St. Martin's in the Fields.79

St. Martin's in the Fields.

"quest, and for other lawful Proceedings in that Behalf; that it had Yesterday happened, that certain of the Parishioners of St. Martin's and St. Margaret's, about the Number of Forty, being ignorant of the Contents of his Lordship's Letter, and of his [the Under-steward's] Direction, assembled together, and made an Entry into such Commons as they found enclosed, by digging down, with Spades and Pickaxes, some small Breach in every Enclosure. And among the rest, they opened a Piece belonging to the City of London, where their Conduit-Heads are. Which being known to the Lord Maior, he sent Mr. Yonge, Justice of the Peace, among them, who saw that was done by them, and was present with Mr. Den and himself at the Examination of the Cause. And that upon Examination they found that they did this only, presuming upon an ancient Custom by them, they said, yearly observed, as that Day to lay open their Commons."

He added, "That some of them thus assembled, were of the best and ancientest of the Parishes; that they carryed with them no Weapon, and had only four or five Shovels and Pickaxes; and had divers Constables with them to keep her Majesty's Peace. And having thus laid open such Grounds, as they challenged to be their Commons, they quietly returned to their Houses, without any farther Hurt doing."

"And that because his Honour might happen to be informed herein against them from the Lord Maior, or some others, otherwise than the Case did require, he had thought good to certify his Lordship of the very Truth of their whole Proceeding; and had taken Order, that no such Course should hereafter be attempted by them." This was dated at Westminster, Aug. the 3d. 1592; and subscribed, His Lordship's most bounden Under-steward of Westminster,

With this Letter came also certain Confessions of this Matter: One of Peter Dod and Anthony Matthew.

Peter Dod, Citizen and Grocer of London, aged 65 Years, or thereabouts, saith, That upon Lammas-day last, being Aug. 1. he being near unto the City's Conduit-Heads in Middlesex, about half a Mile Westward from St. Giles's in the Fields, attending upon certain of the City's Works, touching conveying of Water from thence to London, saw, betwixt 5 and 6 of the Clock in the Afternoon the same Day, the Number of 40 Persons, at the least, (how many more he knoweth not) in a Close there, through which the City Pipes are laid to convey Water to London: And they divided themselves: And some of them, with Pickaxes and Shovels, brake down the Fence of the same Close; and other some of them pass'd to the next Close Westward, and brake open the Fence of that Close: And that he, with some of the Citizens Workmen, went unto them, seeing some of them to be Men that carryed a Shew of some Countenance, and talked with them, demanding of them whence they were; and one of them answered, That they were of St. Martin's Parish, and St. Margaret's at Westminster. And he, the said Dod, said unto them, Why do ye this? It was answered, "It was Lammas-tide; and we throw it down for Common. And if we take here any Cattel of any other Mens than theirs of the Parishes of St. Martin's or St. Margaret's, after this Day, we will carry them to the Pound." I never saw the like of this, said Dod. If you may do this by Authority, it is well, otherwise it is not well.

Information brought in about it.

It was answered, "We have here the Bailiff of Westminster, and the Officers of St. Martin's; and we have our Authority from the Queen's Majesty and the Council, granted by K. Henry, confirmed by her Majesty, and named the Lord Treasurer to be one, from whom they had their Authority." And it was also added, That the next Day there would be two hundred there, and that they must break open, up to Knight's-Bridge and Chelsey.

And Dod said farther, That that Evening they threw down one Gate, in one Close, which the City holdeth, and abated the Banks: And in another Close, threw open another Gate, and pulled down a Rail, and brake open the Fences in three other Places beside. And the next in the Morning, their Herdmen brought in about thirty Beasts into one of the Closes, and kept them there feeding in one of the Closes which the City holdeth. This was signed by Dod, and Matthew, and others.

The said Dod and Matthew say farther, That the next Day in the Morning Dod went to the Herdman, as he was keeping the Cattel in the Close, and asked him, Who willed him to put the Cattle in there. He answered, That did Mr. Hen. Wells, Bailiff of Westminster; Mr. Coles, Burgess; Mr. Peach, and Mr. Racie, Bailiffs; and they will, said he, bear me out in it. And the said Examinates say, That they saw them the next Day passing along Westward, breaking sundry Fences, being about the Number of sixty Persons, sometimes together, and sometimes divided in Parts.

Another testified, viz. one Ra. Wood of St. Giles's in the Fields, Yeoman and Constable, That the 2d of August, he going to look to his Fields, and save his Gates from breaking, found a Number of them near unto a Place called Aubery Farm, towards Chelsey, to the Number of 105, as he told them, where they were breaking open Fences. And so they crossed from thence unto a Field called Crow Field, at the upper End of Hyde Park, where they found the Gate opened before they came; and yet they would not be satisfied, but brake up the Fence beside the Gate, and from thence they passed to the Highway to High hill, where they broke open the Fences into four Fields, [of divers Persons that held Land there.] Many of them said, that they had no Authority to do so; but their Purpose was to lay all Common. But they generally said, We have my Lord Treasurer's Warrant, and we have my Lord Treasurer's Bailiff, that keepeth Tibbalds. And one Jones, his Lordship's Man, being then present, said, He would drive the Commons within this Sevennight, as soon as they had charged a Jury. And many of them said, they had the Councils Letter. There were present Mr. Cole, Westminster High Constable the last Year, and divers others, named. And said farther, That Cole led them the Way from Field to Field, with a written Roll in his Hand.

The Farmers complain to the L. Treasurer for the Breach of their Enclosures.

The Farmers of the Grounds belonging to the Queen's Manour of St. James's, and the rest possessed of and in Lands and Closes belonging to the said Manour, soon put up their Petition to the Lord Treasurer; shewing how they had enjoyed them Time out of Mind, and at all Times of the Year, till the 1st Day of August. At what Time certain Persons of the City of Westminster, and Liberty of the same, to the Number of 60 Persons, or more, in forcible Manner arrayed, brake down all the Hedges of the said Grounds, &c. giving out that they had his Honour's Consent and Warrant. That if it were so, all her Majesty's poor Tenants and Fermours were utterly undone. That it might