Letter from the Lord Mayor to Lord Burghley

BL: Lansdowne 71

f [1] (12 June)

My humble duety remembred to your good Lordship Beeing infourmed of a great disorder & tumult lyke to grow yesternight about viij of the clock within the Borough of Southwark I went thither with all speed I could taking with mee on of the Sherifes, whear I found great multitudes of people assembled togither, & the principall actours to bee certein servants of the ffeltmakers gathered togither out of Barnsey street & the Black fryers with a great number of lose & maisterles men apt for such pourposes. Whearupon having made proclamation & dismissed the multitude I apprehended the chief doers and authors of the disorder and have committed them to prison to bee farther punished as they shall bee found to deserve. And having this morning sent for the Deputie & Constable of the Borough with divers other of best credit who wear thear present, to examine the cause & manner of the disorder, I found that it began vpon the serving of a warrant from my Lord Chamberlain by on of the Knight Mareschalls men vpon a ffeltmakers servant, who was committed to ye Mareschalsea with certein others yat wear accused to his Lordship by the sayed Knight Mareschalls men without cause of offence, as them selves doe affirm. ffor rescuing of whome ye sayed companies assembled them selves by occasion & pretence of their meeting at a play which bysides the breach of ye Sabboth day giveth opportunitie of committing these & such lyke disorders. The principall doers in this rude tumult I mean to punish to the example of others. Whearin also it may please your Lordship to give mee your direction, if you shall advise vpon any thing meet to bee doon for the farther punishment of the sayed offenders. Hearof I thought good to advertise your Lordship (which I am infourmed by ye inhabitants of Southwark men of best reputation ‸⸢among⸣ them) that the Knight Mareschalls men in the serving of their warrants, do not vse themselves with that good discretion & moderate vsage as wear meet to bee doon in lyke cases but after a most rough & violent manner, provoking men by such hard dealings to contend with them which would otherwise obey in all duetifull sort. As I vnderstand they did in this case, whear they entred the house, whear the warrant was to bee served with a dagger drawen affreyting the goodwyfe who satt by the fire with a young infant in hir armes and afterwards having taken the prisoners & committed them to the Mareschalsea (whear they lay 5. dayes without making their answear) these mutinous persons assembling them selves in this disordered manner the Knight Mareschalls men beeing within the Mareschalsea, issued foorth with their daggers drawen, & bastianadoes in their hands beating the people (whearof soom passed that way by chance, soom cam but to gaze as the manner is) and afterwards drew their swords. Whearby the tumult was more incensed & themselves endangered but yat help cam to prevent farther mischief. The sayed inhabitants of Southwark do farther complain that the sayed Knight Marschalls men beehave themselues very vnneyghbourly & disdaynfully among them, refusing to pay scot or lot with them, or any other dueties to Church or common Wealth which maketh the inhabitants the more to dislyke them. This much I thought good to signifie to your Lordship that (if your Lordship thinck good) they may bee admonished of their beehaviour, & to vse more discretion in serving their warrants: for that such tumults beeing once A copy of this unsigned letter to William Cecil raysed by disordered multitudes ar rather to bee quenched & suppressed by policie for the present time, then farther to bee kindled by such violent means. And thus I commit your good Lordship to the grace of the Almightie. ffrom London the 12th of Iune 1592

Your Lordships most humble
(signed) Wyllyam Webbe maior

  • Footnotes
    • Barnsey street: Bermondsey Street
    • Lord Chamberlain: Henry Carey (1526–96), first Baron Hunsdon
    • Mareschalsea: the Marshalsea Prison, located just east off Borough High Street, Southwark
    • 1592: underlined
  • Modernized Text

    f [1] (12 June)

    My humble duty remembered to your good lordship. Being informed of a great disorder and tumult like to grow yesternight about eight of the clock within the borough of Southwark, I went thither with all speed I could, taking with me one of the sheriffs, where I found great multitudes of people assembled together and the principal actors to be certain servants of the Feltmakers, gathered together out of Bermondsey Street and the Blackfriars with a great number of loose and masterless men apt for such purposes. Whereupon, having made proclamation and dismissed the multitude, I apprehended the chief doers and authors of the disorder and have committed them to prison, to be farther punished as they shall be found to deserve. And having this morning sent for the deputy and constable of the borough with diverse others of best credit who were there present, to examine the cause and manner of the disorder, I found that it began upon the serving of a warrant from my lord chamberlain by one of the knight marshal’s men upon a feltmaker’s servant, who was committed to Marshalsea with certain others that were accused to his lordship by the said knight marshal’s men, without cause of offence, as themselves do affirm. For rescuing of whom the said companies assembled themselves by occasion and pretence of their meeting at a play, which besides the breach of the sabbath day, gives opportunity of committing these and like such disorders. The principal doers in this rude tumult I mean to punish to the example of others, wherein also it may please your lordship to give me your direction, if you shall advise upon anything meet to be done for farther punishment of the said offenders. Hereof I thought good to advertise your lordship (which I am informed by the inhabitants of Southwark, men of best reputation among them) that the knight marshal’s men in the serving of their warrants do not use themselves with that good discretion and moderate usage as were meet to be done in like cases, but after a most rough and violent manner, provoking men by such hard dealings to contend with them which would otherwise obey in a dutiful sort. As I understand they did in this case, where they entered the house where the warrant was to be served with a dagger drawn, affrighting the goodwife who sat by the fire with a young infant in her arms, and afterwards, having taken the prisoners and committing them to the Marshalsea (where they lay 5 days without making their answer), these mutinous persons assembling themselves in this disordered manner, the knight marshal’s men being within the Marshalsea, issued forth with their daggers drawn and bastinadoes in their hands, beating the people (whereof some passed that way by chance, some came but to gaze as the manner is) and afterwards drew their swords, whereby the tumult was more incensed and themselves endangered, but help came to prevent further mischief. The said inhabitants of Southwark do farther complain that the said knight marshal’s men behave themselves very unneighbourly and disdainfully among them, refusing to pay scot or lot with them or any other duties to church or commonwealth, which makes the inhabitants the more to dislike them. This much I thought good to signify to your lordship, that (if your lordship think good), they may be admonished of their behaviour, and to use more discretion in serving their warrants, for that, such tumults being once raised by disordered multitudes, are rather to be quenched and suppressed by policy for the present time than farther to be kindled by such violent means. And thus I commit your good lordship to the grace of the almighty. From London the 12th of June 1592

    Your Lordship’s most humble
    (signed) William Webb, mayor

  • Endnote

    For an abstract of the document and details of its transcription history, see the related EMLoT event record.

  • Event Entity Pages
  • Document Description

    Record title: Letter from the Lord Mayor to Lord Burghley
    Repository: BL
    Shelfmark: Lansdowne 71
    Repository location: London

    Although the play that served as the context for the assembly of Feltmakers' apprentices in Southwark is not named, the Rose would have been the only playhouse available for a performance there. A copy of this unsigned letter to William Cecil, first Baron Burghley, from Sir William Webbe, the lord mayor of London, is also found in the city's Remembrancia (LMA: COL/RMD/PA/01/001, ff 341–2), dated 30 May 1592.

    12 June 1592; English; paper; bifolium; 315mm x 212mm; no original foliation; good condition apart from large stain over most of the document but no loss of text; fragments of original seal on f [2v] where address appears: 'To the most honourable my very | good Lord the Lord high Trea | surer of England.' Now bound with other Burghley papers, numbered 15, foliated 28–9, and mounted on binding strips in a brown board and buckram volume, title gold-stamped on the spine: 'BURGHLEY | PAPERS. | 1592. | BRIT. MUS. | LANSDOWNE | MS. | 71.'

  • Manuscript Images

    © British Library Board, Lansdowne MS 71/f 28

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