Lawrence Brinley

Lawrence Brinley was another merchant trading with North America who lived in Clapham. He was an active Presbyterian and one of the four elders of St Mary Magdalen, Milk Street. Brinley was a militant Parliamentary activist who had fought the war for a reformed state church and city privileges, not for religious liberty and military domination.

He played a leading part in organizing the petition of 20 September 1645 complaining about the delay in settling Presbyterian church government, copies of which had been printed and circulated in every parish for signature by all who had taken the Covenant who were also asked ‘that their qualities should alsoe be sett downe’ to emphasise their respectability. His house was the collection point for completed petitions and George Thomason, the book seller, was among the local canvassers. The House of Commons learnt of it and voted it to be scandalous and sent the Lord Mayor to call a meeting of the Common Council which ordered its suppression.

Brinley acquired extensive lands in Ireland although his will in 1662 directed that his land should be sold. He was also connected to Barbados since his nephew, Francis Brinley, had emigrated here, but finding the climate not ‘suited to his habits and constitution’ settled at Newport, Rhode Island, and subsequently wrote an ‘Account of the Settlements and Governments in and about the Lands of Narraganset Bay.’ His son, Richard, lived in his father's house in Clapham after the Restoration.Two of Thomason's daughters also came to live in Clapham.

The Mayflower and Clapham

Two of the original Merchant Adventurers who financed the Mayflower, John Beauchamp and James Sherley, took a joint lease in Clapham in 1634. It is not clear how they divided the property they leased together, but there may well have been more than one house on the land. Sherley was certainly there during the serious outbreak of plague in London in 1636 when he wrote in a letter to the New Plymouth Colony,

‘You will and may expect I should write more and answer your letters, but I am not a day in the week at home in town, but carry all my books to Clapham. For here is the miserablest time that I think hath been known in many ages. I have known three great sicknesses, but none like this. And that which should be a means to pacify the Lord and help us, that is taken away, preaching put down in many places, not a sermon in Westminster on the Sabbath, nor in many towns about us; the Lord in mercy look upon us!’

James Sherley was one of the two original Treasurers of the Mayflower and he and Beauchamp were two of the four who in 1626 took over the financing in return for a six year monopoly of the fur trade with the Indians and the responsibility for procuring the goods that the Settlers still needed from England, a task that went well with their other trading activities. The fur trade was particularly interesting to them because beaver pelts provided the raw material for beaver hats, a major fashion item of the early seventeenth century and one that gave ample opportunity for considerable profit. They may have been responsible for bringing two beaver makers to Clapham, William Daniel of All Hallows Lombard Street, and William Hubbard, one of the Presbyterian elders at St Mary Woolnoth.

Beauchamp came from a yeoman farming family in Northamptonshire and with a small legacy as a second son became apprenticed as a Salter dealing in dyes and related chemicals. He began trading as an interloper in wool, bringing back a variety of consumer goods on the return journey from the Netherlands. He became one of the largest importers of these goods, often working jointly with James Sherley. Sherley was a Goldsmith, a trade which often acted as a banker, and also an investor in the East India Company in 1624. Both Beauchamp and, particularly, Sherley, get a rather bad press from the historians of the Mayflower. They may well have been involved principally because they saw a business opportunity rather than for any specific religious or political reason, but Samuel Morison concedes that Sherley did share the Pilgrim’s religious beliefs and his letters are full of language to support this. For example Sherley wrote to William Bradford, the Governor of the Plymouth colony, in December 1627 saying,

‘Assuredly, unless the Lord be merciful to us and the whole land in general, our estate and condition is far worse than yours. Wherefore if the Lord should send persecution or trouble here (which is much to be feared) and so should pit into our minds to fly for refuge, I know no place safer than to come to you, for all Europe is at variance one with another, but chiefly with us.’

A desire to do business did not always go down well with the Settlers who might well have wanted to break up with Sherley and his associates, but were constrained by their debt to them and constant need for clothing, trading goods, and other supplies from home. There were innumerable disagreements between those financing the exercise who sometimes thought the Settlers were not doing enough to return goods for sale, and the Settlers who thought the financiers were engaged in sharp practice including sending them goods they had not asked for. Beauchamp also fell out with Sherley for not giving him a sufficient share of the income (or information) about incoming goods, and ended up taking Sherley to the Chancery Court. (Beauchamp lost). This was about the time that Beauchamp left Clapham.

Clapham and New England

Most of the Clapham merchants traded with North America and had close connections with the puritan communities there, including owning land with their relations were sent there to promote business. Sherley and Beauchamp had financed the Mayflower; four had invested in one or other of the New England Companies; Edward Winslow, three times Governor of New Plymouth and one of the people with whom Sherley corresponded about various Mayflower related issues, returned to England for the last time in 1646 and came to Clapham in the late 1640s. Another page gives details of Clapham’s involvement in the protestant missionary activity in New England.

Francis Bridges was one of the investors in the Massachusetts Bay Company which supported the first migration to that area and his brother, Captain Robert Bridges, emigrated to Massachusetts. He was the first person after John Harvard himself to leave the college a legacy, in his case £50, which he directed to ‘the enlargement of a college in New England for students there’ together with another £20 ‘to be disposed towards the clothinge of the poore of New England’.

Joshua Foote (younger brother of Sir Thomas Foote later Lord Mayor) had a house in Clapham from before 1638 until 1653 when he emigrated first to Boston and then to Providence, Rhode island, where he died in 1655. He was an Ironmonger and a leading exporter to Massachusetts. His brother Nathaniel had emigrated earlier and he sent his son Caleb over to Massachusetts and branched out into general merchandise. He was one of the merchants who refused to pay the Forced Loan in 1626 and, with another Clapham resident, Joshua Woolnough, was a leader of All Hallows Lombard Street where yet another Clapham resident, Thomas Aymes, was a parishioner.

Foote’s shop at the Golden Cock in Gracechurch Street was a meeting point for settlers returning to London to pick up gossip. He contributed to a fund to transport poor children to New England, intending thereby to secure them a godly upbringing. He helped to open, with others, the famous ironworks on the Saugus at Braintreee, Massachusetts. The Saugus ironworks were manned by Scots soldiers who had been captured at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. Joshua Foote, together with his partner John Becx, applied to the Council of State to transport 900 of them, ‘well and sound and free from wounds’, to North America as indentured servants. It was a good commercial deal for Foote since it cost about five pounds to ship the men over but they could be sold for twenty to thirty pounds as indentured servants for a period of seven years. The deal was facilitated by the Secretary of the Council, Gualter Frost, himself a partner in the Iron Works and who leased one of the larger houses in Clapham from 1649 until his death in 1652.

Edmund White was a strong puritan who had invested in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He married the daughter of Rowland Wilson, one of the leading City merchants both financially and politically and sometime member of the Council of State. Edmund was an active trader in New England and his daughter Mary married his agent Humphrey Davy who had moved to Boston in 1662.  Davy did business with another Clapham resident John Doggett who also traded with one of his wife’s cousins in Virginia.

White’s puritan credentials are indicated by being chosen by one relative to distribute a legacy to silenced Ministers of his choice. His son, also Edmund, became a member of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to New England in 1668 and it was through his account that the Society transmitted funds to New England.  The father died in 1674 and the son kept the house for another fifteen years. He was succeeded briefly by his wife Eleanor and then by his daughter Elizabeth who had married Thomas Hunt, a merchant dealing with North America who invested £1000 in creating a ship building industry in Taunton, near Boston, through Thomas Coram. It was this Thomas Coram who returned to England eventually to found the Foundlings Hospital.

Edward Winslow

Edward Winslow is well known to American historians having crossed on the Mayflower, a prolific defender of the Settlers, Governor of New Plymouth three times, and one of the people with whom Sherley corresponded about the various Mayflower related issues. He returned to England on a number of occasions and for the last time in 1646. He turns up in Clapham in 1649 and despite the bad press that Sherley gets about his business with the Pilgrims, it is clear that Winslow regarded him as a friend. He would hardly have chosen to stay in Clapham if he really disliked Sherley and his will appoints Sherley as one of his ‘four friends’ (the Rector, John Arthur, was another) to oversee the disposal of his personal estate in England – again indicating he trusted Sherley. Winslow was also one of the two witnesses at Sherley’s second marriage which took place in Clapham in 1654. Finally Winslow’s daughter, Elizabeth, was married in Clapham a year after his death with James Sherley one of the witnesses. All this demonstrates that Winslow had close connections with a number of the Clapham residents and it is hardly surprising that he lived there for a time as well

This closeness is emphasised by the work they did together. Winslow was one of three Clapham residents on one very important committee, the Compounding Commission which, dealt with the lands of those thought inimical to the regime. Samuel Moyer chaired it from 1650-1 and William Molins and Winslow were two of the other six members. This was a very busy committee meeeting three or four times a week, both morning and afternoon and Winslow, for example, attended meetings on fourteen or fifteen days in December 1650[i] which was entirely typical.

The second example relates to the first protestant missionary activity in North America. In 1649, following missionary activity by John Eliot, who had learnt Alonquin, and promotion of the scheme by Edward Winslow, the Rump Parliament passed an Act shortly after the execution of Charles I creating a Corporation to propagate the Gospel to the Indians in New England. Four of its eighteen members were people who lived in Clapham, Babington, Molins, Sherley and Winslow, and Joshua Woolnough later became a member[ii]. Given that only half of the eighteen ever turned up, the Clapham members (who did) clearly played an important part. Members had been chosen for their wealth and influence and have been described as ‘entirely Puritan, mostly independent, and mostly merchants’[iii].  Lawrence Bromfield and Lawrence Brinley joined after the Restoration and over its lifetime no fewer than sixteen Clapham residents were members.

Six weeks later the parish of Clapham had raised the large sum of some ninety pounds for this cause, almost ten per cent of the total raised in London, and Dennis Gauden was appointed ‘to carry [the money] into Mr Floyd the Treasurer living at the Maremaide in Cheapside.’ The Corporation invested the money raised and transmitted the income to New England. At first they passed the money directly but later goods were transferred instead, often purchased from the members of the Corporation who traded with North America; Babington sold £100 worth of cloth to the society in 1651 and £180 worth in 1652, jointly with Joshua Woolnough; Woolnough also sold goods himself in this way, as did Daniel Judd[iv]. At one stage they thought of paying Edward Winslow a salary directly from the Corporation’s funds, but they realised that this might not look too good and found an alternative route to pay him. Winslow and Molins made use of their position on the Commission for Sequestered Estates to sell the Corporation a number of lands under its remit, including some fee farm rents in Northumberland.

[i] Jeremy Bangs. 2004 Pilgrim Edward Winslow p268 NEHGS

[ii] The New England Company of 1649 and John Eliot 1920 George Winship The Prince Society Boston

[iii] William Kellaway. 1961 The New England Company p12 Longmans

[iv] Ibid p 65-6

Richard Salwey

Richard Salwey came from a prominent family from Richards Castle on the borders of Hereford and Shropshire and was apprenticed to Richard Waring, a London Grocer and prominent new merchant, marrying his daughter Anne. Salwey, a Major, had fought at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and reported back to Parliament on the outcome. He lived in Clapham from 1649 until 1652 and also returned as a resident from 1683-85 and subscribed to a collection of for repairs to the parish school in 1685 not long before his death.

richard salwey cropped.jpg

He was one of those who drafted the Commons resolution of 4 January 1649 which proclaimed the legitimacy of the Commonwealth in terms of popular sovereignty while reserving to the Commons full authority with no appeal beyond it,

‘That the People are, under God, the Original of all just Power:

And do also Declare, that the Commons of England, in Parliament assembled, being chosen by, and representing the People, have the Supreme Power in this Nation:

And do also Declare, That whatsoever is enacted, or declared for Law, by the Commons, in Parliament assembled, hath the Force of Law; and all the People of this Nation are concluded thereby, although the Consent and Concurrence of King, or House of Peers, be not had thereunto.’

This reflects Salwey’s position that, however fervently Independent his religious views, his top priority was political reform and the primacy of Parliament.

Salwey held a number of important positions and was elected to the Council of State on a number of occasions coming top of the poll in February 1651. He was also appointed to the Council of Trade and became one of the Commissioners for the regulation of the Navy in 1652. He saw the hand of God supporting the action of a government run by the godly and described English victories in the naval war against the Dutch as ‘miraculous works’ of God’s power which pointed to ‘the more spiritual appearance of our Lord Jesus in his kingdom’.

Although Salwey escaped unpunished immediately after the Restoration, he continued to have difficulties. He was arrested on suspicion of conspiring against the regime in 1662 but released because there was no evidence; he was committed to the Tower for three months in 1663-4 in connection with the Farnley Wood Plot, a rising in Yorkshire designed to overturn the monarchy and return to a Presbyterian church. He was eventually released in early February 1664 on his taking the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, giving security for good conduct, and paying the prison dues. Later, in 1678, Charles II ordered him to absent himself beyond the sea and he was again under suspicion at the time of Monmouth’s rising.

It is hardly surprising that his grandson’s memorial in Ludlow church says of his grandfather that ‘he sacrificed all and everything in his power in support of public liberty and in opposition to arbitrary power’.


I have a particular interest in Salwey because, like him, I have a house in Shropshire (Ludlow) and near Clapham.

Samuel Moyer

Samuel Moyer also lived in Clapham and had been apprenticed as a Mercer (Master in 1653). His father James had been a ship master, commanding the 600 ton Royal Merchant and involved in the Levant trade, dying in Smyrna in 1637. Samuel was an established merchant by 1640 and one of the important managers of the Adventure to Ireland. He was sufficiently well off to join the Levant Company by paying a fee and held membership in its Court of Assistants on many occasions and purchased £9000 worth of Bishops’ lands in 1649. He also joined the East India Company in 1647 although he refused to swear the Oath of Allegiance to the King that was required of its investors. He was a member of many Parliamentary committees (at one stage seven at the same time), particularly the Compounding Commission which he chaired for 20 months from 1650-1.

Moyer was one of the more radical of the Independents and one of the four men representing the City political Independents in their negotiations with the Levellers on the ‘Second Agreement of the People’ which was eventually ratified by the army council in December 1648. This watered down the Levellers’ demands but still provided radical provisions on electoral redistribution, toleration and the protection of individual liberties. It received little if any support overall but both Moyer and his neighbour in Clapham, Abraham Babington, agreed to serve on a committee to canvas signatures in support of it; they had little or no success.

Moyer, who was generally viewed as an efficient financial administrator was put on the committee supervising both army and navy in 1649. Having been in various posts in Customs from 1643, he also became Head of Customs In from 1649, an interesting post for a merchant who was still very active in imports and exports. Both Moyer and Salwey were appointed or elected to the Council of State on a number of occasions in the early fifties. Moyer also served on the Hale Commission which reviewed legal practices and whose proposals for simplification were roundly rejected by the lawyers in Parliament.

Moyer was removed from his posts at the Restoration but his associates still joined him in Clapham, one being  William Kiffin the prominent merchant and leading Particular Baptist preacher as well as a captain in the militia. Even though given a royal pardon Moyer was imprisoned for treason in 1662 when he still had his house in Clapham. He remained in prison for five years, first in the Tower of London and then in Tynemouth, until his elder brother, Lawrence, paid £500 for his release. Pepys tells a story about that release which illustrates how money oiled the wheels and caused difficulties with those who had offered to help but neglected to do so.

‘Mr Moore come to me, and there, among other things, did tell me how Mr Moyer, the merchant, having procured an order from the King and Duke of York and Council, with the consent of my Lord Chancellor, and by assistance of Lord Arlington, for the releasing out of prison his brother, Samuel Moyer, who was a great man in the late times in Haberdashers' Hall, and was engaged under hand and seal to give the man that obtained it so much in behalf of my Lord Chancellor; but it seems my Lady Duchess of Albermarle had before undertaken it for so much money, but hath not done it. The Duke of Albermarle did the next day send for this Moyer, to tell him, that notwithstanding this order of the King and Council’s being passed for release of his brother, yet, if he did not consider the pains of some friends of his, he would stop that order. This Moyer being an honest, bold man, told him that he was engaged to the hand that had done the thing to give him a reward; and more he would not give, nor could own any kindness done by his Grace’s interest; and so parted. The next day Sir Edward Savage did take the said Moyer in tax about it, giving ill words of this Moyer and his brother; which he not being able to bear, told him he would give to the person that had engaged him what he promised, and not any thing to any body else; and that both he and his brother were as honest men as himself, or any man else; and so sent him going, and bid him do his worst. It is one of the most extraordinary cases that ever I saw or understood; but it is true.’

Samuel Moyer returned to business, serving again on the court of both Levant and Royal African Companies and on the committee of the East India Company. He was a rich man with £3200 invested in the East India Company, and had been allocated £9000 of Episcopal land. However he had not forgotten his past and his will left five pounds to Richard Goodgrome, a fellow prisoner in the Tower and a radical Fifth Monarchist regularly sent to the Tower for seditious preaching. His mother, Lydia, was living in Clapham when she died in 1675 but was buried elsewhere.

Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys first visited Clapham in the early 1660s to see the Surveyor General of Victualling for the Navy, Dennis Gauden, who had an estate there and was rebuilding, extending, and modernising his house. Pepys describes a number of his visits in his diary which also has a number of references to sometime Clapham residents.

Gauden, by then Sir Dennis, went bankrupt in the late 1670s and the house was bought by William Hewer, whose uncle had recommended to Pepys for a post as clerk in the Navy Office, becoming a long standing personal friend. Hewer let Gauden live in the house although his mother moved there after the death of Gauden’s wife Elizabeth. Hewer moved there after Gauden’s death in 1688.

After the Glorious Revolution, Pepys and Hewer were out of favour and Pepys eventually retired to Hewer’s house in Clapham, spending more time there from 1697 and moving permanently in 1701. His books moved the next year. The clean air and quiet attracted him and his health benefitted. John Evelyn referred to Pepys ‘ParadisianClapham’ and Pepys himself , remarking on the improvement in his health, ‘perfected by the air of this place’ went on to write ‘if I must be left to philosophise by myself, nobody, I fancy, will blame me for choosing to do it in a serene air, without noise, rather than where there is nothing of the first, and nothing else but the last.’

Pepys died in Clapham in 1703. Unlike most Clapham residents, he was a firm Anglican and is the only Clapham testator whose will includes legacies to the rector and the two Anglican lecturers he knew but none to the nonconformist ministers of Clapham.

Henry Sampson

Henry Sampson was one of a number of ejected ministers who qualified as a doctor in the Netherlands; he had a successful practice in London treating nonconformist ministers.

His stepbrother was Nehemiah Grew, another doctor and secretary of the Royal Society. Sampson published a series of papers on morbid anatomy but his chief interest was producing a history of Puritanism nonconformity where he presented nonconformists as ‘a Considerable, an injured and misjudged people’. With this background it is hardly surprising that he came to live in Clapham at the end of the seventeenth century.

He must have known his neighbour Arthur Shallett through their work on the Common Fund, created to support the training of nonconformist ministers. He died a fairly rich man, worth over £8000, and his will contains much of interest. He left his wife one of his old bibles with the instruction that ‘she should read therein all the days of her life, leaving it to some one of my kindred with the like charge.’ He had a remarkable collection of English and Hebrew bibles including a copy of William Tindall’s translation and the Bishops’ Bible printed in Geneva. He also had a collection of Books of Common Prayer, including two from Edward’s reign which his will described as ‘one commonly called the first in folio that in 4° which is the second in that reign but this is translated into French and is therefore the greater rarity’. These were all left to his brother.