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London, the capital of England and chief city of the British Empire, is situated about fifty miles from the mouth of the Thames, Lat. 51°30', Long. 0°5'. The word London is used in widely different senses for administrative purposes:--

  • The City of London, with a population of 26,923, occupying an area of 668 statute acres, little more than one square mile.
  • London, as defined by the Metropolis Local Management Act, now the County of London, with a population (last census 1901) of 4,536,541 and an area of 75,462 statute acres, or about 117 square miles. London district as referred to in the Registrar-General's Tables of Mortality coincides very nearly with this.
  • London, in reference to the Parliamentary Boroughs, has a population of about 4-1/2 millions and an area of about 80,126 statute acres, or 125 square miles.
  • London, as the Metropolitan Police District, together with the City has a population of 6,581,372 and an area of nearly 700 square miles. It extends over a radius of 15 miles from Charing Cross.
  • London, as an Anglican diocese, comprises Middlesex, Essex, and part of Hertfordshire.

London will here be treated under the following heads: I. General History. II. Ancient Catholic Diocese. III. London Catholics after the Reformation. IV. Modern Civil Administration.

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Pre-Norman Times

The origins both of the name and the very existence of the "great burh, Lundunaborg, which is the greatest and most famous of all burhs in the northern lands" (Ragnar Lodbrog Saga) lie hidden in antiquity. Both name and town alike are popularly accounted for in the wonderful legend of Geoffrey of Monmouth which found wide credence in the Middle Ages. According to this, Brutus, a descendant of Aeneas who was the son of Venus, founded this city after the fall of Troy, eleven hundred years before Christ came, and called it Troynovant, or New Troy. And after a thousand years there reigned King Lud who built walls and towers to his city, and whose name yet lives in Ludgate; so that the town was called Câer Lud. Thus Lud's-Town became London. But in the light of topography this legendary explanation must give way to the natural derivation from Llyn-din , the Lake-fort. For the nucleus of London, the ground which the city proper still occupies, was composed of two hills rising with steep sloping sides from the north bank of the Thames, separated from each other by the stream known later as Walbrook, and shut in on the north by the great moor and fen the memory of which survives in the names Moorfields and Finsbury.

The river Fleet bounded the western hill on its western side, and all around lay the marshes through which the Thames flowed, not shut in by embankments, but at high water flooding all the low lying land and making it one vast lake. From this lake rose a few islets known still to us by place-names in "ey" or "ea" such as Bermondsey, Thorney, Battersea, and Chelsea. The western island, that between the rivers Walbrook and Fleet with the eminence now crowned by St. Paul's cathedral, was the site of a British settlement which existed before the coming of the Romans. The discovery of prehistoric remains and some inscribed coins of Cymbeline have established the fact of this pre-Roman city against the theories of J. R. Green (Making of England ), Dr. Guest (Origines Celticae), and some others. It probably was a collection of round thatched cottages built of clay and branches and surrounded by an earthwork which enclosed about one hundred acres. In time the Thames brought the boats of traders and it became a place of primitive trade and commerce. This was probably its condition when the Romans arrived in A.D. 43. Unless it had already been established as a known mart it is difficult to believe that by the year A.D. 61 when it finds its first mention in history in the "Annals" of Tacitus it could be described as "Londinium, not dignified with the name of a colony but celebrated for the gathering of dealers and commodities". (Annals, A.D. 61.)

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The Roman settlement seems to have been first made on the eastern hill, to the east of Walbrook. Here they built their fortress, a walled enclosure such as that still surviving at Richborough. Under the protection of this the town grew in size and became a busy mercantile centre, with the villas of its wealthier citizens, traces of which are still discovered, lying round its citadel. For nearly four hundred years it formed the Roman city of Augusta, though the old Celtic name still survived. During this period it was captured by Boadicea who massacred the inhabitants (A.D. 61), was restored by the Romans, was the scene of the successive usurpations of Carausius (286) and Allectus (293), and of the defeat in battle of the last named. During the latter part of the Roman occupation it was Christianized. The fact that all the churches in Thames Street, the oldest part of the city, were dedicated to the Apostles and not to later saints, suggests that they occupied the sites of early Christian churches. In 314 Restitutus, Bishop of London, was present at the Council of Arles , and legend purports to have preserved the names of several of his predecessors and successors ( Geoffrey of Monmouth ), a claim which the modern historian, Dr. Stubbs (Episcopal Succession), treats with respect.

When the Saxons drove out the Romans and Britons during the fifth century, London was one of the few places which preserved a continuous existence. Probably it had fallen into the hands of the East Saxons before 571 (Lethaby, op. cit. inf., 29-31). In 604 St. Mellitus was sent by St. Augustine to be the first Bishop of London of the restored hierarchy, and with him begins the line of bishops that lasted nearly a thousand years (see list of bishops below). In the time of St. Mellitus the cathedral church of St. Paul and the abbey church of St. Peter at Westminster were founded. But little is known of London during early Saxon times. It suffered much from fires and much from the Danes, being sacked by the latter in 839 and again in 895. Under Alfred however the Londoners defeated the Danes and enjoyed a period of prosperous tranquillity, so that by the time of Athelstan, his grandson, London required as many as eight moneyers, to produce the necessary coinage. But in the eleventh century the Danes again harassed it and it suffered much in the struggle between Canute and Edmund Ironside, though it retained its wealth, as during the reign of Canute one-seventh of his entire revenue came from London. From this time it disputed with Winchester the priority among English cities. St. Edward the Confessor during his reign (1042-1066) resided chiefly at Westminster where he rebuilt Westminster Abbey, in which his relics are still enshrined. In this minster the coronation of all English sovereigns takes place, and it is the national burying place for great men, statesmen and warriors lying in the north transept, "Poets' corner" occupying the south transept, while nearly thirty kings and queens rest in the choir and side chapels.

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London under the Normans

After the Battle of Hastings the citizens of London, after an indecisive engagement with the troops of William the Conqueror in Southwark, submitted to him at Berkhamstead (Herts), and he was crowned in Westminster Abbey. In a charter of four and a half lines addressed to the bishop, the portreeve, and the burgesses, he declared that: "I grant them all to be law-worthy as they were in the days of King Edward, and I grant that every child shall be his father's heir after his father's days and I will not suffer any man do you wrong." Not trusting the citizens, however, William built the White Tower, the keep of the Tower of London, to overawe them, and also Baynard's Castle at the western extremity of the city. London at this time consisted of a collection of low wooden houses thatched with reeds or straw, thus affording combustible material for the numerous and destructive fires which frequently broke out, as in 1087 when the greater part of the city, including St. Paul's, was burnt. Bishop Maurice immediately began a new cathedral which was one of the largest churches in Europe being 600 feet long. It contained the shrine of St. Erconwald to which great crowds of pilgrims journeyed, reaching the cathedral by the thoroughfare still called Pilgrim Street.

At this time a period of building activity set in during which London was enriched with many churches, religious houses and public buildings erected in stone. William Rufus built Westminster Hall, the Tower ramparts and a new London Bridge to replace that which was washed away by the great floods in 1091. In 1100 the citizens obtained a new charter from Henry I, which was confirmed by Stephen in 1135. In Henry's reign many religious houses were built, including the Priory of St. John of Jerusalem at Clerkenwell, and the Priory of St. Bartholomew founded by Rahere in Smithfield, the noble church of which still survives. The Knights Templars established themselves in Holborn in 1118, removing to Fleet Street later in the century, where the Temple church ( consecrated 1185) yet remains. Another great fire broke out in 1136, destroying the city from Ludgate, then the west end of the town, to St. Paul's. The Civil War between Stephen and Matilda with which the Norman period was brought to a close marked the epoch at which London rose to the position of a capital. For unlike Winchester it did not suffer in the war, and when Matilda deprived it of its charters the citizens rose and drove her from their city.

London under the Plantagenets

Under Henry II, who viewed the Londoners with disfavour owing to their repulse of his mother, we have our first contemporary account of London, the vivid description of Fitzstephen, monk of Canterbury, and friend and biographer of St. Thomas. He tells us of a city walled round with the White Tower on the east and Montfichet and Baynard's Castle on the west where Blackfriars now is. There are seven double gates, Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Cripplegate, Aldersgate, Newgate, Ludgate, and the Bridge. Two miles up the river lay the Royal Palace and Abbey of Westminster connected with the city by the riverside thoroughfare called the Strand. He describes the wealth and power of the citizens, and grows enthusiastic over the plenty in the markets, the Chepe -- now Cheapside -- Eastcheap, Billingsgate, and Dowgate. The various trades were assigned their own localities as the ancient surviving names tell us, -- Milk Street, Bread Street, Wood Street, Fish Street, Poultry Street, and others. Friday Street was the market for Friday fare -- dried fish. In the Chepe were the mercers, goldsmiths, armourers, glovers, and many others. He lingers with delight on the sports of the young citizens, hunting in Middlesex Forest, wrestling, leaping, and playing at ball; and in winter skating and sliding on frozen Moorfields. He describes the beautiful garden and houses occupied by the prelates and barons when they were summoned to great councils by the king. Above all he bears witness to the orderly government and careful social observance practiced. "I do not think that there is any city with more commendable customs of church attendance, honour to God's ordinances, keeping sacred festivals, almsgiving, hospitality, confirming, betrothals, contracting marriages, celebration of nuptials, preparing feasts, cheering the guests, and also in care for funeral and the interment of the dead. The only pest of London are the immoderate drinking of fools and the frequency of fires" ("Descriptio nobilissimae civitatis Londiniae" in preface to "Vita St. Thomae").

The city then contained thirteen larger conventual churches and one hundred and twenty-six parish churches. In 1176 Peter of Colechurch, a priest, began the rebuilding of London Bridge with stone. It took thirty-three years to build and lasted for seven hundred years. At this time the city was governed by a portreeve, two sheriffs, and the aldermen of the various wards. In 1189 Henry Fitz-alwyne became the first Mayor of London under the title of "bailiff" and he held the office till 1212. During his tenure of office the citizens obtained from King John a charter empowering them to elect a lord mayor annually. They had previously obtained from Richard I jurisdiction over and conservancy of the Thames. In 1189 the court of aldermen decreed that in future houses should be built of stone instead of wood so as to check the disastrous fires, but wooden houses continued to be built, though by this time they were plastered and whitewashed. During the thirteenth century the conventual establishments were increased by the coming of the friars, who unlike the Benedictines and Augustinians, preferred to live in the midst of cities. The Dominicans established themselves in Holborn (1221), and in the district still bearing their popular name, Blackfriars (1276), on which occasion the city boundaries were enlarged so as to include their property. The Franciscans (Grey friars ) settled in Farringdon Without in 1224; the Carmelites (White Friars ) near Fleet Street (1241); the Austin friars in Broad Street Ward (1253); the Crutched friars (1298). The same period witnessed the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey, begun by Henry III in 1245 and finished in 1295, and of St. Paul's where a new Gothic choir was begun in 1240, and other additions including a tower were made till in 1315 the cathedral was complete. Another noteworthy church of this period was St. Saviour's, Southwark (1250). In 1285 the citizens were deprived by Edward I of their right of electing the lord mayor and they did not regain it till 1297. In 1290 the Jews, who since the time of William the Conqueror had lived in what is still called Old Jewry, were expelled from England.

The fourteenth century was signalized by the great plague of 1349 which carried off one-half of the entire population of England. Close to the spot where many of the victims were buried Sir Walter Manny built the Charterhouse in 1371. The remains of this Carthusian house are the only extensive monastic buildings of medieval London which have survived the Reformation and the Great Fire. In 1381 the peace of London was disturbed by Wat Tyler's rebellion when much damage was done in the city till the citizens arrayed themselves in arms against the rebels and for the defence of the king. The close of the century witnessed the first mayoralty of Sir Richard Whittington, the popular hero of London and a munificent benefactor to the city. He filled the office three times (1397, 1406 and 1419) and built Newgate, Christ's Hospital and a considerable part of St. Bartholomew's hospital as well as the chapel and library at the Guildhall. Contemporary with him was one of London's greatest sons, Geoffrey Chaucer, who died at Westminster (1400). The fifteenth century witnessed little development in London. Repeated attacks of plague, especially that in 1407, checked the growth of the population. In 1411 the Guildhall was rebuilt, and during the century the walls and gates were strengthened. That this was a wise precaution in a disturbed age is shown by the failure of the attack on London during the Wars of the Roses when Thomas Neville assaulted each gate in succession and was repulsed at every one. In 1473 Caxton set up the first English printing press at Westminster, and was soon followed by Wynkyn de Worde, Pynson, and other great printers. The usurpation of Richard III and the murder of Edward V and his brother in the Tower (1483) were the last events in the history of London under the Plantagenets.

London under the Tudors

The opening of this period was marked by repeated outbreaks of the "sweating sickness" which was so common in England that it was known as the Sudor Anglicanus . This first appeared in 1485 and broke out again in 1506, 1517, 1528, and 1551, carrying off thousands at each visitation; while in 1500 thirty thousand Londoners fell victims to the plague. Nevertheless the city continued to prosper under the firm Tudor rule, and frequent royal pageants were seen in its streets. Henry VII added to Westminster Abbey the finest building in the Perpendicular Style in England. His chapel was begun in 1502 and finished in 1517. In 1512 the royal palace at Westminster was burnt, and Henry VIII was left without a London residence until in 1529 he took possession of Wolsey's palace, York Place, and renamed it Whitehall. In 1530 he began to build St. James's Palace.

And now a great change was in store for London, though it came about little by little. In 1534 Henry obtained the schismatical Act of Parliament abolishing the authority of the pope, and in the following year the Act of Supremacy gave him the title "Supreme Head of the Church in England." London was reddened with the blood of martyrs ; the Carthusians of the London Charterhouse, Blessed John Fisher and Blessed Thomas More suffered in the summer of 1535. Others followed in succeeding years. In 1536 the smaller religious houses were suppressed; in 1539 the greater monasteries fell. The Benedictine Abbeys of Westminster and Bermondsey; the Cistercians of St. Mary Graces; the Augustinians of the Priories of St. Bartholomew, Smithfield, Holy Trinity, Aldgate, and St. Mary Overy, Southwark ; the convents at Clerkenwell, Holywell, St. Helen's Bishopsgate, Kilburn, and Stratford, and all the houses of the friars were seized by the king and the religious were dispersed. On Henry's death (1547) things went from bad to worse. Protector Somerset and the Reformation party were in the ascendant, the substitution of English for Latin was ordered in all the churches, and crucifixes and images were pulled down. All property belonging to colleges and chantries were seized for royal uses, and even the great city guilds which held lands for the purposes of providing stipends for priests, obits, and lights, had to redeem such lands at a total cost of 20,000 pounds, and to apply the rents arising therefrom to other charitable purposes.

The Catholic life of London thus received blow after blow. There can be little doubt moreover that a considerable section of the populace was in sympathy with the Reformers, a fact which was largely due to the frequent communication between London and the Continent. The brief Catholic revival under Mary met with considerable opposition in London, and comparatively little had been done in the way of restoration when the accession of Elizabeth, in 1558, led to the complete overthrow of the Catholic religion. From the feast of St. John Baptist on 24 June, 1559 the Mass was forbidden and the Holy Sacrifice ceased to be offered in London churches; St. Paul's cathedral under the energetic influence of Bishop Bonner being one of the last where Mass was said. The bishop himself and many of his clergy were imprisoned and after the excommunication of Elizabeth, in 1570, the martyrdoms began again, reaching their height in point of numbers in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada. From this time forward London became a Protestant city and the history of the dwindling number of Catholics will be described later.

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It is at this time that the first maps of London were produced. Anthony van den Wyngaerde produced his panorama between 1543 and 1550. Probably the first actual map is that of Hoefnagel, sometimes known as Braun and Hogenberg's map from the work in which it appeared. It is dated 1572. Others give priority to the undated map, attributed to Agas, which must have been made between 1570 and 1600. The city at this time was at the height of its prosperity. The brilliant Court of Elizabeth attracted men of action and men of letters, so that there never was a time when London held more distinguished Englishmen. Theatres now began to be built, though always outside the city boundaries: the "Theatre" and the "Curtain" at Shoreditch; the "Globe", "Rose" and "Hope" on the Bankside. There was also a theatre at Blackfriars. In 1566 the Royal Exchange was founded by Sir Thomas Gresham, receiving its name from Elizabeth in 1571. Attempts were now made to restrict the growth of London, but in vain, for its ever-increasing material prosperity made it a centre which drew men from all sides. Moorfields was drained and laid out as a pleasure-ground. The wealthier citizens began to build country houses, while courtiers built mansions in the neighbourhoods of Westminster, Whitehall, The Strand, and Lincoln's Inn Fields. This extension of the city led to the beginnings of a regular water-supply, the water being conveyed from the Thames in leaden pipes. The river itself was then the great highway of London, the streets being unmade and often foul and muddy. Drainage and refuse alike poured into the river and the question of a fresh water supply became an urgent one, especially in view of the rapid growth of London. To meet the want, Sir Hugh Myddleton devised and executed a wise scheme by which he provided London with a canal which brought water from Hertfordshire. This was completed in 1613. The population of London in the last years of Elizabeth was estimated at 145,000.

London under the Stuarts

Between 1603 and 1714 a very great change came over London, for during this period the centre of social life slowly passed from the City to the west end of town, leaving the City as the centre of municipal and commercial life only. The suburbs grew until they became a vast town encircling this centre, and many times larger and more populous. Little by little the old walls were pulled down and many of the open spaces were covered with a network of streets many houses in which were now built of brick. Pavements for foot-passengers were also introduced. During the Civil War, London was the strength and mainstay of the Parliamentarians, and new fortifications consisting chiefly of earthworks were necessary. The execution of Charles I, which took place at the banqueting hall of the royal palace of Whitehall, in presence of vast crowds of Londoners, was a memorable event in London history. It was followed by the Commonwealth, during which Jews were allowed by Cromwell to return to London, and in 1660 by the Restoration when the separation between the fashionable court life of the West End and the commercial life of the City was completed. In 1664 London was stricken by the Great Plague, last and worst of the pestilences, which raged with increasing violence throughout the following year. The number of victims is not known for certain. Nearly 70,000 deaths from plague were actually registered, but in this time of horror the registers could not be efficiently kept, and it is probable that at least 100,000 persons perished. A year after the plague had ceased, in 1666, the Great Fire occurred when for three days the whole city was in flames. It is not easy to overestimate the damage caused by this conflagration in which almost all the remains of medieval London were destroyed. The great Gothic cathedral and eighty-six of the old Catholic churches perished, together with the palaces and mansions of the City and the dwellings of the citizens. One good result ensued: the seeds of the plague were destroyed and the old insanitary streets were no more. In rebuilding the City a great opportunity was lost. For Wren's noble plan was not adopted and the old lines of streets were adhered to, though the new houses were all of brick. Owing to this decision, many of the ancient topographical and historical associations have been preserved, it is true, but at the cost of both appearance and convenience.

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In 1675 Wren began the rebuilding of St. Paul's which was not finally completed till 1711. Built in the classical style its beauty lies in its proportions and in the noble and massive simplicity of the great dome which lifts the cross 404 feet above the pavements of London. In it lie buried Nelson, Wellington, and others chiefly of military and naval renown, though many famous painters and musicians are also interred there. Besides this masterpiece Wren designed thirty-five of the new City churches all distinguished by their fine steeples or towers and the harmonious proportions of their interiors, enriched as they are also by the noble carving of Grinling Gibbons. In 1671 the Monument was erected to commemorate the fire; it is a noble column 202 feet high, originally disfigured by an inscription explaining that the fire was "begun and carried on by the treachery and malice" of the Catholics, a calumny which was deservedly pilloried in Pope's lines:--

"Where London's column, pointing to the skies,
Like a tall bully lifts its head, and lies."

The offensive inscription was removed during the reign of James II, but having been replaced after the Revolution was finally obliterated in 1831, consequent on the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. By the time of the Revolution London was acknowledged as the greatest capital in Europe and boasted half a million inhabitants. In 1694 the Bank of England was founded, and in 1698 the old palace of Whitehall was burnt down. The rebuilding of London was still proceeding when the century drew to a close.

London in the Eighteenth Century

London under the Hanoverian kings lost the beauty it formerly had and became a vast collection of houses, plain but comfortable, a condition from which it is only now successfully emerging. There was a great extension of building in the West end and in the neighbourhoods of Bloomsbury, Marylebone, and May Fair, but unfortunately the architecture of the period was heavy and tasteless. At this time many hospitals were founded or rebuilt to meet the wants of the increasing numbers of the poor. Among these were Westminster Hospital (founded 1719), Guy's (1725), St. Bartholomew's (rebuilt 1730-1733), St. Thomas's (1732), the London Hospital (instituted 1741), and the Middlesex Hospital (1745). Besides these, that noble charity the Foundling Hospital was instituted in 1738 and was moved to the present building in 1754.

Till this time London had only one bridge, but in 1738 Westminster Bridge was begun and in 1750 it was opened. Blackfriars Bridge followed in 1769. In 1758 the houses on London Bridge had been demolished and shortly after, five of the old city Gates, Moorgate, Aldersgate, Aldgate, Cripplegate, and Ludgate, were pulled down. The Westminster Paving Act, passed in 1762, introduced many improvements in the thoroughfares; pavements were laid, and obstructions removed from the streets. About this time people commenced to place their names on their doors and the system of numbering houses began. There was, however, indescribable squalor and filth in many parts of the town, as may be seen in the pictures of Hogarth, and the moral corruption of the people was indescribable. The term "Rookery" was by no means unapt. The city had many troubles to encounter during the latter part of the century, such as the Silk-weavers riots (1765); the quarrel with the Court and Parliament about the election of John Wilkes (1768), and the terrible Gordon Riots (1780) which were the outcome of the first Catholic Relief Act (1778). During the same period newspapers began to appear, several of which still exist: the "Morning Post" (1772), "Times" (1788), "Observer" (1791), "Morning Advertiser" (1794), and "Globe" (1803). This century also witnessed the rise of the British Museum (1753), the Royal Academy (1768), and the Royal Institution (1799).

London in the Nineteenth Century

In 1801 the first census was taken and showed that the total population of London was 900,000 and of the city, 78,000. As the population in 1901 was returned as 4-1/2 millions it will be seen how rapid has been the growth of London during the past hundred years. Another fact illustrating this is that during the period 1879-1909 more than 1500 miles of new streets were built. It is clearly impossible within these limits to give any but the most salient facts. In 1801 the first attempts at steam navigation were made on the Thames. The London docks were begun four years later. They cover an area of 120 acres and cost four million pounds. In 1806 three great funerals took place in London, Nelson being buried in St. Paul's, Pitt and Fox in the Abbey. In 1807 gas was first used to light the public streets, and five years later a charter was granted to the Gas Light and Coke Company, the oldest of the lighting companies. Once more there was activity in bridge building; Old Vauxhall Bridge was opened in 1811, Waterloo Bridge in 1817, Southwark Bridge in 1819, and new London Bridge, a little farther west than its predecessor, was begun in 1825 and finished in 1831. The bridges at Westminster and Blackfriars have since been rebuilt, and the magnificent Tower Bridge was opened in 1894, so that the seven chief London bridges are of nineteenth-century construction. Among the new buildings of this period were the Mint (1811), Regent Street (1813), the British Museum (1823), General Post Office (1824), while others were necessitated by the fires which destroyed the Old Houses of Parliament in 1834 and the Royal Exchange in 1838. The new Houses of Parliament, designed by Barry with much assistance from the Catholic architect Pugin, were begun in 1840, the House of Lords being opened in 1847, the House of Commons in 1852.

In the great revolutionary year of 1848 London was threatened by the Chartists, and extensive preparations were made for defence, but the movement came to nothing. Two great international exhibitions took place in the years 1851 and 1862 with useful results to the commerce of the capital. This was further helped by the development of the railways, which brought about further alterations in London and necessitated the erection of the great terminal railway stations: Euston, L.& N.W.R.; King's Cross, G.N.R.; St. Pancras, M.R.; Paddington, G.W.R.; Marylebone, G.C.R.; Waterloo, L. and S.W.R.; Liverpool St., G.E.R.; Holborn, S.E. and C.R.; Cannon St., S.E. and C.R.; Charing Cross, S.E. and C.R.; Victoria, S.E. and C.R., and L.B. and S.C.R.; London Bridge, L.B. and S.C.R.; Fenchurch St., London, Tilbury and Southend Railway. One of the immediate results of the facilities offered by railways has been the desertion of the City as a residential quarter, and the growth of the suburbs in which most business people now live, going into town daily for business and returning home at night. This separation of the commercial man's home from his business has considerably altered the nature of London family life. New inventions also helped in accentuating this change. The first London telegraph from Paddington to West Drayton was opened in 1839, and a year later penny postage was introduced. In 1843 the Thames tunnel from Wapping to Rotherhithe was opened. In 1860 the volunteer movement arose under public apprehension of a French invasion. Many other additions to the buildings and thoroughfares of London were made during Queen Victoria's reign, among them being South Kensington Museum and the Public Record Office (1856); the Holborn Viaduct (1869); the Thames Embankment (1870); the Albert Hall and Burlington House (1871); the New Law Courts (1882); the Imperial Institute (1893) and the National Portrait Gallery (1896). The important changes which took place during this time in the administration of London, the formation first of the Metropolitan Board of Works and then of the London County Council, and the creation of numerous boroughs will be described later (see MODERN CIVIL ADMINISTRATION). Since the death of Queen Victoria, in 1901, London has added but little to its history, though street improvements, such as the opening of Kingsway and Aldwych and the widening of the Strand, continue to add to the convenience and beauty of the metropolis. The opening of the cathedral at Westminster in 1903 was not only noteworthy to Catholics, but has enriched London with one more impressive architectural feature, remarkable as being the only building in the Byzantine style in the capital.

Some few historical notes on matters which have not been included in this outline of London's history may here be added, as falling more conveniently under separate heads.

The City Corporation and Guilds

In the Middle Ages the Merchant Guilds and Craft Guilds (see GUILDS, IN ENGLAND) were numerous and powerful in London. By a law of Edward III membership in a guild was a necessary condition for obtaining the freedom of the city. Thus everyone belonged to a guild, and the guilds governed the city, even electing the lord mayor. The city was divided into twenty-six wards, which still exist: Aldersgate, Aldgate, Bassishaw, Billingsgate, Bishopsgate, Bread Street, Bridge, Bridge Without, Broad Street, Candlewick, Castle Baynard, Cheap, Coleman Street, Cordwainer, Cornhill, Cripplegate, Dowgate, Farringdon Within, Farringdon Without, Langbourn, Lime Street, Portsoken, Queenhithe, Tower, Walbrook, and Vintry. Each of these wards was and is represented by an alderman originally elected annually, but since the year 1394 for life. Each alderman is, by virtue of his office, a judge and magistrate for the whole city. The aldermen were assisted by common councillors, who were first appointed in the reign of Edward I, and in 1384 they were formed into the common council. Originally each ward elected two councillors, but the number has been increased and now the wards elect various numbers from four to sixteen. In 1840 the number of common councilmen was fixed at 206. They are elected annually.

Though the common council has succeeded to the powers of the ancient "Folk Mote", that assembly is also represented by the Court of Common Hall, composed of the lord mayor, four aldermen and the liverymen of the city guilds. This body formerly elected the sheriffs of London and Middlesex, but since 1888 the election of the sheriff of Middlesex has been vested in the London County Council, and the Corporation elects two sheriffs of London. The Court of Common Hall also annually elects two aldermen who have served as sheriffs from whom the Court of Aldermen chooses the lord mayor for the coming year. Thus even now some power remains vested in the members of the guilds or, as they are now called, City Companies. Twenty-six of these companies still survive. They have but little connection with the crafts or trades whose names they bear, but they meet for social and ceremonial purposes, and for the administration of their charities, for many of them are very wealthy and contribute largely to benevolent objects, technical instruction and the like. Twelve of these guilds are known as the Greater Companies. They are:-- Goldsmiths (founded in 1327), Skinners (1327), Grocers (1345), Vintners (1363), Fishmongers (1363), Drapers (1364), Mercers (1393), Haberdashers (1448), Ironmongers (1464), Merchant Taylors (1466), Clothworkers (1480), and Salters (1530). Other important companies are Saddlers (1364), Cordwainers (1410), Armourers (1452), Barbers (1462), Stationers (1556), and Apothecaries (1615). Of these the Mercers, the first in order of civil precedence, have an income of 111,000 pounds a year, and fifteen of the companies have over 10,000 pounds a year.

The city meetings are held in the Guildhall (erected 1411, rebuilt 1789, with a Gothic façade added in 1867). It contains the great hall used for banquet and other ceremonial occasions, the common council chamber and some courts of justice. The official residence of the lord mayor, known as the Mansion House, was built in 1740. The chief civic officials are the recorder (first appointed in 1298), the chamberlain or treasurer, the town clerk, and the common serjeant. The jurisdiction and administration of the corporation is restricted to the ancient limits of the City of London which cover about one square mile. As London grew beyond these in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, the corporation made no effort to expand its activities. So greater London has now its own government, and the "City of London" is a city within a city, retaining its autonomy, but in no way controlling the rest of the metropolis. The arms of the city are argent, a cross gules charged on the first quarter, with a sword erect gules.

The Trained-bands of London

The lord mayors as heads of the corporation from the earliest days of their office exercised military command, and the corporation has always been ready to contribute grants of ships, men and money in moments of national emergency. The trained-bands formed for the defence of the city were originally divided into six regiments consisting of eight companies each. These regiments known as the Blue, Yellow, Green, Orange, White, and Red regiments, included at their full strength ten thousand men. From them emanated five regiments which hold the privilege of marching through the city with "the pomp of war ", colours flying and bayonets fixed. These were 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards, 3rd East Kent (Buffs), Royal Marines, Royal West London Militia, and Royal East London Militia. The two last named were united in 1820 as the Royal London Militia which about 1880 was made the 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers.


The consecration of St. Mellitus as Bishop of London by St. Augustine in 604 has already been mentioned. Venerable Bede adds that "when this province received the word of truth by the preaching of Mellitus, King Ethelbert built the church of St. Paul in the city of London where he and his successors should have their episcopal seat" (H. E., II, iii). Unfortunately we do not know whether this cathedral was built on the site of the ancient church in which the Romano-British bishops of London had previously had their seat. Of those bishops nothing is known but the list of names already referred to. Theanus, Eluanus, Cadar, Obinus, Conanus, Palladius, Stephanus, Iltutus, Theodwinus, Theodredus, and Hilarius are said by vague tradition to have been predecessors of Restitutus who attended the Council of Arles in 314, while he, it is said, was succeeded by Guitelinus, Fastidius, Wodinus, and Theonus. A century and a half had elapsed between the flight of the last British bishop and the coming of Mellitus, and after his death nearly half a century elapses before we find the name of St. Cedd as Bishop of the East Saxons exercising episcopal jurisdiction, though he does not seem to have been called Bishop of London. After him the line is unbroken:--

  • Wine, 666
  • St. Erkenwald, 675
  • Waldhere, 693
  • Ingwald, 705
  • Eggwulf, 745
  • Sighaeh, 772
  • Eadbert, 774
  • Eadgar, 785 or 789
  • Coenwalh, 789 or 791
  • Eadbald, 793
  • Heathobert, 794
  • Osmund, 802
  • Aethilnoth, 811
  • Coelberht, 824
  • Deorwulf, 860
  • Swithwulf, 861
  • Heahstan, 898
  • Wulfsige, 898
  • Theodred, 926
  • Byrrthelm, 953
  • St. Dunstan, 958
  • Aelstan, 961
  • Wulfstan, 996
  • Aelfhun, 1004
  • Aelfwig, 1014
  • Aelfward, 1035
  • Robert, 1044
  • William the Norman, 1051
  • Hugh de Orivalle, 1075
  • Maurice, 1085
  • Richard de Belmeis I, 1108
  • Gilbert the Universal, 1128
  • vacancy , 1135
  • Robert de Sigillo, 1141
  • Richard de Belmeis II, 1152
  • Gilbert Foliot, 1163
  • Richard de Ely (Fitzneale), 1189
  • William de S. Maria, 1198
  • Eustace de Fauconberg, 1221
  • Roger Niger, 1229
  • Fulk Basset, 1242
  • Henry de Wingham, 1259
  • Henry de Sandwich, 1263
  • John de Chishul, 1274
  • Richard de Gravesend, 1280
  • Ralph de Baldock, 1306
  • Gilbert de Segrave, 1313
  • Richard de Newport, 1317
  • Stephen de Gravesend, 1319
  • Richard de Bentworth, 1338
  • Ralph de Stratford, 1340
  • Michael de Northburg, 1354
  • Simon de Sudbury, 1362
  • William Courtenay, 1375
  • Robert Braybrooke, 1381
  • Roger Walden, 1405
  • Nicholas Bubbewich, 1406
  • Richard Clifford, 1407
  • John Kempe, 1422
  • William Grey, 1426
  • Robert Fitzhugh, 1431
  • Robert Gilbert, 1436
  • Thomas Kempe, 1450
  • Richard Hill, 1489
  • Thomas Savage, 1496
  • William Wareham, 1501
  • William Barnes, 1504
  • Richard Fitz James, 1506
  • Cuthbert Tunstall, 1522
  • John Stokesley, 1530
  • Edmund Bonner, 1539 (schismatical)
  • Nicholas Ridley, 1550 (schismatical)
  • Edmund Bonner, 1553, with whose death on 5 Sept., 1569, the line of Catholic bishops of London ended.

Of this long list two stand out as canonized saints, St. Erkenwald (14 Nov.), whose shrine was the centre of devotion in the cathedral, and St. Dunstan (19 May). Another, Roger Niger, was popularly venerated as a saint. Six of the bishops became archbishops of Canterbury ; St. Dunstan , Robert of Jumièges, Simon de Sudbury, Courtenay, John Kempe, and Wareham. The Saxon cathedral was burnt in 962 and rebuilt to be destroyed again in the fire of 1087. Bishop Maurice then erected a great Normal cathedral, served like its predecessors by secular canons. By the end of the twelfth century there were 30 endowed prebends and the chapter held 24,000 acres of land as its corporate property. The Norman nave was again rebuilt after the fire of 1136. Here it was that John resigned his kingdom to the pope and received it back from Pandulph as a vassal. In St. Paul's, too, the nobles offered the kingdom to Louis the Dauphin in 1216. In 1232 the Council of St. Paul's was held, when Otho, the papal legate , published the Constitutions which formed so important a part of English ecclesiastical law until the Reformation. During this time the new choir was being built and this was consecrated in 1240 in the presence of King Henry III, St. Edmund, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal Otho the Legate. The cathedral was completed early in the fourteenth century by the erection of a very high steeple surmounted by a cross containing relics of the saints. In 1262 a long-standing dispute between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chapter of St. Paul's concerning jurisdiction sede vacante was settled, the agreement being that the archbishop should appoint one out of certain canons presented by the chapter to rule the diocese till the election of the new bishop. In the fourteenth century Bishop Braybrooke vainly endeavoured to suppress the abuse by which the nave of St. Paul's was used as a market and common resort for business and even for amusements. Abundant references in English literature show that this evil practice continued till the destruction of the cathedral in 1666.

Up to the early years of the fifteenth century St. Paul's had preserved its own liturgical use, known as Usus Sancti Pauli, but on 15 Oct., 1414, the Sarum Rite, then commonly used through the greater part of England, was substituted for it, and remained in use till the Reformation. The bishop presided at the greater festivals, the dean on ordinary days. The dean with the precentor, the treasurer, the chancellor, and the prebendaries formed the chapter. Next came the twelve petty canons and six vicars choral, while there were fifty chantry priests attached to the cathedral. The diocese, divided into the four archdeaconries of London, Essex, Middlesex, and Colchester, included the counties of Middlesex, Essex, and part of Hertfordshire. The foundation of St. Paul's School by Dean Colet, in 1512, was the only other important event concerning the cathedral church of London until the reign of Henry VIII. When the religious troubles began none of the cathedral clergy made any stand against the king. In August, 1538, the Great Rood and the statue of Our Lady of Grace were removed; in 1547 all the altars were demolished and the church plate and vestments were sold by the Protestant Dean May. Under Mary, Bishop Bonner was restored to his see and the Mass was again celebrated till the first year of Elizabeth. With the imprisonment of the Bishop and the deprivation of the London clergy who remained faithful to the Holy See the history of London as a Catholic diocese closes.


For the first few years of Elizabeth's reign the existing clergy, who became known as "Marian" priests, administered to the needs of the Catholics, saying Mass and giving the sacraments in secret. When they began to die out their numbers were reinforced by the " seminary priests " sent from the college founded by Cardinal Allen at Douai (1568), from the English College at Rome and from later foundations at Valladolid, Seville, Lisbon, and elsewhere. Under Elizabeth more than eighty priests and laymen went to martyrdom in London alone, and a far larger number perished in the various prisons. After the death of Bishop Bonner as a prisoner in 1569 there was no episcopal government, and the priests did as best they could, not only in London but throughout England. In 1598 the Holy See appointed an archpriest, George Blackwell, with jurisdiction over all England. He was succeeded in turn by George Birkhead (1608-1614) and William Harrison (1615-1621). During this period a fierce controversy divided English Catholics, some desiring and other opposing the appointment of a bishop as vicar Apostolic. The pope decided this in 1623 by appointing Dr. William Bishop as vicar Apostolic of England. In that same year there occurred in London the "Fatal Vespers ", when a large body of Catholics and others, who were assembled at the French Embassy to hear a sermo

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