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And so matters went on from day to day, claims being made and objections raised by one side or the other, until, on the 23rd February, the Justices thought they had discovered sufficient excuse in the conduct of an ex-Mayor for taking the City into the King's hands. At Easter a brief but welcome adjournment took place. When the Session was resumed, it soon became apparent that something had gone wrong. The whole demeanour of the Justices had changed : instead of appearing-to use the words of the chronicler-as“ lions eager for their prey,” they had become “very lambs”? This was to be accounted for by a threatened insurrection in Wales. At Whitsuntide a further adjournment took place until after Trinity Sunday ; and when the Justices resumed their sitting they had to put up with other and somewhat indifferent quarters, partly because the Queen had just been confined with a daughter—“Johanna of the Tower,” as she came to be known--and partly because the Tower was being put into a posture of defence against the rebels, in the event of the insurrection spreading to London. For nearly three weeks more they continued their vexatious inquisitions, finding fault with this and that, until the inhabitants of the City, loyal as they might be, began to show unmistakable signs of getting out of hand; and by the King's orders the Iter was brought to an abrupt close (4th July), after a sitting in tribulation and bitterness (in tribulatione et angustia) of twenty-four weeks and three days."
The chief officers who had to produce their Rolls before the Justices were the Chamberlain, the Sheriffs, and the Coroner; all of them, strictly speaking, the King's ministers, although the first two were elected by the citizens. The Coroner held a unique position, the oflice being the prerogative of the King's Butler for the time being. At one time, we find the Mayor, at another the Chamberlain of the City, acting also as Coroner; but in every case the Mayor or Chamberlain so acted by virtue of his being also the King's Butler; and it is 1 Lib. Cust., i, 371-374. Aungier, French Chron. (Riley's Transl.),
Lib. Cust., i, 383-4. 3 Lib. Cust., i, 285, 382, 425.
only in this sense that the statement in the Liber Custumarum, to the effect that the King's Butler and the King's Chamberlain and the Coroner are one and the same, holds good.
Before the Statute De Officio Coronatoris (4 Edw. I, Stat. 2, A.D. 1276), and before the appointment of a City Coroner, inquests were held by the Sheriff';' and even after the appointment of this new functionary, notice of suspicious deaths was always given to the Sheriff as well as to the Coroner. More than once the City attempted to get the appointment of Coroner into its own band, and failed, until the impecunious condition of Edward IV induced him to yield to the earnest wish of the citizens, and for the sum, of £7,000 to grant them a charter allowing them (inter alia) to appoint a Coroner of their own, independent of the King's Butler.
Of Sheriffs' Court Rolls there is, apparently, only one extant at the present day among the City's Records ;! whilst of Coroners' Rolls there is only a small series of ten Rolls that have come down to us. Of these latter, nine deal with murders, homicides, mishaps, etc., between 1299 and 1378 (although vast gaps intervene), whilst the tenth is for the year 1590. The earlier Rolls are of peculiar interest, not only for the introduction they afford us to the seamy side of London life in the fourteenth century, but also as showing the special dangers to which the London citizen of that day was exposed. One cannot fail to notice the number of deaths occasioned by falling down stairs, or out of a window, or from off ladders; whilst many a man met his death by falling down a well, or by being suffocated by the bad air of a well which he had descended for the purpose of cleaning. Others were drowned in the river, either whilst bathing or seeking escape from the hand of justice, or having acci
1 “Et nota quod Botellarius domini Regis et Camerarius domini Regis et Coronator idem sunt.”—Lib. Cust., i, 296. ? Lib. Alb., i, 112.
3 Rot. Parl., ii, 367; iii, 19. 4 Roll CC., embracing the years 1318-1321.
5 Rolls A–J. Copies of Coroners' Rolls for the years 1275.8 are entered in Letter Book B, and are printed in Riley's Memorials (pp. 3-20), but the original Rolls appear to be lost.
PLEAS OF THE CROWN IN THE CITY OF LONDON.
dentally fallen in ; whilst there is at least one case of a man meeting a horrible death by suffocation in a latrine into which he had fallen, owing to the breaking of a plank. Lastly, it is curious to note the valuations put upon various things which, owing to their having caused death, were—strictly speaking—forfeited to the Crown. To take a single instance. A cart and three horses, which had crushed a woman to death, were appraised by a jury at something less than 30s. : the cart at 6s. 8d., one horse at 10s., a second horse (to be sure, it was blind with one eye), at 4s., and the third at 6s.; whilst the contents of the cart, as having contributed to the death by increase of pressure, were valued at ls. 4;d. But juries were ever disposed to leniency in the matter of deodands, until early in the present reign this class of forfeiture was formally abolished."
1 Stat, 9 and 10 Vict., c. 62.
THE OLD CITY CHURCHES ILLUSTRATING
BY REV. W. LACH-SZYRMA, M.A., VICAR OF BARKINGSIDE.
(Read 22nd September 1896.) T is difficult for anyone unacquainted with
our past history to realise that London so busy, so modern, so up to date–has for nearly a thousand years been the capital of a European kingdom; and that, for three hundred years at least, it has
been one of the chief commercial and business cities of the world. The Great Fire and the obliteration of the past to meet the exigencies of the present have been the two chief causes of this extinction, as it were, of medieval London, and the substitution for it of the London we see around us.
A somewhat similar process has been going on in Paris, and even more efficiently. Old Paris has passed away, except in a few portions, and New Paris-Hausmannised and Napoleonised—has arisen in its stead. Yet London and Paris, even in the later Middle Ages, were, as now, two of the largest and grandest capitals of Europe.
If one wants to realise what Old London really was, the archæologist is tempted to seek his evidence in our provincial cities, where the past has been let more alone, and where the present does not quite overwhelm it. In the streets of Canterbury, of York, of Chester, of Shrewsbury, in the colleges of Oxford, the quaint timbered buildings of many a sleepy English town, or in the balls of many a moated grange of rural England, we may dream of what Old London really was like.
But has it all passed away? Are there no vestiges of Old London in London itself ? Most of the secular buildings of Old London-indeed, nearly all except the Tower and Crosby Hall, and a few old houses and Inns of Court
- bave passed away, but in ecclesiastical edifices we have probably as many worthy of the attention of the archæologist as in almost any capital in Europe: Rome, of course, excepted. Let us consider a moment. The existing churches of Old Paris are very few, as we have seen. Berlin is almost as view as an American city, and its archæological remains are to be seen only in museums. St. Petersburg is worse still; even New York and Boston are more antique. After all, London is better off in its ecclesiastical remains of antiquity than most European capitals. We have eight parish churches spared by the Fire, which destroyed eighty-seven, besides those outside the City borders, like Westminster Abbey, the Temple Church, St. Saviour's, Southwark, etc., and the old suburban mediaval churches like Bow.
Even in London itself, then, we can trace in existing edifices the main outlines of the City history. It is true, of Roman London, and even of the Romano-British epoch, we have no archeological remains (except in the Museum). Doubtless there were churches in London in the days of Bishop Restitutus, whose signature as Bishop of London in the Council of Arles is the tirst witness to the Church of London. But we must not expect remains of these churches of Roman London, seeing how scant are the remains of the Roman and Romano-British Christian throughout England. In Cornwall there are far more remains of these periods than in all the Home Counties put together. Much of this may be due to the almost imperishable granite being the material of these monuments; those in London were of more perishable material ; and, also, even those may have been used for other edifices in the City. We need not wonder, then, if we have in London (or, indeed, the other great cities of Roman Britain) no contemporary Christian remains like the churches of Perran Zabuloe or Gwithian, or the tomb of Silus at St. Just, or the older Cornish crosses. As Mr. Loftie says: “Nothing to indicate the existence of a church, and only some doubtful indications of Christian burial, have yet rewarded the most careful search.” So the churches of Roman London