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When Neptune from his billows London spy'd,
At first there was only a ferry kept where the bridge now is, and the ferry-man and his wife dying, left it to their only daughter a maiden named Mary, who with the profits thereof, and money left her by her parents, built a house for nuns in the place where the east part of St. Mary Overies church now stands, above the quire where she was buried; and unto these nuns she bequeathed the benefit, and oversight of the ferry, but that being afterwards turned to a house of priests, they built a bridge of timber, which they kept in good repair till at length considering the vast charge thereof by the contributions of the citizens and others, a bridge was built of stone.
Several accidents have happened concerning this bridge, of which many have been mentioned in the reign of the several Kings. In the first year of King Stephen a fire began near London-stone, and burnt East to Aldgate, and west to St. Paul's Church, the bridge of timber upon the river of Thames was also burnt, but afterward repaired. In 1163, this bridge was not only repaired, but built of new timber, as before by Peter of Cole-church priest and chaplain, which shews, that there was a timber bridge at least two hundred and fifteen years before the bridge of stone was erected, which was maintained partly by gifts, and partly by taxes in every shire. In the year 1176 the foundation of the stone-bridge was first laid by the aforesaid Peter of Cole-church near the place of the timber bridge, but somewhat more to the west, for we read that Buttolph's wharf was at the end of London Bridge; the King countenanced and assisted the work; to perform which, the course of the river Thames was turned another way about, by a trench cast up for that purpose, beginning in the east about Rotherhithe, and ending in the west at Battersea.
This work, that is the arches, chapel, and the stone bridge over the Thames at London, was thirty-three years in building, and was finished in 1209 by these worthy citizens of London, William Serle, mercer, William Alman, and Benidict Botewrite, who were principal inasters of this fabrique, for Peter of Cole-church died four years before, and as the principal benefactor he was buried in the chapel on London Bridge. A mason who was master workman of the bridge, built this large chapel from the foundation, at his own charges, which was then endowed for two priests, and four clerks; after the finishing the chapel which was the first building on those arches, divers mansion houses in time where erected, and many charitable persons gave lands, tenements or sums of money toward the maintenance of the bridge, all which were formerly registred, and fairly written in a table for posterity, and hung up in the chapel, till the same chapel was turned into a dwelling house, and then it was removed to the bridge-house, and it recorded that all the payments and allowances which belonged to London Bridge in King Henry the V 11. time, amounted to 8151. 17s. 2d. a year, by which account then, may be partly guest, the great revenues and incomes of this bridge, and what increase is made of it by this time.
But this noble bridge like other earthly things hath suffered many disasters since, for some years after the finishing thereof, that is in 1212 on the 10th of July at night, the Borough of Southwark on the south side of the Thames, as also St Mary Overies Church being on fire, and an exceeding great multitude of people passing the bridge, either to quench or gaze upon it, on a sudden the north part of the bridge by. the blowing of the south wind was also set on fire, and when the people who were going over would have returned, they were stopped by the fury of the fire, and as they stayed in a conşternation the south end of the bridge likewise fell on fire, so that the people throwing themselves between two raging fires expecting nothing but present death, whereupon there came many ships, boats and vessels to save them, into which the multitude rushed so unadvisedly that the ships being thereby sunk, they were all drowned ; and it was found that above three thousand persons were destroyed by the fire and shipwreck, part of whose bodies were found half burned, besides those who were wholly burnt to ashes, and could not be found.
In 1282, after a great frost and deep snow, five arches of London Bridge were bourn down and carried away. In 1289 the bridge was so much decayed that people were afraid so go over it, bút by a subsidy granted it was repaired. In 1395, on St. George's day there was a great justing on London Bridge, between David Earl of Crawford of Scotland, and the Lord Wells of England, which shews that the bridge was then only coaped in, but not built with houses as it is now. The next year November Soth, the young Queen Isabel wife to Richard II. commonly called the little Queen, for she was but eight years old, was brought from Kenington over the bridge to the Tower of London, and such a multitude of people went on the bridge to see her, that nine persons were crouded to death, and among the rest the prior of Tiptree in Essex was one, and an ancient matron in Cornbill another. In the 1633 there happened a great fire on London Bridge, but it was again handsomely repaired. In the dreadful fire 1666, a great part of the north buildings of the bridge were burnt down, and are not yet all rebuilt.
To conclude, this bridge for admirable workmanship, for vastness of foundation, for all dimensions, and for solid stately. houses and rich shops built thereon, surpasseth all others in Europe, it bath nineteen arches founded in a deep broad river, made of square stone, sixty feet in height and thirty feet in breadth, distant twenty feet one from another, compact and joined together with vaults and cellars, and built as some say upon ozy soft ground, being eight hundred feet in length and thirty broad, and a drawbridge almost in the middle.
Besides this noble bridge there are others belonging to the City, as three stately bridges of stone built since the fire over Fleet Ditch, and also Holborn Bridge, the ditch 'being enlarged, cleansed, and curiously fenced of each side with stone and rails, and store-houses, for coals of each side, it is likewise free from houses for twenty feet on each side, and made exceeding handsome, to the great charge of this City; there were likewise some small bridges over the town ditch, but now is curiously arched over with brick, and doth no where appear, but is paved even as the street,
The Government of the City of London.
THE civil government of this city is not as it is in Rome, Paris, Madrid, Vienna, by a chief magistrate or some nobleman set over the city by the king or supreme governor, as it was bere in the time of the Romans, when the chief magistrate was called the Prefect of London, or in the time of the Saxons, when he was called the Portgrirve, Custus or Guardian, and sometimes Provost of London, but after the coming of the Normans, the chief magistrate was called Bailive, from the French, or Commissarine, one that hath a commission to govern, and there were sometimes two Bailiffs of London, till Richard I. 1189, changed the name of Bailiff into Mayor, which hath held ever since.
The Mayor is a citizen chosen every year by the citizens, except upon some occasions their privileges and franchises have been taken from them as in the time of Henry 3. and Edward I. and of latter times the Mayor, though always a citizen or tradesman, hath been of such high repute and esteem, that in all writing and speaking to him the title of Lord is prefixed, which is given to no others, but either noblemen, bishops, or judges, and of late times to the Mayor of York, or to some of highest officers of the realm, he is likewise for Iris great dignity usually knighted before his year is out; his table, (and likewise the two Sheriffs,) is usually such that it is not only open to all comers, strangers, and others that are of any quality, but so well furnished that it is always fit to receive the greatest subject in England, or if any other prince, nay it is recorded that a Lord Mayor of London hath feasted four kings at once at bis table.
The officers that belong to the Lord Mayor are eight of them called esquires by their places, that is the Sword-bearer, the Common Hunt, (who keeps a gallant kennel of hounds for the Lord Mayor's recreation,) the Common Cryer and four Water Bailiffs; there is also the Coroner, three Serjeants Carvers, three Serjeants of the Chamber, a Serjeant of the Channel, four Yeomen of the Waterside, one under Bailiff, two Yeomen of the Chamber, three Meal Weighers, and two Yeomen of the Wood Wharfs, most of which bave their servants allowed them and have liveries for themselves.
The state and magnificence of the Lord Mayor appears when he goes abroad, which is usually on horseback, with rich caparisons, himself always in long robes, sometimes of fine scarlet cloth, richly furred, sometimes purple, sometimes puce, with a great chain of gold about his neck, and many officers walking before, and on all sides of him, but more especially on the twenty-ninth of October, when he goes to Westminster in his barge, accompanied with all the aldermen, and attended by all his olicers, with the liverymen of the several companies or corporations in their stately barges with their arms, colours, and streamers, and having there in the Exchequer Chamber before the judges taken his solemn oath, to be true to the King and government, he returns in like minner to Guildhall, that is the great common hall of guilds, or incorporated confraternities, where is prepared for him and his brethren a sumptuous dinner; and his present Majesty and Queen, and divers noblemen and persons of honour have of late years been pleased to dine there with him, and most times many foreign ambassadors dine there also, and all the judges.
This great magistrate upon the death of the King, is said to be the prime person of England, and therefore when King James was invited to come and take the crown of England, Robert Loe, then Lord Mayor of London, subscribed in the first place, before all the great officers of the crown, and all the nobility ; he is usually chosen on Michaelmas day, out of twenty-six aldermen, all persons of great wealth and wisdom; his authority reaches not only over all this great city, and part of the suburbs, but likewise to the river of Thames, as is aforementioned, with power to punish and correct, all that shall annoy the stream, banks, or fish; only the strength and safety of the river against an invasion, and securing merchandize and navigation by block-houses, forts, or castles is the care of the king.
There are divers courts of judicature of high importance belonging to the Lord Mayor and City of London; the highest and most antient court is called the hustings, which doth preserve the laws, rights, franchises and customs of the city. There is a court of requests or conscience'; the court of the lord mayor and aldermen, where also the recorder and sheriffs sit; two courts of the sheriffs, one for each counter; the court of the city orphans, whereof the lord mayor and aldermen have the custody. The court of common council, consisting (as the parliament of England) of two houses, one for the lord mayor and aldermen, and the other for the commoners, but they sit altogether. In which court are made all the bye-laws, which bind all the citizens of London, for every man either by himself, or by his representative