Suburbs without the Walls. St. Dunstan Stepney. 47

Suburbs without the Walls. St. Dunstan Stepney.
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A MAP OF THE PARISH OF S   A MAP OF THE PARISH OF St. DUNSTANS STEPNEY als. STEBUNHEATH Divided into Hamlets ] [ Click here to view 

say it was some Lady that going out of Town saw the School, and was informed of the great Numbers of poor People Inhabitants of the Parish, not able to give their Children Education.

Going out of Town from Whitechapel Eastward, are two Rows of Alms Houses on each side of the Way, opposite to each other. That on the left Hand belongeth to the Parish; and containeth sixteen Rooms, for as many poor Widows, who have a weekly Salary paid by the Parish. That on the right Hand of a later Foundation, was built by Will. Meggs, Esq; for twelve poor Widows; that is, such as formerly, or their Husbands, had paid Scot and Lot to the Parish. They receive Five Pound a Piece Yearly. Formerly they had a Portion of Coals allowed them also; but is now stopt. There is a pretty Piece of Garden Ground behind their House, belonging to them. The poor People are put into this Alms House, as the Rooms fall, by Sir James Etheridge, who married Mr. Gouldstons Widow, which Gouldston was Nephew to Mr. Meggs the Founder.]

Almshouses in Whitechapel



Next adjoining to Whitechapel, on the East, is the Parish of Stepney, washed on the South with the River of Thames, and touching on the West and Noth sides upon Algate, Bishopsgate, Shoreditch, and Hackney. The Church is called St. Dunstans Stepney, written anciently Stebunhith, or Stephenhith. And if there were any ancient Church or Chapel hereabouts dedicated to St. Stephen, I should be apt to suppose the Name to imply a Landing Place (as Hith signifies) for Boats and Vessels at St. Stephens. Or else perhaps from the Steepness of the Hithe there.

Stepney Parish.

J. S.

Some thing may be said of this Parish in general; and afterwards of some Particulars in it more especially. It was a Parish of very great extent: insomuch that some Parishes have been taken out of it: As Whitechapel (which according to the Name was once a Chapel of East to it) St. Pauls Shadwel, and of later times St. Johns at Wappin, which belonged to Whitechapel, and three others now in building. There be also in Stepney Parish some Chapels of Ease yet remaining, as one at Poplar, another in Spittle Fields; and, in my remembrance, another was on the Northern Part of Bethnal Green: But that is now turned into Houses. So that Stepney may be esteemed rather a Province than a Parish, especially if we add, that it contains in it both City and Country: For towards the South Parts, where it lies along the River Thames for a great way, by Limehouse, Poplar, and Radcliff, to Wappin, it is furnished with every thing that may intitle it to the Ho-nour (if not of a City, yet) of a great Town; Populousness, Traffick, Commerce, Havens, Shiping, Manufacture, Plenty and Wealth, the Crown of all. And were it not eclipsed by the Lustre of the neighbouring City, it would appear one of the considerablest Towns of the Kingdom, and would give place to very few Cities in England. And among other Places of Remark, at Blackwal is a Wet Dock belonging to Sir Henry Johnson, of sufficient bigness to contain Ships.

The largee extent of this Parish.

Chapels in this Parish.

On the other Side, Northward, this Parish hath the face of a Country, affording every thing to render it pleasant, Fields, Pasture-Grounds for Cattle, and formerly Woods and Marshes. For in old Writings we read of the Bishops Woods and Stebunhith Marshes.

The North Parts.

The Bishop of London had a Manour within this Parish of Stepney, and two Woods lying about it: which Rich. de Gravesend, sometime Bishop of London, the 20 Edw. 1. about the Year 1292, was minded to enclose for a Park. And for that purpose had a Grant of Free Warren from the said King; but the Citizens of London would not suffer it. As appears by this Record remaining in the Chamber of London.

A Manour and two Woods in Stepney, belonging to the Bishop of London.

"On Thursdy next before the Feast of St. Gregory the Pope, 20 Edw.1. in the Presence of Rafe de Sandwich, Custos of the City of London, Robert de Basing, John de Bacquill, William de Hereford, Rafe le Blunt, Robert de Roks, Nicholas de Winton, William de Mazeliner, William de Farndon, &c. Aldermen of the same City, and four Men of every Ward summoned, a Petition of the venerable Father R. de Gravesend, Bishop of London, was shewn to them by the Custos, to this purpose: That the same Bishop might enclose his two Woods in the Town of Stebenhith, lying about his Manour in the same Town, and to put Wild Beasts or Deer in them. Which Four of each Ward, being chosen by the Commonalty, taking Counsel upon this Matter, answered by themselves precisely, that from the Time whereof no Memory is extant, they had used to take and hunt within the foresaid Woods, and without, Hares, Foxes, Conies, and other Beasts; where and when they would. And they say, that they do not believe, that the Lord the King granted him any thing in prejudice of the City's Liberties. Whereupon they say, that they desire to use the Liberties which hitherto they have used: And they pray, that the same Bishop may hold his Woods in the form and manner as his Ancestors and Predecessors have held them. And they will not consent, that he may enclose them: nor will they grant him any Warren, &c."

Lib. Horn. fo. 268.

Mile-end Town stands here; built with many good Houses, inhabited with divers Sea Captains and Commanders of Ships: Two East India Captains, by the Name of Brown; and other Persons of good Quality.

Mile End.

It used also to serve for Country Retirement to Citizens and other wealthy Men. Witness those many fine Seats and noble Structures that appear scattered about in those Parts. For so it was especially in antient times, when Courtiers and Persons of the greatest Quality had their Country Houses here. Among the rest the Bishops of London used to retire hither for some Hundred of Years past. Matthew Paris speaks of Roger Niger, a Bishop of London that died at his Manour House of Stebunhith above four Hundred Years ago. Henry Waleis Maior of London, lived at Stepenhith; and (which is more) at whose House, An. 1299. 27 Edw. the First, that King held a Parliament, being then Maior of London.

Country Houses.

Roger Niger.

Henry Waleis.

Here the Lord Cramwel, Earl of Essex, had a House. Henry Colet, sometime Lord Maior of London, had House and Lands here, which descended to his Son John Colet, Dean of St. Pauls, the Founder of Jesus School by Pauls, who gave a fair House (and as it seems that very House wherein he dwelt near the Church) to the said School, for a Place for the Master and Scholars to retire to, when the Plague should be at London. The Dean loved often to retire hither from the City, for Air and Contemplation. Sir Thomas More who wanted Colet's Company, having been absent abroad, in a Letter inticeth him home, and among other Arguments he useth for that Purpose, one is, "That the Country about his Parish of Stepney (as he called it) whereof also he ought also not to have the least Care [perhaps he was Parson there] afforded him the like Delights to those which he had in the Place wherein he then was. And from thence he might upon Occasion come to London, as into an Inn. And prayed him there-"

L. Crumwel.

Dean Colet.

Life of Sir Tho. Moor.