Billingsgate Ward. 165

Billingsgate Ward.


The Bounds thereof. A Free Market for Fish here. St. Botolph's Church. St. Mary at Hill. The Corps of a Woman found whole 170 Years after her Death. St. Margaret Pattens. St. Andrew Hubbert. St. George in Botolph Lane. The present State of this Ward.

[ Click here to view 

BILLINSGATE Ward beginneth at the West end of Tower Street Ward in Thames Street, about Smarts Key, and runneth down along that Street, on the South side, to Saint Magnus Church at the Bridge foot, and on the North side of the said Thames Street, from over against Smarts Key, till over against the North West Corner of St. Magnus Church aforesaid.

Billingsgate Ward.

The Bounds thereof.

On this North side of Thames Street is S. Mary Hill Lane, up to St. Margaret's Church, and then part of St. Margaret Pattens Street, at the end of St. Mary Hill Lane. Next out of Thames Street is Lucas Lane, and then Botulph Lane, and at the North end thereof Philpot Lane: Then is there Rother Lane, of old time so called, and thwart the same Lane is Little Eastcheap: And these be the Bounds of this Billingsgate Ward.

Touching the principal Ornaments within this Ward: On the South side of Thames Street, beginning at the East end thereof, there is first the said Smarts Key, so called, of one Smart, sometime owner thereof.

Smarts Key.

The next is Billinsgate, whereof the whole Ward taketh name; the which (leaving out of the Fable thereof, faining it to be builded by King Belin, a Britain, long before the Incarnation of Christ) is at this present a large Water Gate, Port or Harbrough for Ships and Boats, commonly arriving there with Fish, both fresh and salt, Shell-fishes, Salt, Oranges, Onions, and other Fruits and Roots; Wheat, Rye, and Grain of divers sorts for service of the Citie, and the Parts of this Realm adjoining. This Gate is now more frequented than of old time, when the Queens Hith was more used, as being appointed by the Kings of this Realm, to be the special or only Port for taking up of all such kind of Merchandiszes, brought to this City by Strangers and Foreigners; and the Draw- bridge of Timber at London Bridge was then to be raised, or drawn up for Passage of Ships with tops thither.


Touching the ancient Customs of this Billingsgate, I have not read in any Record more than that in the Reign of Edward III. every great Ship landing there, paid for Standage * two Pence; every little Ship with Orelockes, a Penny; the lesser Boat, called a Battle, a halfpenny. Of two Quarters of Corn measured, the King was to have one Farthing; of a Comb of Corn a Penny; of every Weight going out of the City, a Halfpenny; of two Quarters of Sea-coals measured, a Farthing; and of every Tun of Ale going out of England beyond the Seas, by Merchant Strangers four Pence; of every thousand Herring, a Farthing, except the Franchises, &c.

Customs of Billingsgate.

*Strandage, First Edit.

These Payments were made in the Reign of King Edward III. beyond which Stow saith he had not met with any Records relating to the said Customs. But they were paid long before, as appears in Brompton's Chronicle inter Leges Ethelredi, which was Ann. 1016. namely, that Tolls were then paid at Billingsgate: as Mr. Bellamy, the City Remembrancer hath well observed to me.]

Customs paid here in King Ethelred's Time.

J. S.

Of late an Act of Parliament was made, (to wit 10. and 11. Will. III.) to make Billinsgate a free Market for sale of Fish, Then it was enacted, "That after 10. May, 1699. Billinsgate Market should be every day in the Week (except Sunday) a free and open Market for all sorts of Fish. And that it should be lawful for any Person to buy or sell any sort of Fish without disturbance."

Billingsgate a free Market for Fish.

J. S.

This Act also settled the Tolls to be paid by the Fisher Boats: Enacting, "That after the said 10th May, no Person selling any sort of Fish in the said Market, should pay any other Toll or Duty to any Person or Persons, for coming with his Boat or Vessel, or landing, standing or selling in or at this Market, than it was hereafter expressed; viz. For every Vessel of salt Fish, for Groundage, 8d. per Day, and 20d. per Voyage, and no more in full of all Duties and Demands; to be distributed and disposed of, as the L. Maior, &c. shall yearly order and direct, according to the right of the respective Person thereunto. For a Lobster Boat, for Groundage per Day 2d. and per Voyage 13d. and no more, in full, as aforesaid. For every Vessel of fresh Sea Fish, Groundage per Day 2d. and per Voyage 13d. For every Dogger Boat, or Smack with Sea Fish, for Groundage per Day, 2d. and per Voyage, 13d. For every Oister Vessel, or Cock, for Groundage, per Day, 2d. for Metage one Halfpenny per Bushel. "

" And that it should be lawful for any Person, that bought any Fish in the said Market to sell the same again in any other Market, Place or Places within the City of London, or elsewhere, by retail, being sound and wholesome Fish, without any disturbance or molestation. "

" And that from and after the 10th of May, that Person that should take or demand any Toll or Sample, or any Imposition or Set-price of Sea Fish, of English catching, should forfeit the sum of 10l. the one half to his Majesty, and the other half to him that will sue for the same."

And because the Fishmongers caused the greatest part of the Fish to be bought up at Belinsgate, and then divided the same by Lot among themselves, in order to buy and sell at what rate they pleased, it was also enacted, "That no Person "

Fishmongers not to engross.