenements and a wharf and garden which he had rebuilt into six or eight tenements, another kiln at Greenhithe, a little arable, and 32 a. in the marsh let to butchers. (fn. 8) The property all passed to his eldest son John, also a brickmaker, and then to John's eldest child Elizabeth and her husband Richard Driver (d. 1549). Driver left his limekiln and other property to his younger son George. (fn. 9) The property seems to have included two kilns and two wharves that had belonged to St. Bartholomew's hospital and had been granted to the mayor and corporation of London in 1547; (fn. 10) those kilns may have derived from a messuage by the limekiln in Stepney, late of John Elmeshale, clerk, in 1399. (fn. 11)

In 1524 Richard Driver, John Etgose, and another limeburner were accused of trying to fix the price of lime sold in London. A new rate was agreed but in 1526 they refused the prices which the City set. (fn. 12) John Crow supplied 6 loads of lime to Henry VIII. (fn. 13) Other limeburners at Limehouse included Richard Deacon, who made a will in 1563, William Becket (fl. 1566), and William Harman (fl. 1593). (fn. 14)

A licence to dig clay for tiles was granted in 1366 by John, son and heir of Stephen of Cambridge, holder of a moiety of Ewell manor, to John Wendover, citizen, possibly the holder of the other moiety. By c. 1400 the manor was sometimes also called Tilehouse, and in 1401– 2 the holder was summoned for not cleaning ditches at the tilehouse. (fn. 15) Brickmaking seems to have been concentrated in Whitechapel. Between 1401 and 1409 ½ a. of demesne in Southhyde near Whitechapel Lane, north of Whitechapel Road, was let for a 'lompette', presumably for making tiles or bricks, at a very high rent, (fn. 16) and the Whitechapel Lane of 1409 may have been that called Brick Lane by 1485. (fn. 17) In 1438–9 the demesne fields between Shoreditch and Cambridge Heath Road included both 'lompettes' and 'tilehouseland', (fn. 18) and by 1465 all but 2 a. of 25 a. in Southhyde were let for brickmaking to John Caunton, John Kendall, and Henry Etwell, the first of whom described himself as a brickmaker in his will proved in 1476. (fn. 19) Nicholas Fakys, brickmaker of Whitechapel, made bequests of bricks in his will c. 1454. (fn. 20) The lease of 18 a. in Spitalfield to Thomas Rooke at a high rent in 1464–5 suggests that this may also have been for brickmaking. Rooke's property passed to his son-in-law John Brampston or Bramston (d. 1504), who moved to Whitechapel and bequeathed 10,000 bricks each to the London Charterhouse, St. Bartholomew's priory, Smithfield, and his son Hugh. (fn. 21) Hugh (d. by 1539) was also a brickmaker and in 1509–10 held a 'brickplace' on the south side of Spitalfield. (fn. 22) Hugh's eldest son John was a mercer, but the family continued to live in Whitechapel and also held considerable copyhold property in Whitechapel and Stepney. In 1550 the garden of John Bramston lay east of Brick Lane near its junction with Whitechapel Road. He also held one of the two tileyards in Stepney manor, the other being held by John Hall, of another Whitechapel brickmaking family; both lay on the east side of Brick Lane and were let annually. (fn. 23)

In 1511 part of Cordwainers mead in Limehouse was let for brickmaking to John Etgose for 10 years at an increased rent, with the obligation to maintain the river walls around the meadow between Limehouse and Ratcliff. (fn. 24) It may have been the brickplace that Richard Driver left with all the bricks and profits to his wife Elizabeth in 1549. (fn. 25)

Shipbuilding at Ratcliff was recorded in 1354, when timber was brought for the king's ships, and 1356, when 50 ship's carpenters of Norfolk and Suffolk were impressed to work on ships and barges; (fn. 26) presumably small boats and merchant ships were already being built there. A galley of Edward III at Ratcliff, with tackle and utensils from other vessels, was ordered to be sold in 1380. (fn. 27) In 1421 a ship was built for John, duke of Bedford, at the limekilns in Stepney. (fn. 28) In 1485 George Cely, merchant of the Staple of Calais, had his ship the Margaret Cely brought to Blackwall and bought nails and bread for her from Ratcliff tradesmen. (fn. 29) From 1512 several royal ships were fitted out at Blackwall and Wapping, including the Mary Rose, (fn. 30) for which a dock was made at Blackwall. Local smiths, ironmongers, and carpenters supplied materials. (fn. 31)

Four workshops and gardens at Mile End were granted to John Wolward, smith, in 1364. (fn. 32) Other smiths included John Fotheringay of Poplar, who made a will in 1412, John Hudson of Ratcliff, recorded in 1466 and 1468, (fn. 33) Christopher Saunderson of Poplar, William Brett of Stepney, and John Ernest of Mile End, who made wills in 1479, 1481, and 1519 respectively. William Ivy of Limehouse was overseer of a will in 1537. (fn. 34)

Stepney residents involved in maritime trade included a shipman who owed a large sum in 1423 for beer, probably for his crew, to another resident, (fn. 35) and John Norfolk, merchant, who with others was licensed in 1452 to collect merchandise in Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. (fn. 36) John Warde of London, vintner, formerly of Portsmouth and then Ratcliff, victualled Calais in 1478. Lightermen were mentioned in 1479. (fn. 37)

John Bogays, a potter living at Mile End c. 1360, had considerable property there including 3 workshops. (fn. 38) Other craftsmen included Walter Colt, brasier of Mile End, in 1434, and William Shelfield, arrowsmith of Stepney, in 1444, (fn. 39) William Saber of Stepney, white tawer (1457), (fn. 40) John Pole (1454), Edmund Walsh (1456), and John Bothe (1466), all tailors of Stepney, (fn. 41) Richard Laurence, fuller, and John Yardley, tailor (both 1454), and William Lynston, tailor (1461), all of Stratford Bow. (fn. 42) John Bowle of Southwark had an oil mill in Stepney in 1495. (fn. 43) Henry Basse, barber of Ratcliff, made a will in 1500. (fn. 44)


1 Two paras. based on V.C.H. Mdx. i. 120–1, 128.
2 Above, Stepney manor.
3 Guildhall MS. 25122/146; above, manors (Ralph).
4 Above, manors (e.g. Shadwell; St. Thos. Acre; Holy Trinity).
5 Above, manors (Poplar)
6 Above, manors (Hulls); below.
7 V.C.H. Mdx. i. 120; cf. Agrarian Hist. Eng. and Wales, II, 1042–1350, ed. H. E. Hallam (1988), 60. Possibly in Haliwellstreet or Algatestreet, which both lay partly within the manor.
8 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18.
9 Guildhall MS. 25422. Defective; dated by Guildhall to 1404 vacancy of see, but internal evidence and field survey (P.R.O., SC 12/11/31) suggest previous vacancy.
10 Guildhall MS. 25422; above.
11 e.g. Mercers' est.; below.
12 P.R.O., SC 2/191/60, passim.
13 Ibid. m. 12d.
14 Guildhall MS. 10312/136.
15 B.L. Eg. Roll 2081.
16 P.R.O., C 78/211, no. 9; 21 Jas. I, c. 6 (Priv. Act).
17 Customs and Privileges of Manors of Stepney and Hackney (1736), 113–23.
18 P.R.O., E 372/72, m. 10d.; Guildhall MS. 25369/1.
19 P.R.O., SC 2/191/60.
20 Guildhall MS. 10312/136.
21 P.R.O., SC 2/191/60, m. 4d., refers to 3 a. rendering service of 1/2 virgate schirland.
22 Guildhall MS. 25422.
23 P.R.O., SC 12/11/31.
24 Based on only full accts. before commutation, in 1335–6: Guildhall MS. 25403/2.
25 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18.
26 Ibid.
27 Guildhall MS. 25403/1.
28 Ibid. 25422.
29 Ibid. 25403/1–2.
30 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18.
31 Guildhall MSS. 25422; 25403/3.
32 Field survey of 1,335 a., besides probably at least 200 a. for a missing digit in the total of schirland; the beginning, concerning the N. part of Stepney, is missing: P.R.O., SC 12/11/31.
33 Guildhall MS. 25403/6; P.R.O., SC 6/1139/23.
34 V.C.H. Mdx. i. 120; Agrarian Hist. Eng. and Wales, II, 102, and cf. 90 for other rates.
35 V.C.H. Mdx. i. 120; below, woods.
36 Below, woods.
37 This and foil, paras, based on P.R.O., E 372/72, m. 10d. (for 1228–9); E 352/36, m. 5 (1242–3); E 352/57, [m. 13d.] (1263–4); E 352/66, m. 6 (1272–3).
38 The following is based on the serjeant's accts. for 1335–6, partly illegible but the only accts. for a full year while the Stepney demesne was managed directly by the bishop. They are supplemented by executors' accts. for Dec. 1303 and Mar. 1339, and by the reeve's acct. for Aug. to Nov. 1318: Acct. of Exors. of Ric., Bp. of Lond. 1303 (Camd. Soc. N.S. x), 94–6; Guildhall MSS. 25403/1 (1318); 25403/2 (1335–6); P.R.O., E 154/1/47 (1339). All are vacancy accts.
39 Reading for wheat is uncertain: its acreage greatly exceeded rye in the other accts.
40 72 of total receipts covers totals for the illegible arrears and for sales of corn.
41 Below, ind.
42 Below, woods.
43 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18; G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1.
44 Above.
45 Above.
46 P.R.O., E 154/1/47; ibid. SC 6/1139/18.
47 Ibid. SC 6/1139/18.
48 Ibid. SC 6/1139/18. Another 18½ a. were accounted for under Hackney man.
49 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/23–24; SC 6/1140/24.
50 Only 8 full accts. survive between 1362–3 and 1517– 18: 2 others are defective and 2 have only totals. The following have been used for this section: Guildhall MS. 25403/3 (1383–4); P.R.O., SC 6/1139/20 (1391–2); SC 6/1139/21 (1398–9); SC 6/1139/22 (1401–2); SC 6/1139/23 (1408–9); SC 6/1139/24 (1438–9); SC 6/1140/24 (1464–5).
51 Below, ind.
52 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18; Guildhall MS. 25403/3.
53 Guildhall MS. 25403/5; P.R.O., SC 6/1139/21–22; SC 6/1140/24.
54 G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1, correcting transcript in Robinson, Hackney, i. 325–43, which has errors and omissions.
55 Based on figs, in Taylor, 'Estates of Bishopric of Lond.', 408.
56 P.R.O., PROB 11/5 (P.C.C. 23 Godyn).
57 B.L. Add. Chs. 209–210; G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1; above, manors (Stepney).
58 P.R.O.,C 1/728/11–13; below, localgovt. (man. govt.).
59 G.L.R.O., M93/206; M79/LH/128/1/1.
60 P.R.O., PROB 11/32 (P.C.C. 5 Populwell), f. 36.
61 G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1; above, Stepney manor; below, ind.
62 P.R.O., C 3/453/41.
63 B.L. Eg. MS. 3006, ff. 1–2; P.R.O., SP 12/152, no. 49.
64 P.R.O., PROB 11/79 (P.C.C. 46 Harington), f. 355.
65 G.L.R.O., M93/208; M93/158, f. 7.
66 Ibid. M93/158, f. 13.
67 P.R.O., SP 12/152, no. 49.
68 Ibid. SP 16/540, no. 153; B.L. Add. MS. 22253, f. 1–3d.; above, manors (Stepney).
69 Taylor, 'Estates of Bishopric of Lond.', 408; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 356.
70 P.R.O., SP 1/32, pp. 1–9.
71 G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1.
72 P.R.O., C 3/230/60.
73 Guildhall MS. 10123/2: given as Ric. Knyght; G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1.
74 P.R.O., C 3/230/60; C 142/204, no. 155(2).
75 Guildhall MS. 10123/2; G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1.
76 L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), p. 2366; xv, pp. 560–1.
77 See fig. 5.
78 Dugdale, Hist. Imbanking, 69–70; P.R.O., E 40/2601; E 40/2543–5; E 40/7317–19; E 40/7233; B.L. Cott. MS. Tib. C. v, f. 158; Guildhall MS. 25516, f. 40.
79 Above.
80 Guildhall MS. 25422.
81 P.R.O., SC 12/11/31.
82 Cal. Pat. 1330–4, 52.
83 P.R.O., C 146/2777.
84 Above, manors (Mercers').
85 Gascoyne, Map.
86 Above.
87 Guildhall MSS. 9171/1, ff. 36v. (1376), 71 (1380), 160 (1388) 9171/2, f. 26 (1403).
88 Above, manors (Pomfret).
89 Guildhall MS. 9171/1, f. 71.
90 Above.
91 P.R.O., C 145/190, no. 11.
92 Year Bk. 12 Ric. II (Ames Foundation), 190–2.
93 P.R.Q., C 131/43, no. 10; ibid. SC 6/1139/22.
94 Guildhall MS. 25403/2; P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18.
95 Above, manors (Savoy).
96 Guildhall MS. 25403/3; P.R.O., SC 6/1139/22, SC 6/1139/24.
97 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/21.
98 Guildhall MS. 25422; P.R.O., SC 12/11/31.
99 Above, manors (Cobhams).
1 P.R.O., SC 6/1140/24.
2 Ibid. SC 12/11/31, f. 16v.
3 Later hist, of most mills or sites reserved for treatment under ests. or ind. in individual hamlets.
4 V.C.H. Mdx. i. 120–1; below.
5 P.R.O., E 372/72, m. 10d.; E 352/36, m. 5; E 352/57, [m. 13d.].
6 Guildhall MS. 25426.
7 Guildhall MSS. 25403/1–2.
8 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18.
9 Guildhall MS. 25403/3; P.R.O., SC 6/1139/20.
10 Guildhall MS. 25403/5; P.R.O., SC 6/1139/21–2.
11 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/24; below, fisheries.
12 G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1.
13 Guildhall MSS. 25403/1–2.
14 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18; G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1.
15 B.L. Cott. MS. Tib. C. v, f. 159v.; Guildhall MS. 25516, f. 40.
16 Guildhall MSS. 25426; 25403/1.
17 Ibid. 25403/2.
18 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18, 20; Guildhall MSS. 25403/3, 5.
19 P.R.O., C 146/2665; B.L. Cott. MS. Tib. C. v, f. 161v.
20 Guildhall MS. 25403/1.
21 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18; see fig. 5.
22 P.R.O., C 134/75, no. 10.
23 Ibid. C 146/5734.
24 V.C.H. Mdx. i. 120; Cart, of Holy Trinity Aldgate (Lond. Rec. Soc. vii), 167, 195; Rot. Hund. i. 413.
25 B.L. Cott. MS. Tib. C. v, f. 152; above, manors (St. Thos. of Acre).
26 Bracton's Note Bk. ed. Maitland, ii. 379–80; Guildhall MS. 25501, f. 34V.; P.R.O., CP 25/1/146/8, no. 85; Early Charters of Cath. Ch. of St. Paul (Camden 3rd ser. lviii), pp. 256–7.
27 B.L. Cott. MS. Tib. C. v, ff. 153–54v.; Guildhall MS. 25501, f. 34v.
28 Cur Reg. R. xvi. 153.
29 B.L. Cott. MS. Tib. C. v, ff. 160v.–62; V.C.H. Lond. i. 49; above, manors (St. Thos. of Acre).
30 P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/2396, m. 8d.; L. & P. Hen. VIII, xix (2), p. 77.
31 Above, manors (Ewell).
32 Guildhall MS. 25516, f. 38; above, manors (Shadwell).
33 Above, manors (Salomon; Shadwell).
34 Guildhall MS. 255126, f. 40.
35 Ibid. 25164.
36 Bodl. Gough Maps 17, f. 26, and Trial between Thos. Neale and Lady Theodosia Ivie (1696) have plans of Shadwell showing the watercourses.
37 P.R.O., E 40/14033.
38 Ibid. CP 25/1/147/22, no. 439.
39 Ibid. C 54/181, m. 29d.; ibid. C 135/95, no. 13. Pulteney also held Algodsmill: below.
40 P.R.O., C 54/200, m. 20d.
41 Above, manors (Poplar).
42 Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 398–9.
43 P.R.O., SC 12/11/13; ibid. SC 6/Hen. VIII/2396, m. 42; ibid. C 66/723, m. 2; Plan, c. 1590, of area lying E. of St. Katharine's Hasp, (now Dock) (Lond. Topog. Soc. Publ. no. 61).
44 V.C.H. Mdx. i. 121.
45 Cal. Inq. Misc. iii, p. 70; above.
46 P.R.O., C 54/200, m. 20d.; ibid. CP 25/1/288/47, no. 627.
47 Cal. Close 1374–7, 107–8; P.R.O., C 54/268, m. 15; above, manors (Poplar).
48 P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/2396, m. 49.
49 Cur. Reg. R. xiv. 68.
50 Cal. Inq. Misc. iii, p. 71.
51 Public Works in Med. Law, ii (Selden Soc. xl), p. 44.
52 Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 212.
53 P.R.O., CP 25/1/148/36, no. 298.
54 Above, manors (Ashwyes).
55 Cal. Close 1409–13, 417–18.
56 Cal. Anct. D. vi, C 4915.
57 P.R.O., C 142/268, no. 125. Later hist, reserved for Stratford Bow.
58 P.R.O., C 78/203, no. 10; below for Westm. abbey's mill.
59 P.R.O., CP 25/1/150/65, no. 309.
60 Munimenta Gildhallae Londoniensis, iii, Liber Albus, 421.
61 B. F. Harvey, Westm. Abbey and its Estates in the Middle Ages (1977), 424.
62 P.R.O., CP 25/1/151/72, no. 485; Cal. Close, 1377–81, 243.
63 J. A. Robinson, Gilb. Crispin, Abbot of Westm. (1911), 45; V.C.H. Essex, vi. 89.
64 P.R.O., CP 25/2/51/362/12 Hen.VIII/East.
65 Cur. Reg. R. xiii. 123.
66 Above, agric.
67 Cur. Reg. R. xv. 81; P.R.O., CP 25/1/146/10, no. 127.
68 Cal. Inq. Misc. iii, p. 3.
69 V.C.H. Mdx. i. 120.
70 Guildhall MSS. 25403/1–2; P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18, 20–1.
71 P.R.O., C 146/2771; above, manors (Trentemars).
72 Taylor, 'Estates of Bishopric of Lond.' 180–1.
73 Guildhall MS. 25403/2.
74 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18.
75 G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1.
76 Fig. 5; Gascoyne, Map.
77 P.R.O., SP 1/153, f. 172d. Later hist, of site of the manorial woods treated below, Bethnal Green, ests.
78 P.R.O., E 352/57 [m. 13d.].
79 Guildhall MSS. 25426; 25403/1.
80 Ibid. 25403/2; P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18.
81 Guildhall MSS. 25403/3, 5; P.R.O., SC 6/1139/21–2.
82 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/24.
83 Ibid. SC 6/1140/24.
84 Guildhall MS. 10123/2, f. 40d.
85 G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1; above, agric.
86 B.L. Add. MS. 22253, f. 16; G.L.R.O., M93/157.
87 Munimenta Gildhallae Londoniensis, i, Liber Albus, 232.
88 McDonnell, Med. Lond. Suburbs, 77, where refs. should be treated with caution.
89 Cal. Anct. D. vi, C 4915; above, mills.
90 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/20.
91 Guildhall MSS. 9171/3, f. 269; 9171/5, f. 168v.; 9171/6, f. 128v.; P.R.O., PROB 11 /3 (P.C.C. 28 Luffenham).
92 P.R.O., E 36/11.
93 Guildhall MSS. 9171/3, f. 33v.; 9171/4, f. 252; Cal. Close, 1447–54, 29.
94 Guildhall MSS. 9171/3, f. 269; 9171/4, f. 254; 9171/5, ff. 86, 189, 352v.; Cal. Close, 1447–54, 67.
95 Cal. Close, 1461–8, 62; 1468–76, 417; P.R.O., E 179/235/57.
96 Guildhall MSS. 9171/7, f. 104; 9171/8, f. 117v.
97 P.R.O., E 101/62/38.
98 Guildhall MS. 25403/2.
99 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18.
1 Ibid. SC 6/1139/21
2 Ibid. SC 6/1139/22–3.
3 Ibid. SC 12/11/31.
4 Guildhall MSS. 9171/2, f. 53v.; 9171/4, f. 139v.
5 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/18, 24; SC 12/11/31; ibid. C 146/364; Guildhall MS. 25422.
6 P.R.O., SC 6/1140/24.
7 Guildhall MS. 10123/2.
8 P.R.O., PROB 11/14 (P.C.C. 2 Holgrave); G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1. .pa
9 P.R.O., PROB 11/32 (P.C.C. 38 Populwell), f. 293. He also had brickmaking interests: below.
10 L. & P. Hen. VIII, xxi (2), p. 415.
11 Cal. Fine R. 1391–9, 301.
12 McDonnell, Med. Lond. Suburbs, 111–12.
13 Lond. Topog. Rec. xix. 113.
14 Guildhall MS. 9171/15, f. 165; Mdx. County Rec. i. 57, 218.
15 B.L. Cott. MS. Tib. C. v, f. 160; P.R.O., SC 12/11/31; SC 6/1139/22; above, manors (Ewell).
16 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/23.
17 Guildhall MS. 9171/7, f. 23v.
18 P.R.O., SC 6/1139/24.
19 Ibid. SC 6/1140/24; Guildhall MS. 9171/6, f. 188v.
20 Guildhall MS. 9171/5, f. 136.
21 Autobiog. of Sir John Bramston (Camden Soc. 1st ser. xxxii), pp. xvii–xix; P.R.O., PROB 11/14 (P.C.C. 17 Holgrave), f. 133v.
22 Ibid. PROB 11/28 (P.C.C. 1 Alenger); SC 2/191/63, m. 1d.
23 Autobiog. of Bramston, p. xvii; D.N.B.; B.L. Eg. Roll 2081; G.L.R.O., M79/LH/128/1/1; Guildhall MS. 9171/10, f. 263 (Chris. Halle). Bramston est. reserved for Whitechapel.
24 Guildhall MS. 10123/2.
25 P.R.O., PROB 11/32 (P.C.C. 38 Populwell), f. 293; above.
26 Cal. Pat. 1354–8, 117, 447.
27 Ibid. 1377–81, 543–4.
28 Ibid. 1416–22, 327.
29 Cely Papers (Camden 3rd ser. i), 179–80.
30 Sunk off Portsmouth and now in mus. there: W.L. Clowes, Royal Navy: Hist. i (1897), 420.
31 P.R.O., E 36/11.
32 Ibid. E 210/9576.
33 Guildhall MS. 9171/2, f. 232; Cal. Close, 1461–8, 332; Cal. Pat. 1467–77, 78.
34 Guildhall MSS. 9171/6, ff. 250, 316v.; 9171/9, f. 100v.; 9171/10, f. 307v.
35 McDonnell, Med. Lond. Suburbs. 104.
36 Cal. Close, 1447–54, 341.
37 Cal. Pat. 1476–85, 139, 156.
38 P.R.O., E 210/6324; E 210/5875; above, manors (Savoy).
39 Guildhall MSS. 9171/3, f. 391; 9171/4, f. 146v.
40 Cal. Close, 1454–61, 257.
41 Ibid. 1454–61, 33; Guildhall MS. 9171/5, f. 189; Cal. Fine R. 1461–71, 188.
42 Cal. Pat. 1452–61, 136; 1461–7, 53.
43 P.R.O., PROB 11/10 (P.C.C. 27 Vox).
44 Guildhall MS. 9171/8, f. 240v.