John Heneage Jesse.

Memoirs of the city of London and its celebrities (Volume 2) online

. (page 5 of 20)
Online LibraryJohn Heneage JesseMemoirs of the city of London and its celebrities (Volume 2) → online text (page 5 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

possesses but little merit, while, on the other hand,
the interior, displaying the magnificent taste of
Sir Christopher Wren, has been much admired.
Over the communion-table is a large painted win-
dow, by Joshua Price, which, though of modern
date (1718), is distinguished by the glowing rich-
ness of its colouring. In the lower part is repre-
sented the Last Supper, and in a compartment
above, the Resurrection of our Saviour from the

In St. Andrew's Church, of which he was for
some years the parish clerk, lies buried John
Webster, the gifted author of " The White Devil,"
"The Duchess of Malfey," and of other plays
which will not "willingly be let die!" The cele-
brated Doctor Sacheverel, and Joseph Strutt, the

Church uf Si. AuJreiv Under Shaft.

I'hoto etching from a rare old engraving.


author of the " Sports and Pastimes of the People
of England," were also interred in this church.
The resting-place of Sacheverel is pointed out
by an inscribed stone in the chancel.

Among the eminent persons who have held the
rectory of St. Andrew's may be mentioned John
Racket, Bishop of Lichfield, who wrote the well-
known " Life of Lord Keeper Williams ; " Edward
Stillingfleet, Bishop of Worcester ; and Doctor

Let us not omit to mention that the parish
register of St. Andrew's, under the date of i8th
January, 1696-97, records the christening of the
unfortunate poet, Richard Savage, the suppositi-
tious child of the profligate Anne, Countess of
Macclesfield, by Earl Rivers. According to Doc-
tor Johnson, the entry was made in the register by
Lord Rivers' s own direction. The parish registers
contain also the following interesting events ; the
marriage, in 1598, of the great lawyer, Sir Ed-
ward Coke, to Lady Elizabeth Hatton, sister of
Lord Burleigh ; the marriage, in 1638, of Colo-
nel Hutchinson, to Lucy Apsley, the authoress of
the charming "Memoirs;" the burial, in 1643, of
Nathaniel Tomkins, who was executed for his
share in Waller's plot to surprise the city ; and
lastly, the interment, on the 28th of August,
1770, of the unfortunate Thomas Chatterton.

Opposite to St. Andrew's Church is Brooke
Street, deriving its name as also does Greville


Street, which adjoins it from Fulke Greville,
Lord Brooke, the accomplished poet and courtier
of the reigns of Elizabeth and James the First, as
well as the intimate friend of Sir Philip Sydney,
as recorded on the tomb of the former at War-
wick. It was in Brooke House, which stood on
the immediate site of Brooke Street and Greville
Street, that on the ist of September, 1628, its
noble owner met with his tragical fate. He had
been attended for many years by one Ralph Hay-
wood, a gentleman by birth, who had expected
that Lord Brooke would have rewarded his long
services by bequeathing him a handsome legacy.
For some cause, however, Lord Brooke not only
omitted Haywood's name in his will, but unfortu-
nately allowed him to become cognisant of the
fact. Irritated at this circumstance, and, more-
over, having been sharply rebuked by his master
for some real or imaginary offence, Haywood
entered Lord Brooke's bedchamber, and termi-
nated a violent scene of asperity and recrimina-
tion by stabbing him in the back. The assassin
then retreated to his own apartment, in which,
having locked himself in, he committed suicide by
killing himself with the same weapon with which
he had stabbed his master. Lord Brooke survived
for a few days.

Brooke Street is rendered especially interesting
from the circumstance of Chatterton having met
with his untimely end at No. 4, in this street.


His kind-hearted landlady, Mrs. Angel, aware how
long he had fasted, and that he was without a
shilling in the world, offered him some dinner on
the day preceding his death, which his pride, supe-
rior to his sufferings, induced him to decline. A
few hours afterward he swallowed poison, and the
next day, the 2$th of August, 1770, was found
dead in his bed. He was only in his eighteenth
year. The house in which Chatterton expired is
no longer in existence, the site being now occupied
by a furnishing warehouse.

Philip Yorke, the first celebrated Lord Hard-
wicke, previously to his being entered at the
Middle Temple, was for some time articled to
an attorney of the name of Salkeld in Brooke

Running parallel with Brooke Street is Gray's
Inn Lane, interesting as having contained the
residences of many celebrated persons. The first
whose name occurs to us is the celebrated dra-
matic poet, James Shirley. He was educated at St.
John's College, Oxford, where he obtained the
friendship and affection of Archbishop Laud, then
president of the college. Contrary to the advice
of Laud he entered into holy orders ; an unfor-
tunate step for him, inasmuch as not long after-
ward he was induced to exchange the religion of
the Church of England for that of Rome, when,
throwing up a preferment which he held near
St. Albans, he established himself as teacher of


a grammar school in that town. This employ-
ment proving too irksome for him, he repaired
to London, and, taking up his abode in Gray's
Inn Lane, commenced the composition of those
dramatic writings which have conferred such
celebrity on his name. Happily he lived in a
reign in which genius was seldom left to linger
long in obscurity. Charles the First appreciated
his genius, and invited him to his court. Henri-
etta Maria conferred on him an appointment in
her household. If Charles in the days of his
prosperity extended his smiles and his bounty
to the poets, the latter, when the sky of royalty
became overcast, displayed no want of gratitude
or affection toward their unhappy sovereign. On
the breaking out of the civil troubles Shirley bade
adieu to his wife and children, and enlisted him-
self beneath the banner of the Duke of Newcastle.
On the downfall of the royal cause he returned to
London a ruined man. Plays had in the interim
been alike prohibited by the government and de-
nounced from the pulpit, and accordingly it was
only by the kindness of Thomas Stanley, the
author of the " History of Philosophy," that he
was saved from becoming the inmate either of a
workhouse or a gaol. In this revolution in his
fortunes, Shirley reverted to his former profession
of teacher, and opened a grammar school in White
Friars. Then followed the Restoration, and with
it the revival of his plays on the stage ; bringing


back, however, no long career of prosperity to the
poet. His house in Fleet having been burnt to
the ground in the great fire of 1666, he was com-
pelled to seek refuge in the neighbouring village
of St. Giles's-in-the-Fields, whither, however, he
retired only to die. As has been already men-
tioned, the loss of his property, added, probably,
to the horrors of the terrible conflagration which
he had witnessed, gave such a shock to his con-
stitution that he survived the event scarcely
twenty-four hours.

Another unfortunate poet whose name is asso-
ciated with Gray's Inn Lane is John Ogilby,
now principally remembered by his translation
of Homer, a task in which he was assisted by
his friend Shirley. Ogilby served his apprentice-
ship to a dancing-master in Gray's Inn Lane, in
which undignified profession he acquired so great
a proficiency, that in a short time he was able to
purchase his discharge from his apprenticeship,
as well as to obtain the liberty of his father, who
was a prisoner in the King's Bench. His talents
as a dancer led to his introduction at court ; a
circumstance so far unfortunate for him that, in
cutting a caper at a masque given by the Duke of
Buckingham, he fell to the ground, and so severely
strained one of the sinews of his leg as ever after-
ward to continue lame. He now turned author by
profession, and after suffering great vicissitudes,
succeeded, toward the close of life, in obtaining


the appointments of cosmographer and geographic
printer to Charles the Second, the emoluments
of which offices probably enabled him to end his
days, if not in affluence, at least not in actual

There remains to mention but one more poet,
the Rev. John Langhorne, in connection with
Gray's Inn Lane. He lived before the days of
"clubs," when men of the learned professions,
and even clergymen, were accustomed to assemble
at particular taverns, where they could enjoy the
society which best suited them, and the beverage
which they most loved. The favourite haunt of
Langhorne was the Peacock, in Gray's Inn Lane,
famous in the last century for its Burton ale, a
beverage to which he was so partial, that an over-
indulgence in it is said to have hastened his end.
The affliction which he suffered at the loss of his
beloved wife the "Constantia" of Cartwright's
verse, and whom he himself so pathetically and
poetically lamented probably laid the foundation
of the unhappy infirmity which he had contracted.

About the year 1756, in the days of his penury
and distress, Doctor Johnson was a resident in
Gray's Inn Lane.

In 1640, at the period when the illustrious
Hampden was heading the great struggle in de-
fence of the liberties of his country, he was a resi-
dent of Gray's Inn Lane. At the same time, too,
from a house almost adjoining that of his friend,


Pym might be seen sallying forth day after day
to conduct the impeachment and prosecution of
his arch-enemy, Lord Straff ord. In 1673, John
Aubrey, the antiquary, was lodging in Gray's Inn

In the immediate neighbourhood of Gray's Inn,
in the days of his ignominy .nd disgrace, lived
Lord Bacon. The name of Verulam Buildings,
Gray's Inn, still points out the spot where stood
the last London residence of the fallen but still
immortal philosopher.

" If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined,
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind."

The Blue Boar Inn, in High Holborn, now No.
270, was the scene of a curious passage in the life
of Charles the First. A secret compact is said to
have been entered into between Charles on the
one side, and Cromwell and Ireton on the other,
by which the king guaranteed to Ireton the lieu-
tenancy of Ireland, and to Cromwell the Garter,
; 1 0,000 a year, and the earldom of Essex, on
condition of their restoring him to liberty and
power. His spirited consort, Henrietta Maria,
who was then in France, wrote to reproach him
for these unworthy concessions. Her letter is
said to have been intercepted by Cromwell and
Ireton, who, having informed themselves of its
contents, forwarded it to the unsuspecting mon-
arch, whose reply they anxiously awaited, and also


in due time intercepted. The proofs which it con-
tained of Charles's insincerity are said to have
sealed the king's fate. So far, he said, was it
from being his intention to keep faith with "the
rogues," that in due time, "instead of a silken
garter, they should be fitted with an hempen
cord." "The letter," said Cromwell to Lord
Orrery, "was sewn up in the skirt of a saddle,
and the bearer of it was to come with the saddle
upon his head, about ten of the clock that night,
to the Blue Boar Inn, in Holborn, for there he
was to take horse, and go to Dover with it.
This messenger knew nothing of the letter in the
saddle, but some persons in Dover did. We
[Cromwell and Ireton] were at Windsor, and im-
mediately Ireton and I resolved to take one trusty
fellow with us, and with troopers' habits, to go to
the inn in Holborn ; which accordingly we did, and
set our man at the gate of the inn, where the
wicket only was open, to let people in and out.
Our man was to give us notice when any person
came there with a saddle, whilst we, in the dis-
guise of common troopers, called for cans of beer,
and continued drinking till about ten o'clock ; the
sentinel at the gate then gave notice that the man
with the saddle was come in. Upon this we
immediately arose, and as the man was leading
out his horse saddled, came up to him with drawn
swords, and told him that we were to search all
that went in and out there, but as he looked like


an honest man, we would only search his saddle,
and so dismiss him. Upon that, we ungirt the
saddle, and carried it into the stall where we had
been drinking, and left the horseman without sen-
tinel ; then ripping up one of the skirts of the
saddle, we there found the letter of which we
had been informed ; and having got it into our own
hands, we delivered the saddle again to the man,
telling him he was an honest man, and bidding
him go about his business. The man, not knowing
what had been done, went away to Dover." This
singular story must doubtless be received with
caution. Nevertheless, that such a letter, in the
handwriting of Charles the First, was intercepted
either by Cromwell or by his emissaries, there
exists reasonable grounds for believing. Lord
Oxford, in fact, assured Lord Bolingbroke that he
had read it, and offered for it no less a sum than


Diverging from the east side of Gray's Inn
Lane is Fox Court, in which wretched alley the
profligate Countess of Macclesfield was delivered
of her illegitimate child, Richard Savage. In
"The Earl of Macclesfield's Case," presented to
the House of Lords in 1690, will be found some
curious particulars respecting the accouchement of
the countess, and the birth of the future poet.
From this source it appears that Anne, Countess
of Macclesfield, under the name of Madam Smith,
was delivered of a male child in Fox Court, Hoi-


born, by a Mrs. Wright, a midwife, on Saturday,
the 1 6th of January, 1697, at six o'clock in the
morning ; that the child was baptised on the Mon-
day following, and registered by Mr. Burbridge,
assistant-curate of St. Andrew's, Holborn, as the
son of John Smith ; that it was christened on Mon-
day, the 1 8th of January, in Fox Court, and that,
from the privacy maintained on the occasion, it
was supposed by Mr. Burbridge to be a " by-blow."
During her delivery Lady Macclesfield wore a
mask. By the entry of the birth in the parish
register of St. Andrew's, it appears that the child's
putative father, Lord Rivers, gave his son his own
Christian name. "January 1696-97. Richard, son
of John Smith and Mary, in Fox Court, in Gray's
Inn Lane, baptised the i8th."

Adjacent to the entrance into Chancery Lane
stood the Old Temple, the inn of the Knights
Templars from the time of its erection, in 1118,
till their removal to the New Temple in Fleet
Street, in 1184. According to Stow, about the
year 1595 one Agaster Roper, while employed in
erecting buildings on the spot, discovered the ruins
of the old church, which were of Caen stone, and
built in a circular shape.

In 1597 the eminent botanist, John Gerarde,
was residing in Holborn, then a suburb of London,
where he had a good garden behind his house, in
which he cultivated his rare exotics. Another re-
markable person who resided in Holborn was the


eccentric Sir Kenelm Digby. "The fair houses
in Holborn," says Aubrey, "between King Street
and Southampton Street, were built anno 1633,
by Sir Kenelm, where he lived before the civil

King Street, running out of Holborn, and now
forming part of Southampton Row, is connected
with the fate of an unfortunate poet, John Bamp-
fylde, whose sonnets Mr. Dyce has thought worthy
of being included in his selection of the choicest
in the language. "He was the brother of Sir
Charles, as you say," writes Southey to Sir Eger-
ton Brydges, on the authority of Jackson, of Exeter,
" and you probably know that there is a disposition
to insanity in the family. At the time when Jack-
son became intimate with him he was just in his
prime, and had no other wish than to live in soli-
tude and amuse himself with poetry and music.
He lodged in a farmhouse near Chudleigh, and
would oftentimes come to Exeter in a winter
morning, ungloved and open-breasted, before Jack-
son was up, with a pocket full of music or poems,
to know how he liked them. His relations thought
this was a sad life for a man of family, and forced
him to London. The tears ran down Jackson's
cheeks when he told the story. ' Poor fellow,'
said he, ' there did not live a purer creature, and
if they would have let him alone he might have
been alive now.' When he was in London, his
feelings having been forced out of their natural


and proper channel, took a wrong direction, and
he began soon to suffer the punishment of debauch-
ery. The Miss Palmer (afterward Lady Inchi-
quin) to whom he dedicated his sonnets was niece
to Sir Joshua Reynolds. Whether Sir Joshua ob-
jected to his addresses on account of his irregu-
larities in London, or of the family disposition to
insanity, I know not, but this was the commence-
ment of his madness. He was refused admittance
into the house ; upon this, in a fit of half anger
and half derangement, he broke the windows, and
was (little to Sir Joshua's honour) sent to New-
gate. Some weeks after this had happened, Jack-
son went to London, and one of his first inquiries
was for Bampfylde. Lady B., his mother, said she
knew little or nothing about him, that she had
got him out of Newgate, and he was now in some
beggary place. ' Where ? ' 'In King Street,
Holborn,' she believed, but she did not know the
number of the house.' Away went Jackson, and
knocked at every door till he found the right. It
was a truly miserable place ; the woman of the
house was one of the worst class of women in
London. She knew that Bampfylde had no money,
and that at that time he had been three days with-
out food. When Jackson saw him, there was all
the levity of madness in his manners. His shirt
was ragged, and black as a coalheaver's, and his
beard of a two months' growth. Jackson sent out
for food, said he was come to breakfast with him,


and turned aside to a harpsichord in the room,
literally, he said, to let him gorge himself without
being noticed. He removed him from hence, and,
after giving his mother a severe lecture, obtained
for him a decent allowance, and left him, when he
himself quitted town, in decent lodgings, earnestly
begging him to write. But he never wrote. ' The
next news was that he was in a private madhouse,
and I never saw him more.' After twenty years'
confinement," adds Southey, "he recovered his
senses, but not till he was dying of a consumption.
The apothecary urged him to leave Sloane Street,
where he had always been as kindly treated as he
could be, and go into his own country, saying that
his friends in Devonshire would be very glad to
see him. But he hid his face, and answered, ' No,
sir! They who knew me what I was shall never
see me what I am.' "

It remains to mention one or two celebrated
men who were residents in Holborn, but in what
exact locality is not known.

Milton at two different periods of his life was a
resident in Holborn, and on both occasions, as was
his custom, occupied houses looking upon the green
fields. The first time that he resided here was in
1647, m a house which "opened backward into
Lincoln's Inn Fields," and here it was that he
principally employed himself in writing his virulent
tirades against monarchy and Charles the First.
The second occasion of his residing in Holborn


was after the Restoration of Charles the Second,
when his house looked into Red Lion Fields, the
site of the present Red Lion Square. After resid-
ing here a short time he removed to Jewin Street,
Aldersgate Street.

From Boswell we learn that Doctor Johnson,
during a part of the time he was employed in
compiling his great work, the English Dictionary,
was a resident in Holborn. Here, too, was born
the once popular actor and poet, George Alexan-
der Stevens ; a man whose misfortunes were only
equal to his misconduct, at one time the idol of
a Bacchanalian club, and at another the inmate of
a gaol ; at one moment writing a drinking-song,
and at another a religious poem. Stevens is now,
perhaps, best remembered from his " Lectures on
Heads," a medley of wit and nonsense, to which
no other person but himself could have given the
proper effect. The lecture was originally designed
for Shuter, who entirely failed in the performance.
Stevens, however, no sooner attempted the task
himself, than it became instantly popular. His
songs are now nearly forgotten ; yet one or two
of them are not without merit, especially the one
entitled the " Wine Vault," commencing :

" Contented I am, and contented I'll be,
For what can this world more afford,
Than a lass that will sociably sit on my knee,
And a cellar as sociably stored ?

My brave boys


" My vault-door is open, descend and improve,

That cask, ay, that we will try ;
' Tis as rich to the taste as the lips of your love,
And as bright as her cheek to the eye,

My brave boys."



Ely House in Its Splendour Its Inhabitants Protector Glou-
cester Bishops of Ely Feastings in Ely House Sir
Christopher Hatton and the Bishops of Ely Gray's Inn
and Gardens Masques Performed at Gray's Inn Famous
Masque Celebrated Men Who Studied at Gray's Inn
Thavie's Inn Furnival Inn Staple Inn Barnard's Inn
Gordon Riots.

ON the north side of Holborn Hill are Ely Place
and Hatton Garden ; the former deriving its name
from the episcopal palace of the Bishops of Ely,
which stood here for nearly four centuries, and the
latter from the adjoining residence of Sir Chris-
topher Hatton, the graceful courtier and eminent
statesman of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

Ely House, in the days of its splendour, for at
one period its palace and gardens covered an area
of -nearly twenty acres, consisted of a spacious
paved court, the approach to which was through a
stately gateway. On the left side of the court was
a small garden ; on the right were the offices, sup-
ported by a colonnade ; and, at the extremity, the
noble old hall, associated in our minds with many



past scenes of revelry and splendour. To the
northwest of the hall was a quadrangular cloister,
and, adjoining it, a small meadow, in which stood
the chapel, dedicated to St. Etheldreda, the patron
saint of the Cathedral Church of Ely. The gar-
dens of Ely House, long famous for their strawber-
ries and roses, corresponded in size and beauty
with the adjoining palace.

Ely House was originally founded by John de
Kirkeby, who, dying Bishop of Ely in 1290, be-
queathed some landed property of considerable
value for the purpose of erecting a suitable resi-
dence for his successors in the see. Considerable
additions and improvements were made by suc-
cessive prelates, and more especially by John de
Hotham, Bishop of Ely in the reign of Edward
the Third, till at length Ely House became one
of the most magnificent mansions in the metropo-
lis. Of the ancient building, all that now remains
is the interesting chapel of St. Etheldreda, which,
though it has suffered much from the lapse of
ages, and has been sadly disfigured by modern
improvements, still retains many traces of its
pristine beauty.' Its crypt also, of the same length
as the chapel, and its east window, looking into
Ely Place, have been deservedly admired. Evelyn,
in his " Diary," more than once notices Ely Chapel.
On the I4th of November, 1668, he writes: "I
was invited to the consecration of that excellent
person, the Dean of Ripon, Doctor Wilkins, now


made Bishop of Chester. It was at Ely House, the
Archbishop of Canterbury, Doctor Cosin, Bishop
of Durham, the Bishops of Ely, Salisbury, Roch-
ester, and others officiating. Doctor Tillotson
preached. Then we went to a sumptuous dinner
in the hall, where were the Duke of Buckingham,
judges, secretaries of state, lord keeper, council,
noblemen, and innumerable other company, who
were honourers of this incomparable man, univer-
sally beloved by all who know him." Again,
Evelyn inserts in his " Diary," 27th of April,
1673: "My daughter Susanna was married to
William Draper, Esq., in the chapel of Ely House,
by Doctor Tenison, Bishop of Lincoln, since Arch-
bishop. I gave her in portion ^4,000. Her
jointure is ^500 per annum. I pray Almighty

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryJohn Heneage JesseMemoirs of the city of London and its celebrities (Volume 2) → online text (page 5 of 20)