The East Smithfield and St Katharine’s Company

Photo: John Beardsworth

Captain Leonard Leonards

Leonard Leonards, originally Leonard Lennarts, was born in the Duchy of Julich and arrived in England towards the end of the second decade of the seventeenth century. The Lennarts family were established brewers in their homeland and this was a trade they continued once they arrived in London, with notable success. The first indication of Leonard’s residence in East Smithfield is the Lay Subsidy Return for 1621, where he is noted as a brewer’s servant in the brewhouse of his uncle, Peter Lennarts, almost certainly the ‘Katherine Wheele’ which was part-owned by the Witterongle brewing family (see below). As Leonard’s name does not appear in the previous return for 1617, it is reasonable to conclude that he arrived in England and settled in the area between these two dates. He appears to have been the third member of the Lennarts family to make the journey across the North Sea, following his uncle and brother, another Peter Lennarts. During this period Julich was a territory governed by the United Provinces but a dispute over the succession brought the Duchy to centre stage in the Thirty Years’ War. The city of Julich was stormed by Dutch and English forces in 1610, and remained in the front line of the conflict for the next few years.

On the death of Peter Lennarts the elder in 1632, Leonard took over the Lennarts brewhouse in East Smithfield in partnership with Matthias Otten, while Peter the younger in a similar partnership with William Paggen, ran the large brewhouse in Thames Street, All Hallows the Great, formerly owned by Jacob Witterongle. The 1634 Visitation of London provides a genealogical table of the Lennarts family which shows that they, the Ottens, the Paggens and the Witterongles were all of Dutch or Flemish origin and related by marriage, with Peter Lennarts the younger, Matthias Otten the elder and William Paggen all married to members of the Witterongle family. The interrelationship between each of these immigrant families points to a shared determination to found a brewing dynasty in the City of London and its eastern suburbs. The Visitation also shows that Leonard and Peter the younger were the sons of Dennis and Gertrude Lennarts and the grandsons of another Leonard Lennarts.

As aliens, Peter Lennarts the elder (1604), Peter the younger (1614) and Leonard (1622) each applied for, and was granted, free denizenship in England, which permitted them to pursue their business interests, and Leonard himself was fully naturalised in April 1642 in the lead up to the Civil War. Judging by their signatures, only Leonard anglicized his surname to ‘Leonards’. They were all admitted to the Brewers’ Company of London as freemen, Leonard last of all in 1629. Leonard also became a member of the Society of the Artillery Garden (later the Honourable Artillery Company) in 1623, one of only three officers of the Tower Hamlets Trained Bands to be admitted, the others being William Chapman (1627) and Thomas Salmon (1640).

By the 1640s Leonard had become an important local figure. He was a member of the Select Vestry of St Botolph without Aldgate for the liberty of East Smithfield and in 1640 was elected foreman of the Court Leet. For several years he was also one of the auditors of the Vestry accounts. The records suggest that he was a reasonably wealthy man: his premises in East Smithfield were assessed in 1638 to pay annual tithes of £30 to the church and his contribution in the 1642 Assessment was 42s. 8d, amongst the highest levied in the liberty. He, along with two other Dutch and Flemish brewers in East Smithfield, provided the largest donations of £5 each to the collection for Distressed Protestants in Ireland in 1642.

When the Tower Hamlets Trained Bands, at the request of the inhabitants of the Tower Hamlets, were doubled in size in 1643 to become a full regiment, Leonard was the first of the captains to be appointed, following a petition to the Lords and Commons from citizens in East Smithfield and St Katharine’s. He was described as ‘being earnestly desired, and recommended by all the Inhabitants, as a Man very worthy of that Trust.’

However, when the regiment was called out on active service in April 1644 to take part in the Oxford campaign, he was not present. Command of the East Smithfield and St Katharine’s company was assumed instead by Christopher Gore, who was probably the lieutenant. It is not clear why Leonard did not take the field. One possibility is that he was simply too busy brewing his quota of beer for the Parliamentarian navy for the summer campaign. In February 1644 he was one of eight brewers in and around the capital who were contracted by the Committee of the Navy to provide a total of 3,730 tuns of beer. His own share was 1,000 tuns, or 252,000 gallons, over a quarter of the total. The regiment’s major, Abraham Woodroffe, was another of the brewers involved in the contract. His share, however, was a more modest two hundred tuns and he was able to take the field with his company.

Both men suffered financially with the introduction of the Excise on the brewing of beer in 1643. Woodroffe was briefly imprisoned for debt in King’s Bench prison in 1645 and Leonard was summoned as a delinquent before the bar of the House of Commons in August 1647 over his arrears. He was finally able to clear his debt of £331.8s.4d owing to the Excise in August 1648 when he received £534.12s.11d from the Collectors of the Customs of Ipswich and Colchester, which was recouped by the Committee for taking the Accounts of the Kingdom.

His name is not amongst the list of the regiment’s officers at the funeral of the Earl of Essex in October 1646 and it is possible that he was by this time a member of the Tower Hamlets Sub-Comittee of the London Militia Committee responsible for raising and paying the local forces. He was certainly recommended for a seat when the suburban Sub-Committees were reconstituted in 1648 in the year following the Army’s seizure of London.

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