1601, William Nutt and other imprisoned victuallers petition against Westminster’s clerk of the market

William Nutte, William Dugdale and others, poor inhabitants and victuallers of Westminster. SP 12/281 unfol. (1601)

To the right honorable Sir Roberte Cicill knighte principall secretarye to the Queenes most excellent majestie chayncellour of the Dutchie of Lancaster and one of her majesties most honorable privie councell.

Humblie sheweth unto your honour, your honours poore suppliant William Nutte and William Dugdale, and diverse others the poore inhabitantes and victlers within the liberties of the deane and chapter of Westminster, that whereas diverse amercementes have byn ymposed uppon the said inhabitantes by the clarke of the markett, and certyfied into the exchequer; all which the Queenes majestie the last Parlement hath pardoned aswell within the liberties as without, yet so it is, yf it may please your honour, that one Raphe Dobynson (pretendinge himself to be underbailiffe to your honor) hath procured estreates in greene waxe of the saide amercementes, and in most cruell wyse exacted the same of your suppliantes; and for that your suppliantes esteeminge his dealinges herein to be unlawfull did therefore in some sorte stande uppon the payment thereof, the said Dobynson in revenge thereof intendinge your suppliantes utter undoeing, hath without cause, for certen tryffles indicted diverse of your saide suppliantes, puttinge them to extreame charge, to traverse the same indictmentes and hath caused some of them to be cast in Newgate, some in the gatehowse, and hath nowe accions dependinge against them, to the some of sixe hundred markes, comenced for vexacion onely; for redresse of which greivances, your oratours have made their humble peticion to Master Deane of Westminster, but bycause the said Dobynson entertaynes the same place under your honour, the said Master Deane, hath referred your said suppliantes, and their peticions to your honour. May it therefore please your honor, for charitie sake, (for that the cause concernes a great number of poore honest people and howse houlders, who are like to be expulsed ther auncient places of inhabitantes by theise extreamities) to call the said Dobynson afore your honour; and your suppliantes will humblye stande to your honours pleasure concerninge the said contraversies, and praye for your honours health longe to contynewe.

Report by Lesley Scott-Stapleton

William Nutt

The first reference to William Nutt found so far is in 1583, where he pays eleven pence in some form of parish dues.[i] Ten years later we find: November 5th ‘was buried William Nutt, son of William Coffin’, six pence paid. In the same year’s accounts Nutt is listed among those who have contributed money to the bells, assumedly for maintenance. As the latter list is separate, there is no telling if the two payments happened at similar times.[ii]

That this William Nutt has a different surname to his father requires more exploration, but may be explained by him being adopted, or that Coffin was a stepfather. In either case, we realise that there must be a father and son of the same name, since in 1599 the son is giving bail for a neighbour. We also learn that he is a baker, and judging by the level of bail set, prosperous enough. “Recognizances, taken before Vincent Skynner Esq. J.P., of William Nutt, baker and Thomas Cole, ale-brewer, […], in the sum of twenty pounds each, and of William Dugdale of the same parish, ale-brewer, in the sum of forty pounds. For the said William Dugdale’s appearance at the next General Session of the Peace at Westminster, to answer to all things that may be then and there objected against him.”[iii]

The final mention of Nutt junior is in the Churchwarden’s burial accounts: 1602 August, ‘the 30th day, was buried William Nutt. For the ground, cloth, afternoon’s knell and peals, 14 shillings’.[iv]

Thomas Cole

Confusion between fathers and sons with the same name also occurs with Thomas Cole; the name appears as one of those appointed to examine the Churchwardens’ accounts in 1554.[v] As they are to examine church property ‘belonging from fifty years past’, it is more likely to be the senior Thomas Cole, who would remember items. It may be assumed that is this Thomas Cole who is buried in 1556 at cost of 7 shillings, 10 pence.[vi]

It has not been possible to discover the relationship – certainly a generation intervenes – but in 1618, George and Thomas Cole sold to William “Goodacre” the tenement or dwelling house then in the latter’s occupation. The site of this is No. 65, Charing Cross, which suggests that the Cole family had not moved from the parish.[vii]

William Dugdale

The case with Nutt was not the only time that Dugdale was required to provide a recognizance for his appearance in court. The following year ten pounds was pledged to secure his appearance and good behaviour in the intervening time.[viii]

Raphe Dobinson

Scant references have been found.  Mention is made in the Acts of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, 1543-1609: 3 December 1607, but the nature of this could not be established. The will of Raphe Dobinson is dated 14 June 1622;[ix] given the practice of the time, he is likely to have died within a few days of this.


[i] The Accounts of the Churchwardens, 1525-1603, St Martin-in-The-Fields: December 1583 – December 1585, Pages 352-375. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/churchwardens-st-martin-fields/1525-1603/pp352-375

[ii] The Accounts of the Churchwardens, 1525-1603, St Martin-in-The-Fields: December 1591 – December 1593, Pages 435-456. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/churchwardens-st-martin-fields/1525-1603/pp435-456

[iii] Middlesex County Records: Volume 1, 1550-1603.Sessions Rolls: 1599, Pages 251-257. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/middx-county-records/vol1/pp251-257

[iv] The Accounts of the Churchwardens, 1525-1603, St Martin-in-The-Fields: December 1601 – December 1603, Pages 552-573. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/churchwardens-st-martin-fields/1525-1603/pp552-573

[v] The Accounts of the Churchwardens, 1525-1603, St Martin-in-The-Fields: March 1552 – March 1554, Pages 141-150. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/churchwardens-st-martin-fields/1525-1603/pp141-150

[vi] The Accounts of the Churchwardens, 1525-1603, St Martin-in-The-Fields: December 1555 – December 1557, Pages 159-166. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/churchwardens-st-martin-fields/1525-1603/pp159-166

[vii] Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Site of No. 65, Charing Cross, Pages 136-137. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol16/pt1/pp136-137

[viii] Middlesex County Records: Volume 1, 1550-1603.Sessions Rolls: 1602, 5 July, Pages 276-287. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/middx-county-records/vol1/pp276-287

[ix] Will of Raphe Dobinson of Saint Martin in the Fields, Middlesex. Reference:PROB 11/139/594. https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D883194

This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, 1600-1625’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.