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Full text of "A Caxton memorial : extracts from the churchwarden's accounts of the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster, illustrating the life and times of William Caxton, the first English printer, 1478-1492"

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Reprinted, with permission, from the Builder, 
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The recent Printers' Exhibition at tlie Agri- 
cultural Hall, Islington, following the Caxton 
celebration held at South Kensington three 
years ago, has given to all those who were able 
to be present pretty good evidence of the pro- 
gress made in the mystery of the art of printing 
during the past four hundred years. 

At the present time there are very few 
persons indeed who have given their attention 
to any extent in the reading of current litera- 
ture who have not heard of William Caxton, the 
first English printer ; but, at the same time, we 
venture to believe that there are a great many 
individuals who, while knowing the name of the 
Westminster printer, are nevertheless totally 
ignorant of the history of the times in which he 
lived, and, what is more, know nothing of the 
hardships he had to encounter in his professional 
capacity, — of his remarkable perseverance and 
industry, which, by a very small beginning, has 
produced that great power, the printing-press, 
to which, and to those who have laboured at 
it, from William Caxton's time to our own, the 
readers of this journal, and of every other 
printed sheet of paper, are so greatly indebted. 

The late Mr. Charles Knight, a very worthy 
disciple of Caxton, very truly remarked, some 
forty years ago, "The object of the general 
diffusion of knowledge is not to render men dis- 
contented with their lot, — to make the peasant 
yearn to become an artisan, or the artisan dream 
of the honours and riches of a profession, — but 
to give the means of content to those who, for 
the most part, must necessarily remain in that 
station which requires great self-denial and great 
endurance, but which is capable of becoming 
not only a condition of comfort, but of enjoy- 
ment, through the exercise of these very virtues, 
in connexion with a desire for that improvement 

4 A Cuxton Memorial. 

of the understanding which, to a large extent, 
is independent of rank and riches." Next, there- 
fore, to the Bustentation of the body, must 
naturally come the improvement of the mind, — 
and in working to this end, Caxton and his 
descendants have earned, — nobly earned, — the 
lasting gratitude of mankind at large. 

It is not our intention to detail the life of 
Caxton, but only to give a few facts in connexion 
with his career, as a preface to our present 
article, which we have thought best to entitle 
a Caxton Memorial. The subject - matter is 
derived from the very interesting church- 
wardens' books of St. Margaret's parish, West- 
minster, — in which parish Caxton worked at 
his press and died, — and which books contain a 
remarkable account, in their various entries, of 
the remarkable times in which our printer lived. 
For these extracts we are indebted to Mr. T. 
C. Noble, who, through the great kindness 
and courtesy of the rector, the Kev. Canon 
Farrar, and the churchwardens, Messrs. 
Holder & Hockridge, has been permitted to 
have free access to and to carefully examine 
these very interesting records. 

It was about the year 1422, and in the 
Weald of Kent, that William Caxton is supposed 
to have been born, and in 1437-8 an entry in the 
books of the Mercers' Company of the City of 
London informs us that he and John Large paid 
four shillings as a fee upon being bound appren- 
tices to Robert Large, who was an alderman of 
the City, and resided in the Old Jewry. But at 
the end of three years Alderman Large died, 
and the young 'prentice lad was " turned over " 
to a new master. We next hear of him at 
Bruges, engaged in the wool-trade, in which the 
mercers dealt largely, and in 1462 he is named 
as " Governor of the English Nation abroad," 
and copies of several letters to him, in that 
capacity, — one dated as late as June 3, 1467, 
— are still preserved in the Mercers' boolcs. 

In 1468 was solemnised the marriage of the 
Princess Margaret of York, sister of Edward 
IV., and Charles, Duke of Burgundy, and it 
was then, probably, that William Caxton first 
came under the notice of the duke, to whom, 
with two other mercers, he was a trade ambas- 
sador in 1469. It was in this year, too, we first 
find him appearing in print as a literary man, 

A Caxton Memorial. 5 

commencing, as he tells ns, a translation of 
Lefevre's " Recuyell of the Histories of Troye," 
which, under the patronage of, and as a servant 
to the Duchess of Burgundy, he completed in 
September, 1471. It would appear he made 
several MS. copies of this work, which, pleas- 
ing the nobility, brought him so many orders 
that he began to think what was the best way 
of supplying the demand. It was a veiy simple 
circumstance, it is true, but to it the world 
at large is indebted for the introduction of the 
art of printing into England, and the work 
was the first book printed in the English 
language. The Duke of Devonshire's copy, 
with the autograph of Elizabeth Grey, the 
Queen of Edward IV., was purchased at the 
celebrated Eoxburghe sale, in 1812, for one 
thousand guineas, and this book, it may be 
remembered, was exhibited in a glass case on 
a velvet cushion at the Caxton celebration. It 
was probably printed at Bruges in 1474, and in 
it Caxton explains its history in these words : — 
" And for as moche as in the wry tyng of the 
same my Penne is worn, myn hande wery & not 
stedfast myn eyen dimedwithovermoche lokyng 
on the whit paper, and my corage not so prone 
and redy to laboure as hit hath been, and that 
age crepeth on me dayly and feebleth all the 
bodye, and also be cause I have promysid to 
dyuerce gentil men and to my frendes to 
addresse to hem as hastely as I myght this 
sayd book, Therfor I have practysed & lerned 
at my grete charge and dispense to ordeyne 
this said book in Prynte after the maner & 
forme as ye may here see and is not wretoa 
with penne and ynke as other bokes ben." 

It was in 1475 or 1476 that William Caxton 
(and Colard Mansion, who assisted him in these 
early prints) issued a translation of Cessolis's 
" Game and Playe of the Chesse," and the same 
year, or early in 1477, he must have left Bruges 
for England. It was a momentous time for this 
country, and readers of this journal will readily 
understand why, when they are teld that within 
a few months after, the first book printed in 
England with a date was issued from the pre- 
cincts of the Abbey of Westminster. 

Mr. Blades, in his interesting and very vala- 
able "Life of Caxton," tells us that "bia 
arrangements for settling in England, the 

6 A Caxton Memorial, 

engagement of assistants, with all the other 
matters inseparable from a novel undertaking, 
must have occupied a considerable portion of 
time. If, therefore, we assume that about the 
latter end of 1476 Caxton commenced his new 
career in this country, we cannot be far wrong." 
One thing, however, is certain, and that is, we 
find the imprint to *' The Dictes and Notable 
Wise Sayings of the Philosophers," — "Emprynted 
by me, Wylliam Caxton, at Westmestre, 1477," 
and this would appear to have been issued, or, 
as he tells us in the book itself, — " fynisshed 
the xviij. day of the moneth of Novembre," — 
thus clearly establishing a precise date for the 
commencement of printing in England. 

From 1477 to the year 1485 we have nume- 
rous works from his press, and it is noticeable 
how curiously his colophons vary. Thus, in the 
" Chronicles of England," issued just 400 years 
ago, — in 1480, — we first read of the press as 
" In thabbey of Westmynstre by London " ; in 
1483 as "at Westmestre," as well as "in 
thabbey of Westmynstre" ; in 1484 " in West- 
mynstre besyde London" ; and in 1485 "in 
thabbey Westmestre," — all leading us to sup- 
pose he was carrying on two printing-offices. 
Then, again, we have a handbill, which Earl 
Spencer has a copy of, 5 in. by 7 in. in size, 
desiring his customers to come " to Westmo- 
nester in to the Almonesrye at the reed pale," 
which was probably issued about 1478 or 1480, 
all which addresses, Mr. Blades concludes, meant 
but one place ; that " thabbey " was really the 
precincts; that in the precincts was the 
Almonry, where alms were given to the poor, 
and Lady Margarets, the mother of Henry YIL, 
erected almshouses ; that this Almonry existed, 
not on the site of Henry VII.'s Chapel, as has 
been bo often asserted, but was "west south- 
west of the Abbey towers " ; and, finally, that 
the old house, which has been so often pictured 
as the building where Caxton did his printing, 
and from the timber of which, when it was 
pulled down in 1846, were made countless walk- 
ing-sticks and snuff-boxes, was in reality a house 
erected long after Caxton's time, — so recent as 
the reign of Charles II. ! 

Therefore at the sign of the Red Pale, — and 
this was not a red pole or a red paling, as often 
asserted, but a shield in heraldry so called, — 


A Caxton Memorial. 7 

Caxton worked, lived, and died. During the 
years 1477-1490 he was a notable man in his 
parish, as may readily be supposed. He attended 
the audit of the churchwardens' accounts, we 
know (by those existing having his name 
inserted by the scribe), in 1480, 1482, and 1484. 
He was a member of the Guild of our Blessed 
Lady Assumption, held in the church ; and in 
1491, close upon seventy years of age, he passed 
away in the very midst of the work he loved so 
well, for Wynken de Worde's colophon to the 
" Vitas Patrum " tells us it was " translated oute 
of Frenche into Englisshe by William Caxton, of 
Westmynstre, late deed, and fynysshed at the 
laste day of hys lyff." This was bringing matters 
to a pretty close ending even at that early date ; 
and although we do not know the exact time of 
his death, yet, fortunately for us, there are the 
accounts containing his burial still in existence, 
very religiously preserved, as may be supposed, 
in the parish in which he died, — St. Margaret's, 
Westminster. Towards the end of the church- 
wardens' account for the years 1490-1492, some 
time towards the close of the year 1491, we find 
the entry of his funeral, costing 6s. 8d. for the 
four torches used on the occasion, and 6d. for 
ringing the knell from the bell in the church 
tower, payments which seem not very exces- 
sive for burying a great man, but, according to 
the other entries, very much higher than the 
majority of funerals then cost. 

Again, we have it printed in " Scala Perfec- 
tionis," in 1493, that the book was finished "in 
William Caxston's hous," while in Lyndewode's 
*' Constitutiones," in 1496, we find the source of 
its printing to have been " Apud Westmonaste- 
rium in domo Caxston," thus showing that the 
good work still continued at the old press. Of 
this William Lyndewode, it may be remembered, 
some curious particulars were given by the 
Society of Antiquaries in 1852, when his body 
was discovered in St. Stephen's Chapel that 
year (** Archseologia," vol. xxxiv. pp. 406-430). 
He was formerly rector of All Saints, Bread- 
street, in the City of London, and died bishop 
of St. David's, in 1446, and at the opening of 
his coflBn in 1852, the late George Cruikshank 
made an etching of his head, which is very rare, 
if not unique, and which is now in the collection 
of Mr. Noble. 

8 A Caxton Memorial. 

Although we should have supposed that 
William Caxton made a will, yet after a lengthy 
search no trace of one could be found by Mr. 
Blades. He surmises that our printer had 
nothing to leave beyond his stock-in-trade ; and 
if this surmise is correct, then the possibility 
occurs of his having arranged before his death 
ifvho should succeed to his estate. There are 
entries in the churchwardens' accounts of the 
"bequest of William Caxton" of a number of 
his " Golden Legend," — probably the second 
edition of the book which was printed ; and we 
find the parish was paid for sixteen copies 
between the years 1496 and 1504. Unfortu- 
nately, the accounts for 1492-1494, — the two 
years following Caxton's death, — are missing; 
but in the receipts for 1494-1496, nothing is 
mentioned. In the first year's account for 
1496-8 we find three copies sold for 6s. 8d. each, 
" of thee printed boks that were bequothen to the 
church behove by William Caxston " ; in 1498- 
1500 there were disposed of ten copies, viz., one 
each at 5s., 5s. 6d., 5s. lOd., and 5s. lid., four 
at 5s. 8d., and two for lOs. 4d. ; in 1500-2, two 
copies realised 5s. each; and the last copy, 
which was sold in the first year of 1502-4 
brought in 5s. 8d., — sum total of the sixteen 
copies, 4Z. 10s. lid. Of course, the value of 
naoney four centuries ago was very different to 
what it is now : the entries which we shall quote 
hereafter will prove that ; but as an illustration 
of the value of the " Golden Legend " in our 
day, we may remark that in 1812 the Duke of 
Roxburghe's copy sold for 31L, and J. D. Gard- 
ner's copy in 1854 brought in 2301., and became 
the property of the Duke d'Aumale ; and that 
no perfect copy of the book is known. 

Of those gentlemen to whom the church- 
wardens sold their copies, William Ryoll pur- 
chased two, "the parisshe prest" one. Single 
copies were sold to four others, — one to *' Elys 
bokebynder," seven to William Geisse or Geyse, 
and one (in the first year 1498 — 1500) was 
"soldo in Westmynster Halle" for 5s. 8d., 
establishing, as we presume, the fact of there 
having been booksellers in the hall at this early 
period ; while at the same time in that year 
there is actually an entry, " Rewarded to John 
Roff for the selling of a legende" Id., — not a 
ruinous commission, one will certainly exclaim. 

A Caxton Memorial. 9 

In 1820 the Eoxburghe Club desired to raise 
a monument to Caxton in Westminster Abbey, 
and the reader will suppose that was a very- 
easy matter. Nothing of the kind. It was as 
difficult sixty years ago to get a monument into 
that sanctuary for the record of the deeds of a 
great man as it has been sixty years later to 
keep one out of it, — the only difference being, 
one was to the memory of a simple printer, yet 
to whom the world is so greatly indebted, and 
the other was to a young prince to whom the 
world owed nothing. However, the West- 
minster Abbey authorities prevented Caxton'a 
tablet to be erected within the Abbey in 1820 ; 
but the authorities of Sfc. Margaret's Church 
gladly accepted the trust ; and there it rests 
to this day. 

The next thing noticeable is the total absence 
of any reliable item referring to the family of 
our printer. It is true that in the first year's 
accounts for 1478-1480 we find " Item the day 
of burying of William Caxton " for two torches 
and four tapers "at a lowe masse," twenty 
pence, and this William Dibdin assumes to have 
been our printer's father. In 1464, at the bury- 
ing of " Oliver Cawston," 8d. was received for 
four tapers ; in the first year of the Guild 
accounts (1475-1478) a " John Caxston " paid 
6s. 8d. upon admission as a brother; in the 
first year (1490-1492) there was received 
"attebureyng of Mawde Caxston " 3s 2d. " for 
torches and tapres," and in the second year 
(1494-1496) "atte burying of Richard Caxton," 
2d. These, with the entry relating to the 
printer himself, are all that can be found re- 
lating to the name in any of the accounts pre- 
served between the years 1460 and 1510 ; but 
whether either of them was a relative to 
"our" William Caxton it is impossible for us 
to say. 

Having thus giv^en a few details relating to 
the man himself, we now propose illustrating 
the times in which he lived among us at 
Westminster, by aid of the parish accounts 
between the years 1477 and 1492, for the pre- 
servation of which the authorities of St. Mar- 
garet's are to be commended, seeing that that 
parish passed through, and was most closely 
associated with the men of, a former age who 
in troubled times were little respecters of 

10 A Caxton Memorial. 

ancient records, ancientcustoms, or even persons 

In giving in print for the first time many 
curious items from these interesting books, 
■which Mr, Noble has very carefully extracted, 
we would but remark that the reader must 
judge for himself of the relative value of money 
of four centuries ago and now, for no reliable 
valuation can be given. It must be presumed 
that from ten to twenty times would probably 
be the limit, according to the article or circum- 
stance of the case. Sir N. H. Nicolas, who 
in 1830 edited the wardrobe accounts of 
Edward IV. and the privy purse expenses of 
Elizabeth of York, gives some equally curious 
items to those we now give. For the support of 
the queen's two nephews and niece, two female 
servants, and a groom, 13s. 4d. a week was 
allowed ! The board wages of the " Fool," — by 
no means a fool, — was 2a. a month. A surgeon's 
fee for going from London to Eichmond to visit 
the queen was ISs. 4d., while workmen's wages 
were at the rate of 6d. a day ! A pair of shoes 
for the fool cost 6d., and a pair for the queen Is. 
Beer cost 28. 8d. a barrel, while two shirts cost 
Is. 5d. ; and sixteen rowers for conveying her 
majesty in a barge from Baynard's Castle to 
Westminster in 1502 had 4d. each, and the 
master Is. 4d. These prefatory notes will give 
the reader some idea of the interesting contents 
of _^the Westminster parochial accounts, which 
we now intend to quote. 


This account is from the 7th of May, 1478, to 
the 18th of May, 1480 (John Wycam and 
Nicholas Wollestroft being churchwardens), and 
consists of forty-five written quarto parchment 
pages. The first year's receipts amounted to 
33L 16s. 4d., and the second year's to 34L 13s. 
2jd., — and a farthing at that date was an im- 
portant item. The payments for the two years 
came to 21L I2s. 6d. and 23L 63. 7d., leaving a 
balance at the end of the account of 23L lOs. 5|d. 
in favour of the churchwardens for 1480-82. 
And although all the items appear very trifling, 
they were not so at that date. William Caxton 
was one of the parishioners present at the audit. 

The general account of receipts chiefly con- 
sisted of payments made for torches and tapers 

A Caxton Memorial, 11 

used at tlie burial of the inhabitants ; bat at the 
end of the accounts there were seventeen items 
owing, the whole of which was but 31. 12s. 4d. 
They would thus appear to have given credit 
for such matters at that day ; for " William 
Sampson Brewer in Totehilstrete oweth for the 
buriall of his child, for 4 tapers, 8d." [In all 
cases we shall use modern figures in specifying 
amounts.] Then, again, we find " the wife of 
Nicholas Wollesferoft oweth for his burying 
10s.," and " for 4 tapers at the moneths mynde 
of the same Nicholas, 12d." In the first year's 
receipts we find there was received *' the day of 
burying of William Trollop for 2 tapers," 2d. 
May we be permitted to ask what relation was 
this William Trollop of 1479 to the celebrated 
builder of the same name in the same parish 
400 years afterwards ? " The brynging in of 
2 straunge torches in the chirche at crystynyng 
of a child " was 8d., and "for 4 tapers w' our 
lady candilstykkys," 3s. 4d. ; but what the 
occasion was at which they were used is not 

The burials of individuals ranged from 2d. 
paid for two tapers, " at the burying of Elizabeth 
Dennam," to the extravagant sum of 17s. 2d. 
paid " the day of burying of John Wytteney for 
4 torches and 4 tapers, and the pytte and the 
belle," consequently, Westminster that day was 
witness to ** a grand funeral." " The yeres 
mynde of Sir Thomas Grey for 4 tapers," cost 
12d. J and this year's mind was the religious 
ceremony in the church, held on the anniversary 
of the knight's death, when his soul, his wife's 
soul, his mother's and father's souls, and all 
Christian souls, were probably prayed for. For 
"burying of a child from Saynt Albons" 2d. 
was received ; and if this meant St. Albans, 
Herts, the child was brought (for those times) 
a very long way. In all these accounts the vast 
majority of funeral payments were 2d., and 
sometimes the entries were very vague about 
names; for instance, "one Crystopher of Knyght- 
brigge," and "a brewer's wife fro. Charyng 
Crosse," the latter costing for four tapers 8d. 
The burial of " John Shordyche " cost 2d., while 
that of " Sir Alexander " was 4d. ; but the most 
interesting entry of this year's account is *' Item, 
the day of burying of William Caxton for 2 
torches and 4 tapers at a lowe masse," 20d. ; 

12 A Caxton Memorial. 

and this is supposed to have been the father of 
onr printer. 

In the second year, the ** burying of Robert 
of the Covent [Conrent] Kyohen for 2 tapers, 
2d.," and the same for " Isabell Braye," — and 
at this early date the Bray family was a noted 
one in the parish. When a parishioner was 
above the ordinary folk, and could afford burial 
in the church, he was favoured with a " pytt," 
as the grave was called, for 6s. 8d,, and as a 
rule his " kayll with the belle" was rung, which 
cost 6d., as was the case with one Richard 
Cowper. "A Mayde of the Swan," — a noted 
tavern in the parish, — was buried this year, and 
there was paid " for 2 tapers 2d." as usual. 

Another source of receipts was " The Comon 
Gadering," — being collections made on feast 
days and holidays : Pentecost, St. Margaret, 
All-Hallows', Nativity, Good Friday, and Easter 
Day, the latter being the grand day. The two 
years' receipts amounted to 191. 78. llfd., of 
which nearly a half was collected at Easter. 

Pew-rents were then in existence, of which 
there are twenty entries the first year, and 
forty-three the second. According to position 
in the church, so they appear to have been 
charged, some being 12d. and some as high as 
3s. 4d. Thus " William Cowper for a pewe for 
his wife " paid a shilling, and " John Breght for 
his pewe " Ss. One entry reads, ** Thomas Bough 
for an ouyr almy under the foot of o"^ lady of 
Pyte to kepe brede, wyne, and wexe for straunge 
to syng wS l2d." 

Under the heading of " Bequests " we find one 
giving 20d. and another 20s. Others gave 
various articles (as Caxton did in 1491, — copies of 
his book). Thus we find " the guyfte of John 
Wardrop a playne towell conteyning 3 yerdys," 
while the wife of John Taillour gave another 
towell of diaper eight yards in length. 

The "Dyvers Payments" which were made 
during the same period are interesting. In the 
first year '* to 4 men to here 4 torchis on Corpus 
Xpi day, 4d." j and " in Wyne to the Syngers 
the same day, 4d." Throughout these accounts 
we shall see many entries of payments for wine, 
ale, bread, and such "creature comforts." The two 
clerks and beadle received amongst them each 
quarter 5s. St. Margaret's-day was then a high 
festival in the parish. The first year we find 

A Caxton Memorial. 13 

" to John Greve for a rewarde for the Clothe of 
Arras at Seynt Margrets day, 2s." ; and " to a 
man for a day at the hangyng up of the saide 
Clothe and takyng downe, and for hrede and 
ale to them, 6d." In the second year, "for 
brede, ale, and wyne into the rode-loft on Saynte 
Margrets day, 12d.," while these refreshments 
were preceded the night before by a more ela- 
borate, if less costly, entertainment. " Paid in 
expenses at tavern on Saynte Margaret evyn 
upon the Syngers of the Abbay, 8d." 

Here are a few entries that may interest our 
building friends : — 

" For a new dore at the hedde of the steple 
and lok to the same dore, 2s. Id. For a dore in 
the rode lofte to save and kepe the people fro 
the orgaynes, 12d. For half a hundred of 6d. 
nayles, 6d. For makyng of a new dore for a 
pewe, 8d. For makyng of a newe etaire in to 
the rode lofte and the stuffe, SOs. For a pul- 
pytte in the chirche-yerde agenst the prechyng 
of Doctour Penkey, 2s. 8d. To a carpynter for 
makyng of a rofe ovir the new steir and the 
tymbre that wente thereto, 28. To a dauebour 
and his man for four dayes at the same staire, 
4a. 4d. For a lode of lome, 4d. For 100 lathe, 
6d. To Nicholas Plomer for a gotter over the 
newe staire, and 4 faggots to make fire, 5s. For 
makyng of a keye for the chist, 4d. For a lokk 
w* 2 keyes, 20d. For 3 barrys in the wyndowe 
at the staire-hedd weying 12 lb. pee. the lb. 2d., 
= 2s. For a hope of yron for the holy-water tubbe, 
4d. [The hooping of the holy- water tub was an 
annual charge.] For 6 holy-water sprynkyles, 
6d. To a carpynter for makying of the crucyfix 
and the heme he standeth upon, 40s. For 
kervyng of Mary and John, and the makyng 
newe, 33s. 4d. For the gilding of the same 
Maiy and John, the crosse, &c., 61. 6s. 8d. For 
takyng down of a heme in the body of the 
Chirche afore the crucifix, and settyngup of a new 
cople arche wyse, and borde to sealyng thereof, 
and other stuff, 26s. 8d. For naylys, stapuls, 
bolts, and other iryn worke, 6s. 8d." 

Among other items of payments we find 4d. 
was paid "for holme and ivy at Cristmas." 
" Cotyn candyll for the lantern for alle halowen 
tyde to Candylmas," cost 12d., and "the lamp 
bason" 8d. " For mending of glasse wynddowys 
aboute in the Chirche " cost 4s., and this also 

14 A Caxton Memorial. 

appears to have been a frequent charge upon 
the account. " To Mathew Metynghm for 
playing at the Orgons when we had butt one 
clerk," 8d. " For brede and wyne on holy 
thursday when pcession was done," 8d. " For 
4 torchys weying 83 lb. pee the lb. 4d." " For 
mendycg and makyng clone of the small 
organs" 12d. 

" A Tyler and his man for a days werk upon 
Seint Margets ile " received 3s. Id., while " the 
wyfe of the Balle for pavying tyles " was paid 
3s. 4d. Two dozen candles at Christmas cost 
2s., but they were probably of larger size than 
we burn at the present day. 

Such are a few of the interesting items de- 
rived from the accounts of the parish the year 
following Caxton "opened shop" in it as a 
printer. We have said that the book itself is 
comprised of forty-five written parchment 
pages. The cost of the book as well as the 
writing of it is set down at the end in these 
words : — " To Paule Asshewell for wry tyng of 
the boke of Accompt, 6s. 8d. For Pchement to 
this boke, 14d.," — both payments, it will be 
acknowledged, not being excessive. 


The next accounts which we find in the 
volume are stated to be from the 18th of May, 
1480, to the 23rd May, 1482, William Garard 
and William Hatchet being churchwardens. 
Although there are only twenty-four written 
parchment pages, and of smaller size than the 
first-quoted accounts, being, in fact, 8 in. by 
11 in. in size, yet the entries are written closer 
and more compact. The total receipts for the 
two years was 651. 5s. 2id., and the payments 
49L 13s.l0|d., leaving a balance of 151. lis. 3fd. 
When the book was made up there were but 
two burials owing for, one of which was 
" Kichard Hunt, yeoman of the Crown," 10s. 

In the first year's ordinary receipts we find, 
" the day of burying of a man that was slayne 
in Saynte Jamys felde, 2 tapers, 4d.," and " of 
a childe of knyght brigge, 2 tapers, 2d." ; " of 
lewys Welyngton, for 2 tapers, 2d." ; " for the 
knelle of Thomas w' the grete belle, 6d. " ; and 
"for 4 tapers," 4d. At the burial "of Sir 
Thomas Cleyton, pste [priest], for 4 tapers," 
20d. J for 2 torches, 2s., and " for licence of 4 

A Caxton Memorial, 16 

torches of Seynt Anne," 4d. ; at the " Cryetenyng 
of Maistr Chamberlayn childe," 12d. was paid 
for 2 torches. 

There are two interesting entries in the second 
year; one gives the value of old silver, the other 
refers to the rent of a house. The former reads : 
"Item the same wardeyns charge theymgelf 
w* broken sylver, whiche was of the olde Crosse, 
weying 68 i unces, pee the unce, 3s. 6d. = 
111. 19s. 9d." The other entry tells us,—" the 
forsayde wardeyns chargith theymself of rent 
of the tent, called the Sonne, payd by the handys 
of Eobert Bromflete by all the tyme of this 
accompte, 71.," — that is, seventy shillings a 

The collections on the " Gaderyng dayes" 
brought in during the two years 201. 14s. Sjd. ; 
while the pew-rents (9 the first year, and 47 the 
second) produced 4 J. 8s. 8d. Of these, we find 
our scribe, " Paul Asshewell, for his wifes pewe," 
paid 16d., and we also learn he was himself a 
Public Notary. 

The bequests in the two years only amounted 
to 13s. 8d., viz., two money gifts of 38. 4d. each, 
and two gifts of a somewhat curious nature. 
One " of Baynbrigge, a pece of tymber," which 
was valued at 12d. ; and the other, " of John 
Greve, a marble stone," valued at 6s. What 
the churchwardens did with this marble stone 
we are unable to say. 

It was no uncommon thing for the church 
goods to be lent out in these times, for there is 
an entry of " a Eewarde of the Lord Berkeley 
for a vestment and a chaleys," 12d. 

The payments are as varied as usual. A 
lantern cost 9d. ; a lock with key for rood-loft, 
6d. J " a fire panne," 6d. ; " for makyng clene of 
the Chirche yerde," 20d. ; mending a pew in the 
church, 2d. ; mending the velvet above the 
sepulchre, 4d. ; and the glass window in the 
rood-loft, 4s. ; two red skins " for 2 stolys in 
the quere " cost 8d. ; and 4 yards of green 
fringe, with nails and making, came to eleven 
pence more. 

We can readily believe the condition of the 
churchyard at that date, and at certain periods 
of the year, when we read such entries as this 
continually occurring : — " For carrying awaye 
of dungge in the churoheyerde, 4d." 

A chain to the church-door cost 3d. ; a rope 

16 A Caxton Memorial, 

for the little bell, 6d. ; hanging of the bells cost 
58. ; and ** a balderyck to the grete bell, 6d." 

St. Margaret's Eve this second year was 
attended by the singers of the King's Chapel, 
and the wine which was by them " drunkyn at 
Robert Whityngton " cost 2g. ; and for the wine 
had for them the next day in the rood-loft, 16d. 
was paid ; and " when even songe was done " at 
Thomas Burgesy'e, 2g. 4d. 

Of course, there were several " pits " opened 
in the church for the burial of the aristo- 
crats of the pai'ish, and for paving these over, 
John Faydar received Ss. 2d., and in this sum 
we presume stone was included. The special 
paving over of " Jone Witteney's pitt " cost 8d. 

We have already given the extract relating to 
the breaking up of the old cross, and we now 
come to the entries relating to the purchase of 
the new one. " For the new crosse, weying 
vi"x [130] unces pee evry une v^ [5s.] sm.," 
32 L 10s. Now for this elaborate piece of work 
it was necessary to clean up the staff, the 
painting of which cost 20d., while "for gyltyng 
and burnyshing of the upper parte of the crosse 
staffe and burnisshing of thefote of the crosse," 
cost 4s. more. 

Mr. Ashwell received 6g. 8d. for writing the 
account, and 12d. was paid for the parchment. 


" Here f olo with th accompt of William Burghm 
and Thomas Crane, wardeyns," &c., from 24th 
May, 1482, to 24th May, 1484. This is written 
in twenty-six folio pages by our old friend 
Ashwell, and William Caxton attended the 
audit. The two years' receipts amounted to 
66^ lis. lOfd., and the payments, 471. lis. S^d., 
leaving a balance on the right side of 191. Os. S^d. 

Among the general receipts we find, for 4 
tapers, " at the yeres mynd of Richard Humfrey 
fader and moder," 12d. ; " the day of burying 
of a poore woman w' in grete Maude in totehil 
strete," 2d. ; " at the burying of John Shordyche 
wyfe," for 4 tapers and two torches, 5s. ; " a 
man at the vyne gardyne, 2 tapers," 4d.j "of 
Thomas, of the Convytte house, 2 tapers/' 2d. ; 
" of a preist oute of Chanon Aley, 4 tapers," 
12d. ; ** for 2 torches for the same preist to 
brynge him to the chirche," 16d. j " of John 
Nicolas, yoman of the Crown, for 2 tapers," 4d. j 

A Caxton Memorial. 17 

" of Jamps Halywell, for 4 torches to brynge 
hym to chirche, 5s. ; for 4 tapers, 20d."; "of Sir 
Willim Hopton, tresorer of the king's howse, for 
his pytte in the chirche, 6s. 8d. ; for lycence of 
34 torches and 4 tapers, he gave to the chirche 
2 torches ; for his knylle, 6d." ; " the day of 
burying of longe Jone, for 2 tapers, 4d." 

" The Concion Gaderyng day " receipts pro- 
duced, in the two years, 20L 4s. 9d., and the 
pew-rents (twelve items the first year and 
thirty-seven the second), 31. 16s. lOd. ! 

" The bequests " only amounted to 18 yarda 
of diaper, and from two donors, in the second 

With regard to the payments, " three bondya 
of iron to the hatche at the chirche dore " cost 
8d., and "for the amendyng of the glasse 
wyndow at the west end of the chirche " 9d. 
was paid. " For amendyng of the pulpet and 
the amendyng of the Holy waf stykkys, 3d." 
" For the pformyng of one pane to a glasse 
wyndowe in Saynte George's Chapell, 13d." A 
tiler and his man for a day and a half's labour 
received Is. 6^d. j while two masons for four 
days in our lady chapel received 4s. 

Bookbinders' charges could not have been 
very excessive, especially when we find, " for 
coveryng of a boke called a * Legend,' " — a copy 
of the first edition of Caxton' s celebrated work 
then just issued from his press, — only cost 20d., 
and yet " for byndyng and coveryng a masse 
boke " 38. 4d. was paid. It must be borne in 
mind, however, that it was binding meant to 
stand the rough usage of ages, and not to fall 
to pieces almost as soon as the book was opened. 

"Paide for silkes to the Abbay, 12d.," ''for 
the amendyng of the clothis before Seynt 
Margaret and Seynt Katyn (Katherine), and for 
corde, 12d." ; " for makyng of the purpell 
chesyble, 28.," and " a yarde of bokeram, 4d.," 
are a few of the drapery entries. 

" Makyng clene of the chirche yarde " cost 
5d., and " a lode of gravell to lay at the chirche 
dore" cost 4d. By the entry, " glasyng of the 
Gierke's chambre wyndow," 6d., we presume 
that gentleman lived within the precincts of the 
church itself, a supposition well founded, when 
we shall presently find a bedstead provided 
for the bed which a good lady had very benevo- 
lently given for his use. 

18 A. Caxton Memorial. 

Among the items we find the foot of the cross 
mended, at a cost of 10s. lOd. ; a torch weighing 
121b. cost 48. ; faggots cost 6d. ; a new wheel to 
the little bell cost Ss. 4d. ; " a new key to the 
cofyn that the tapra is in," 3d. ; a ladder, 9d. ; 
setting up the candles at Christmas, 4d. ; to the 
smith, " for claspys to the lyttel belle," 8d. ; 
mending of the church wall, 8d. ; and last, but 
not least, "on Seynte Margret's day one galon 
wyne and a half," 15d., and this was in addition 
to the usual " refreshers " then given to the 
singers and other officials at the festival. 
Throughout all these accounts we shall see the 
good old dignitaries of St. Margaret's parish 
never forgot *' the inner man," no matter what 
the times were. 


Having given a few illustrations of the times 
in which Caxton commenced his celebrated work 
in Westminster, in the reign of Edward lY., 
we will now proceed to review the events which 
are chronicled in the St. Margaret's books 
during the remainder of our printer's life in 
the parish. 


" Here folowyth thaccompte of Thomas 
Gregory and Henry Swifte, Wardeyns of the 
parissbe churche of Siinte Margarets, of 
Westm'^, in the shire of Midd." From May 24, 
1484, to May 11, 1486. This account com- 
prises twenty-two written pages, on parch, 
ment, and while the two years' receipts 
amounted to 671. odd, the payments were some 
261., leaving a balance of 31L 6s. O^d. 

As we have already stated, the majority of 
items in the receipts are for funerals which 
cost, for ordinary parishioners from 2d., which 
was the usual price for the two tapers used at 
the ceremony, to as much as Gs. 8d. for " the 
pitt" in the church, 6d. for "the knell" with 
the bell in the church tower, and certain pay- 
ments according to the position of the deceased, 
for torches, or tapers, or lights, as we shall 
presently give evidence of. Thus, in the first 
year's receipts, at the burying of William 
King's wife we find the pit cost 6s. 8d., the 
bell, 6d., and the four torches 5s., while at " the 

A Caxton Memorial. 19 

burying of a prisoner," the lights cost only Id. ! 
Then, again, there is an entry of the burial " of 
the good man of the Katryn Whele " (Catherine 
Wheel), which for four tapers cost 16d., although 
we have not been favoured with the gentle- 
man's name. A servant of the King's Chappel 
paid 6d., as did also " William's Childe, of the 
Popis bed" (Pope's Head). Among the second 
year's receipts, " the burying of William Spade," 
for four tapers cost 4d. ; " John Barnard Gentil- 
man," eight torches, ISs. 4d., and knell, 6d. j and 
" my lady Stoner," six torches, 10s. Two very 
important personages were also buried this 
year : the first was *' Eauffe of the Pantry " in 
the Palace, four tapers, 8d. ; the other was 
" Mr. John, the Queues ffoole," but his burial 
only cost 4d. for two tapers. 

We have already instanced the fact of the 
church goods having been lent out as occasion 
might require ; but here is an interesting entry, 
perhaps in some way relating to the demise of 
the king : — " Item in a rewarde for Candlesticks 
lent into the Abbey for King Edward the 4th, 

The festival of St. Margaret's is again quoted 
among the payments : — " Paid to the Kep' of 
the Kyng's place for clothis of Arras to hang 
aboute the Church on Sainte Margaret's day, 
2s. To the Vesterer of the Abbay for clothis of 
sylke and of golde, 12d. For hangyng up and 
takyng downe of the saide clothis, 6d. For 
wasshyng of the ymage of Sainte Margarate, Id. 
Unto 2 watchmen on Sainte Margaret's night," 
no doubt to protect the drapery, &c., lent by 
the king, "8d. For ffaggots for the bonefire, 
4d." And, as usual, " for brede, ale, and wyne, 
for Singers of the Kyngs Chapell, 12id." 

In the early volumes of the Builder much 
interesting information will be found relating to 
churchyard crosses. That at St. Margaret's, 
Westminster, is now shown to have been in 
existence earlier than 400 years ago, for here 
are the items of its restoration : — " Paide for a 
grate brode fifrise stone to mend the fote of the 
croBse in the churche yerd, 3s. 4d. Paid for 
Assheler Stones for the same crosse, and for 
laying and workmanship, 7s. 4d. Paid for 
makyng of a crosse of tre to set upon the said 
orosse of stone, and for the spere, sponge, and 
nailes of the same, 2s. 4d. Paide to John Eede 

20 A Caxton Memorial. 

for peynting of the same crosse of tre, sponge, 
spere, and nailes, 3s." 

In the second year's accounts we find some 
notes about the steeple cross, which also appears 
to have been a restoration. Thus the carpenter 
" for half a lode of tymber to make the crosse 
upon the steeple of the chirche" received 4s. 2d. 
Two carpenters for labour on it received 8s. 4d. 
The plumber for 32 lb. solder 16s., and for 
casting 711 lb. of new lead, 9s. 9d., and as " the 
new lede is more than the olde lede " (which he 
took in exchange) by 219 lb., he charged the 
churchwardens with the difference at the rate of 
5s. 4d. the hundredweight. The same plumber 
received for his labour and for nails used 39s. 6d. ; 
the smith received 28. " for 2 doggis of yron for 
the stepill and the brodds to them," and 16d. 
was paid " for sawydyng." 

Among the miscellaneous payments we find 
" for 4 barrys for the clerkys wyndowe, weynge 

21 lb. price the lb. l^d." " For a bushell of 
coolys [coals] for hallowyng of the ffonte, 2d." 
" For makyng of a new claper to Judas bell," 
lOd. " For mendynge of the bellowse of the 
organs in the rode lofte," 6d. " For brede and 
ale spent upon Crowe and other Clerks and the 
Children of the Kyngs Chapell at Criastemasse," 
6d. ; while William Tull, " the tiler and his 
fellow," received 8d. a day each for three days' 


The accounts for these years are not those of 
the churchwardens proper, but of Thomas 
Burgeys, William Saynbrygge, and William 
Hungate, " late Maisters or Wardeyns of the 
fraternyte or gilde of cure blessid lady Saynt 
Marie withyn tbe parisshe church of Saynt 
Margarete," and are written in forty pages of 
parchment. They are a much more elaborate 
affair than the ordinary accounts, and give us a 
very interesting insight into " the origin and 
mystery " of a religious guild four hundred 
years ago. Thus we find the receipts with 
arrearages came to 365L odd, and the payments 
to 269i. Of the balance "the said Maisters 
HO we accomptants have lent to the church- 
wardens of Seynt Margarets upon certen plegges 
of sylver," 601. 

The greater sum of the receipts came from 

A Caxton Memorial. 21 

rents from houses left to the guild by benevo- 
lent members, which, for the three years, 
amounted to 134i. 9s. 4d. Here are the ren- 
tals: — Three houses in Tothill-street, for the 
three years, let for 191., of which one was let to 
Sir William Stoner at 66s. 8d. a year, " with 
reparations " ; nine tenements in our Lady-alley 
(three years), 141. 10s. ; a tenement called the 
Swan in St. Mary's parish, in the Strand, with 
five others adjoining (three years), ISl. ; the 
tenement and garden late in the tenure of Sir 
Thomas Norfolk, at Long Ditch (three years), 
48s. ; two tenements at Kensington, 40s. ; while 
40 acres of land, also at Kensington, were let as 
a field at ISs. 8d. a year ! The house called the 
Sun in King-street, 4Z. per annum; the Bell 
Tavern (which was a flourishing house 250 years 
afterwards), 40s. a year ; while quit-rents were 
received of " the monastery of Westminster " of 
13s. 4d. yearly for the tenement called the 
Saracen's Head by the Palace gate in King- 
street, and of a John Randolf, mercer, of London, 
6s. a year " for a license of free entre of comyng 
yn and going out for his tenents thurgh the gate 
and aley called our lady aley in the Kyngs 

Bequests to the guild included 30s. in money, 
three torches, two candlesticks, " a ryng of 
golde w' a saphure"; a tenement" next the 
Wulstapel gate," let at 20s. a year, and all the 
velvet for the new garland, except a quarter of 
a yard ! 

Under the heading of *' foren receyts " there 
is an extraordinary item of 68. : " the said late 
Maisters charge theym self wyth the ferme of a 
cowe longyng to the said fraternyte, letyn ta 
ferme to Ch. Jakson at 28. by yere " ! 

Next we have the entry of admittance of 114 
persons into the fraternity, at the cost of 6s. 8d. 
each. Among these, Sir Richard Surlonde, 
sub-dean of the King's Chapel ; Mr. Thomas 
Crapp's mother* Sir John Tyler Priest; the 
porter of the Ki- j's House; Andrew, the beer- 
brewer ; the master keeper of my lord of York's 
place ; and last, but not least, " Wynkyn Worde,'* 
who, without doubt, was the fellow-worker with 
Caxton in his printing-ofl&ce, and his worthy 
successor in the art and mystery of printing. 
There were also eleven persons received into 
the fraternity after their death, — that is to say, 

22 A Caxton Memorial. 

their names were entered upon the roll if they 
were kindly disposed in the shape of a legacy, 
as was the case with the Queen's chaplain, who 
left 20s. to the guild. 

The payments naturally form a very interest- 
ing series of items. Quit-rents were paid to the 
amount of 115s. 6d. for the three years. Six 
priests received 33s. 4d. a quarter each, except 
one who, having " departed without licence," had 
two weeks' wages stopped. Four almspeople 
received 6s. 8d. a quarter each ; the beadel, 
13s. 4d. a year; while "expenses of quarter- 
daies" come at from 12d. to 20d., being pay- 
ments " for brede, ale, and chese." The 
" Oby tes," or religious services for the souls, &c., 
of the departed benefactors,amounted to6L lOs.Sd. 
for the three years. The "necessary expenses" 
included, for washing clothes, repairs, torch- 
bearers, scouring of basins, &c., 148. 2d. Wax 
cost nearly 5L Repairs to the houses amounted 
to 7i. 3s, 2d. Allowances for the thirty-one 
separate pennies offered at the obits, 2s. 7d. 

The most interesting portion of the account is 
naturally the " costs of the generall feste," and 
it will very forcibly explain that the art and 
mystery of eating and drinking was a failing 
indulged in by even a religious guild in the good 
old times. This grand banquet was " kept and 
holden at the Archbishop of York's place in the 
third yere of this accompt," and cost no less 
than 37^. 7s. 3d., of which the brethren and 
Bisters present paid 111. 17s. 9d. We hope our 
readers, in casting an inquiring look at the little 
bill, will remember that " all things are changed " 
since those times, and calculations of the relative 
difference in prices must be made according to 

A pipe of red wine and a hogshead of claret, 
105s. For making of the garlands, 5s. For six 
dozens of white cups, 2s. 8d. " For portage and 
bote-hire of the turljut, 4d." "To the pleyers 
for a pley, 7s." Red wine bought for jelly, 
7i gallons, at 8d. Carriage of the wine " from 
London to Westminster," 2s. 8d. For twenty- 
two dozen bread, two dozen manchets, and four 
dozen trenchers, 268. " To John Bright for a 
kilderkyn of ale, 2s. Four barrels of ale at 
Chelsea, 16s. ; and a barrel bought at Holborn, 
48. Thirty-two pike fish cost 14d. each ; nine 
turbots cost 15s. 2d. the lot. Poultry, too, was 

A Caxton Memorial. 23 

cheap, for five dozen and eight capons cost 6s. 
a dozen ; seven dozen chickens 15d. the dozen; 
three dozen geese at 6b. 8d. the dozen (!) ; six 
herons 16d. each j eleven dozen conies 28. the 
dozen ; eight swans at 3s. 4d. each (!) ; and 300 
eggs 28. — that is to say 8d. a hundred I We 
next come to the butcher's bill. Shoulders of 
veal cost 3d. each; ten legs of mutton 20d. — 
that is 2d. a leg ; two sheep 3s. 4d., (!) or, to 
use the words of the account, " an hole shepe 
20d. " ; nine pair of calves' feet, 9d. ; two pieces 
of beef, 12d. Fifty-two gallons of milk " for 
furments," 3s. 4d. Bucks cost 6s. 8d. ; but 
several rewards of from 12d. to 5s. were given 
to the servants of donors of some of these 
dainties. The miscellaneous items included a 
pint of mustard, ^d. ; three gallons of honey, 
3s. Sd. ; 10 lb. of candle, lOd. ; breakage and 
loss of thirty-five pots and pans, Is. 6.3d. ; half a 
bushel of grapes, 6d. ; herbs, 8d. ; half a pound 
of cynamon, 12d. ; 2 lb. of pepper, 28. lid.; 
^ gallon of vinegar, 6d. ; 18 lb. of raisins at 2id. ; 
6 lb. of almonds at 3d. ; and 1 lb. of cloves, 3g. 
Carriage of the tables cost 6d. ; labourers 
" watching " two nights, 2s. 7d. ; the cook for 
dressing the dinner received 268. 8d. The 
butler and his men, 138. 4d. ; the plate-keeper, 
63. 8d. ; hire of the vessels cost lis. 6d. ; and 
last, but not least, there was paid as a gift " to 
the keeper of my lord of Yorks place " 6s. 8d., 
to the under keeper 20d., and to the beadle 12d,, 
no doubt in acknowledgment for the kind per- 
mission to hold the banquet there. 

Such are a few of the items from this feast 
account, and they will convey, we think, a very 
good idea of the cost of provisions at that period. 
Eeturning to the churchwardens' books proper, 
we find the next two accounts are of more than 
usual interest, for they are the last of those in 
the years in which Caxton lived and worked 
amongst us, in the famous city of Westminster. 


" Here folowyth thaccompte of John Gerard 
and of Heugh Okham Wardeins," &c. from 
May 28, 1488, to May 27, 1490, written on twenty 
pages of parchment, 8 in. by 12 in. in size. The 
two years' receipts amounted to 481. odd, but 
the payments only came to 151. lis. 6d., leaving 
a balance of some 32L, 201. of which, we are 

24 A Caxton Memorial, 

told by the audit, was delivered over " to the 
Maisters of the chirch werks." 

This account gives, as usual, an intimation 
that a portion of the church gooda was lent out to 
another parish, for we find 20d. was received 
**for lendyng of the best cowpes to Saynt 
Clements w'out temple barr ab Wytsontyd," 
and 8d. " of my lord grey for lendynge of a Mas- 
boke vestment and chales." In the second 
year a " Thomas Chyppyngdale " was buried at 
the cost of 2d. ; while the funeral of the parson 
of Arundel (Sussex ?) cost 6s. 8d. for torches, 
and 6s. 8d. for his pit in the church. 

The bequests the second year comprised two 
only, — Lord Gray, for the loan to him, upon 
three occasions, of a vestment, chalice, and 
mass-book, gave 2s. 8d. ; and 100s. was received 
from Lady Ancras. 

The payments included a rope for the naiddle 
bell, 7d. ; " to John Benet and John Tadgoce, for 
theyr gret age at Mydsomer," 3s. 4d. ; making 
the base of the cross of stone in the churchyard, 
4s. ; ** for leynthyng of evry raf tre of the olde 
rofe, and retornyng of the same downe agayne 
to the rofe of ye new ile," 3s. 4d. ; for 1,000 
tiles, 5s. ; for tile-pins, 2|^d. ; a labourer 4 days, 
16d. ; and last, but not least, " payde for brede, 
ale, & wyne, and kychen for a sowpar to the 
awdy tors and to the new wardeyns," 20s. 


The accounts of these years, — Richard Frost 
and B/obard Lowthyam being wardens, — have a 
melancholy interest, for they contain the rela- 
tion of the burial of William Caxton. There are 
twenty-seven written parchment pages, and they 
embrace the periods May 27, 1490, to June 3, 
1492, in which periods the receipts were 
601. Is. 9|d., and the payments 661. Is. 9d., 
leaving a balance of only 4L Os. Ofd. on the 
right side. 

As this account is of more than ordinary 
interest, Mr. Noble has gone somewhat minutely 
into details, and the result of his scrutiny we 
cannot do better than give. Of the general 
receipts, the 6rst year there are 344 entries, and 
the majority of these are burials. As we have 
already instanced, the smallest payment is 2d., 
and the numbers buried at this rate were 138. 
The highest payment was for the pit and torches 

A Caxton Memorial. 25 

of a " Mayster Bostok," 148. 8(3. There were 
two burials at 5s. ; three at 20d. ; 26 at 8d. ; 
89 at 4d. ; and 19 at 12d. Two cost 48., one 
7s. 4d., and five 6s. 4d. ; so it will be seen that 
the parish at that date contained many persons 
above the average class. It is in this first year 
we find " Mawde Caxston" buried, costing for 
torches and tapers, 3s. 2d. ; but what relation 
she was to the printer Mr. Blades has not been 
able to discover. The second year's items for 
burials, &c., amount to 256, and of these 
exactly 100 are for 2d. ; 23 for 6d. (tolling the 
bell) ; 59 for 4d. ; 9 for 8d. ; and 16 for Is. The 
highest payment this year was for " Annea 
Clark," whose funeral, for pit, torches, and 
tapers, cost 13s. 4d. But the most interesting 
entry is that which stands the 190th out of the 
256, and which reads in these words: — " Itm 
atte hureyng of Willia'ni Caxton, for iiij torches, 
vjs viij'*. Itr,i for the hell atte same hureijng, 
^jd » rpj^Q relative position of the entry would 
lead us to suppose (says Mr. Blades) that our 
first English printer was buried towards the 
close of the year 1491, and we do not think he 
is far out, if we take into consideration all the 
other facts attending the close of his career. It 
must be borne in mind the earliest parish 
register in this country is of date 1538 (which 
is the date that at St. Margaret's commences), 
so in having these churchwardens' books pre- 
served to ua we have priceless treasures extend- 
ing back half a century before official registra- 
tion, and in this instance far above valuation, 
for they contain the entry of the burial of 
William Caxton. 

Among the other items of receipts of the first 
year stand the bequests, 20d. from " Syr John 
Batyll Prest " ; lOd., which was " gadered atte 
weddyng of Howell's mayde " ; and 2s. 8d., 
which two persons philanthropically gave " for 
dyvers peces of olde tymber." In the second 
year, " Bartylmew the lay monke " gave 8d. 
" for two old hordes " ; " Syr Eichard Sugar 
Prest " left the church 10s. ; while there was 
"receyved of the churchwardens of Seynt 
Pulchres for the dragon," 2 s. 4d. This latter 
entry, which at first reads unintelligible, is 
further explained by a payment in the same 
year, "for dressyng of the dragon, and for 
packthread," 4rl., — this dragon being, without 

26 A Caxton Memorial. 

doubt, a painted representation of that winged 
serpent who, it may be remembered, according 
to tradition, took upon himself to swallow 
St. Margaret, but who in turn was too strong for 
the stomach of even so great and powerful an 
enemy, for she managed to effect her escape, 
and by so miraculous a delivery became the 
patron saint of all unborn infants ! Conse- 
quently, as we have already stated, St. Mar- 
garet's Day (July 20th) was anciently a grand 
festival in Westminster, hence in this second 
year, — the same year that Caxton died in, — we 
find payments of 4d. " for f agotts for the bond- 
fire on Saynt Margarett's Even," and 12d. " for 
payntyng of the wall byhinde Saynt Kateryn, 
and for ffreshyng of Saynt Margarett," besides 
those other refreshing entries, when bread, ale, 
and wine, no doubt, kept alive the festivities of 
the hour. 

There is an entry among the receipts of a 
diaper towel 4^ yards long, by half a yard 
wide, which Margaret Eden was good enough 
to present to the church, with the substantial 
addition of 2s. 8d. in money. Such a notable 
bequest had to be recognised by the parish, and 
so we find among the payments, " Payde for 
brede and ale spent upon Margaret Eden and 
her feleshipp atte Rceyuyng of a towell afore 
wrytton, 2d. " ! The parish had only just 
spent three-halfpence " for brede and ale atte 
makyng of the inventory of the chirche 

Some extensive repairs were carried out 
about the church at this time; for William 
Egerden, the plumber, actually received 
25L lis. 6d. "for ledyng of the south ile " ; 
40s. was paid for boards bought at Kingston ; 
608. 8d. was paid for the outer work of the two 
windows of the vestry, the glazing of which 
cost 9s. 7d. more ; a new door for it cost lis., 
and a pair of hinges 23d. Also, " for thirteen 
borthens of Roshes for the new lie," 18d., and 
" for careying of fourteen lodes of erthe from 
the Wolstaple to the Chyrche," 12d. 

*' For mendyngand dressyng of a greteboke," 
4s. was paid ; 8 lb. of tallow candles cost 8d. ; 
twenty-four burthens of rushes at Easter cost 
3s. ; William Eoyall was paid 8d. " for two 
days in mendyng of pewes " ; also lOd. " to 
Hewgh, Keper of the Paloyes [Palace] for a 

A Caxton Memorial, 27 

new ladder" ; mending eighteen vestments cost 
2s. 2d., while there was spent upon Master 
Harry Abyngton, who was a worthy benefactor 
to the parish, 6d. " for a brekfaat " upon one 
occasion, as also 4id. for wine for him "at 
dyvera times." Added to which there was 
always a payment at the end of the account of 
20s. " for brede, ale, wyne, and kychen, for a 
soper to the awditora and to the new wardens," 
at which, without doubt, our Westminster 
friends talked over parochial affairs with the 
same spirit as they do to-day. 

By the foregoing entries we have illustrated 
the times of William Caxton throughout the 
fourteen years in which he worked his printing- 
press at Westminster. Our extracts from the 
books have not been exhaustive, but Mr. Noble 
has made them as illustrative of the period as 
possible. At the same time, we must not forget 
that the years we have quoted are not the only 
early accounts possessed by the parish of 
St. Margaret. The earliest is dated 1460-1462, 
and comprises nine parchment leaves 10 in. by 
65 in. in size. Tbe earliest " Guild " account is 
1475-1478, in twenty leaves 11 in. by 8 in., and in 
it is the receipt of 20a. for three years' rent of 
the tenement inhabited by the Vicar of Ken- 
sington, and 7s. 6d. for three years' rent for 
2^ acres of land in St. James's-fields, which 
is now covered by those princely blocks of 
buildings lying between Pall-mall and Picca- 
dilly ! 

Although we do not intend to go deeply into 
the other accounts, there are one or two items 
interesting enough to quota. Thus in 1494 : — 
"Reaeved of the wyffe of the Katrine Whele 
[Catherine Wheel] and of the wyffe of the 
Dragon for a Pew," 3s. ; and these appeared to 
be the ladies of the taverns of those names. 
"For mendyngof y^ gret Pulpitt," 3d. "For 
naylia and makyng of a bedde in the vestrie for 
the clerkys," 6d. This was probably a bedstead, 
and is explained by an entry among the church 
goods in 1498 : — " Item, a fether bede w* a 
bolster of the gefte of the Syster of the bysahop 
of Seynt Asse [Asaph] to thentent that he shall 
remayne into the vestrie as long as they last 
for the clerkis of the cherche to lay upon " ! 

In 1496 :— " For 20 tonne and 5 fote of Cane 
Stone, price the tonne, 6s." ; and " to 6 laborers 

28 A Caxton Memorial. 

havyng up of the same stone at the myll and 
to 4 laborers for ye helpyng home therof fro the 
myll to the cherchyard, Ss. 4d." 

In 1498 : — " For a chayne of yron to bynd the 
boke at Mast Habyndon's pewe," 8d. " Of a 
man of London for a stone that was founde 
w'in the grounde that a man was buried in," 
6s. Id. "Paid at a tavern e for a Potell of 
Wyn for Sir William Tyler when we spake to 
him for to have license to have our Reigate 
stoon," 4d. In 1500 : — *' Rec^ a ryng of sylver 
and gylte of an olde woman." '* Payd for fetchyng 
of 2 tonne of stone over the water from Fakkes 
halle into the Kynges brydge," 6d. The stone 
itself cost 4s. a ton. In 1502 :— " For 2 foder 
lede bought at Bertylmewe feyre," 81. *' For 
makyng of 8 dragons," 63.8d. *' For changing 
of £5 of noughty pence," 3s. 4d., — and this, we 
presume, was money received at the collections, 
&o.y which was either bad or under weight. In 
1504 : — " To fader Yanne for the kepyng of the 
whypeforbetyngthedoggesoute of the chyrche," 
16d. The same year, on St. Margaret's- day : — 
" To the waitta of London for to go afore the 
pcession," 4s. In 1510 : — Received " atte bury- 
ing of the costerdmonger for 4 tapers," 4d. 
This is an early mention of the word "coster- 
monger," which is brought very close to our 
present definition in the accounts for the feast 
in 1519 : — " To the costerdmonger for Peirs, 
12d." ! And as we travel over the interesting 
entries year by year, we find the cherished 
names of our early printers, — of Wynkyn de 
Worde, of Pynson, Copland, Berthelet, Julian 
Notary, and others, who all helped to produce, 
after Caxton's death, those wonderfully-printed, 
sheets and books which, at this day, are looked 
at by all of us with such loving eyes. 

We have mentioned the guild already, and 
endeavoured to show its design. Of its powers 
as a society we see an evidence in its accounts 
for 1519-1522, and an extract we cannot do 
better than submit to the attention of the rulers 
of benefit clubs of to-day : " Receyved of Robert 
Graunte for miebehavyng hym in words spek- 
yng at a q'^ter-day kept in the cheker chamber 
on Seint Thomas Day in Crisfcmas in the pre- 
sence of all the masters and brethren then 
beying, Master Walter Gardener, John Wryght, 
and John Ford, wardeyns, the whiche wordys wer 

A Caxton Memorial. 29 

Bpokjn to William Millys and Edward Stokwod, 
then churche-warde^'ns of Seint Margret, and 
ther he waa juggyd by all the houss to pay a 
pound of wax, and so he payd ther lOd." And 
the same time Thomas Wylde was fined to the 
same amount for having entered into a law-snit 
with another brother, Philip Lentall, without 
having first submitted his case to the fraternity ! 
It is such entries as these that help to enlighten 
us about the customs of our forefathers. Such 
decisions among themselves in these old guilds 
frequently saved the members from the gentle- 
men of the long robe, an endless law-suit, and 
loss of money and ruin of home. 

The Church of St. Margaret, Westminster, 
situated as it is beneath the shade of the Abbey 
and the Parliament Houses, boasting, as it does, of 
a history which goes far back into the age of tradi- 
tion, is a building well worth a pilgrimage to 
see. Recently restored at ah expense of 12,0002., 
which amount, thanks to the energy of its rector, 
the Rev. Canon Farrar, has just been paid off, it 
is now one of the finest, as it is one of the 
lightest, of our London church interiors, and 
what is of even more consequence, it is one of 
the few London churches which often has a con- 
gregation larger than it will comfortably hold. 
But somehow or other it has always been a 
popular edifice, while the parish has been the 
home of some of the most celebrated of England's 
worthies from the days of Caxton to our own. 
Its registers, as we have stated, commence in 
1538, twenty years earlier than the majority of 
parish registers, and yet in those twenty years 
something like 12,000 names are written in its 
books, while in the first 100 years we are rather 
under the estimate than over when we state the 
number of entries in its books to be 60,000, of 
which 34,000 are burials. This will give good 
evidence of the size of the parish even in those 
early times. 

The three names recorded in the parish books 
which stand most prominently forward in history 
are Caxton, Raleigh, and Milton. Other famous 
names occur in the registers, but these are the 
illustrious ones. At the top of the page of the 
Burial Register for October, 1618, is written, 
" Sir Walter Rawleigh, knight," and this is all the 
evidence we have of his burial in this church after 
he was beheaded in Old Palace-yard. Curiously 

30 A Caxton Memorial. 

enough, the register, during this month, is 
without the actual dates ; but as the entry is 
only the fourth from the end of that month, 
the day of his burial must have been, as histo- 
rians state, — the 29th. Among the Birch MSS. 
in the British Museum is a copy of the letter 
which Queen Anne is supposed to have written 
to the king's favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, 
in these words : — " Anna K. My kind dogge, — 
If I have any power or credit with you, I pray 
you to let me have a triall of it at this time in 
dealing sincerely and earnestly with the King 
that S' Walter Raleigh's life may not be called 
in question. If you do it so that success answer 
my expectations, assure yourself that I will take 
it extraordinery kindly att your hand, and rest 
one that wisheth you well and desire you to con- 
tinue still as you have been, a true servant to 
your master." But although every effort was 
made to save Ealeigh, it was useless. At the 
time of the recent restoration an effort was 
made to trace his remains, but that, too, failed ; 
and although there is a tablet to his memory in 
the church, it has been suggested there should be, 
and Canon Farrar still hopes to succeed in getting 
for the great west window, a suitable stained glass 
memorial. As the text on the tablet tells us, — 
"Reader, should you reflect on his errors, re- 
member his many virtues, and that he was a 
mortal," — a mortal, too, bear in mind, to whom 
the world at large owes something. 

John Milton, ** the prince of poets," and Oliver 
Cromwell's secretary, who was then a resident 
in Petty France, in St. Margaret's parish, was 
married to his second wife, Katherine, the 
daughter of Capt. Woodcock, of Hackney, by 
Alderman Dethick, probably in the Guildhall, 
London, the 12th of November, 1656. We are 
indebted to the researches of Col. Chester for 
this valuable information (see Prof. Masson's 
"Life of Milton") and to the registers of 
St. Margaret's for the fact that there the banns 
were published October 22nd and 27th, and 
November 3rd. On October 19th, 1657, the 
Baptism Register records the name of " Kathe- 
rine Milton," the issue of that union. But 
poor Milton's second marriage was of short 
duration. His wife was buried here on February 
10th, 1657-8, and the infant child on March 20th 
following, thus bringing, as Professor Masson 

A Caxton Memorial. 31 

remarks, darkness once again over the life and 
labours of this celebrated man. Of what those 
labours were, at Westminster at least, Professor 
Masson himself is the best story-teller. 

To give even an outline of all the noticeable 
entries to"be found in the registers would take 
up too much room, and tire the patience of our 
readers ; but there are a few curious ones which 
may interest us all, and give us an insight to 
the style our forefathers had in registration. 
Turning, therefore, to the list of burials, we find 
these items : — 1554, May 9, " Jone Wylson the 
heretyck was buryed without ye churchyearde." 
July 7, "A poore man dyed at ye Mynster 
doore." August 10, " Jone a pore Woman died 
at Westminster Hall doore." 1567, Oct. 10, 
" Jane a pore Woman w'^'* died in ye theving 
house." 1578, June 26, " My ladie Chickin a 
poore woman so called." The first entry in the 
second volume of the register somewhat puzzled 
us. The burial of " Roberto Noble " is recorded 
on the 24th and 25th of May, 1572, and to prevent 
any mistake, the clerk has iDracketed the dates. 
Why should Robert Noble's burial take two 
days ? After puzzling ourselves for some time 
we arrived at the conclusion that as it is the 
first entry in the book, and as many of the 
subsequent entries of a later date had evidently 
been written in at the same time, the new book 
had not arrived when these burials took place, 
and the clerk who had kept notes in bis pocket 
found the date of the earliest one to be some- 
what indistinct, and the happy thought struck 
him to put down the two days, one of which he 
knew was correct, but it did not much matter 
which. The careless system of posting parish 
registers three hundred years ago easily accounts 
for the remarkable entry, — 1618, January, 
" John Agodsname." But when we came to the 
year 1649 we began to think it was time to stop, 
for on October 11th stands the entry of the 
burial of " Cardinall Wolsey " ! Subsequent 
inquiry showed him to have been a child baptised 
the 15th of June previously as the son of Robert 
Wolsey, by Abigail his wife ! After all, what's 
in a name ? 

Among the baptisms we find on October 25, 
1598, " Nelleodillior Billy, daughter to Hugh," 
and on December 3, " John, base son to a pudding 
man." Even a couple of hundred years later the 

32 A Caxton Memorial. 

clerk had a curious way of entering, for on 
October 3, 1782, is this entry, " A boy with 2 
Xtian names, sneaked off." It seems the child 
was baptised, but the parents went oflF without 
paying the fees, and so the clerk had his revenge. 
On August 11, 1657, were baptised " Abraham, 
Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah Joanes SS. and D. to 
Edward by Alice borne att one birth in the long 
Woolstaple. The mother dyed in child-bed." 
Upon referring to the burials, the mother's 
name is entered that day, and on the 16th of 
September the child Sarah, but no record of the 
burial of the three boys. If we only knew they 
survived to man's estate the fact would be doubly 

One marriage, so far as curious names are con- 
cerned, is worth a note, and it occurs June 7, 
1626, " Richard Lambe to Barbara Puddinge." 
The connexion is certainly suggestive. And 
yet these names are eclipsed by more modern 
ones to be found in the registers of the 
Church of St. Dunstan- in-the-West, such as 
" Lock Key," in 1685 ; " Marey Whit-Sunday," 
in 1697; "Thomas Shipyard," in 1698; "Eliza- 
beth Chancery Lane," in 1705 ; " Remarkable 
Bunworth," in 1712, and " Politicall Smith," the 
same year. In 1673, however, there is a still 
more curious entry of burial, " September 28, 
What-you-please Hill buried under the Quest 
House out of Chancery Lane." After this, what 
more need be said ? We do not give our children 
such odd names nowadays, but for the privilege 
of telling our readers some of the peculiarities 
attending the registrations of centuries ago we 
owe our gratitude to William Caxton, in whose 
honour, and to perpetuate whose fame, this 
memorial is offered to our readers. 

Wyman Sj- Sons, Frinters, Great Queen Street, London.