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Part of the street from Aldgate is occupied on the south side by butchers, and is called Whitechapel Market.
Returning to St. Botolph's church, through Church Row, we come to HOUNDSDITCH.
This was formerly a ditch, which took its name from being the receptacle for dead dogs and other filth. It was, however, if not dignified, remarkable, as being the deserved place of burial for the traiterous noble, Edric, the murderer of his sovereign Edmund Ironside, in favour of Canute.“ I like the treason," observed the latter, “but I detest the traitor!” and in consequence of this opinion, when Edric came to demand the wages of his iniquity, which had been promised to be the highest situation in London ; 66 behead the traitor !" says Canute," and agreeably to his desire, place his head on the highest part of the Tower !" He was then drawn by his heels from Baynard's Castle, and tormented to death by burning torches ; his head exposed as directed, and his body thrown into Houndsditch.*
On the side of this ditch, opposite the city wall, was a field belonging to the priory of the Holy Trinity; which being given upon the dissolution to Sir Thomas Audley, was conferred by him on Magdalen College, Cambridge, of which he was the founder.
Towards the street were small cottages, two stories high, with little garden plats; these cottages were built by a prior of the Holy Trinity, and was appointed for the reception of bed-rid people, who, when past labour, solicited the beneficence of the humane.
“ In my youth,” says Stow," I remember, devout people, as well men as women of this city, were accustomed oftentimes, especially on Fridays, weekly, to walk that way pur. posely, and there to bestow their charitable alms, every poor man or woman lying in their bed within their window, which was towards the street open, so low, that every man might see them, a clean linen cloth lying in their window, and a pair of beads, to shew that there lay a bed.rid body, unable but to pray only. This street was first paved in 1503."
* Richard of Cirencester. VOL. II, No. 44.
Here afterwards was a foundery for brass ordnance, built about the latter end of the reign of Henry VIII. by three brothers of the name of Owen. This foundery took up great part of the field, the other being occupied by a gardener, who formed it into garden ground. This profitable concern was destructive to the
poor bed-rid people and their humble habitations; the first were scattered, and their dwellings levelled with the ground. In the last year of the reign of Edward VI. many pleasant houses for respectable citizens, with appropriate gardens, began to be erected.
This neighbourhood, however, even at this period, was notorious for a nuisance, which is the curse of all well-intended communities. “ It is fatal,” remarks our antient city historian, “ to the suburbs of every great city to be infected with some foul and unclean birds, that there build their nests, although not with professed and ignominious stain of lewd Jife; because within the limits of Houndsditch dwell
many a good and honest citizen, that will never endure such a scandalous neighbourhood : Yet there are crept in among them a base kind of vermin, well deserving to be ranked and numbered with them, whom our old prophet and countryman, Gyldas, called Ætatis atramentum, the black discredit of the age, and of the place where they were suffered to live : or rather, as St. Bernard thinks it more convenient to term them, Baptisatos Judæos, baptized Jews, who take themselves to be christians, when they are worse indeed than the Jews ever were for usury.
“ These men, or rather monsters in the shape of men, profess to live by lending, and yet will lend nothing but upon pawns; neither to any, but unto poor people only, and for no less gain than after fifty or three-score pounds in the hundred. The pawn of the poor borrower must needs be more than double worth the money lent upon it, and the time of limitation is no longer than a month, although they well know, that the money needs not to be repaid back until a twelvemonth's end; by which time the interest grows to be 80 great, that the pawn, which, at the first, was better than twice worth the money borrowed on it, doth not in the end,
prove to be valuable as the debt, which must be paid before the poor party can redeem it; by which extorting means of proceeding, the poor borrower is quite cheated of his pawn, for less than the third part, which it was truly worth.
“ It is a great error, in my poor opinion, that in so antient and famous a city, abounding, otherwise, in most Christian alms and works of mercy, among so many worthy liberalities bestowed upon the poor in divers and distinct parishes, no order is taken for such a public stock for the truly poor, that, when in their urgent necessity, either by want of means, sickness, or other hindrances, their pawns may not go to the cut-throat usurer, but remain to their own good, living or dying, or to theirs, without any other benefit, than that it may still serve for the like relief.
“ And let me not here be mistaken, that I condemn such as live by honest buying and selling, and make a conscience of their dealing : no, truly, I mean only the Judas broker, that lives by the bag; and, except God be more merciful to him, will follow him that did bear the bag."
On the south side of Houndsditch, a small street leads to Bevis Marks. Here formerly stood the city mansion and gardens of the abbot of St. Edmund's Bury; which, from that circumstance, occasioned it to be called Bury's, corruptedly, Bevis Marks. This house being demolished, the ground was laid out in buildings, and now forms Bury Street, the synagogue of the Portuguese Jews, and a Dissenting meeting, which is rendered famous by being the place of which the elegant, ingenious, and pious Dr. Isaac Watts, was, for many years pastor.
Further on, towards Camomile Street, stood the Papey, a religions house belonging to a brotherhood of St. John the Evangelist, and St. Charity; founded in 1430, by William Oliver, William Barnaby, and John Stafford, chantry priests in London, for a master, two wardens, &c. chaplains, chantry priests, conducts, and other brethren and sisters, that should be admitted into the church of St. Au. gustine Papey in the Wall. 3 D 2
The brethren of this house becoming lame, or otherwise into great poverty, were relieved ; and had a chamber, with a certain allowance of bread, drink, and coals, and one old man and his wife to see them served, and keep the house clean. This brotherhood, among many others, was dissolved in the reign of Edward VI. and was afterwards used as a residence by Sir Francis Walsingham, secretary of state to Queen Elizabeth.
In a small passage opposite, leading to Devonshire Square, is a MEETING HOUSE belonging to the religious society of FRIENDS, usually denominated QUAKERS. Similar to all other places of worship belonging to this respectable class of the community, the place is distinguishable for its plain, unadorned state of neatness; and the numerous assemblage of the Friends which attend the worship, are remarkable for the unaffected simplicity of their deportment.
Some of the principal doctrines held by this class of religious worship are, that God hath given to all men supernatural light, which, being obeyed, can save them; and that this life is Christ ; that the life ought to be regulated according to this light, without which no man or woman is capable of understanding the Holy Scriptures, which they believe were given by the inspiration of God, and are to be preferred to all other writings extant in the world ; and do own them to be a secondary and subordinate rule of faith and practice, but the light and spirit of God, they believe is the primary rule; because the Holy Scriptures were given forth by, and do receive all their authority from, the Holy Spirit, but a measure or manifestation of the Spirit, is given to every one, that they may profit; that in worship, men and women ought to wait in the silence of all flesh, to receive immediately from the Lord, before they open their mouths, either in prayer to the Almighty, or in testimony to the people; that all superstitions and ceremonies of mere human institution in religion, ought to be laid aside; as also in civil society, such as saluting one another, by the pulling off the hat, bowing, courtesying, and saying you instead of thou, to a single person, &c.; that men and women ought
to be plain and grave in their apparel, sober and just in their whole conversation, and, at a word, in all their dealings; not to swear or fight, or bear any carnal weapons for that end, but to love one another and do good, as much as
in their power.
DEVONSHIRE SQUARE, occupies what was originally a single house, with pleasure gardens, bowling greens, &c. formed by Jasper Fisher, one of the six clerks in chancery, a justice of peace, and a freeman of the Goldsmith's company. The mansion, so largely and elegantly constru&ted by a man of no property or figure in life, obtained it the name of Fisher's Folly; and the following rhyme, celebrated this and other absurdities of the times :
“ Kirkebie's castle, and Fisher's Folly,
Spinola's pleasure, and Mega's glory." After the ruin of its vain projector, it had a quick succession of owners; among others Edward, Earl of Oxford, lord high chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth, who is recorded to have presented to that queen the first perfumed gloves brought to England, resided here; and it is probable, that during the time he held it, her majesty lodged here in one of her visits to the City. It fell from him to the noble family of Cavendish; William, the second earl of Devonshire, died in it about the year 1628. This family had, however, resided in the neighbourhood for many years; for it appears that Thomas Cavendish, treasurer of the Exchequer to Henry VIII, buried his lady in St. Botolph's, the parish church; and by will, he bequeathed a legacy for its repair. During the time of the Civil Wars, the house was formed into a conventicle, which Butler alludes to, when speaking of “the packed parliament,” in the following lines :
“ That represents no part o'th' nation,
But Fisher's Folly congregation *.” From the title of this noble family, the square assumed its present name.
It is of small dimensions, but has
* Hudibras, Canto ii. line 893. See also Dr. Nash's Notes on Hus dibras ii. 417.