Hugh Alley, ‘citizen and Plaisterer of London’ took it upon himself to produce a small paper volume of twenty-three folios, titled ‘A Caveatt for the Citty of London’. His reason for doing so is not immediately apparent in the document, but comes clearer when viewed within the historical context particularly to do with Alley’s job, which was to inform upon and prosecute market offences in the late sixteenth century, plus the food shortages of the 1590s.
Hugh Alley made it his business to observe closely the goings on of the many markets in the City, most still situtated exactly where they began in the 1300s, particularly the abuses of hawkers. The book was presented to the Lord Mayor, Sir Richard Saltonstall (whose nephew, of the same name was one of the grantees of the Massachusetts Company) in April 1598. The book is worth a read particularly if you enjoy the complexity of medieval rules and regulations, and the role of overseers to make sure they were adhered too. Alley’s contemporaries considered him ‘bumptious and meddlesome’. The other reason to take a look at this book are the pictures, delightful and apparently some drawn by Alley himself with embellishments. He did like to meddle!
My particular favourite is the market at Queenhithe and the drawing of John More (shown to the right of the picture above), a skinner who was elected alderman in January 1597. More was serving as sheriff and is shown wearing the chian of office. More was also master of the Skinners Company in 1597 and 1601 and also served on the committee of the East India Company. He died in April 1603.
The gentleman to the left is thought to be Paul Hawkins, a common councilman of the ward of Queenhithe, he was a vintner, but later transferred to the Mercers’ Company. Died in 1600.
The information and pictures taken from HUGH ALLEY’S CAVEAT The Markets of London in 1598. Folger MS V.a. 318, edited by Ian Archer, Caroline Barron, Vanessa Harding.