Trowbridge People in London, 1746, Kenneth Rogers


An interesting picture of Trowbridge people in London is found in a paper in the parish records (WSA, 206/122) about a blacksmith named John End. He had gone to London with his wife, leaving two children (a girl of 7 and a boy of 6) at Trowbridge in the care of her parents, Joseph and Ann Jordan. It was because of the children’s need of maintenance that the overseer, William Brewer, enquired about End in 1746.

John End was known to have worked for Mr.Stevens, a farrier at The Three Horse Shoes at Bow, so Brewer approached an acquaintance, Mr.Ryall, a broker living near The Essex Calf in Whitechapel Road, over against the Mount, to enquire. Ryall found that End had been ill but was recovering. He expressed himself civilly and said that his wife would write to her parents. She did so on 28 February, saying that the children would be sent for, or that End would come down to collect them before Easter.

Nothing happened. Ryall went to Bow again in late April. He found that End, ‘a very idle sot’, had been turned away by his master. He said that he ‘valued not our parish’, and did not desire to come down any more. His wife said that if times had been better in Trowbridge, she would have come down and taken care of one child, but now she did not care to come any more.

Another letter to Ryall got no reply, so Brewer guessed that End had changed his haunts. William Bull, a Trowbridge man who had lately been in London, told Brewer that End was often at The Five Bells in Little Moor Fields ‘where Trowbridge people do resort’, and that he was ‘not beloved by his country men’. Bull suggested further enquiries from another Trowbridge man, James Nuntly, who lived one door this side of The Five Inkhorns in New Nicholas Lane near Shore Ditch, Bedlam Green.

John Cooper, the Trowbridge justice, thought that the parish could get a London justice to remove the Ends by an order on the grounds of begging or disorderly behaviour; on this their countrymen might have something to say. Brewer thought that another way would be to get a London justice to commit them to the Wiltshire Bridewell by habeas corpus, though for this an attorney would have to be used. Ryall could help them to a Whitechapel attorney, ‘who usually do business at the cheapest rates’.

Another possible informant from Trowbridge was William Kellson, a tailor who lived at No.1 Ropemakers Alley. Another idea was that, as Moorfields was not far from Basinghall Street [where Blackwell Hall, the great cloth market stood] the factors’ servants might be able to help. A final note reads ‘Mr.Rickkards a Justice of the Peace at the Glasshouse in the Minories, Mr.Cottle presents his service and desires the favour of his friendship in this affair’.