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The Spering residences in Leadenhall Street, London (1577-1643)

The Spering's occupied several properties in Leadenhall Street (134, 135, 136, & 137) as well as several smaller tenements in Shaft Alley. They were certainly a significant presence and held leases here for almost 70 years, from 1577 to 1643, spanning the latter half of the reign of Elizabeth I until the start of the Civil War.

The earliest records available online for all of the Spering properties in Leadenhall Street date from 1577, the first year following the 1576 statute establishing the Wardens and Assistants of the Rochester Bridge Trust (RBT). This was (and still is) a charity set up to maintain bridges across the River Medway at Rochester in the county of Kent. The Medway enters the Thames estuary about 40 miles east of London, near it's exit into the English Channel.

In 1391, a new stone bridge was built at Rochester to replace the previous Roman bridge which had been destroyed by winter storms. The construction was funded by the powerful Kentish knight and landowner Sir John de Cobham and another wealthy knight, Sir Robert Knolles, with the assistance of Henry Yevele, the best English architect of his time. The new bridge consisted of eleven stone arches and a drawbridge. 

However, to pay for the maintenance and repair of the new bridge, the two knights petitioned Richard II and in 1399 received a royal patent. This patent established the Wardens and Commonalty of Rochester Bridge and granted them power to own property and to use the income to maintain the bridge. Originally there were just two wardens, but the Rochester Bridge Act 1576 added 12 assistants elected by the parishes surrounding Rochester to help administer the bridge estates and oversee the bridge maintenance.

The Wardens and Commonalty accumulated properties in Kent, Essex, and London and used the rental income to maintain the bridge. The administration of these properties (some of which still belong to the Rochester Bridge Trust) generated extensive records many of which still survive to this day, including those relating to the Spering properties in Leadenhall Street. The records from 1577 are now available online as part of the City and Region Project run by Prof David Ormrod of the University of Kent. Records prior to this are held by the RBT and may contain details of leases held by the Spering's prior to 1577.

View of Rochester Bridge and Castle.

1599 Estate Rental

Nicholas Sperynge was the first of the family recorded to lease a property in Leadenhall Street. In 1577, he was given a new lease for the property at 136 Leadenhall Street (East side). However, his sons William and Harry were christened in St Andrews Undershaft in 1571 and 1573, and we know from the London Port Books that he was importing goods from Antwerp in 1567, and he took on his brother George as an apprentice goldsmith in 1564, so the two brothers probably lived in the area from about 1560, if not before. London Subsidy Rolls online indicate they lived in Lyme Streete ward in 1582, 1599 and 1600. Other subsidy rolls (the ones for 1547, 1549, 1564 and 1577 survive [1]) may indicate an earlier presence, perhaps even the name of their father.

The lease on 136 Leadenhall Street remained in place for 59 years, until 1636, at which point it was renewed and passed to a Susan Yeomans, widow, who held it for 10 years, until 1647. This raises several questions because Yeomans was the married name of Nicholas' third wife (Ellen or Eleanor Spering, nee Yeomans, nee Robinson). But Nicholas died in 1608, predeceased by Ellen in 1605. So who inherited the lease when he died and kept on paying the rent under his name until 1636, 28 years later? One of his children? And who is Susan Yeomans and how did she acquire the lease? One possibility is that she was the wife of one of Ellen Yeoman's sons by her previous marriage. If this theory is correct, her son would have continued to hold the lease at 136 until his death whereupon it would have been passed to his widow, Susan, who renewed it in 1637. I went searching for evidence to substantiate this theory.

When Nicholas married Ellen Yeomans in February 1583, she had a daughter Anne Yeomans (aged a mere 3 months) and a son Robert Yeomans, who was probably born in 1576 in St Benet Fink (making him 7 years old). I searched but could not find a marriage of a Robert Yeomans to a Susan. There was a Robert Yeomans (Cloheroont) who was buried in St Giles, Criplegate on 9th Sep 1637, and another one was buried on 29th June 1632 at St Katherine Coleman. Either one could have been the stepson of Nicholas, and Susan could have been his wife (making her Nicholas' stepdaughter-in-law).

Property Division: 136 Leadenhall Street East Side (1577-1754)
Landlord: Rochester Bridge Trust

Date

Rent 
Collected
(pounds)

Tenant

Occupier

Property Comment

1577 to 1589

2.167

Nicholas Sperynge, goldsmith

Nicholas Sperynge has new lease at 43s.4d. rent per annum. The superficial area measured by planimeter on the 1750 estate plan is 370 square feet. In this first year following the 1576 statute establishing the Wardens and Assistants, the end of the accounting year shifts from Michaelmas to the Annunciation. The accounts rendered at Pentecost 1578 thus account for 18 months' rent from Michaelmas 1576 to the Annunciation 1578. For the purpose of comparison with succeeding years, however, the rents have been adjusted to cover only the 12 months from the Annunciation 1577 to the Annunciation 1578.

1590 to 1636

2.5

Nicholas Sperynge, goldsmith

In consideration of his rebuilding the messuage, Nicholas Spering is granted a fifty-year lease for 50s rent per annum.

1637 to 1647

7.5

Susan Yeomans, widow

Susan Yeomans has a new lease at £7 5s rent per annum.

from 1648

8

John Blackbourne, upholster

John Blackbourne is granted a new lease at £8 rent per annum.


Data extracted from the file Leadenhall Street.xls available from the City and Region Project website

And then I found his Will ... Robert Yeomans wrote a Will in 1618 and it was proved on 27th Oct 1625. He was a "citizen and goldsmith", had a wife Susan, a mother-in-law called Snelling, and several children. He lived in St Dunstan-in-the-East, about 1km from St Andrews Undershaft. So it may be that Nicholas raised his stepson as a goldsmith? And Robert held the lease for 136 but did not live there - instead he rented it out.

A Robert Yeomans had 9 children baptised in St Dunstans between 1609 and 1624 (including a Susan, a Lawrence, and an Ann), but I could not find a marriage to a Susan Snelling either on Ancestry.com or the IGI. Regarding his burial record, he should have been buried at St Dunstans in the East but nothing comes up on a search on Ancestry.com. His last child Jonas was born on 19th Jan 1625/26 so he must have been alive to father it in April 1625. Goldsmith Hall library may have additional records regarding his career as a goldsmith.

I also found the Will of Susanne Yeomans. She wrote it in April 1641 and it was proved in July 1641. She was living in Ilford, Essex at that time and she names several of her children (which ties in with the baptisms in St Dunstans) and also the property in Leadenhall Street "which I hold from the wardens and Assistants of Rochester Bridge" so it is definitely the same person! And in 1641 the lease at 136 was passed to her son Lawrence who in turn disposed of it in 1647.

Family Tree of Robert Yeomans (stepson of Nicholas Sperynge)

In summary, Susan Yeomans Will ties her to Leadenhall Street. It also mentions the names of her children which ties her to the baptism records from St Dunstans in the East. These in turn tie her to her husband Robert Yeomans, whilst the Will of Robert Yeomans ties him to Susan, and to the goldsmith trade, but not directly Leadenhall Street.

George Spering - in 1590, Nicholas' brother George leased the house next door at number 137 Leadenhall Street. In fact, it looks like he rebuilt two properties and combined them into one. In the same year, his brother Nicholas had rebuilt his property at 136 so perhaps they did the construction work jointly. The combined square footage of the new property was about 548 square feet, bigger than his brother Nicholas' house next door (370 square feet). Included in the rent was the sixth tenement on the east side of Shaft Alley. The smaller size of this latter property (about 14 feet by 10 feet) is reflected in the rents paid - 4.5 pounds for the joined property at 137, but only 0.833 pounds (16 shillings) for the tenement in Shaft Alley. There is no mention in the records of an "Occupier" so perhaps George occupied it himself, perhaps using it as his goldsmith's workshop. Alternatively, perhaps it was rented to various people over the years but their names were not recorded in the books.

George died in 1611 but his name is still recorded in the rental books until 1632. In his 1611 Will, he leaves his "nowe dwellinge house and foure small tenements or cottages in Shafte Alley" to his son George, but presumably his widow Elizabeth continued to live in the family home until the lease was renewed in 1633 and granted to "Elizabeth Speeringe, widow". Elizabeth died in 1644 and in this year the lease was taken over by Robert Davies, haberdasher - a man with no known relation to the Spering's. 

Property Division: 137 Leadenhall Street East Side (1577-1754)
Landlord: Rochester Bridge Trust

Date

Property Division

Rent Collected
(pounds)

Tenant

Occupier

Property Comment

1577 to 1589

137 Leadenhall Street 
East Side 
(1577-1632)

2

Johane Tyme, widow

Johanna Tyme has new lease for 40s rent per annum. The superficial area measured by planimeter on the 1750 estate plan is 274 square feet. In this first year following the 1576 statute establishing the Wardens and Assistants, the end of the accounting year shifts from Michaelmas to the Annunciation. The accounts rendered at Pentecost 1578 thus account for 18 months' rent from Michaelmas 1576 to the Annunciation 1578. For the purpose of comparison with succeeding years, however, the rents have been adjusted to cover only the 12 months from the Annunciation 1577 to the Annunciation 1578.

1577 to 1589

137 Leadenhall Street 
West Side
(1577-1632)

2

John Prynne, merchant tailor

John Prynne has a new lease for 40s rent per annum. The superficial area measured by planimeter on the 1750 estate plan is 274 square feet. In this first year following the 1576 statute establishing the Wardens and Assistants, the end of the accounting year shifts from Michaelmas to the Annunciation. The accounts rendered at Pentecost 1578 thus account for 18 months' rent from Michaelmas 1576 to the Annunciation 1578. For the purpose of comparison with succeeding years, however, the rents have been adjusted to cover only the 12 months from the Annunciation 1577 to the Annunciation 1578.

1590 to 1632

137 Leadenhall Street 
East Side
(1577-1632)

2.5

George Spering, goldsmith

The two small tenements at 137 Leadenhall Street are rebuilt and combined with a tenement in Shaft Alley in one lease to George Spering, goldsmith. Rents continue to be entered separately in the account books until 1633.

1590 to 1632

137 Leadenhall Street 
West Side
(1577-1632)

2

George Spering, goldsmith

The two small tenements at 137 Leadenhall Street are rebuilt and combined with a tenement in Shaft Alley in one lease to George Spering, goldsmith. Rents continue to be entered separately in the account books until 1633.

1590 to 1632

6th tenement on east side of Shaft Alley (1577-1632)

0.833

George Spering, goldsmith

George Speringe is granted a combined lease for 137 Leadenhall Street and the sixth tenement on the east side of Shaft Alley. Rents continue to be entered separately until 1633.

1632

6th tenement on east side of Shaft Alley (1577-1632)

0.833

George Spering, goldsmith

After this year Elizabeth Speeringe has a new lease for the combined premises of 137 Leadenhall Street and one tenement in Shaft Alley at £10 rent per annum. Rents are no longer entered individually.

1633 to 1643

137 Leadenhall Street and 6th tenement on east side of Shaft Alley (1633-1674)

10

Elizabeth Speeringe, widow

Elizabeth Speeringe has a new lease for the combined premises of 137 Leadenhall Street and the sixth tenement on the east side of Shaft Alley at £10 rent per annum. The combined superficial area measured by planimeter on the 1750 estate plan is 686 square feet.

1644

137 Leadenhall Street and 6th tenement on east side of Shaft Alley (1633-1674)

14

Robert Davies, haberdasher

Accounts this year contain only the total rent due of £380 1s 3d. The detailed annual rental has been reconstructed from the lease register and surviving leases. Robert Davies has a new lease for the combined premises of 137 Leadenhall Street and one tenement in Shaft Alley at £14 rent per annum.


Data extracted from the file Leadenhall Street.xls available from the City and Region Project website



In 1594, four years after he started leasing 137, George leased the properties at 134 and 135 Leadenhall Street, thus effectively hemming in his brother Nicholas on both sides. I wonder if they had connecting doors and the two families wandered freely through each others homes?

The new property was considerably bigger than those at 136 and 137, presumably because of the large courtyard included. The total area was 2724 square feet. Included in the lease were 3 smaller tenements, the 4th, 5th and 6th tenements on the upper west side of Shaft Alley, which together with the 6th tenement on the east side (from the 1590 lease above) form the "foure small tenements or cottages" described in George's 1611 WillAs stated previously, George passed away in 1611 and this property presumably passed to his son George.

In 1633, a new lease (dated 13th June) was granted to George junior, who is described as a gentleman. This suggests that the younger George was not a goldsmith but rather was a man of wealth who did not need to work. The new lease incorporated an additional small tenement at the end of Shaft Alley bringing the total (in this lease) to four small tenements in addition to the large tenement at 134 and 135 Leadenhall Street.

However, George the younger did not live there - the property was occupied by Christopher Metcalfe from 1633-1643 (see Table below). So this begs the question: where did George and his young family live?

The baptism records of his children suggest that from 1634 to 1641 he lived somewhere between St Giles Cripplegate and St Andrew Undershaft. In 1646, his son George was baptized in St Botolph Bishopsgate, which in fact is only about 300-400 metres north of the church of St Andrew undershaft, so it is possible that he still lived relatively close by to the previous family home. Moreover, a 1635 deed of sale records him as "George Speringe of the parish of St Gyles without Cryplegate London, gent". All this suggests that he still lived close by to St Andrew Undershaft up to 1646.

Lastly, in his brief Will of 1657, George is described as being of the parish of St Stephen, Coleman Street. This is about 900 metres west of St Andrew Undershaft, so still within the general vicinity.

The properties facing Leadenhall Street in 1719. Click on the image for a larger version.

Property Image Property Image Property Image
Plans of Leadenhall Street & Shaft Alley 1687, 1719, and 1750 (click for larger versions)

From the City & Region Project website

On the 1719 plan above, the family home of George the younger is indicated by Tenement D (134-135) and edged with yellow. The home of his brother Nicholas at 136 is Tenement C and edged with green. George also leased the property at 137 (Tenement B) - perhaps this was his workshop. Further details regarding the particulars of these leases can be found here and here.

A similar situation arises when we turn to his mother Elizabeth, who in her Will of 1641, leaves "my two freehold Messuages or tenements" (presumably 137 & the 6th tenement) to her son George, but states that they are occupied by other people (Abraham Dullen and Abraham Pomfrett, merchants). This, however, is not apparent from the rental books, suggesting that the present occupiers were not always recorded.

Moreover, if Elizabeth's two tenements were occupied by other people, then we don't know where she was living either. Perhaps she was living with her son George and his family?

But this still does not tell us if, when, and most importantly why George the younger (a gentleman and man of means), took his wife Rebecca and their family and moved to Ireland.

Family Tree of George Spering & Rebecca Carter

And even if they did, we know from the 1712 Will of their eldest child, Elizabeth (who married Isaac Baynham) that she was still living in London when she died. So where were the Spering's between 1657 and 1712? 

In 1644, the leases for both 134 & 135, and 137 were renewed by a Roger Peel and a Robert Davies respectively, the lease for the former "having lawfully come into his possession". This suggests that George disposed of these leases shortly after his mother's death.

This apparently put an end to the Spering presence in Leadenhall Street.

Property Division: 134 & 135 Leadenhall Street (plus several tenements)
Landlord: Rochester bridge Trust

Date

Property Division

Rent Collected
(pounds)

Tenant

Occupier

Property Comment

1577 to 1593

134 and 135 Leadenhall Street (1577-1632)

4.334

Jane Perpoynte, widow

Jane Perpoynte, widow, is granted a lease at £4 6s. 8d. rent per annum. The superficial area measured by planimeter on the 1750 estate plan is 2,724 square feet. In this first year following the 1576 statute establishing the Wardens and Assistants, the end of the accounting year shifts from Michaelmas to the Annunciation. The accounts rendered at Pentecost 1578 thus account for 18 months' rent from Michaelmas 1576 to the Annunciation 1578. For the purpose of comparison with succeeding years, however, the rents have been adjusted to cover only the 12 months from the Annunciation 1577 to the Annunciation 1578.

1594 to 1632

134 and 135 Leadenhall Street (1577-1632)

5.333

George Spering, goldsmith

George Spering is granted a combined lease at £9 3s. 4d. rent per annum for the large tenement and courtyard at 134 and 135 Leadenhall Street and the adjacent three tenements on the upper west side of Shaft Alley. Rents, including £5 6s. 8d. for the tenement, continue to be entered separately in the account books until 1633.

1594 to 1632

4th tenement on west side of Shaft Alley (1577-1632)

1.167

George Spering, goldsmith

George Spering is granted a combined lease at £9 3s. 4d. rent per annum for the large tenement and courtyard at 134 and 135 Leadenhall Street and the adjacent three tenements on the upper west side of Shaft Alley. Rents, including 23s. 4d. for this 4th tenement on the west side of Shaft Alley, continue to be entered separately in the account books until 1633.

1632

4th tenement on west side of Shaft Alley (1577-1632)

1.167

George Spering, goldsmith

In 1633 George Spering is granted a combined lease for 134 Leadenhall Street and the 4th, 5th, and 6th tenements on the west side and the combined end tenement in Shaft Alley.

1594 to 1632

5th tenement on west side of Shaft Alley (1577-1632)

1.5

George Spering, goldsmith

George Spering is granted a combined lease at £9 3s. 4d. rent per annum for the large tenement and courtyard at 134 and 135 Leadenhall Street and the adjacent three tenements on the upper west side of Shaft Alley. Rents, including £1 10s. for this 5th tenement on the west side of Shaft Alley, continue to be entered separately in the account books until 1633.

1632

5th tenement on west side of Shaft Alley (1577-1632)

1.5

George Spering, goldsmith

In 1633 George Spering is granted a combined lease for 134 Leadenhall Street and the 4th, 5th, and 6th tenements on the west side and the combined end tenement in Shaft Alley.

1594 to 1632

6th tenement on west side of Shaft Alley (1577-1632)

1.167

George Spering, goldsmith

George Spering is granted a combined lease at £9 3s. 4d. rent per annum for the large tenement and courtyard at 134 and 135 Leadenhall Street and the adjacent three tenements on the upper west side of Shaft Alley. Rents, including 23s. 4d. for this 6th tenement on the west side of Shaft Alley, continue to be entered separately in the account books until 1633.

1632

6th tenement on west side of Shaft Alley (1577-1632)

1.167

George Spering, goldsmith

In 1633 the 6th tenement on the west side of Shaft Alley is incorporated into the lease to George Spering for the large tenement and courtyard at 134 and 135 Leadenhall Street and the adjacent end tenement and 4th and 5th tenements on the west side of Shaft Alley at £18 rent per annum.

1632

Combined tenement at end of Shaft Alley (1594-1632)

2.667

Joane Warbishe, widow

In 1633 the tenement at the end of Shaft Alley is incorporated into the lease to George Spering for the large tenement and courtyard at 134 and 135 Leadenhall Street and the adjacent 3rd, 4th, and 5th tenements on the west side of Shaft Alley at £18 rent per annum

1633 to 1643

134 and 135 Leadenhall Street and 4 tenements in Shaft Alley (1633-1749)

18

George Speringe, gentleman

Christopher Metcalfe

In consideration of surrender of the lease to George Spering his father, George Spering is granted a new lease at £18 rent per annum for three tenements on the west side of Shaft Alley, a fourth tenement at the end of Shaft Alley, and the tenement at 134 and 135 Leadenhall Street. Separate rents are no longer entered in the accounts. The superficial area measured by planimeter on the 1750 estate plan is 3,872 square feet.

1644

134 and 135 Leadenhall Street and 4 tenements in Shaft Alley (1633-1749)

25

Roger Peele, clothworker

Accounts this year contain only the total rent due of £380 1s 3d. The detailed annual rental has been reconstructed from the lease register and surviving leases. Roger Peele is granted a new lease at £25 rent per annum.


Data extracted from the file Leadenhall Street.xls available from the City and Region Project website

Footnotes

[1] The 'official' copies of the subsidy assessment rolls comprise part of the records in the Public Record Office class E.179 (Exchequer, King's Remembrancer, Subsidy Rolls, etc.). The Exchequer copies of the subsidy rolls together with subsidiary documents in the same class are listed in five List and Index Society volumes: vols. 44, 54, 63, 75, and 87. By complete I mean that all membranes or rotulets of the assessment certificates for all wards are extant, not counting Bridge Without, which was taxed as part of the borough of Southwark in Surrey. Some of the documents are in imperfect condition, with some loss of names and assessments. This is especially the case with the assessment roll of 1549. Versions of subsidy assessments are to be found in the State Papers Domestic and in local record offices, libraries, and private collections. All such 'unofficial' assessment rolls that I know of for London happen to be incomplete and were never intended to be complete; they are either documents preliminary to the compilation of the rolls in Exchequer or they are selective extracts made for other uses, such as the raising of military harness. The document erroneously described as 'Transcript of Second Payment of Lay Subsidy granted 18 Elizabeth' (P.R.O. Round Room, Press Mark 10/63) is a partial list of subsidymen and their valuations for the purpose of assessing lance and light horse for a muster. It omits persons valued at less than £15 in goods, at less than £10 in lands and fees, and strangers taxed per poll.



What to do now?

Please feel free to email us suggestions, modifications and additions to this page. Specific areas where you could help include:

  1. Do you know any additional interesting facts or links that could go on this page? 
  2. Contact RBT archivist and enquire re earlier Spering rentals in Leadenhall Street - awaiting response (5/6/12)
  3. Ask Goldsmiths Hall library for further information re Robert Yeomans, goldsmith - awaiting response (6/6/12)

Maurice Gleeson
June 2012

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