C.J. (Charles James) Billson.

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and a house, it would seem, at Barkby Thorpe. He was
appointed Recorder of the Borough of Leicester in 1603, at a
yearly salary of £6 13s. 4d., but died in the December of the

* There were Stanfords then living at Elmesthorpe : see Visitation of
Leicester 1619, p. 137.


same year, only a few months after his father. He left one son
Thomas, who was Patron of the Vicarage of Barkby when Burton
wrote his History, about 1622. It is not clear who was the
John Stanford authorized in 1613 to issue King James I's farthing
tokens. It cannot have been either the Grazier or the Recorder,
as North thought, for both of them had been dead for ten years.

The name of Ellis occurs in the Records of the Borough
from the 13th century onwards, but the Ellises who became
prominent in Elizabethan times came out of Yorkshire. James
Ellis was appointed one of the Mayor's brethren in 1575, and
filled many public offices, being Mayor of Leicester in 1586-87,
and in 1602-3. He had a draper's shop, which he closed on the
Sabbath Day. It is possible that he may also have been a
brewer, for " Mr. Ellis " was returned in 1585 among the
Leicester brewers able to deliver 240 barrels of ale a week or
more. During his second Mayoralty the death of good Queen
Bess was proclaimed at the High Cross and at the Gainsborough.
On the 23rd day of June, 1603, James Ellis rode out beyond
the West Bridge with six Aldermen to welcome the new Queen
and her son, who were passing through the town. He presented
to her and to the young princes standing cups with covers of
silver double gilt, which had been subscribed for by the town.
The Princess Elizabeth, who arrived the night before, did not
receive a cup, but she was also welcomed by the Mayor and
regaled with claret and rhenish and sugar. In his Will, which
bears date the 4th day of September, 1615, James Ellis the
Elder of the Borough of Leicester, Woollen Draper, gave
" towards the repairing of the Church of St. Martin in Leicester
four marks ; to the poor people of the new hospital called
Wigston's hospital 40s. ; to the poor people of the parish of
All Saints 20s. in bread ; and to the rest of the poor people in
Leicester 40s. in bread." He stated that he was born " in the
parish of Horton in Ryplesdale in the county of York," and
gave legacies to the Church and poor people of that parish.
After various family devises and bequests, the Testator declared,
*' Item I give and bequeath my house with the appurtenances
in the Southgate within the borough of Leicester now in the


occupation of Francis Braunston, tailor, unto the poor people
of the old hospital in or near Leicester aforesaid to them and
t'lieir successors for ever So that I will that they shall not put
out my said tenant Francis Braunston nor reare his rent he
pa)ang the rent he now payeth and keeping the said house in
good and sufficient repair." He also gave " to the second
schoolmaster of the Free School in Leicester for the time being
and to his successors for ever one annuity of 26s. 8d. a year
to be paid quarterly forth of my house in the parish of All Saints
in Leicester now in the occupation of William Noone, Costerd-
monger, and for default of payment I will that (he and they)
shall enter upon and have and hold the said house to him and
his successors for ever — my said tenant William Noone shall not
be put forth of the said house paying the rent he now payeth
and keeping the same in good and sufficient repair." The
testator appointed as Executor his kinsman, James Ellis, the
Younger, of the Borough of Leicester, Woollen Draper, and as
Overseers Thomas Walker of Leicester, barber cherurgeon and
Allen Backhouse of Leicester yeoman. The Will was read over
to James Ellis, and acknowledged by him to be his last will and
testament on October 22nd, 1617, and it was proved by the
Executor on May 6th, 161 8. The particulars of the gifts to
Trinity Hospital and to the Free School differ materially in the
Will which is at Somerset House from those given by Nichols,
and they have therefore been set out in full. The date of the
Will (November 7th, 1617) given by Nichols is incorrect, but
it may be the date of the testator's death.

The younger James Ellis, who was Mayor in 1623, was
also a liberal benefactor. By his Will, bearing date the i6th
January, 1628, he gave towards the maintenance of the poor of
Trinity Hospital a dismantled house in St. Mary's parish with
a yard and dovecot, a house in All Saints' parish and a piece of
ground on the Town Wall. He also gave £2 ^^ ^^^ Free Gram-
mar School, and an annuity of i6s. 8d. to the poor of the parish
of St. Mary de Castro.

The family of Morton was long established in Leicester.
William de Mortona entered the Guild Merchant early in the


13th century. William Morton in 1389 was one of the Wardens
of the Guild of All Saints' Church. In the last half of the
i6th century Alderman William Morton, linen-draper, was a
person of some importance. He lived in the Stocks House at
the High Cross, attached to which, on the northern side of
Dead Lane, was a garden and orchard, part of which he sold off
to accommodate the new Grammar School that was built in
1574. He was an adherent of the Earl of Huntingdon, but no
friend of Sir Edward Hastings. Most of the public offices of
the town were filled by him, and he was Mayor three times,
1582, 1596 and 1612. His son became Archdeacon of Durham.

The Gillots seem to have come from Arnesby to settle in
Leicester about the middle of the 14th century. Richard
Gillot, who was a grocer, became Alderman of the Seventh
Ward, which comprised most of the present High Street, and
was Mayor in 1467. He caused a number of regulations to be
passed at a Common Hall, which, in the words of James Thomp-
son, " placed almost despotic power in the hands of the Mayor,
who resembled the king of a small state more than the chief
functionary of a free community." It was probably his son,
another Richard, who was Mayor in 1497 and 15 12, and whose
sister Isabella married William Wigston, the founder of Wigston's
Hospital. The Will of Richard Gillot, senior, was proved at
Leicester in 15 19. Four other Gillots, following in the foot-
steps of the two Richards, became Mayors and Aldermen of
Leicester in the course of the next hundred years.

Towards the end of the i6th century the Chettles made
their appearance on the municipal stage. Ralph Chettle was a
leading Baker of the town, and one of the plaintiffs in the action
which they brought against William Becket. In 1591 he
became Mayor, and died before the end of 1600, for it was
recorded in the annals of that year that " Mr. Ralph Chettle,
baker, one of the Aldermen of the town of Leicester, deceased,
by his last Will and Testament did give and bequeath unto the
Mayor and Burgesses of the town of Leicester the sum of 3^5,
to be yearly bestowed in coals for the use of the poor in Leicester
for ever." His son Ralph Chettle was a woollen-draper, who


bought a house in the Swinesmarket in the year 1594 ; and in
the year 1605 he and his wife Elizabeth sold to Alderman Robert
Herri ck for £^5 ^ house described as being " in the end of the
street in the Saturday Market stead," presumably in Cheapside,
near Herrick's own house.

The Chettle who in 1585 was certified as able to serve
240 barrels of beer a week may have been Thomas Chettle, who
in 1598 was appointed to be one of the Wardens of the Occupa-
tion of Brewers, but Ralph Chettle the Baker was also a Brewer.
There were many more Chettles— all Ralphs and Thomases.

During the i6th century three Tatams rose to some promin-
ence in Leicester. Arthur Tatam became a prosperous trades-
man and filled many important offices after he had sown his
wild oats, for in his earlier days he was twice in one year dismissed
from the Town Council " for certain disorders and for libelling "
and " for his disorders committed against Mr. Hallam and Mr.
Ellis." John Tatam, who was a wealthy Innkeeper as well as
a Tanner and Alderman of the Northgate Ward, filled most
of the municipal offices and was Mayor three times, in 1566-7,
1577-8 and 1590-1. He died in 1597, and his Will was proved
at Leicester in the same year.

George Tatam, who, like all the other Tatams, was a Tanner,
and Warden of the Occupation of Tanners, succeeded his brother
John as Alderman of the Northgate, but died two years after-
wards in 1599, and was buried at All Saints'. He was the most
energetic member of the family, and was constantly engaged in
various transactions on behalf of the town, especially in connec-
tion with landed property. He assisted in the purchase of the
Newarke Grange, and in the suit with Dr. Chippingdale about
the North Mills. He lived in the North Gate, where his goods
were valued at ^y 7s. od., but was Alderman of another Ward.
He was Mayor in 1580 and again in 1594.

There were Reynolds in Leicester in the 14th century, but
the name became better known a hundred years later. There
seem to have been at least three generations of John Reynolds.
John the Elder was Mayor in 1434, 1439, 1450 and 1458, and
he liked the position so well that in 1461 he executed a deed,


declaring that " of benevolent and faithful heart for the goodly
zeal and effectual pleasure that he had unto the honourable
and worshipful office of Mayoralty of the town of Leicester,
the which was by him III I sundry years maintained and occu-
pied," he granted unto the said Mayoralty a house in the High
Street of Leicester by the High Cross there on condition that
the Mayor for the time being should find a priest perpetually
to sing for the souls of the said John Reynolds, his wife, his
father and mother, his brother and all his benefactors. He was
a brother of the Guild of Corpus Christi, from whom he rented
a house in the parish of St. Peter, and when his wife died, a few
years before the above-mentioned deed of grant, she was buried
with the rites of the Guild. It was probably his son, another
John Reynolds, who in 1460 was acting as Deputy for Richard
Hotoft, the Town Bailiff, had a cottage in Dead Lane, in the
parish of St. Peter, and became Alderman of the Seventh Ward,
which comprised the western portion of the modern High
Street, and Mayor in 1463, when he was described as a " yeoman."
His son, another John, entered the Guild Merchant in 1469, and
when his own father died, sometime before 1478, he in his turn
became John Reynolds the Elder. He was a Justice of the Peace
for several years and Mayor in 1477.

There were many Clarkes among the town officials of the
15th century, but three, who became well-known in the i6th,
deserve special mention. They are Alderman James Clarke,
Thomas Clarke of the Blue Boar, and Thomas Clarke, the

James Clarke was an active member of the Council, who
became Mayor in 1569, and again in 1585, and was Member
for the Borough in 1592. He died on October i6th, 1599.
During the year of his second Mayoralty he had occasion to
visit London on the Town's business, and some items in the
expenses of his journey are worth quoting : —

" Fyrst : paid for the solinge of my bootes xii d.

Item for a male pillyon and ii girthes of leyther for
the same xii d.

Item paid for a boxe to carrj^e wrytings in viii d.

19 Nov. at Northampton, my charges there iis. xi d.
Sayterdaye night att Marckgate, my charges there

ii s. iii d.
Sondaye the xxi Nov., London.
Item my supper viii d.
Fyer i d." Total (including numerous charges for

shoe-leather) ^4 5s. od.

It was this James Clarke who sold to the Town Council,
in 1572, at the price of j^io os. 6d., a salt-cellar of silver gilt,
to be lent to the Mayor for his year, and to be yearly accounted
for by the Chamberlains. This ornament continued in use
until the year 1709, when it was ordered by the Council of the
day that " the old Salt be exchanged for two wax silver candle-
sticks, a pair of silver snuffers and stand."

The Will of this Elizabethan worthy is of some interest.
It is dated 15th October, 1599, the day before his death, and
begins thus : — " I, James Clarke, one of the Aldermen of the
Borough of Leicester, mercer, being weak in body but strong
in mind and of perfect memory (the Lord therefore be praised),
and having before mine eyes that in this vale of misery is nothing
permanent, desiring therefore to be dissolved and to be with
the Lord my saviour Jesus Christ in his celestial kingdom, per-
fectly believing through the merits of his passion to have remission
of my sins and life everlasting which by me considered (meaning
to set and dispose that worldly substance that God hath lent me
in good order) do make this my last Will and Testament." The
Testator desired to be buried in St. Martin's Church, " or else
where it shall please God to appoint," and he gave 2s. to the
repairing of that church, 2S. to the " poor folks of the new
hospital called Mr. Wigston's Hospital," 6d. to the poor widows
of St. John's, 2S. to the poor prisoners in the County Gaol,
IS. to the poor prisoners in the Borough Gaol, and
40s. to be given at his funeral to the poor people of the Borough
in bread. After various family devises and bequests, he gave
20s. to Richard Heyton, his prentice, and 20s. to Elizabeth
Greene, " the poor girl which I do keep," 5s. to each of his
servants and 4d. to each of his godchildren. He gave to his

wife ;^40, " bedding, chairs, cushions, table, form, stools, half
a garnish of vessels {i.e., half a set of table vessels), bason, two
candlesticks, carpet cloth, table cloths, towells, tablenapkins,
brass pot that hath been used to still aquavite withall, and a
kettle." He also gave her £iS ids. ; " and I straitly charge
her (as she shall answer the same before God) to pay unto one
whom she knoweth I have appointed her to pay the same unto."
The Will contains the following curious clause :— " All the
glass vdndows in and about my said now dwelling house, and all
other windows, all the wainscot, wainscot doors, portal doors,
benches, and settles, and the locks and keys to the doors, bolts,
planchers, racks, and mangers of the stable in and about my said
house shall remain as Heirlooms to my said house for ever."
James Clarke appointed his wife sole Executrix, and she proved
the Will on February 28th, 1599. The Overseers were Mr.
Hugh Hunter and William Dethick, the Town Clerk.

Of the two contemporary Thomas Clarkes, the most pro-
minent was the wealthy landlord of the Blue Boar Inn, of whom
some account is given elsewhere in this volume. The other,
the shoemaker, was a philanthropist who devoted himself to
improving the condition of the Leicester poor by securing better
facilities for trade and more encouragement to labour. In
connection with the Council's scheme for providing work and
training by cloth-making, spinning, and jersey-knitting, he
obtained from the town in 1592 a Lease for life of the old hospital
of St. John, on his undertaking to build thereon a Wool Hall
at his own expense. His wife Margaret taught poor children
to knit jerseys, and the Town Council lent her money free of
interest, to enable her to carry on the work. The useful benevo-
lence of the Clarkes attracted the attention of the Earl of
Huntingdon, who wrote a letter to the Mayor of Leicester,
expressing his wish that a sum of ^40, which his late brother
had given for the relief of the poor by setting them to work,
should be handed over to Thomas and Margaret Clarke. Thomas
Clarke and his wife promised to employ a hundred people,
but it does not seem that they ever obtained the money.

Among other names which were familiar in Leicester town
three or four centuries ago, may be noticed Biggs, Burgess,
Berridge, Harvey, Hind, Pratt, Ludlam, Worship, Freake, Ive,
Fowler, Middleton, Yates, Nix, Wilcocks, Manby, Davey,
Davenport, Cotton, Eyre, Orton, Fletcher, Burton, Adcock,
Alsop, Barlow, Hallam, Chamberlain, Gadsby, Vickers, Ward
and Wood.

All these families, and many others, played their parts on
the civic stage, and most of them remain within the old borough ;
so that the reborn city of to-day is united still by living bonds
with the small mediaeval community from which it has sprung.



THE annals of Leicester do not contain any story more
curious and interesting than that of the fateful visit
paid to the Blue Boar Inn by King Richard the Third,
two days before his death, and the legacy of woe which that
disastrous event is. said to have bequeathed to a future generation.
The tale, which is partly true, and partly shrouded in mystery,
has something of the sombre fatalism of a Greek Tragedy.
Indeed it has not wholly escaped the dramatist, for, on December
4th, 1837, a year after the destruction of the Blue Boar Inn,
a play called " Black Anna's Bower, or the Maniac of the Dane
Hills," was performed at the Leicester Theatre. The plot of
this drama turned upon the murder of Mrs. Clarke, hereinafter
related, and Black Anna, who is a local spirit of evil repute,
played a part therein somewhat like that of the Three Witches
in Macbeth. The story falls naturally into four episodes : —
I. The King's Visit. II. The King's Fate. III. The
Treasure in the Bedstead ; and IV. The Murder.


On Saturday, August the 20th, 1485, as we may conclude
from the available evidence,* King Richard III left Nottingham

•Different dates have been assigned by Hutton and others, but
this is the only one that seems to fit in with all the known facts. Kelly,
owing to a curious mistake, wrote of the 20th as a Sunday. He relied
upon a passage in the Croyland Chronicle, which he quoted in the follow-
ing form : — " On the Lord's Day before the Feast of Bartholomew the
Apostle (August 24th), the King proceeded on his way " ; whence he
concluded that it was on a Sunday that Richard came to Leicester.
But the passage does not refer to the King's march from Nottingham,
but to his departure from Leicester, " opidum Leicestrense egressus."
The original passage runs thus :— " Die autem Donunico ante festum
Bartholomei Apostoli Rex maxima pompa diadema portans in capite
cum Duce Norfolchia: Johanne de Howard ac Henrico Percy comite
Northumbrice ceterisque magnificis Dominis Militibus et armigeris
populariumque multitudine infinita opidum Leicestrense egressus satis
per intercursores edoctus ubi hostes sequenti nocte de verisimili manere
volebant ad octo militaria ab eo opido distantia juxta Abbathiam de
Mirivall castra metatus est." Historiae Croylandensis Continuatio.
Gale. Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores I, 573-4.

177 L

Castle, which had been his residence for more than two months ;
and, having ridden all day in the midst of his Army, with only
one considerable interval of rest, he entered the North Gate of
Leicester just before the setting of the sun. Passing down the
ancient High Street on his tall white charger, he is said to have
drawn rein, before reaching the High Cross, at the Blue Boar
Inn, a beautiful building, with a tall gable front and a projecting
balcony of carved oak, which stood on the western side of the
street, at the corner of the lane leading to the Hall of the Guild
Merchant, and which was demolished about eighty-four years
ago.* Here, in the large front chamber, according to tradition,
Richard spent that night ; and a bedstead, on which he is sup-
posed to have slept, became famous at the beginning of the
17th century as one of the curiosities of Leicester. The local
tradition is unsupported by any authority, but it is not contrary
to known facts. It has been asked why the King did not sleep
at Leicester Castle, where he had stayed just two years before ;
but a campaigner, on the eve of a decisive battle, may have had
several reasons for preferring to pass the one night in a less
ostentatious place of sojourn. At any rate, there is no evidence
of his having slept elsewhere. On this point Kelly made some
very just remarks. " Whatever may have been the reason,"
he wrote, " for the King's sleeping at an Inn, as there is nothing
beyond mere supposition to invalidate its truth, we confess that
we believe in this, as we would in all local historical traditions
not contradicted by positive evidence, from a conviction that no
such tradition, although it may in process of time become
exaggerated by oral transmission, is without some foundation
of truth ; and more especially one connected with so tragic an
event as the last visit of Richard III, all the particulars connected
with which must have made a deep and lasting impression on

*A very good idea of the appearance presented by this Inn in
King Richard's time may be obtained from a restored view, published
in the Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society, which
was sketched by Mr. Joseph Goddard, and founded upon an architec-
tural examination and measurement of the building made just before
its destruction. A detailed account of its architectural features will be
found in a paper contributed by James Thompson to the Journal of the
British Archaeological Association for the year 1863.


the minds of the inhabitants of the town, who would naturally
transmit them to their descendants."

That the building called the Blue Boar was in existence
in 1485 is also known only from tradition, but there is no reason
to doubt it ; and in the next century it was one of the principal
inns of Leicester. Kelly thought it highly probable that the
house was originally known as the " White Boar," the cognizance
of Richard III, and that it did not receive the name of the Blue
Boar until after Richard's death, " when," as Grafton wrote,
" the proud, bragging white boar which was his badge was
violently rased and plucked down from every sign and place
where it might be espied." There is no evidence, however,
of any such change of name ; and it may be remarked that " a
bleue Bore with his tuskis and his cleis and his membres of
gold " was one of the badges of Richard, Duke of York, the
father of Edward IV, so that the house may have been known
by that sign before the reign of Richard the Third, especially
in view of the defection of Leicester from the Lancastrians and
its adherence to the cause of Edward IV. There is no authority
whatever for Nichols' statement, that the inn was afterwards
called the Blue Bell. This error was founded on a mistake of
Throsby, and has been repeated by James Thompson and by
later writers. The hotel which Throsby and Nichols describe
by that name as the scene of some riots in the i8th century
was the Bell in Humberstone Gate.

On the next morning, Sunday, August 21st, the King left
Leicester, with all his Army, in great pomp, preceded by the
Royal Standard, and wearing his jewelled crown. But there
were voices, which attended his steps, prophecying woe. As
he rode through the " South Gate," so we are told (though it
was of course through the West Gate that his road lay), a blind
beggar proclaimed the coming of his doom. And as he passed
over the Bow Bridge, and struck the parapet with his spur, a
" wise woman " foretold that where his spur had struck, there
should his head be broken.

The fatal battle took place on the following day.


On the evening of the day on which the Battle of Bosworth
Field had been lost and won, both the protagonists of the drama
arrived at Leicester ; Henry riding in triumph with Richard's
crown upon his head, and the body of the fallen King ignomini-
ously thrown naked across a horse, with the feet hanging down
on one side and the head and arms on the other. " The dead
corps of King Richarde was as shamefully caryed to the Towne
of Leycestre," wrote Holinshed, " as he gorgeously the day
before with pompe and pryde departed out of the same Towne."
It seems certain that the conqueror allowed the corpse to
be exposed publicly for two days, in order, probably, to advertise
and demonstrate the fact of Richard's death. This exhibition
was generally supposed by the historians of Leicester, Throsby,
Nichols and Thompson, to have taken place at the old Guild
Hall in Blue Boar Lane, but this has been disproved by Kelly,
on the strength of a document from the Harleian MSS, published
in Hutton's " Bosworth Field," which points to the Collegiate
Church of Our Lady of the Newarke as the place of exhibition,
" They brought King Richard thither that night as naked as
ever he was born, and in the Newarke was he laid that many
a man might see." Kelly might also have quoted the popular
ballads which were composed after this event, and which may
be considered respectable authorities on a point of this kind.

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