The Life of JOHN STOW. xvij

The Life of JOHN STOW.

monstrous Bone had fallen into his Hands, it would not have easily been gotten from him, being one of the greatest Preservers of Antiquities in these Parts for his Time.

Further, when the foresaid R.G. would have obtruded upon Peoples Belief fabulous Reports concerning Relicks found of Giants; our Antiquary by his Skill and accurate Search, evidently confuted them. The said R.G. in a Book entitled, A Brief Collection of History, wrote a Chapter of Giants or Monstrous Men. And therein he said, that in the Year 1564. and in such a Day of the Month, he had in his Hand the Tooth of a Man that weighed ten Ounces Troy Weight, and the Skull of the same Man was extant to be seen, that held Five Pecks of Wheat, and the Shin Bone Six Foot in length: By which Proportion, the Man must be 28 Foot long. And underneath in a kind of Glory he thus subscribed, This saw R.G. And thence Grafton went to to mention one Gerard a Giant, and his supposed Staff; which was then kept at an Inn in Basinglane London, called Gerards-Hall; which fabulous Tradition said, was the Giant's House; and there indeed to Stow's Time, (and I believe long after) was preserved a Pole of Forty Foot long, and Fifteen Inches about. But Stow was not so credulous, nor would impose such incredible Stories upon his Readers without better Enquiry. And in short, he found that wondrous Tooth (tho' sometime he thought it might have belonged to some Monstrous Fish) to be nothing else but a Stone: and so he proved it: Nor was there any shape of a Tooth. And there was no Skull at all to be found.

Fables of Giants Teeth &c. confuted.


This prodigious Tooth, with a Shankbone that was 25 Inches of Assize, Stow speaks of in Cheapward, hanging up in St. Laurence Jury Church: and that he himself had seen them above Seventy Years before; that is, before his own Second Edition of the Survey. These hung in Chains of Iron upon a Pillar of Stone: that imaginary Tooth, being about the bigness of a Mans Fist, long since conveyed thence. The Shankbone remained: Which he conjectured might belong to some Elephant. And of this Bone he observed, not so much the Length, (which most did) as the Thickness, Hardness and Strength thereof. For it had fretted and worn the Stone Pillar by which it hung, by often moving; but was not it self fretted or worn. And he observed further, a Difference between this Bone, and that hanging up in Aldermanbury; that as that was longer by three Inches and an half, so it was more light, pory and spungy; This in St. Laurence Church more hard and steely. That Bone therefore at Aldermanbury, Stow was apt to think was of a Man: and so he said, the Form shewed: concluding it to be more than after the Proportion of Five Shankbones of any Man now living among us.

Stow's Judgment of two large Shank-bones.

Criplegate Ward.

And as for the Giant Gerard and his House and Staff there, he found it to be only a great House once belonging to a great Man, whose Name was GISORS, and his House called Gisors-Hall, corrupted into Gerards-Hall.

And that high Pole which stood up in the high roofed Hall, that was said to be his Staff, was nothing else, (as he shewed from an old Custom in London) than a May-pole of Fir Wood, that used to be set up at some time of the Year in Summer, before the chiefest Hall or House in the Parish: and at other Times to remain and stand in the Hall before the Skreen. And that this could be no Giants House he collected from the arched Doors that he had observed here, as not convenient at all for Men of such monstrous Proportion,

Vid. Breadstreet Ward.

There was also standing by this Pole a Ladder of the same length: which together with the said Pole, the Vulgar, apt to invent and belive Superstitious Stories, gave out, as the one to be the Giant's Staff that he used to tilt withal, so the other, that whereby Men climbed up to the Top of it. Whereas the Pole was nothing else but a May-Pole, as was said before: which was used to be decked with Holm and Ivy at Christmas: and the Ladder served for Men to go up for the decking of it. This Gisors-Hall was a large and spacious House, having been the Habitation of the Family of the Gisors, flourishing much in Wealth and Honour in the City for a great while, in the Reign of King Henry III. and successive Kings. One whereof, John Gisors, was Constable of the Tower, and Lord Maior, An. 1245. Another of that Name, a Knight, lived there, An. 1311. and Maior that Year and other Years. And since several others of the same Name and Family were Owners of that House.

There is no hindring the ignorant Populacy from receiving and crediting Fancies: but Stow was justly offended with such as would be called Historians and Chroniclers, and thought learned, so easily to take up such Lies and recommend them in their Writings to Posterity: as besides Grafton, Reyner Wolf and others did this.

Once again, whereas R. Grafton in his Chronicles had related concerning one Bartholomew Read Goldsmith, Maior An. 1502. that in the Goldsmiths-Hall he entertained as his Guests, more than an Hundred Persons of great Estate; Messes and Dishes of Meat served in a vast number: Nay, and that there was a Park paled in the same Hall, furnished with fruitful Trees and Beasts of Venery, and other like Circumstances: Stow comparing the Dimensions of that Hall with the Room that all those Guests with their Attendants, and the other Magnificence did require; whereunto Westminster-Hall (he said) would scarcely have sufficed, concluded it with good ground a Fable, and far incredible, and altogether impossible.

A Feast in Goldsmiths-Hall shewed to be fabulous.

In Aldersg. Ward.

His Learning in Antiquities made him further useful, as in detecting falshood, so in bringing Truth to Light: which some-

Shews antient Bounds and Limits in the City.