The East Smithfield and St Katharine’s Company

Photo: John Beardsworth

Sergeant Edward Amery

Although there is no record of baptism for Edward Amery in the parishes of St Botolph without Aldgate or St Katharine by the Tower, he was certainly resident in St Katharine’s from at least the mid 1630s. He was married twice: to Ann Felgate in 1637 (parish unknown) and in 1638 by licence to Hester Lisle in St Margaret Patten in the City of London. Alhtough the marriage to Ann lasted less than eight months, a child, Edward, was born but died in infancy, three months after Ann herself. Edward and Hester has a further six children, though again none appear to have survived to adulthood.

By occupation Edward was a ships’ chandler, supplying merchant ships and the navy with cordage, sailcloth, gunpowder and other stores. Like Lawrence Harris, he was literate, and surviving signatures show that he had a clear, precise hand, although he spelt his surname as ‘Amrey’. A surviving warrant from September 1640 shows him taking delivery of 18 barrels of gunpowder from the Tower Stores. His was one of a series of warrants issued around this time to chandlers and grocers of the City of London and its suburbs to supply ships and replenish magazines in Gloucester, Southampton, Yarmouth and a number of southern counties, probably as a general rearming of the kingdom after the disastrous Second Bishops’ War. In 1642 he was noted as living in premises at Hall’s Bridge in St Katharine’s, presumably above his chandler’s shop, and was a near neighbour of Captain Christopher Gore and Corporal John Vermulen.

The business appears to have been prosperous. Edward was able to donate fifteen shillings to the Collection for Distressed Protestants in Ireland, one of the highest in the precinct and, of the St Katharine’s Hamleteers, second only to Christopher Gore. He was also noted in the 1642 Assessment Roll as being liable for a contribution of ten shillings. Of the Hamleteers who were subject to the assessment, only Leonard Leonards (42s 8d) and Benjamin Sadler (10s 8d) were rated at a higher level.

In addition to his business interests, Edward served throughout the 1630s and 1640s as a member of the Court Leet of St Katharine’s and in 1643 was elected to the office of scavenger for the precinct with the responsibility to appoint, supervise and pay the parish raker, who cleaned the nightsoil, dust and other detritus from the streets.

His connection with the trained bands of St Katharine’s preceded the Civil War. He was named in a return made by the Middlesex Justices of the Peace in July 1640 of members of the Tower Hamlets Trained Bands who refused to pay coat and conduct money for soldiers listed for the Second Bishops’ War, claming that by ancient privilege they fulfilled their military obligation to the state through their duties as garrison of the Tower. Christopher Gore was another of the defaulters named. No indication is given of either man’s rank at this date. Interestingly, of the eight men of the St Katharine’s contingent who were listed, these are the only two who were still serving in 1644. It would appear that the defaulters won the argument, as in May 1655 the then Lieutenant of the Tower, Colonel John Barkstead, and the officers of the army garrison, petitioned the Admiralty Commissioners, also citing ‘ancient privileges’ which exempted them from paying assessments. Barkstead’s petition, however, was unsuccessful and the warrant for payment was enforced.

Edward died in November 1653 and Hester survived him by less than a fortnight. Having not written a will, and with no widow and apparently no surviving children, letters of administration published later in the year directed that his creditors should be the beneficiaries of his estate.

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