The East Smithfield and St Katharine’s Company

Photo: John Beardsworth

Captain Christopher Gore

Christopher Gore had been associated with the band of St Katharine by the Tower since at least 1640 when he was listed amongst the members who were refusing to pay coat and conduct money for soldiers recruited for the Second Bishops’ War, claiming that by ancient custom their duties at the Tower fulfilled their military obligation. It was he who assumed command of the East Smithfield and St Katharine’s Company when it marched out to fight in Sir William Waller’s Oxford campaign of spring-summer 1644 and it was with this company that Richard Coe, the military diarist, marched from April to July that year. Unusually for officers of the London Trained Bands, Christopher was not a member of the Society of the Artillery Garden, but since he had served with the company for some years prior to the regiment being selected for active service, he must have been considered to be a suitable replacement for Captain Leonard Leonards.

Indeed, Coe noted that during Waller’s pursuit of the King, it was a commanded party led by Captain Christopher Gore, made up of two files from each of the regiment’s companies, together with a similar party from Colonel Ralph Weldon’s regiment, which with ‘willingnesse and courage’ crossed the river in punts and outflanked the Royalist defensive position at Newbridge. As a result of this action, Waller’s army was able to seize the bridge and cross over in pursuit of the Oxford Army, and “tooke 30 prisoners upon quarter and 40 more among which were divers Irish, and a woman who was whipt and turned away”. Clearly he was a very capable officer.

Christopher remained the company captain in 1645 and 1646 and possibly for longer as he was still referred to by his military rank at the burial of his first wife, Susan, in 1650.

He died in June 1656. His will, which was written on his death bed, described him as ‘being weake and sick of Bodie but of perfect minde and memorie’. The will refers to him as ‘esquire’ and the parish burial register states only that he was a ‘gentleman’, and nothing further is known about his occupation. He seems to have been a man of reasonable means if not actually wealthy. In the 1642 Assessment, he was living at Hall’s Bridge in St Katharine by the Tower and paid 8s, slightly less than the 10s paid by Sergeant Edward Amery, a ships’ chandler, and a little more than the 5s.6d by Corporal John Vermulen, a tailor, who were near neighbours. He also contributed £1 to the collection for Distressed Protestants in Ireland.

His will mentioned a property in King Henry Yard in East Smithfield, presumably the house in Shipbrewers’ Fields in which he died, and two others adjoining each other in St Katharine’s. His second wife, Mary, was the chief beneficiary and bequests were also made to two surviving sisters and his stepson, Edward.

Sources for the Trayned Bandes in 1644:

  • SP28/121A, parts 3 and 4: Tower Hamlets Trayned Bandes muster rolls, April 1644
  • Parish registers of St Botolph without Aldgate and St Katharine by the Tower
  • St Botolph without Aldgate Vestry Accounts
  • St Katharine by the Tower Constables’ Accounts
  • Wills
  • 1634 Visitation of London
  • Collection for Distressed Protestants in Ireland 1642
  • 1642 Assessment Roll
  • Calendar of State Papers, Domestic
  • Victoria County History, Middlesex
  • T.C. Dale, The Inhabitants of London in 1638
  • Lien Bich Luu, Immigrants and the Industries of London, 1500-1700