Mercurius Politicus

A blog (mostly) about early modern history

Tag: ironmongers


A bit of a coup in recent weeks: I finally managed to view the original parish registers for Petersham chapel, where Henry Walker was curate from the 1660s until some point in the 1680s. This is part of a page written in 1667:

1667 entry in Petersham register


On Tuesday 11th June 1667 Mr Henry Walker was by Mr Twetty of Kingston apointed to the cure of Petersham whither he went and tooke possession of the church where he marryed a couple that morning. Mr Walker went to the Hon:ble the Countess of Disart & acquainted her of his being sent by Mr Twitty but she said the right was in her & Mr Walker being allowed by her honour had afterwards licence from my Lord Bishop of Winchester and was confirmed in the place. His first day of preaching there was June 1[illegible but must be 6 from the context as 16 June was the Sunday] 1667 upon approbation.

I am pretty certain that it was Henry himself who wrote this. Compare it to this inscription in the flyleaf of a copy of Synopsis Papismi that he gave to the Ironmongers’ Company in 1681, which seems to me to be the same hand.


If I am right about that, then the rest of the relevant page from the Petersham register becomes more interesting:


What precedes the entry about the Countess of Dysart seems to be in the same hand. Looking at what has been crossed out – an entry that then is re-written a few places down – it seems most likely that Walker was re-entering material that had already been recorded somewhere else, and made a mistake. The registers are a complete mess, with the pages out of order and the page that would have confirmed Prince Rupert’s alleged marriage of 1664 (together with entries from 1659 to 1664) missing. So Walker may just have been tidying things up.

However, one other possibility that occurs to me is whether Walker had effectively taken possession of the curacy himself, some months before he then went to the Countess of Dysart – making this an attempt to rewrite history so as to appear that he had gone to the Countess of Dysart as soon as possible? I have got quite used to Walker’s narrative of his own life being somewhat different to what actually seems to have happened, so would not put it past him, but I would welcome any thoughts.

Of mice and microfilm

I am spending the day at the Guildhall Library and thought I would take a break to share this. (Apologies for the poor quality: it’s a camera-phone picture of a microfilm). It’s in the inside front cover of one of the quarterage books of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers. Someone has added a pencil sketch of the Company’s coat of arms, echoing the printed one that already decorates the book’s binding. However, it is different in one important way to the actual coat of arms: in this case a carving from outside Ironmongers’ Hall in Aldersgate.

The crest is supported by salamanders, appropriate for a Company connected with iron because they were reputed to be able to survive fire. It’s a little hard to see on my photo but the salamanders seem to have become mice! I would love to know who drew it and when. All I know is that it must be before 1985 when the manuscript was filmed.

Second-hand Brooke

I needed to find out more about the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers for a paper I’m writing, so I bought a second-hand copy of the company’s official history for £6 from AbeBooks.

Inside I found this dedication:

Peter Grooke – now Baron Brooke of Sutton Mandeville – was Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster for many years. He was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at the point this book would have been given to him. I’m not sure why he was presented with a copy: presumably some link with the company, although I can’t find one.

Whether he read it is a different matter. The book is in excellent condition apart from a very faded spine. Some of the pages had to be pried apart as I was reading it. So it has clearly just sat on a shelf for twenty-five years…