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Also to breathe their last nine years before,
Deceased, June 18, 1687."
Other monumental inscriptions may be found in St. Dunstan's Church, scarcely less curious than the foregoing
In modern maps of London may still be traced a small site designated as “King John's Palace." According to tradition, King John had a palace here, and as there is no doubt that Edward the First held a Parliament at Stepney in 1292, it is not impossible that his predecessors may have erected a suburban palace in this vicinity. Here also stood Worcester House, which, in the reigns of Charles the First and Second, was successively the residence of Henry and Edward, first and second Marquises of Worcester, alike distinguished for their chivalrous attachment to Charles the First. Worcester House, it may be remarked, formed but a small part of what had been formerly distinguished as “the great place," namely, the princely palace of Sir Henry Colet, Lord Mayor of London.
The inhabitants of the parish of Stepney appear to have suffered frightfully during the raging of the great plague in 1665. Stepney parish,” says Defoe, “had a piece of ground taken in to bury their dead, close to the churchyard, and which, for
that very reason, was left open, and is since, I suppose, taken into the same churchyard.” We learn from the same authority, that within one year Stepney had no fewer than one hundred and sixteen sextons, grave-diggers, and their assistants; the latter consisting of bearers, bellmen, and the drivers of the carts which were employed in removing the dead.
BILLINGSGATE, COLE HARBOUR, STEEL - YARD, THE
Etymology of Billingsgate - Principal Ports of London - Fish
mongers' Company — Sir William Walworth – Seminary for Pickpockets — Great Fire of London – Hubert's Confession
- Remarkable Edifices in and near Thames Street.
LET us return to Tower Hill, and, skirting Thames Street from Billingsgate to Blackfriars Bridge, point out in our route the principal objects worthy of notice.
Billingsgate, one of the ancient water-gates, or ports, of the city of London, is situated close to the custom-house, between the Tower and London Bridge. Antiquaries have ingeniously derived its name from Belin, King of the Britons, who reigned about four hundred and sixty years before the Christian era, and whose bones, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, having been burned to ashes, were placed in a vessel of brass, and set on a high pinnacle over the gate. Stow, however, considers that it took its name from one Beling or Billing, “as Somer's Key, Smart's Key, Frost
Wharf, and others thereby, took their names of their owners."
At all events, Billingsgate was unquestionably the principal port or landing-place in London as early as the time of Ethelred the Second, whose reign commenced in the tenth century. At a council held at Wantage, in Berkshire, in this reign, the toll, or custom, to be levied on merchant vessels discharging their goods at Billingsgate, was fixed at proportionate rates. It was ordered that every small boat should pay a halfpenny; a large boat with sails, one penny; ships, four pennies ; vessels laden with wood, one piece of timber; and vessels laden with fish, one halfpenny or one penny, according to their size. The two other principal ports of London, in the days of our Norman sovereigns, were Down-gate, the present Dowgate, and the Queen's Hythe, still known as Queenhithe. As late as the fifteenth century we find an enactment, that if one vessel only should come up the river to London, it should discharge its cargo at the Queen's Hythe; if two should come up at the same time, that one should discharge at Billingsgate; if three, two were to proceed to the Queen's Hythe, or harbour, and the third to Billingsgate : but “always the more " to Queenshithe. The reason for the preference is evident; the customs, or tolls, received at Queenhithe having been the perquisites of the Queen of England.
Billingsgate continued to be a flourishing port long after Dowgate had ceased to be a landingplace for merchandise, and also after the harbour dues of Queenhithe had so fallen off that they realised no more than fifteen pounds a year. In the days of Stow it stood alone, for size, convenience, and superiority of every kind. “ It is at this present,” writes the old antiquary, "a large water-gate, port, or harbour, for ships and boats, commonly arriving there with fish, both fresh and salt, shell-fishes, salt, onions, oranges, and other fruits and roots, wheat, rye, and grain of diverse sorts, for the service of the city and the parts of this realm adjoining.” The great advantage possessed by Billingsgate consisted in its being on the east, or near, side of the bridge; thus precluding the necessity and risk of vessels passing under it; the fall of water between the arches having been, as late as our own time, an obstacle to traffic, as well as dangerous to smaller vessels.
Although, singularly enough, Billingsgate was not constitutet “a free market for the sale of fish' till the reign of William the Third, it was unquestionably the great landing-place for fish from the earliest times; indeed, the very preamble to the Act of Parliament speaks of it as having been, “time out of mind, a free market in all manner of floating and salt fish, as also for all manner of floating and shell-fish.” The very names of the streets in the vicinity of Billingsgate show how