Chapter 5 – The Young William Arterbury

Holborn Parish Map, Circa 1746.

Chapter 5 – The Young William

In Chapters 1 and 2 the author explored the parentage and early home life of William Arterbury, the Immigrant.  The last discussion of William ended with the death of his father, Edward, and the uncertain status of his mother, Elizabeth.  This chapter will present the heretofore unwritten history of William as a young man living in Southwark, Surrey County and the course of his life that led to his arrest for the theft of Linsey-Woolsey.  In order to produce this story it is necessary to plumb the depths of the lower social classes present in large numbers in London in the 17th and 18th centuries, including behaviour that might be considered abhorrent or ill-advised to the 21st century reader. 

Heretofore the author has relied extensively on Ancestry.com church and civil records as the primary sources of information about our central characters.  This search for William’s whereabouts after the presumed death of his parents begins with a little known group of records called the “Fleet Marriage Registers”.  Clandestine or non-ecclesiastical marriages were the normal practice in Europe prior to adoption of new standards by Council of Trent in 1429, which held that henceforth all marriages were to require the sanctification of the church.  England did not consent to this dictum of the Council of Trent pertaining to marriages, and civil marriages continued to be permitted in Common Law until passage of the Marriage Laws of 1754. 

“It was not until the Council of Trent (1429) that the intervention of a priest, or other ecclesiastical functionary, was deemed in Europe indispensable to a marriage.  It was then ascertained that the existence of the marriage contract as a mere civil engagement, unhallowed by any spiritual sanction, tended much to the formation of clandestine connexions, and their concomitant evils.  The celebrated Decree passed in that session interdicted any marriage otherwise than in the presence of a priest and at least two witnesses.  But in Egland previous to 1754 the Common Law continued to regulate the Law of Marriage, the authority of the Council of Trent not having been acknowledged in this country; and wilst, in virtue of domestic institutions, a form was enjoined for the more solemn celebration of matrimony, and persons departing from these regulations were liable to ecclesiatical censure, still other and more private modes of contracting a marriage were tolerated and acknowledged by Law.”[1]

Prior to 1754 marriages could be performed either within a sanctioned church, or within a lawless church.  St. James Duke’s Place and Trinity Minories in London were two of the most active chapels performing marriages without the benefit of license or publishing of banns.  Perhaps the most reviled and notorious haven for the performance of clandestine marriages was at Fleet Prison.  Marriages performed in or around Fleet Prison were known as Fleet Marriages.

Fleet Prison was located on upper Farringdon Street along Fleet Ditch, just above the Fleet Bridge in Ludgate Hill Street as shown in Figure 5-1.  During the 17th and 18th centuries this prison was operated by private interests under royal patent.  In fact, following its destruction in the Great Fire of 1666, the prison was rebuilt by its then proprietor, Sir Jeremy Whichcote, entirely from his own funds.  Its habitués were primarily imprisoned debtors, including members of the clergy.  Since Fleet Prison was considered to be outside the governance of civil authority, incarcerated clergymen were permitted (dare we say, encouraged) by the prison Warden to conduct marriage ceremonies and to issue marriage certificates from inside the prison chapel, and later in the area extending to the immediate environs outside the Prison abstracted as follows:

“Many of the early Fleet weddings were really performed at the chapel in the Fleet; but as the practice extended, it was found more convenient to have other places within the Rules of the Fleet, (added to which the Warden was compelled by act of parliament not to suffer them,) and thereupon many of the Fleet parsons and tavern-keepers in the neighborhood fitted up a room in their respective lodgings or houses as a chapel.  The parsons took the fees, allowing a portion to the plyers [recruiters], etc. and the tavern-keepers, besides sharing in the fees, derived profit from the sale of liquors which the wedding party drunk.  In some instances the tavern-keepers kept a parson on their establishment at a weekly salary of twenty schillings; while others, upon a wedding-party arriving, sent for any clergyman they might please to employ…”[2]

Fleet marriages were generally held in low esteem by the landed gentry as evidenced by the following quotation:

“…the common place for joining Rogues and Whores together…Others depicted those marrying at the Fleet as drunk, devious, or debauched, and a Fleet marriage as a mechanism for fraud or even forced marriage.  The mercenary motives of those marrying were stressed: there were reported to be men who married women to fleece them of their possessions, and women who married in order to throw liability for their debts upon a man who was either legally or physically unavailable to pay them…”[3]

The following anonymous letter written sometime between 1702 and 1714 to the Bishop of London provides an apt account of the general practices associated with the conduct of Fleet marriages:

“Sir:   I think it my Duty to God and the Queen to acquaint you with the illegal practices of the Ministers and Clark in the Fleet Chappell for marrying Clandestinely as they do som weeks fifty or sixty couple. The Ministers that are there are as follows, Mr. Robert Elborough he is an ancient man and is master of the Chappel and marries but very few now without Banns or Licence, but under a colour doth allow his Clark to do what he pleases, his name is Barth Basset.  There is there also one Mr. James Colton a Clergyman, he lives in Leather Lane next door to the Coach and Horses, he hath bin there these four years to marry, but no Prisoner, he marries in Coffee-houses, in his own house and in and about the Fleet gate and all the Rules over not excepting any part of city and Suburbs.  This Clark Basset aforesaid registers wherever Colton marries in the Fleet Register and gives him Certificates.  Colton had a living in Essex till the Bishop of London deprived him for this and other ill practices. There is also one Mr. Nehemiah Rogers, he is a Prisoner but goes at large to his P[arish] Living in Essex, and all places else, he is a very wicked man as lives for drinking, whoring and swearing, he has struck and boxed the bridegroom in the Chappel and damned like any common souldier, he marries both within and without the Chappel like his brother Colton.  There was one Mr. Alley, he was a Prisoner and the benefit of weddings but is gone to some other preferment.  The abovesaid Basset rents the sellers of the Fleet and pays for the and two watchmen 100 and £20 p. ann but he him pays but £20 per ann. for the Clergy pay all the rest monthly, and if they do not they are threatened to be confined or outed.  This Clark hath bin sworn in Dr.s Commons not to marry any without Banns or Licence unless it be such poor people as are recomended by the Justices in case of a big belly [pregnancy], but have married since many hundreds as I and many can testifie who are confined Prisoners.  The chief days to marry are Sundays, Tuesdays and Saturdays, but every day more or less.  The Clark Basset keeps a Register book, altho he told the Bishop of London he had none, he also antidates as he pleases as you may see when you look over the Registers, he hath another at his sons, he does what he pleases and maintains a great family by these ill practices. £200 p. ann. he hath at least. The Ministers and Clark bribe one Mr. Shirley I think him to be Collector for the Queen’s Taxes.  I hope Sir you will excuse me for concealing my name hoping that you will inspect into these base practices.  For D.”[4]

The earliest record of Fleet marriages dates from 1613, but extant registers of Fleet marriages commence in about 1685 and continue into the 1750’s.  The author found many of these records published online at TheGenealogist.co.uk.  Without boring the reader with all the titillating tales of the sharp practices employed by these Fleet parsons, their clerks and the so-called plyers [recruiters], suffice it to say that these clandestine marriages were oftentimes highly irregular, and bordering on the criminal as evidenced by the following account:

“Since Midsummer last a young lady of birth and fortune was deluded and forced from her friends, and by the assistance of a Wryneck swearing parson married to an atheistical wretch, whose life is a continued practice of all manner of vice and debauchery.  And since the ruin of my relation, another lady of my acquaintance had like to have been trepanned in the following manner.  This lady had appointed to meet a gentlewoman at the Old Playhouse in Drury-lane; but extraordinary business prevented her coming.  Being alone when the play was done, she bade a boy call a coach for the city.  One dressed like a gentleman helps her into it, and jumps in after her. “Madam,” says he, “this coach was called for me, and since the weather is so bad and there is no other, I beg leave to bear you company; I am going into the city and will set you down wherever you please.”  The lady begged to be excused; but he bade the coachman drive on.  Being come to Ludgate Hill, he told her his sister who waited his coming, but five doors up the court, would go with her in two minutes.  He went, and returned with his pretended sister, who asked her to step in one minute, and she would wait upon her in the coach. Deluded with the assurance of having his sister’s company, the poor lady foolishly followed her into the house, when instantly the sister vanished; and a tawny fellow in a black coat and black wig appeared. “Madam, you are come in good time, the Doctor was just a-going!”  “The Doctor!” says she, horribly frighted, fearing it was a madhouse; “What has the Doctor to do with me?”  “To marry you to that gentleman; the Doctor has waited for you these three hours, and will be payed by you or that gentleman before you go!”  “That gentleman!” says she, recovering herself, “is worthy a better fortune than mine,” and begged hard to be gone.  But Doctor Wryneck swore she should be married, or if she would not he would still have his fee, and register the marriage from that night.  The lady finding she could not escape without money or a pledge, told them she liked the gentleman so well, she would certainly meet him to-morrow night, and gave them a ring as a pledge, which, says she, “was my mother’s gift on her death-bed, injoining that, if ever I married it should be my wedding-ring.”  By which cunning contrivance she was delivered from the black Doctor and his tawny crew.  Some time after this I went  with this lady and her brother in a coach to Ludgate Hill in the day time, to see the manner of their picking up people to be married.  As soon as our coach stopt near Fleet Bridge, up comes one of the myrmidons.  “Madam,” says he, “you want a parson!”  “Who are you,” says I!  “I am the clerk and register of the Fleet.”  “Show me the chapel.”  At which comes a second, desiring me to go along with him.  Says he, “That fellow will carry you to a pedling alehouse.”  Says a third, “Go with me, he will carry you to a brandy shop.”  In the interim comes the Doctor,  Madam,” says he, “I’ll do your job for you presently!”  “Well, gentlemen,”  says I, “since you can’t agree, and I can’t be married quietly, I’ll put it off ’till another time!” so drove away.  Learned Sirs, I wrote this in regard to the honour and safety of my own sex, and if for our sakes, you will be so good as to publish it, correcting the errors of a woman’s pen, you will oblige our whole sex, and none  more than. Sir,  Your constant reader and admirer. January 18th, 1734-5. Virtuous. From the Grub Street Journal.”[5]

For every legitimate marriage performed at the Fleet, there were likely as many that were patched up affairs.  Records were knowingly manipulated to cater to the tastes and morals of the participants.  Coercion, falsification of names and dates, subterfuge and extortion were all part of a days work at the Fleet.  The “parsons” were not always properly ordained, and may in fact have been previously dismissed by the Church.  In Common Law a Fleet marriage was recognized as a legal union between a man and a woman.  But, since there was not the typical posting of banns for three weeks in advance of the proposed nuptials, nor any regulated issuance of licenses, it was possible for couples to be united in marriage in violation of good practice, if not in violation of civil law.  Consequently, such marriages frequently involved bigamy, under age minors, incompetence, and inebriation.

As already stated in Chapter 2, William’s father, Edward Arterbury, was joined in marriage to Elizabeth Young by a Fleet parson.  From all outward appearances, Edward and Elizabeth suffered no ill effects as a result of their clandestine marriage.  Further research into the Fleet registers discloses that both Edward Arterbury Jr. and William Arterbury followed their father’s example, and also entered the state of matrimony through Fleet marriages abstracted as follows:

  1. On 5Nov1728 Edward Atterbury, Waterman and Bachelor, of St. Paul, Shadwell, married Martha Varrell, Spinster at Noah’s Ark Inn, Fleet, London.[6]
  2. On 16Feb1731/2 William Arterbury, Mariner and Bachelor of Christ Church Parish, Southwark, married Hannah Serimpton [Scrimpton?], Widow also of Christ Church Parish.[7]
  3. On 6Sep1732 William Arterbury/Atterbung [sic], Waterman and Bachelor of Christ Church Parish, married Elizabeth Goodberry [transcribed in error, “berry” actually reads “being…”] [probably Gould, more to follow], Widow of same.[8]

Before discussing the specific details of these Fleet marriage records it should be noted that for each of these events there were at least two extant register entries available: (1) appears to have been the parson’s notebook record, and (2) appears to have been the more formal “Fleet” register.  The practice appears to have been for the parson or his clerk to record the event in the parson’s notebook at the time of the event, and then to transfer the event from the notebook into the official register sometime after the event, perhaps within the same day or week following.  The physical condition of the parson’s notebook entries is generally poor and sometimes illegible, whereas the official register entries are generally more legible.

Now, as to the specific records, each will be discussed in detail:

  1. Edward Atterbury and Martha Varrell – There is no doubt in the author’s mind that this was the marriage record for Edward Arterbury Jr., son of Edward Arterbury (Mason) and Elizabeth Young.  This opinion was formulated only after researching the apprenticeship records of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen.  Information was gathered from Edward’s apprenticeship record as a Waterman which provided a direct linkage between this Edward, Edward Sr, and William Arterbury, namely that they were all described as being of Christ Church Parish (or St. Saviour), Southwark, and all were recorded using the surname spelling of “Arterbury”.  This information when combined with the compatibility of dates and occupations provides virtually irrefutable evidence of these assumed familial connections.  It was also discovered that Edward married Martha Varrell just four days after the expiration of his apprenticeship indenture.
  2. William Arterbury and Hannah Scrimpton – As in the case of Edward Arterbury Jr., the author used apprenticeship records in order to establish with certainty the identity of this William Arterbury as the son of Edward Arterbury (Mason) and Elizabeth Young.  First it should be noted that this William identified himself as being a bachelor, a mariner and resident of Christ Church Parish, Southwark.  As already discussed in Chapter 2, Christ Church Parish was a very small geographic area of less than 95 acres and the name of Arterbury during this time period was almost entirely limited to ancestors and descendants of Edward Arterbury Sr.  By process of elimination it was found that there were no other candidates known to exist during this time period named William Arterbury, except for the sons of Edward Arterbury (Mason) and Richard Arterbury (Carpenter).  The son of Richard Arterbury (Carpenter) was eliminated as a candidate because there is substantial record evidence showing that that William Arterbury was trained and worked as a carpenter, not as a mariner. The author undertook an extensive search of all available records in and around Middlesex County (including Surrey County) during this time period in an effort to identify William’s new bride, Hannah Serimpton [Scrimpton].  From the marriage record, the only information provided was her name, and that she was a widow from Christ Church Parish.  Only five records were found for anyone named either Serimpton or Scrimpton during this time period, none of which offered any possible connection to Hannah.  However, there were four records found for a Thomas and Susanna Shrimpton listed as follows:
  1. On 13Sep1726 William Shrimpton was buried at St. Saviour, Denmark Park, Southwark, son of Thomas Shrimpton.
  2. On 4Aug1727 Edward Shrimpton was christened at St. Saviour Parish, Denmark Park, Southwark, son of Thomas and Susannah Shrimpton.
  3. On 19Dec1729 William Shrimpton was buried at Christ Church Parish, Southwark, son of Thomas and Susanna Shrimpton.
  4. On 26Sep1731 Susannah Shrimpton was christened at Christ Church Parish, Southwark, daughter of Sarah [?] and Thomas Shrimpton.Although the mother’s name shown on this record was Sarah, it almost certainly should have been Susanna, since the daughter was named Susanna.  This would have been the first daughter on record being born to Thomas Shrimpton, so it is reasonable that they would have named that daughter after the mother, Susanna Shrimpton.

Given the similarity of the forename and surname of Susanna Shirmpton compared to Hannah Scrimpton, combined with the matching dates and location, it seems highly possible that Susanna Shrimpton was the same person as Hannah Scrimpton, who married William Arterbury on 16Feb1732.  No burial record was found for Thomas Shrimpton, nor were there any further records found for either Thomas or Susanna Shrimpton.  It seems probable to the author that Thomas Shrimpton, pinmaker, died sometime shortly after the birth of his daughter, Susanna, and that his widow married William Arterbury, mariner and bachelor of Christ Church Parish.  One other possibly related record was found in Christ Church Parish as follows:

  1. On 5Dec1731 Thomas M? was buried at Christ Church Parish, Southwark. This name appeared at the very top of a page that was severely damaged around the edges.  In fact, most of the Christ Church Parish register pages appear badly damaged, almost as if they had been in a fire resulting in the outer edges of the pages being destroyed.  In many instances the edges of the pages containing the dates are missing.  In the case of this record, the transcriber has given Thomas’s surname the first letter of “M”.  But, a careful examination of this page shows the surname to be so obscured, that it might have begun with any letter in the alphabet, even an “S”.  The author believes it possible that this entry was for the burial of Thomas Shrimpton.  Since no parent’s name accompanied this entry, it almost certainly was for an adult male.  The date of 5Dec1731 fits perfectly between 26Sep1731 when Susanna Shrimpton was christened, and 16Feb1731/2 when William Arterbury married the widow, Hannah Scrimpton.

Given the absence of any viable candidates with the name of either Hannah Scrimpton or Hannah Serimpton, the author is inclined to believe that Hannah’s surname was similar, but different from either of those surnames.  Also, given the similarity of both the forename and the surname of Susanna Shrimpton, when combined with the location match with Christ Church Parish, the dates and the marital status, the author is inclined to accept that Hannah Scrimpton and Susanna Shrimpton were the same person.  Assuming this to be the case, William Arterbury appears to have married a widow with two living children.  Just what became of William’s ready-made family is uncertain. 

  1. William Arterbury and Elizabeth Good [Gould] – Using essentially the same databases, criteria and methods as were employed to identify the William Arterbury in the preceding marriage record, the author concluded that this marriage record was also for William Arterbury, son of Edward Arterbury (Mason).  Salient points of commonality were the residential location of both bride and groom being Christ Church Parish, the spelling of the surname as Arterbury, and the occupation of waterman.  Using this given occupation as a guide, the author was able to locate an apprenticeship record for a William Arterbury among the records of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen abstracted as follows:
  • On 31Jul1727 William Arterbury was bound to Master Waterman, John Filce at St. Saviour.

William Arterbury, son of Edward Arterbury, would have just reached his 16th birthday when he entered this apprenticeship.  His brother, Edward Arterbury Jr. had entered an apprenticeship on 28Apr1721 with Master Waterman, Edmond Atwood at St. Saviour.  William and Edward Jr.’s maternal grandfather and great grandfather had both been Watermen.  Putting all these facts together leaves little doubt but that this marriage record was also for William Arterbury, son of Edward Arterbury (Mason).

Having concluded that both of the foregoing marriage records were for William Arterbury, the Immigrant, it raises the question whether William Arterbury may have committed bigamy when he married Elizabeth Good.  On the record from the Fleet Marriage log he was recorded in both enteries as being a bachelor.  When William married Elizabeth Good, he clearly was not a bachelor, but possibly could have been a widower.  The author believes it possible that William Arterbury’s first wife was still living when he married Elizabeth Good.  This belief is based on two factors:

  1. No death record could be located for anyone named either Hannah Arterbury or Susannah Arterbury, or any facsimiles thereof prior to William’s marriage to Elizabeth Good.
  2. A burial record was located for a Hannah Arterbury dated 13Mar1751 at St. Botolph, Bishopgate, aged 61 years.  [Was this the first wife of William Arterbury?]

Neither of the foregoing factors are definitive, but do raise the possibility that William may have committed bigamy when he married Elizabeth Good.  It is also possible that William committed bigamy a second time when he married Sarah Mitchell Yaxley in Maryland around 1740.

Who was this Elizabeth Good, widow from Christ Church?  The answer to this question is very complicated, and appears to provide the probable connection between William Arterbury and his partners in crime from the St. Andrew’s, Holborn neighborhood.  The search for the identity of Elizabeth Good requires locating a woman named Elizabeth married to a man with the surname of “Good” or close equivalent in or around Christ Church Parish in the 1720’s or 30’s.  But, the author did not limit this search simply to Surrey County but also included all of Middlesex County.  The main sources for such a search were the baptism/christening and the marriage records.  Ideally, any candidate for Elizabeth Good could also be matched with a contemporaneous burial record for a deceased husband named “Good”.  Using every trick known to the author this search for widow Good failed to yield any matches. 

However, one family named Gould was found in Christ Church Parish during the appropriate time period.  Knowing that the Fleet registers were notoriously inaccurate, the author homed in on this Gould family as the possible source of William Arterbury’s second wife.  Following are the relevant records found related to this Gould family of St. Saviour, Denmark Park Parish, next door to Christ Church Parish:

  • On 9Dec1730 Ralph Gould was christened at St. Saviour, Denmark Park, Southwark, son of Ralph Gould, waterman, and Elizabeth, his wife.
  • On 2Feb1730/1 Ralph Gould, waterman, was buried at St. Saviour, Denmark Park, Southwark.
  • On 7Aug1731 Ralph Gould was buried at St. Saviour, Denmark Park, Southwark, son of Elizabeth Gould.

In the foregoing records we have the birth of a son to Ralph and Elizabeth Gould in St. Saviour Parish (immediately adjacent to Christ Church Parish), followed by the burial record of the father, Ralph Gould, and then by the burial of the infant son, Ralph Gould.  The timing, geographic proximity and surname similarity makes it possible that the recently widowed Elizabeth Gould was the same person as the Elizabeth Good, who married William Arterbury as his second wife.  One further element to add to this equation is the fact that there was a Ralph Gould from St. Andrew, Holborn, who had indentured seven different Waterman apprentices listed as follows:

  1. 6Jun1707 John Gould/Gold at Holborn [relationship to Ralph Gould is unknown, probably a nephew],
  2. 30Jun1710 Charles Hinton at Holborn,
  3. 18May1716 Henry Sherwin at Holborn,
  4. 13May1720 Charles Tittford Gould at Holborn [Ralph Gould’s son],
  5. 22Sep1721 Jarvis Cook at Holborn,
  6. 10Oct1725 John Fisher at Holborn, and
  7. 22Mar1727 William Pope at Holborn.

The author believes it probable that Ralph Gould, Master Waterman, of St. Andrew’s, Holborn and the Ralph Gould who died in St. Saviour Parish in Feb1730/1 were the same person.  The basis for this connection between these two Ralph Goulds is complicated and requires close attention to events and dates.

We begin this analysis of Ralph Gould with a series of records from St. Andrew’s, Holborn Parish and elsewhere listed as follows:

  1. 22May1698 Ralph Gold, Mariner, married Ann Kenton, Spinster, at St. James, Duke’s Place [a clandestine marriage], Aldgate, London, by the Compasses in Gravell Lane, Houndsditch.
  2. 11May1701 Mary Gold was christened at St. Andrew, Holborn, London, daughter of Ralph Gold, Sailor, and Ann, his wife in Field Lane.
  3. 3Dec1704 Charles Tittford Fould [Gould] was christened at St. Andrew, Holborn, London, son of Ralph Gould and Ann, his wife in Field Lane.
  4. 24Mar1705 Ralph Gould was buried at St. Andrew, Holborn, London, son of Ralph Gould of Field Lane. No birth record was found for Ralph Gould Jr., but presumably he was born sometime before his brother, Charles Tittford (probably around 1703).
  5. 31Jan1708 Ann Gould was christened at St. Andrew, Holborn, London, daughter of Ralph Gould and Ann, his wife in Field Lane.
  6. 7Jan1714 Francis Gould was christened at St. Andrew, Holborn, London, son of Ralph Gould and Ann, his wife in Field Lane. The given name of Francis occurs in earlier generations of Goulds in London, probably indicative of an ancestral connection to those Goulds.
  7. 20Nov1715 Rebecca Gould was christened at St. Andrew, Holborn, London, daughter of Ralph Gould and Ann, his wife in Field Lane.
  8. 9May1725 Ann Gould was buried at St. Andrew, Holborn, London, of Field Lane. This almost certainly was Ann Kenton, the deceased wife of Ralph Gould, Mariner, Sailor and Waterman.
  9. 22Sep1726 Ralph Gould, widow of St. Andrew, Holborn married Ann Birkenhead, widow of same, at St. Benet Paul’s Parish, London.
  10. 14Feb1729/0 Ralph Gould, Waterman, Widow, of St. Andrew’s, Holborn married Martha Holliday, Widow, of same at R Bow, Fleet, London [another clandestine marriage].

The foregoing records setforth the family of Ralph Gould [aka Gold] living in Field Lane, St. Andrew, Holborn for over 25 years.  Refer to Figure 5-1 for the location of Field Lane.  These records include the facts that he was variously described as a Mariner, Sailor and Waterman and that he was married three different times.  The record in Item 10 was not the final record to be found for Ralph Gould in St. Andrew’s, Holborn, as there were a series of tax records of importance to this investigation listed as follows:

  1. 1706 to 1728 Ralph Gold in Farringdon Without or St. Andrew’s Wards on Field Lane (sometimes with two houses). Ralph Gould married Ann Birkenhead in Sep1726 and continued to reside at Field Lane until 1728.
  2. 1718 to 1725 Joseph Holliday [Hollyday] in Farringdon Without Ward on Magpy Yard [Alley]. Magpy Yard was situated off the west side of Fetter Lane about ten blocks southwest of Field Lane as illustrated in Figure 5-1.
  3. 1726 to 1729 Martha Holliday in Farringdon Without Ward on Magpy Yard. Presumably Martha Holliday inherited this property in Magpy Yard following the death of her husband, Joseph Holliday in 1725.  No death or estate record was located for Joseph Holliday.
  4. 1729 the house(s) formerly Ralph Gold’s on Field Lane in Farringdon Without Ward became vacant. The whereabouts of Ralph Gold in 1729 is unknown, as his houses in Field Lane became vacant in this year, and he was not found in any other tax records in that year.
  5. 1730 Ralph Gould in Farringdon Without Ward on Magpy Yard in property formerly that of Joseph Holliday and then of Martha Holliday. Ralph Gould married Martha Holliday, widow, in Fleet Street in Feb1729/0, so presumably he took over occupancy of the Magpy Yard property from his new wife.
  6. 1731 Widow Gould in Farringdon Ward Without on Magpy Yard in property formerly Ralph Gould. Apparently Ralph Gould died sometime between 1730 and 1731, as it would appear that his widow, Martha Holliday Gould, resumed ownership of this property on Magpy Yard.  Keep in mind that Ralph Gould, the husband of Elizabeth Gould was buried in St. Saviour Parish in Feb1730/1.
  7. 1732-3 Joseph Holliday in Farringdon Ward Without on Magpy Yard in property formerly Widow Gould. Widow Gould was supplanted in the tax record for this property in Magpy Yard by someone named Joseph Holliday, who continued in the tax records on this property through 1733.  This Joseph Holliday is believed to have been the son of Joseph and Martha Holliday.  No burial record was found for the Widow Gould in 1731 or 1732.  Is it possible that Martha Holliday Gould, widow of Ralph Gould, may have remarried and consequently forfieted her rights to this property, which then defaulted to her son?

From the foregoing records the author has reached several important conclusions which tend toward discovering the identity of William Arterbury’s second wife, Elizabeth Good:

  1. There was only one adult Ralph Gold/Gould who lived in St. Andrew’s, Holborn Parish and St. Saviour, Denmark Park Parish between 1700 and Feb1730/1.
  2. This Ralph Gould was the person variously identified as a mariner, sailor and waterman.
  3. Ralph Gould was the same person who apprenticed seven different young men to the trade of Waterman between 1707 and 1727, all described as being in St. Andrew’s, Holborn, and including his own son, Charles Tittford Gould.
  4. Ralph Gould married three different times: (1) Ann Kenton, spinster, in May1698, (2) Ann Birkenhead, widow, in Sep1726, and (3) Martha Holliday, widow, in Feb1729/0.
  5. Ralph Gould lived most of his adult life in St. Andrew’s, Holborn Parish on Field Lane.
  6. Ralph Gould briefly appeared in 1730 in possession of the property formerly owned by his third wife, Martha Holliday in Magpy Yard.
  7. Ralph Gould, waterman, was buried at St. Saviour, Denmark Park Parish, Southwark in Feb1730/1.
  8. Widow Gould [presumed to be Martha Holliday Gould] reemerged in possession of the property on Magpy Yard in 1731.
  9. William Arterbury, bachelor and waterman of Christ Church Parish married Elizabeth Good/Gould, widow of same, in a Fleet marriage on 6Sep1732.
  10. Joseph Holliday, presumed son of Joseph Holliday and Martha, his wife, assumed occupancy of the property on Magpy Yard in 1732.

As discussed earlier, the author is of the opinion that William Arterbury married Elizabeth Gould, the widow of Ralph Gould, who was buried at St. Saviour, Denmark Park Parish in Feb1730/1.  Further, the author is of the opinion that Elizabeth Gould was the same person as Martha Holiday Gould, who married Ralph Gould in a Fleet Marriage on 14Feb1729/0.  This belief is predicated in part on the timing of the birth of Ralph Gould, son of Ralph Gould (waterman) and his wife, Elizabeth, on 9Dec1730 in St. Saviour Parish, just 10 months after Ralph Gould and Martha Holliday were married.  Additional basis for this opinion is that no marriage record could be found anywhere for Ralph Gould and a woman named Elizabeth; there were no other contemporaneous records found for a Ralph Gould in Surrey County; and there was no burial record found for Martha Gould during this time period.  Absent any evidence to suggest the presence or marriage of Ralph and Elizabeth Gould prior to 1730, and absent a death record for Martha Gould, there seem to be few alternatives but to conclude that Martha Gould and Elizabeth Gould were the same person.  This is further substantiated by the timing of events revealed in the tax records for the Magpy Yard property.  Ralph Gould’s appearance in possession of that property in 1730 coincides with his marriage to Martha Holliday, widow of Joseph Holliday.  Widow Gould’s appearance in possession of that property in 1731 coincides with the death of Ralph Gould in St. Saviour Parish in Feb1730/1.  And, finally, we have the matching occupation of waterman for the Ralph Gould, who died in St. Saviour Parish in Feb1730/1.

If Martha Holliday and Elizabeth Gould were the same person, how is the difference in their forenames to be explained?  The author cannot explain this anomaly without further data.  Perhaps there is something in the ancestral records for the families of Joseph and Martha Holliday that might offer a clue.  Following are records pertaining to Joseph Holliday:

  1. 14Feb1691 Thomas Holliday was christened at St. James the Great, Frien Barnet [Finchley], son of Miles Holliday and Elizabeth, his wife.
  2. 3Jul1693 Richard Holliday was christened at St. James the Great, Frien Barnet [Finchley], son of Miles Holliday and Elizabeth, his wife.
  3. 24Mar1694 Edward Holliday was christened at St. James the Great, Frien Barnet [Finchley], son of Miles Holliday and Elizabeth, his wife.
  4. 1Mar1704 Joseph Holliday was apprenticed to Joseph Read, Blacksmith, father was Miles Holliday late of Finchley, deceased. Although no birth record was found for Joseph Holliday, he almost certainly was the son of Miles Holliday and Elizabeth, his wife.  Joseph was probably born around 1690, given that most apprenticeships were initiated at around the age of 14 to 16 years.
  5. 8Jul1711 Joseph Holliday, Bachelor and Farrier [blacksmith] of Finchley married Martha Low, Spinster of St. Andrew’s , Holborn. This was almost certainly the marriage record of Joseph and Martha Holliday, who ultimately settled on Magpy Yard, St. Andrew’s, Holborn.

Now that we have identified the ancestry, occupation and marriage of Joseph Holliday, let’s explore the history of Martha Low’s family:

  1. 16Jul1665 George Low was christened at St. Sepulchre, Holborn, son of Edward Low and Frances, his wife. This is believed to have been the birth record for Martha Low’s father.
  2. 1Jan1686 George Low married Elizabeth Core at St. Andrew’s, Holborn. This is believed to have been the marriage record of Martha Low’s parents.
  3. 3Apr1688 George Low was buried at St. Andrew’s Holborn, son of George Low of Field Lane. Now we are getting somewhere!  This George Low is believed to have been an older brother of Martha Low.  No birth record was found for this George Low.  It would appear that the Low family lived on the same street as the Ralph Gould family, albeit, not necessarily at the same time.
  4. 16Dec1688 Mary [clearly spelled Martha in the church register] was christened at St. Andrew’s Holborn, daughter of George Low and Elizabeth, his wife, of Field Lane. This is believed to have been the birth record of Martha Low, the same Martha Low who would later marry Joseph Holliday and Ralph Gould.
  5. 27Jun1692 Dult [Duke?] Low was buried at St. Andrew’s Holborn, son of George Low of Field Lane.
  6. 16Dec1694 Elizabeth Low was christened at St. Andrew’s Holborn, daughter of George Low and Elizabeth, his wife, of Field Lane.
  7. 17Jan1696/7 Elizabeth Low was buried at St. Andrew’s Holborn, daughter of Elizabeth Low, widow of Field Lane. From the two foregoing records we know that George and Elizabeth Low had a daughter named Elizabeth, that that daughter had died in Jan1697, and that George Low, the father, had also died sometime within the previous year.

Having identified the ancestry of Martha Low, the future wife of Joseph Holliday and Ralph Gould, we now know that she was born on Field Lane, and may have lived on that street at the same time as the Ralph Gould family.  A search of the tax records failed to disclose any location for George Low after 1693, nor was there any tax record found for his widow.  Consequently, it is not known where the Low family may have lived after the death of George Low.  However, it is known that Martha Low reported her home to be in St. Andrew’s Holborn Parish when she married Joseph Holliday in 1711.  It is also known that Joseph and Martha settled in St. Andrew’s, Holborn Parish on Magpy Yard not long after their marriage, and that Martha continued to reside at that location until after her marriage to Ralph Gould in Feb1730.  And, finally, we know from the St. Andrew’s, Holborn church records that all of Martha’s siblings appear to have died in their infancy.

What, if anything, might be deduced from the foregoing information on the Low family?  For starters, we know that Martha’s mother was named Elizabeth.  We also know that Martha’s only known sister was also named Elizabeth, and that that Elizabeth died in her infancy.  Is it possible that Martha may have been christened with the middle name of Elizabeth in honor of her mother?  Is it also possible that Martha may have reverted in her later years for some inexplicable reason to using her middle name in deferrence to her first given name?  Any reasonable and well judged assessment of these questions would have to conclude with a resounding, Yes!  The author believes that sufficient information has been provided to allow for a reasonable explanation for the difference in the forenames of Martha Low Holliday, who married Ralph Gould, and Elizabeth Gould, widow of Ralph Gould who died in St. Saviour’s Parish in Feb1731.  It seems virtually certain that they were one and the same person.

Is it possible that William Arterbury may have married Martha Elizabeth Low Holliday Gould in the Fleet marriage on 6Sep1732?  The author believes it to be not only possible, but probable.  The readers may decide as they choose, but the author is inclined to accept this marriage as fact and will proceed with this analysis under the assumption of it being so. 

From the outset of this investigation into the ancestry and life of William Arterbury, the Immigrant, the author has been puzzled by his connection with William Harrison and Leonard Budley.  Both of these young men were known to have been living in the St. Andrew’s, Holborn area prior to their arrest, yet nothing heretofore in William Arterbury’s history was known to have connections to that neighborhood.  Now, having reliably established the identity of William’s second wife, we have also established a very close geographic connection to Holborn.  In fact, the Magpy Yard property that had been long in possession of his new wife’s family was situated within only a couple of blocks from White’s Alley, the presumed home of William Harrison (refer to Figure 5-1) and from Leonard Budley’s probable place of residence in Fetter Lane. 

Since Elizabeth’s son, Joseph Holliday, appears to have taken possession of the Magpy Yard property in 1732, the same year that Elizabeth Gould and William Arterbury were married, we cannot state with certainty just how much contact William may have had with that property or that neighborhood.  But, it is entirely possible that Elizabeth and William Arterbury may have actually resided in Magpy Yard after their marriage.  At a minimum, William and Elizabeth would likely have had occasion the visit the neighborhood in which Elizabeth had lived most of her life.  They may even have had occasion to frequent the Lamb and Horseshoe Alehouse in George Lane, where an acquaintance could have arisen with William Harrison, Leonard Budley and Thomas Essex.

Having concluded this investigation into the two English marriages of William Arterbury we will now return to the beginning point of this story, namely to a young William Arterbury, aged 16 years and very possibly an orphan.  We now know that prior to the death of Edward Arterbury Sr., Edward managed to arrange for the apprenticeship of his eldest son, Edward Arterbury Jr.  That apprenticeship was bound to Master Waterman, Edmond Atwood on 28Apr1721 at St. Saviour.[9]  Edward Jr. was born on 28Mar1708, so he would have been only 13 years and one month old when apprenticed.  This would have been a particularly young age for a Waterman apprentice, so there may have been some financial exigency in the Edward Arterbury household.  It may also have been the result of Edward Arterbury Sr.’s own apprenticeship experience.  Since Edward Sr. was apprenticed at the age of 13 years and 4 months, he may have felt that it would be a good experience for his oldest son to also be apprenticed at an early age.

Edward Jr.’s master, Edmond Attwood, is known to have resided in St. Saviour, Denmark Park, Southwark from as early as 23Dec1715 when he and his wife, Anne, christened their daughter Judith.  Edmond Attwood, himself, was apprenticed on 7Aug1702 to Master Waterman, William Easton, at St. Saviours.  Edmond’s place of origin is not known with certainty, but he probably served his apprenticeship in St. Saviour Parish and became a resident of St. Saviour after completion of his apprenticeship around Aug1709.  Edmund took on one other apprentice prior to Edward Arterbury, when he apprenticed Richard Hall on 13Mar1718 at St. Saviour.  Edmond Attwood and his wife, Ann, christened three children at St. Saviour: (1) Judith on 23Dec1715, (2) Alexander on 26Jan1717/8 (buried on 26Aug1718), and (3) Edmund Jr. on 26Apr1720.  Edward Arterbury Jr. would likely have served his apprenticeship in St. Saviour Parish, probably living most of that time in the Attwood household.  Edward Arterbury would likely have completed his apprenticeship at St. Saviour on 28Apr1728.  Edward was married to Martha Varrell on 5Sep1728 at Fleet Prison, but indicated his place of residence as St. Paul’s, Shadwell.

It is probable that William Arterbury continued to live with his mother, Elizabeth Young in St. Lawrence, Pountney, Parish until after Jul1726, which was the last time Elizabeth appeared in the tax records of Dowgate Ward.  Until only recently the whereabouts of Elizabeth Young Arterbury after 1726 was unknown to the author.  Initially the author hypothesized that Elizabeth may have remarried, or perhaps moved back across the Thames to Southwark to be nearer to members of her family.  It was not until the morning of 29Sep2014 that the author stumbled upon two burial records dated 15Jan1747 for an Elizabeth Atterbury, almost certainly the widow of Edward Arterbury summarized as follows:

  1. 15Jan1747, St. Mary Abchurch, London, Elizabeth Atterbury, Pensioner, was buried.
  2. 15Jan1747, St. Mary, Newington, Southwark, Surrey, Elizabeth Atterbury was buried.

It seems highly probable that these burial records were for the same person, namely Elizabeth Atterbury, widow of Edward Arterbury (mason) and mother of William Atterbury, American immigrant.  There are several facts associated with these records that connect with Elizabeth Young Atterbury, widow of Edward Arterbury:

  1. Edward Arterbury (mason) was recorded as being buried at St. Lawrence Pountney on 23Nov1722.  St. Lawrence Pountney Church was burned in the Great Fire of 1666 and never rebuilt.  The Parish of St. Lawrence Pountney was subsumed by the nearby Parish of St. Mary Abchurch.  Given that the St. Lawrence Pountney church did not exist in Nov1722, it seems highly likely that Edward Arterbury was actually buried at St. Mary Abchurch.
  2. The fact that the one burial record for Elizabeth Atterbury indicates that she was also buried at St. Mary Abchurch is strong evidence of her having been the widow of Edward Arterbury.
  3. The fact that Elizabeth Arterbury was recorded as a pensioner is further suggestion of Edward Arterbury’s widow, as Edward very likely worked for Bridge House Estate and very likely received a pension for that employment.
  4. The fact that the second burial record for Elizabeth Atterbury was from St. Mary Newington would indicate that she had in fact moved back across the Thames to Southwark around 1726/7 where she very likely resided until her death.

Elizabeth’s father, William Young, is believed to have died on 7Nov1701 in Christ Church Parish.  William Young was a Waterman, and his father, John Young, is also believed to have been a Waterman.  It seems probable to the author that Edward Arterbury Jr. and William Arterbury were apprenticed as Watermen due to the influence of their mother’s kinsmen.  There has been a longstanding tradition within the history of Thames Watermen, for the trade to be passed down through successive generations.

A curious oddity emerged from the research into the Arthurbury family of Surrey County.  The earliest assumed member of this family, William Arthurburie of Mortlake, was a Waterman.  In a muster roll of the entire population of Thames Watermen compiled in Feb1628/9 is listed the name of William Atterbury, aged 40 years of Mortlake.  It seems doubtful that the occupation of the family partriarch would have been known three generations later, but a curious fact, nonetheless.  However, it cannot be ruled out that Edward Arterbury may have had first-hand knowledge of his grandfather’s occupation as a waterman, since Edward was 14 years old when his grandfather died at Morden in 1698.  Edward may have grown up hearing stories directly from William Arthurbury, the long-lived patriarch of this family.

Living in both St. Saviour and Christ Church Parishes in the early part of the 18th century were several male Youngs, who were members of the Watermen Company.  The author was unable to trace the ancestry of these Young watermen, but it seems highly probable that one or more of them were ancestors of Elizabeth Young.  Whether the kinship of these Youngs was close enough for Elizabeth to have been able to call upon them for assistance after her husband, Edward Arterbury Sr., died cannot be known with certainty.  Unfortunately, the extant binding or indenture documents maintained by the Company of Watermen and Lightermen do not contain the name of the apprentice’s parent or sponsor. 

What we do know with certainty is that William Arterbury, Immigrant, was apprenticed on 31Jul1727 to Master Waterman, John Filce, at St. Saviour.  By the author’s calculation and reckoning, William Arterbury would have just reached his 16th birthday, having been christened on 15Jul1711.  The earliest records that could be located for a John Filce were a christening record and two apprenticeship records listed as follows:

  1. 10May1705 John Filce was christened at Christ Church Parish, Surrey, son of John Filce, Waterman, and Ann, his wife.
  2. 8Aug1712 William Farmer was bound to John Filce from Christ Church Parish, Master Waterman.
  3. 8May1714 William Clifford was bound to John Filce from Paul’s Wharf, Master Waterman.

The foregoing records almost certainly pertained to one person, a waterman from Christ Church Parish named John Filce.  Based on further records abstracted hereinafter, it seems probable that William Arterbury’s master may have been John Filce Sr. named in Items 1 thru 3, above:

  1. 17Dec1724 John Filce, bachelor and Mariner of Christ Church Parish, Surrey, married Mary Rogers, spinster of St. Magnus Parish at Fleet Prison. This almost certainly was the marriage of John Filce Jr., who was recorded as christened in Item 1, above.
  2. 3Feb1724/5 John Filce Jr wrote his LWT while serving aboard the Good Ship Grantham on a cruise bound for the East Indies in which he named his father and mother, John and Ann Filce, as beneficiaries.  This LWT was proven on 5Jan1736/7 by the witness of John and Ann Filce, Executors. This clearly was the LWT of John Filce Jr.  He would have been 19-1/2 years old when he wrote this Will, and appears to have been in the merchant marines.  It is possible that he may have been apprenticed as a waterman before signing aboard a merchant ship, but no record was found for such an apprenticeship.  His father and mother were named sole beneficiaries and executors.  There was no mention of a wife, even though it would appear that he had married Mary Rogers less than three months earlier.  John Filce Sr. and Ann, his wife, were still alive when the Will was proven in Jan1737.

These records would appear to have pertained to John Filce Jr., who was christened in Item 1, above.  From the LWT of John Filce Jr. it is learned that he named his mother and father as his sole beneficiaries, and as the executors of his estate.  There was no mention of a wife, but it seems probable that the marriage record between John Filce, Mariner, and Mary Rogers was for John Filce Jr.  Although the occupation of mariner and waterman appear to have been frequently used interchangably during this period, there was no record found to suggest that John Filce Jr. ever worked as a waterman.  From the LWT of John Filce Jr. it is known that both John Filce Sr. and his wife, Ann, were still living in Jan1737.  Therefore, the author is inclined to believe that John Filce Sr was William Arterbury ‘s master. 

Both Edward Arterbury Jr. and William Arterbury were identified in their apprenticeship indentures as being apprenticed at St. Saviour.  Edmund Attwood, Edward Arterbury’s master, appears to have lived in St. Saviour, whereas John Filce, William Arterbury’s master apprears to have lived in Christ Church Parish.  Since William Arterbury described himself in both of his marriage records as having been of Christ Church Parish, it is reasonable to assume that William Arterbury probably lived with the John Filce family in Christ Church Parish during at least the early part of his apprenticeship.  The typical waterman apprentice was bound for a period of seven years, but there is evidence of bindings of shorter duration.  If William Arterbury’s binding had been for a seven year period, he could not have completed his apprenticeship until after 31Jul1734.  There is no record of either Edward Arterbury Jr. or William Arterbury having completed their apprenticeships.  This is consistent with William Arterbury, Waterman, having been William, the Immigrant, who was transported to Maryland in Mar1734.  Since William Arterbury’s first marriage occurred on 16Feb1731/2 when William would have been only 20 and one-half years old, and since apprenticeship bindings discouraged fornication or marriage during the apprenticeship, it is suggestive of William’s apprenticeship having been of a shorter duration or that he failed to complete his apprenticeship.  Since William twice reported himself in his marriage records as either a mariner or waterman, it seems probable that his apprenticeship may have been for only four years, or that he may have taken liberties in listing his occupation.

In order to develop a better understanding of the young William Arterbury, it will be helpful to become more familiar with the history of the Watermen Company and the general nature of the profession.  The term “Watermen” as used in the context of this study is applied to those persons whose main occupation was the transport of persons across or along the Thames River in the waters between Windsor and Gravesend.  Since the London Bridge was the only structure crossing the Thames River in that section of waters prior to the 1750’s, the service provided by Watermen was of vital importance to the economic, commercial and cultural growth of the region.  The main mode of human transport on the Thames in the 17th and 18th centuries was via a small craft known variously as a “wherry” or “sculler”.  There were generally two models of wherrys, a two-man craft as shown in Figure 5-2 of about 22.5 feet in length and a smaller, one-man (or woman) craft as illustrated in Figure 5-3.  Watermen were responsible for supplying the watercraft and implements (oars or sculls), and the manpower to safely load, transport and unload their human cargo.

The waterman trade grew out of necessity, generally described as follow:

“The watermen were the taxi-drivers of olden times.  Their services were of great importance for the transportation of passengers in London and the Thames Valley area, both along and across the Thames.  The poor development of the rural roads (they were often no more than a cart track) and the narrow, congested streets of the capital meant that the Thames was the most convenient highway in the region.  And until the mid 18th century, London Bridge was the only one across the river below Kingston.  Many rivers were arteries of trade.  But the Thames was unusual in that it was also a major highway for passenger traffic.  Its placid nature, and tidal character as far upstream as Teddington, made it an ideal, and often an effortless, conveyor for travellers.  Even in Britain the Thames was almost unique as a passenger highway.  All classes of people availed themselves of its convenience, and many of the foremost institutions (Parliament and the royal palaces for example) were built upon its banks…”[10]

The social class, character, and organizational structure of watermen is generally described in the following abstracts:

“In London, as in other cities and towns, the wealthy elite of merchants monopolized the municipal government.  Below them, the City’s population was divided into the masses of the middle ranks of craftsmen and traders, and the poorer sort of transport workers, building labourers and other menial occupations. The watermen themselves were usually classed among the poorer sort.  But it should be noted that there was a certain amount of skill to the watermen’s trade (watermen were required to have two years’ rowing experience before being allowed to take charge of a wherry), and that the watermen had a gild-like structure, with a master-apprentice system, imitative of the gilds of the middle sort.  The watermen can be regarded as either the bottom rank of the ‘middle sort’ of London or as the elite of the ‘poorer sort’.”

“It was a tough and independent life the watermen led, and also a poor one.  Their character was correspondingly rude and unruly.  All the legislation directed against this characteristic failed to stamp it out.  Their lack of courtesy towards their customers was contrasted with the polite behaviour of other tradesmen.  Nothing but a ‘great frost’ (i.e. a freeze-up of the river) could teach the waterman good manners, it was said.  One writer spoke of gentlemen being baited by ‘whole kennels of yelping watermen’ at Westminster stairs, ‘who are ready to tear them to pieces to have two pence rowed out of your purse’.  But this description also illustrates the poverty of, and desperate economic competition amongst, the watermen.  They were also renowned for their ready wit and riposte.  Nobody got the last retort over a waterman, it was said.”

“The Company [of Watermen] was founded by an Act of Parliament of 1555.  The Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London were thenceforth required annually to choose eight watermen to be rulers of the rest.  The rulers were to maintain order and regulation amongst the watermen.  A strict specialization of river trades was enforced.  Only members of the Company of Thames Watermen were permitted to carry passengers on the river, and these watermen were not allowed to transport cargo (apart from a reasonable amount of passenger luggage).”

“The watermen worked mainly in small boats.  The classic craft was the wherry, a swift, agile sharp-bowed boat (‘wherrymen’ was another name for watermen).  This was of a standard length of 22½ feet, and could take up to five passengers.  Normally a wherry was rowed by two men with long oars.  But for cross-river passages and other short journeys it would be manned by a single waterman using short oars or ‘sculls’; it was then known as a ‘sculler’.  Clusters of wherries were on hire at the plying places along the Thames.”

The places where boats were available for public hire were known as ‘stairs’ or ‘pairs of stairs’.  There were also private stairs for the use of, for example, Parliament at Westminster or the City of London gilds.  These stairs were often literally a flight of steps leading down to a wooden jetty which protruded into the river, where the boats would be moored.  Here the watermen would ply their trade, often vociferously and very persuasively — competition among them could evidently be intense.  It was evidently the policy of the Watermen’s Company to assign watermen to particular pairs of stairs as their workbase.  This would have aided in the supervision of the watermen, a long-running requirement for this unruly body of river workers.  City regulations of 1634 laid down that watermen should be at their plying places by 5 o’clock in summer, 7 in winter.[11]

Figure 5-4 provides an image of a waterman plying his trade.  This picture may be presumed to aptly illustrate the watercraft at a typical plying place or “stair”.  As seen in this image, the elongated prow of the wherry was well suited for boarding and off-loading passengers at these somewhat crude and seemingly makeship docks or piers.  The extended prow of a wherry was designed to permit its passengers to board and debark without stepping into the water.  Although designated landings complete with stairs were constructed at strategic points along both sides of the Thames, the tidal actions and seasonal changes in the river’s flow undoubtedly created constantly varying conditions requiring the utmost care not to dampen or soil the passengers footware and wearing apparel. 

As stated earlier, the Waterman Company, through various Acts of Parliament, was authorized to regulate all facets of the Waterman trade.  A listing of some of the more pertinent rules adopted by the Waterman Company prior to 1732 are listed as follows:

  1. Freedom in the Company of Watermen was generally allowed only by completion of an apprenticeship under a bond with a qualified (licensed) Watermen for a period of seven years.
  2. The minimum age for an apprentice was 18 years, except for a waterman’s son, who could become an apprentice at age 16 years.  However, this rule may have been misinterpreted, as the rules adopted in 1729 stated that no apprentice would be permitted to independently operate a boat before the age of 16 for the son of a Waterman, or 17 years for the son of a Landman (non-waterman).  This is an important distinction as it does not specify a minimum age for an apprentice, rather a minimum age for independently operating a vessel.
  3. Apprentices generally lived with their master and assisted in his trade.
  4. Apprentices were not allowed to marry, gamble, use profain language or consume alcoholic beverages.  However, it should be noted that the restriction on the marriage of an apprentice was only enacted in the rules adopted by the Company on 1Nov1732.[12]  Further, that this rule was not an absolute banning of marriage by an apprentice, rather an intended deterent by the imposition of a ₤10 fine in the event of such a marriage.
  5. An apprentice could row a boat after one year of training only in the presence of another qualified waterman, and, after two years could independently take charge of a boat on his own merit, only after attaining the minimum required age.
  6. Watercarft and Watermen were required to be licensed.
  7. Watermen were among the first to be impressed into the Royal Navy in times of national need.
  8. Forbidden to ply their trade on the Sabbath.
  9. Fees, fares and fines were set by the Governing Board.

Within the foregoing listed rules of the Watermen Company are a couple of rules to which Edward Arterbury Jr. and William Arterbury did not appear to fully comport.  For example, the age at which Edward Arterbury Jr. was apprenticed (13 years and one month) seems to belie the notion of there having been any set minimum age, other than that set for the independent operation of a boat or vessel.  Further, the notion of there having been a prohibition of marriage during an apprenticeship apparently did not deter William Arterbury, who appears to have married twice while still within the term of his seven-year apprenticeship.  Also note that the rule explicitly prohibiting marriage was not adopted until after the date of William’s second marriage.

It has been stated in several publications on the operations of the Watermen Company that its members’ places of plying (i.e., stairs, docks, municipal jurisdictions) were set by the Company.  Yet, nothing could be found in the “Constitutions” of the Company which appeared to regulate the Waterman’s place of business.  Given that there were more than 2,000 watermen at any given time, and likely more than 1,500 water craft, it seems logical that there would need to be some form of regulation as to the landings from which a waterman might be permitted to work.

Following are the lists of known stairs on both banks of the river Thames above London Bridge:

On the London side of the river, going up stream. the following stairs came in order : The Old Swan, Coleharbour, The Steel Yard, Dowgate, Three Cranes, Queenhithe, Trig, Paul’s Wharf, Common Stairs, or Puddle Dock, Black Friars, Dorset, White Friars, Temple, Essex, Arundel, Surrey, Strand, Somerset, Savoy, Worcester, Salisbury, Ivybridge, Exchange, York, Black Lion, Hungerford, Whitehall, Privy Garden, Manchester, Westminster Bridge, Parliament, Horse Ferry, Ranelagh, Hospital, Bishop, Old Magpie, Feathers, Old Church, Beaufort.

Crossing over to the Surrey side above bridge: Pepper Alley, St. Saviour’s, Bank End, Horseshoe Alley, New Thames Street, Mold Strand, Falcon, Paris Garden, Marygold, Bull, Old Barge House, Morris’s Causeway, Cupid’s or Cuper’s, King’s Arms, Stangate, Lambeth Palace, Horse Ferry, Vauxhall.

It seems probable that, during the course of their apprenticeships, Edward Arterbury Jr. and William Arterbury would have operated from stairs along the south bank and upstream of London Bridge between St. Saviour and Paris Garden Stairs.  It also seems probable that their cross-river destinations would most frequently have included the stairs between Paul’s Wharf and Black Friars Stairs.

The following excerpts provide a glimpse into the character, working conditions and daily life of a Thames Waterman:

“The character of the Thames watermen in the last century was what might have been expected from slightly-informed, or uninformed, and unprosperous men. They were hospitable and hearty one to another, and to their neighbours on shore; civil to such fares as were civil to them, especially if they hoped for an extra sixpence; but often saucy, abusive, and even sarcastic. Their interchange of abuse with one another, as they rode on the Thames, down to the commencement of the present century, if not later, was remarkable for its slang.[13]

Near the stairs below bridge the watermen stand looking out for customers, or they sit on an adjacent form, protected from the weather, some smoking and some dozing. They are weather-beaten, strong-looking men, and most of them are of, or above, the middle age. Those who are not privileged work in the same way as the privileged, wear all kinds of dresses, but generally something in the nature of a sailor’s garb, such as a strong pilot-jacket and thin canvas trousers. The present race of watermen have, I am assured, lost the sauciness (with occasional smartness) that distinguished their predecessors. They are mostly patient, plodding men, enduring poverty heroically, and shrinking far more than many other classes from any application for parish relief.”

“There is not a more independent lot that way in London,” said a waterman to me, “and God knows it isn’t for want of all the claims which being poor can give us, that we don’t apply to the workhouse.” Some, however, are obliged to spend their old age, when incapable of labour, in the union. Half or more than one-half of the Thames watermen, I am credibly informed, can read and write. They used to drink quantities of beer, but now, from the stress of altered circumstances, they are generally temperate men. The watermen are nearly all married, and have families. Some of their wives work for the slop-tailors [“slop” being the vernacular for the waterman’s britches].  They all reside in the small streets near the river, usually in single rooms, rented at from 1s. 6d. to 2s. a-week. At least three-fourths of the watermen have apprentices, and they nearly all are sons or relatives of the watermen. For this I heard two reasons assigned. One was, that lads whose childhood was passed among boats and on the water contracted a taste for a waterman’s life, and were unwilling to be apprenticed to any other calling. The other reason was, that the poverty of the watermen compelled them to bring up their sons in this manner, as the readiest mode of giving them a trade; and many thus apprenticed become seamen in the merchant service, and occasionally in the royal navy, or get employment as working-lightermen, or on board the river steamers.”

At each stairs there is what is called a “turnway and causeway club,” to which the men contribute each 2s. per quarter. One of the regulations of these clubs is, that the oldest men have the first turn on Monday, and the next oldest on Tuesday, and so on, through the several days of the week, until Saturday, which is the apprentices’ day.

The records show that an inordinately high per capita number of watermen lived in the Bankside area of Southwark with the highest concentrations in the Clink and Paris Garden liberties.  There are numerous reasons given for this high concentration of watermen in Southwark; the main agruments being that the cost of living was lower than across the river in London, there were many entertainment attractions in Bankside, and Bankside was outside the governance of London and free of impressment into the militia.  By the rules of their charter, Watermen were already subject to impressment into the navy during times of national need, and would likely prefer to not have the further burden of militia service hanging over their heads.  As for entertainment attractions on Bankside, these venues seem to have peaked in the early 1600’s and to be on the wane by the turn of the 18th century.

Lambeth, Bankside and Newington were the sites of a variety of entertainments which endured for more than two centuries and attracted large crowds of Londoners across the river to Surrey.  Perhaps the earliest of these attractions were the bear and bull-baiting arenas located in the liberties of Paris Garden and the Clink.  These arenas date from the time of Henry VIII [1530’s], who was a great fan of these blood sports, and continued in popularity into the 19th century.  Ralph Agas’ map of London dated about 1560 shows the existence of both the bear and bull-baiting arenas as illustrated in Figure 5-5.  These arenas are described by John Stow in his 1598 A Survey of London, updated by John Strype in 1720 in a work entitled A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster.  These arenas were situated near the Thames south embankment, downstrean of Paris Garden Manor and were reported to have accommodated upwards of 1,000 persons.  Refer to Figure 5-6 for an illustration of a typical bear and bull-baiting venue.

Another long-standing attraction within the Bankside area was its brothels which dated from before the Norman Conquest.  Over the centuries there were attempts to curb prostitution in Southwark, but each attempt succeeded only in changing its mode of operation.  For example, when Henry VIII issued an interdiction curbing the operations of “stew” houses in Bankside in 1546, it seems that the bawdyhouse operation simply shifted from a Brothel offering food and drink to an Inn offering prostitution as a sideline.  From many accounts, it appears that prostitution continued to be an important form of entertainment in Bankside into the 18th century.  One item of evidence that prostitution continued in Bankside was the emergence of the luxury brothel known as Holland’s Leaguer in Paris Garden Manor in early-17th century.

The next significant trend in the growing industries associated with entertainment in Southwark was the development of theaters in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.  Because of a prohibition against theaters within London in the latter half of the 16th century, developers turned toward the suburb of Shoreditch and the liberties of Southwark, which were less restrictive and more accommodating.  The earliest known theater in Bankside was The Rose, which was constructed in 1587 by two South London businessmen, Philip Henslowe and John Cholmley.  Over the next 20 years three more theaters were erected, including The Globe, The Hope and The Swan.  Each theatrical venue had an accompanying repertory company, which performed a wide variety of Elizabethan plays.  Perhaps the most noted of these theaters today was The Globe which was associated with William Shakespeare’s repertory, and which presented performances of many of Shakespeare’s plays.  Active operation of some of these playhouses continued into the mid-17th century.

The Hope was developed by Philip Henslowe, the former owner of The Rose, in 1613 on the site of the old Bear Garden arena in Bankside.  Its scale and design were unique for the period.  It is reputed to have had seating to accommodate an audience of about 3,000 patrons, and had dual purpose: both for theatrical productions as well as the blood sports of bear and bull-baiting.  The stage was removable to accommodate the animal baiting, and its accompanying structures included facilities for housing the animals when not performing.  Construction of The Hope overlapped with the rebuilding of the nearby Globe Theater, which had burned down the previous year.  The Globe, Hope and Swan theaters were in relatively close proximity to one another and must have vigorously competed for their market share.  There is also evidence that these theaters competed for the repertory companies, which performed upon their stages.

The Swan was constructed by Francis Langley, the owner of Paris Garden Manor and a London Goldsmith, in about 1595.  The Swan was situated about 100 yards south of Paris Garden Stairs in the northeast corner of Paris Garden Manor.  Langley undoubtedly invisioned The Swan as a serious competitor for the business of the nearby Rose and Globe theaters, but appears to have encountered early legal problems described as follows:

“The Swan was located in St. Saviour’s Parish, at the western end of the Bankside, in the Liberty and Manor of Paris Gardens.  …Francis Langley might have seen, from Paris Gardens Manor, the Rose’s customers arriving at Paris Garden stairs, and enjoying refreshments at the nearby Falcon Inn before walking to the theatre. Perhaps Langley decided to build the Swan near these landmarks in order to divert the Rose’s crowds, because the location was otherwise an awkward one—near the mill pond, and only a short distance, about a hundred yards, or ninety-two meters, from the manor itself. The neighbourhood was mostly residential: the theatre was not far from numerous, recently developed tenements on the manor lands, the manor house itself, and its attached meadows and pastures. The Swan was near enough to the Rose to be a source of serious competition, and not far from bull-baiting sites and the Bear Gardens.”

“The Swan’s lifetime was not uneventful. In 1597, a performance of The Isle of Dogs that was probably at the Swan may have led to a Council order to stop all plays near London. Gabriel Spencer, Robert Shaa, and Ben Jonson, who were all part of the Earl of Pembroke’s Men, then playing in the Swan, were arrested in August 1597 in connection with the performance of The Isle of Dogs. Reports about the play are unclear; its authors and performers must have considered it safe to write and perform, but apparently the government disagreed.  It is generally accepted that a 28 July performance at the Swan led to the injunction against plays on the same date. Unfortunately, the play is lost, so it is impossible to know how seditious it really was. The three arrested players were released on 3 October 1597. Performances began again at the Rose on 11 October.”

“By that date, several of the players who had formerly been at the Swan had transferred their loyalty to the Rose. Since the entire Pembroke company had been bonded to Langley to play nowhere but at the Swan for a year, this move led to an exchange of legal volleys between Langley and the departed players when the latter filed for protection against Langley’s attempts to obtain financial compensation for his loss. Part of the players’ defence was their objection that the Swan lacked a licence. It is unclear why Langley was unable to acquire a licence in the fall of 1597, but if indeed The Isle of Dogs was the cause of the summer injunction, perhaps the two facts are related…  Those of the Earl of Pembroke’s Men who had not moved to the Rose continued to play at the Swan, licensed or not, in the fall of 1597…”[14]

The other important attraction to be situated on the south bank of the river Thames during this time period was the Vauxhall Gardens (New Spring Gardens) in nearby Lambeth Parish about two miles upstream from Paris Garden Manor.  The attractions offered at Vauxhall Gardens are described in the following extract:

“Samuel Pepys records two dozen separate visits to the New Spring Gardens, Vaux-hall in his diary, the first on 29th May 1662, and it is from Pepys that we learn that Restoration Vauxhall was a relatively simple affair, little more than a popular country ale-house with a garden, approached by boat across the river Thames. It had walks, flowerbeds and arbours; the refreshments were basic and were often supplemented by visitors’ own picnics, and the entertainments, such as they were, appear to have been generated by freelance performers or by the visitors themselves. It was a place where a citizen could, with all decorum, take his wife and young servants or children, and enjoy an evening out with food, drink and informal entertainment in the setting of a large garden, an activity previously the privilege of royalty, courtiers and aristocrats. However, its main attraction was that it was a place where the sexes could meet freely, without many of the constraints that normally circumscribed the tricky process of socialising between young men and young women in polite society.”

“The popularity of the gardens and their informality made them an ideal place of business for the working girls of London. The shameless familiarity of the native prostitutes upset Sir Roger de Coverley in Joseph Addison’s famous article in The Spectator, No 383, of Tuesday 20th May 1712; in the midst of pleasant musings brought on by the moonlight and the song of the nightingales, he was rudely tapped on the shoulder by a masked woman who asked him to join her in a bottle of mead. He told her “She was a wanton Baggage, and bid her go about her Business.” Having concluded their walk with a glass of Burton ale and a slice of hung beef, Sir Roger and Mr. Spectator left the garden, Sir Roger commenting to the Mistress of the House that he would be a better customer of her garden “if there were more Nightingales, and fewer Strumpets.””[15]

The attractions of Vauxhall Gardens have been immortalized in numerous literary works, including Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, the Foundling.  It was at Vauxhall Gardens that Tom Jones became acquainted with Lady Bellason, the debauched relation of Miss Sophia Western, Tom’s childhood sweetheart and love of his life.  It was also Vauxhall Gardens to which Captain Tom Pascoe took his new girlfriend, Nurse Peggy Tompkins, for a leisurely Sunday outing in Patrick Easter’s The Watermen.  The author can commend The Watermen to anyone wishing to gain a better insight into the daily life of a Thames Waterman in the late-18th century.  At the height of its popularity among Londoner’s in early 18th century, Vauxhall Gardens was receiving as many as 5,000 visitors on any given weekend.  The primary mode of transport to Vauxhall Gardens would have been by wherry, many of which likely orginated from Paris Garden Manor.

It was these many and varying forms and venues of entertainment which greatly contributed to the cross-river boat traffic between London and Bankside in the 16th thru 18th centuries.  Although many of these sources of entertainment had either waned or completely disappeared from Bankside by the start of the 18th century when Edward Arterbury Jr. and William Arterbury were serving their waterman apprenticeships, the attraction of watermen’s families to Bankside had long been established.  The remainder of this chapter will explore the socio-economic structure of Bankside life in the 17th and early 18th centuries in order to provide a better understanding of the influences on William Arterbury, which may have led him to commit the theft of another person’s property.

Development within Paris Garden Manor at the turn of the 17th century was limited primarily to tenements and a very few businesses constructed on the high ground adjacent to the river as illustrated in Figure 5-7.  This 1627 plan of Paris Garden Manor of unknown attribution provides a fairly accurate scaled layout of this ancient liberty, including the names of many of its residents and their location on the high ground.  This particular plate was copied from a publication entitled The Accounts of the Overseers of the Poor of Paris Garden, Southwark, 17May1608 to 30Sep1671, by Philip Norman.  This plan is extraordinary in that it captured the names of residents and geographic layout of Paris Garden at a time when there were very few records from which to obtain such information. 

Shown on this map are the approximate location of the old Swan nearby to the Manor House, and the location of the old chapel, which later became the site of the future Christ Church Parish church in the 1670’s.  A review of the records contained in the “Overseers of the Poor” account books discloses a record very similar to a parish church vestry account book.  The overseers were undoubtedly selected from the community by the presiding lord of the manor, and in fact several of the overseers’ names correspond with some of the names of tenants that appeared on the 1627 Paris Garden Manor plan.  None of the names that appeared in this record were found to correspond with any of the family names thus far connected with this study of William Arterbury.  These account book records span a period of almost 65 years, and overlap with the time period in which members of the John Young family are believed to have lived in Paris Garden Manor, but no references were found in the record for anyone named Young.

Dr. Jeremy Boulton, PhD. compiled a study entitled Neighborhood and Society, A London Suburb in the Seventeenth Century, 1987, that is directly relevant to this study of the socio-economic life in Paris Garden Manor.  In this study Dr. Boulton specifically analyzed the population history of St. Saviour’s Parish, including a reconstruction of the socio-economic lives of the residents of Boroughside as contrasted to the liberties of the Clink and Paris Garden.  For clarification of the data presented in Dr. Boulton’s study, a map was included on pages 10-11 which delineated the geographic areas referenced in the study.  In the main, the study evaluated relative socio-economic conditions in Southwark.  In the above referenced map Southwark was further delineated into six primary zones (parishes): Boroughside, St. Thomas, St. Olaves, St. Georges, the Clink, and Paris Garden Manor.  Although the principal time period studied by Dr. Boulton spans mainly the late-16th and early-17th centuries, his findings and conclusions are considered to be generally relevant and applicable to the early-18th century when Edward Arterbury Jr. and William Arterbury are presumed to have lived in St. Saviour. 

Dr. Boulton’s study was primarily focused on the district known as Boroughside, which was situated immediately at the south end of London Bridge and extended southwestward along the High Street.  Initial findings were that very few watermen lived in Boroughside, and that the majority of Boroughside residents were connected with the food and beverage industry.  It was also concluded that the economic status of Boroughside residents was generally lower than most London parishes, but higher than the neighboring parishes within Southwark.  Dr. Boulton’s study compiled the relative concentrations of various categories of occupational groups in that part of Southwark nearest the river in about 1620 as presented in Table 5-1.

Although the data presented in Table 5-1 is from varying time periods and varying record sources (i.e., baptisms vs. burials), it is quite useful for demonstrating the significant variances in the occupational groups from the Liberties versus Boroughside versus St. Olave’s.   The relative percentages of occupational groups clearly demonstrate a higher per capita concentration of food and beverage occupations in Boroughside, a higher concentration of unskilled labours (including watermen) in the Liberties, and a higher concentration of textile workers (mainly felt hat makers) in St. Olave’s.  There is also a higher concentration (albeit relatively small in numbers) of the building trades in St. Olave’s, probably attributed to Bridge House Estate.  This table also shows a relatively homogeneous mix of many of the other occupations throughout all three main areas addressed in this data.

Dr. Boulton also concluded that there was no absolute correlation between the accumulation of wealth and any specific occupational group.  However, Boulton and other researchers have ranked various occupations by broad socio-ecomonic groupings as follows:

  • Highest Rank – Merchants: overseas traders, importers and distributors, and shopkeepers and retailers.
  • Middle Rank – Craftsmen: goldsmiths, haberdashers, tailors, skinners, etc.
  • Lowest Rank – Labourers and Hirelings: porters, watermen, carmen, etc.

There is a high level of subjectivity and generality in this socio-economic heirarchy, but there is sufficient emperical data as to give a foundation for such presumed distribution of wealth among these broad categories of occupation, commerce and industry.  As suggested by this crude heirarchical structure, watermen were considered to be among the laboring class, and therefore within the lowest social and economic rank.  As contrasted with Boroughside, the liberties of the Clink and Paris Garden had far lesser numbers of merchants and craftsmen, and far greater numbers of laborers or hirelings.  In fact, Dr. Boulton’s research found that Paris Garden did not have one butcher or cheesemonger among its residents in the early 17th century. 

Watermen, mariners and seamen were by far the largest occupational group in residence in both the Clink and Paris Gardens.  Even though early 17th century descriptions of Paris Garden Manor indicate the existence of less than 100 tenements, the 1629 muster of Watermen showed the presence of 347 watermen in the area described as St. Saviours Upper Ground (Paris Garden) as contrasted to 359 in the remainder of St. Saviours, which included both the Clink and Boroughside.  According to Dr. Boulton’s study Boroughside had less than 20 watermen during this time period, consequently, the large majority of the St. Saviours watermen outside of Paris Garden would have been from the Clink liberty.  Other areas nearby to St. Saviours reported watermen in 1629 as follows: Lambeth 176, St. Olaves 46, Battle Bridge 25, and Horsey Downe 100.  With a total of approximately 2,450 watermen in the entire Port of London area[16], St. Saviours Parish was the home of almost 29% of those watermen.  Given the breadth and scope of the Thames Waterman territory, this was an extraordinarily high number of watermen concentrated in St. Saviours Parish.

Dr. Boulton performed a rudimentary socio-economic analysis of the Paris Garden Manor watermen by studying the ages at which these watermen attained the status of “householder”.  This study compared the names and ages of watermen from the March 1629 muster to the householders recorded for those same individuals in the parish token books.[17]  Boulton found that in 1629 there were a total of 484 male householders listed in the token books for the Paris Garden area of which 188 were known to be watermen (38.8% of all householders).  Boulton then stratified these watermen householders by age group in order to derive the distribution of watermen by the age grouping at which they had become householders as illustrated in Table 5-2.  From this tabulated data of watermen householders in Paris Garden in about 1630 it is shown that of the 132 watermen below the age of 25 only 9 (6.8%) were householders.  This data also shows that 100% of watermen over the age of 45 had become householders.  This data further showed a significant bulge in the number of watermen in their eary-20’s at 112, followed by only 52 in their late-20’s, suggesting an attrition rate of almost 53.5% during apprenticeship.

In the context of the St. Saviours token books, a “householder” or “head of household” generally denoted a person who had attained a certain minimal socio-economic status, i.e., they either were freeholders or renters of a dwelling house.  In order to place Dr. Boulton’s study of Paris Garden watermen into some sort of socio-economic framework, it is important to understand the proper context and meaning of the word “householder” as used in Boulton’s study.  A person identified as the “householder” was inherently distinguished from all other persons associated with a given household.  The head of a household (householder) would likely have been the principle income earner and keeper of the household purse, as well as its civic and religious leader and principal decision maker.  Residential buildings were specifically identified and classified for taxation purposes, in much the same manner as in 21st century America.  In the 17th century the royal governement even went so far as to devise a progressive tax structure based on the number of hearths within a household, on the premise that a greater number of hearths reflected an increased level of wealth within the household, and therefore a higher rate of taxation.  During this time period most householders would have been renters, oftentimes with the household income being supplemented by the subletting of room and board to lodgers.

In 17th and 18th century St. Saviours Parish the purpose behind the cyclical sale of sacramental tokens was twofold: (1) as an inducement for parishoners to attend church services, and (2) as a source of revenue to support the poor of the parish.  The token books oftentimes captured the names of all the persons above the age of 15 years within a given household, but most of those persons were not considered the head of that household.  The population of persons within a household, who were not the head of the household, might include a spouse, children, servants, apprentices, boarders, or other kinsmen.  Thusly, it can be seen that attainment of the status as head of household was an important socio-economic milestone in the continuum of a person’s life.  The fact that 44 of the watermen of Paris Garden between the age of 25 and 45 were not listed as householders is indicative of a relatively large number that had not yet attained this minimal socio-economic status.  This suggests that a relatively high percentage (about 12.3%) of Paris Garden watermen were still substantially dependent on someone else for their household needs well past the middle years of their life.  But it should not go unnoticed that 100% of watermen past the age of 45 were heads of their own household, suggesting that, if they perservered in their trade, watermen could attain this minimal level of social respectability.

In Dr. Boulton’s study other means beyond occupational stratification were utilized for measuring the distribution of wealth of St. Saviours’ residents.  The chiefest of these was the comparison of those paying either a poor tax or subsidy tax, versus those receiving poor relief.  Before presenting the details of Dr. Boulton’s findings as regards the distribution of wealth within St. Saviour’s parish, it should be noted that there was a great deal of subjectivity inherent in such evaluation.  As in the case of the three-tiered occupational groupings presented herein above, studies of wealth distribution also generally rely on similar broad-based catgories fitted to a pyramid construct with the “wealthy” few at the top, a larger group of “comfortably well off” in the middle, and the large majority of “poor” at the bottom.  Typically, those capable of paying taxes fall within the upper two tiers and those unable to pay taxes fall into the bottom tier.  Similarly, those receiving “poor rate” payments all fall within the bottom tier.  Boulton points out that labling all non-taxpayers as “poor” may be a gross exaggeration.

From the foregoing discussion on the socio-economic standing of the waterman, it seems clear that their’s would have been a poor lot, with little hope or opportunity to ever better themselves.  This meager existence, bordering on virtual poverty is apparent in the following real-life account of a mid-19th century Thames Waterman:

“I have been a waterman eight-and-twenty years.  I served my seven years duly and truly to my father.  I had nothing but my keep and clothes, and that’s the regular custom.  We must serve seven years to be free of the river. It’s the same now in our apprenticeship.  No pay; and some masters will neither wash, nor clothe, nor mend a boy: and all that ought to be done by the master, by rights.  Times and masters is harder than ever.  After my time was out I went to sea, and was pretty lucky in my voyages.  I was at sea in the merchant service five years.  When I came back I bought a boat.  My father helped me to start as a waterman on the Thames.  The boat cost me twenty guineas, it would carry eight fares.  It cost 2£ 15s. to be made an apprentice, and about 1l£ to have a license to start for myself.  In my father’s time—from what I know when I was his apprentice, and what I’ve heard him say—a waterman’s was a jolly life.  He earned 10s. to 18s. a-day, and spent it accordingly.  When I first started for myself, twenty-eight years ago, I made 12s. to 14s. a-day, more than I make in a week now, but that was before steamers.  Many of us watermen saved money then, but now we’re starving.  These good times lasted for me nine or ten years, and in the middle of the good times I got married.  I was justified, my earnings was good.  But steamers came in, and we were wrecked.  I make from 10s. to 12s. a-week, and that’s all my wife and me has to live on.  I’ve no children—thank the Lord for it: for I see that several of the watermen’s children run about without shoes or stockings.  On Monday I earned 1s. Od., on Tuesday, 1s. 1d., on Wednesday, which was a very wet day, 1s., and yesterday, Thursday, 1s. 6d., and up to this day, Friday noon, I’ve earned nothing as yet.  We work Sundays and all.  My expenses when I’m out isn’t much.  My wife puts me up a bit of meat, or bacon and bread, if we have any in the house, and if I’ve earned anything I eat it with half-a-pint of beer, or a pint at times.  Ours is hard work, and we requires support if we can only get it.  If I bring no meat with me to the stairs, I bring some bread, and get half-a-pint of coffee with it, which is 1d.  We have to slave hard in some weathers when we’re at work, and indeed we’re always either slaving or sitting quite idle.”

Given the foregoing account of a waterman’s life in the mid-19th century, it seems likely that William Atterbury would have been in the final year of his apprenticeship to John Filce when he married his 1st wife.  As such, it seems likely that he would have been unable to purchase his own craft or to have become a licensed waterman, capable of earning his own fares.  It is possible that when William Atterbury married his 2nd wife, the widow Elizabeth Gould, he may have gained access to some of his wife’s property, which may have included a residual from her late husband’s estate.  Ralph Gould, having been a licensed waterman for over 30 years, may have owned multiple river craft which may have been the motivation for William Atterbury to marry a woman almost 24 years his senior.  If this sounds like a mercenary act by William, that is probably because it was.  Clearly, William came from a life of poverty, and his actions appear to be driven by desperation and basic survival instinct.

William’s marriage to Elizabeth Gould would almost certainly have been the avenue through which he gained familiarity with the St. Andrew’s Holborn neighborhood.  From his new residence at Magpie Yard William would have had occasion to frequent the Horse and Lamb Alehouse in George Lane (just two blocks away) where he undoubtedly struck an acquaintance with William Harrison and Leonard Budley.  From their jailhouse confessions to Chaplain Guthrie we have already heard the woeful tales of Harrison and Budley, and the paths that led them into a life of crime.  Their stories are altogether too similar to William Atterbury’s story.  It is not difficult to visualize how William Atterbury’s circumstances in Oct1732 upon meeting Harrison and Budley may likewise have tempted William to join in their criminal enterprise.  Whether William Atterbury was capable of foreseeing the fortuitous events that would result from his decision to steal someone else’s property cannot be known.  To the author, it seems doubtful that William was capable of such cunning and guile.  But, given his bleak prospects as a young waterman apprentice and his subsequent marriages to two much older widows, it does seem that he was capable of actions well beyond the norm.

One must wonder at whether and how being arrested for stealing and a probable sentence to be hanged upon Tyburn’s tree could be viewed as fortuitous, but for William Atterbury, those events must be viewed as such.  Instead of being condemned to a life of poverty as a Thames waterman, William Atterbury was transported to the Maryland Colony where a completely different life awaited.  He became a land owner, raised crops, married, and fathered nine sons, thus planting the seeds of our Atterbury/Arterbury line in America.


[1] The Fleet Registers, John Southernden Burn, 1833, p. 1.

[2] Ibid., pp. 7-8.

[3] Marriage Law and Practice in the Long Eighteenth Century, Rebecca Probert, 2009, p. 209.

[4] Ibid., pp. 10-11.

[5] Ibid., pp. 14-15.

[6] http://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/bmdr/fulldetails.php?id=60844887, accessed 15Jan2013.

[7] http://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/bmdr/fulldetails.php?id=60721044, accessed 15Jan2013.

[8] http://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/bmdr/fulldetails.php?id=60723424, accessed 15Jan2013.

[9] http://www.findmypast.co.uk/records/other-records/thames-watermen/details/O/965010642?e=O&sn=ARTERB*&iFnsV=false&oDS=179:4&rC=2&locale=en&_zga_s=1, accessed 20Jan2013.

[10] http://www.oocities.org/thameswatermen/chapter1.htm, accessed 15Feb2013.

[11] Ibid.

[12] The Constitutions of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen, 1730, reprinted 1790, pp. 131-3.

[13] London labour and the London poor, Henry Mayhew, 1861, pp. 28-332.

[14] http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/SWAN1.htm, accessed 5Mar2013.

[15] http://www.vauxhallgardens.com/vauxhall_gardens_briefhistory_page.html, accessed 7Mar2013.

[16] http://www.oocities.org/thameswatermen/muster.htm, accessed 20Mar2013.

[17] Token books were the records maintained by the parish vestry, typically on an annual cycle, in which were noted the names of householders to whom sacramental tokens were issued.  Sacramental tokens were issued to each person in a household above the age of 15 years, including tenants, servants and visitors.  Consequently, these token books were the equivalent of tithing records, except that they included both males and females over the age of 15, whereas tithing records typically included only male members of the household over age 16.

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