Cheapside cross

by mercuriuspoliticus

There’s an interesting post from Roy Booth over at Early Modern Whale, about the vandalism of Cheapside cross during the early 1640s before its eventual pulling down in 1643. Roy’s image of the cross prompted me to go to EEBO to have a look for other images, which threw up a couple of interesting things.

First, the woodcut Roy reproduces from a 1643 pamphlet, The Downe-fall of Dagon, or, the taking downe of Cheap-side crosse this second of May, 1643, appears to have been recycled. An identical image appears in The Dolefull lamentation of Cheap-side crosse, or, Old England sick of the staggers, from 1641. Here are the two pamphlets alongside each other.


So if nothing else, this is an interesting example of printers recycling woodcuts.

But funnily enough, given that I have recently been posting about John Taylor, I think there may also be a Taylor connection.

  • In January 1642, The dolefull lamentation of cheap-side crosse: or old England sick of the staggers was published. This was printed for F.C. and T.B. – in other words, it is highly likely that the undertakers for this were the same as two of the three for Taylor’s pamphlet. The pamphlet has the same Puritan middling sort stereotypes, listing the weavers, box makers and button makers who support the vandalism of the cross. It then shifts into direct speech by the cross, lamenting its fate.
  • In 1642 there also appeared The resolution of the Round-heads to pull down Cheap-side Crosse, which is sometimes attributed to Taylor (the reference to tub-preachers in it makes this plausible). This too was printed for F.C. and T.B. and is a satirical address by a roundhead, mostly covering their various hypocrisies, but ending with the ambition to level the cross.
  • In 1643 there appeared the subject of Roy’s post, The Downe-fall of Dagon, or, the taking downe of Cheap-side crosse this second of May, 1643. This was printed for Thomas Wilson, so there is no link with Taylor’s earlier printers. But the pamphlet does recycle the woodcut from The dolefull lamentation, and there are also other similarities – the similarity of the cover layout, the cross addressing the reader directly, similar themes, and both say that the cross’s full name is Jasper Cross. It’s possible of course that this is another author riffing on Taylor’s original – Taylor had fled to Windsor then Oxford in March 1643, so the text would I suppose have had to be sent back to London for publication. But even if this is the case it shows the creation of another niche genre – laments by crosses! – in the wildly creative times of the early 1640s.

UPDATE – in response to Roy’s comment, here’s another image of vandalism from A dialogue between the crosses in Cheap, and Charing Cross in 1641 (see my comment below). A close look shows it’s a drawing of the cross from the other side (the statues at the top are reversed).