This map shows the various village outside London in the early seventeenth century. The yellow circle shows the area within four miles of London Bridge, roughly the area where the roads made daily commuting possible. Clapham is marked in red. Both Camberwell and Dulwich were too small and with tight control of the housing to be a suitable commuting village, while Deptford was already industrialised. and Greenwich more favoured by the Court. As a result Clapham was the only village south of the river Thames which provided houses for a community for merchants to commute from. Beginning in the 1630s, they were filled with radical puritans.
Eighteenth century Clapham is well known for the Clapham Sect of which Wilberforce and Thornton were the centre. The description as a Sect was a later one in a article in 1844 by James Stephens, the son of one of the original members, but they were frequently lampooned as 'saints' in their own time.
The radical puritans who lived in Clapham from the 1640s also brought their beliefs into politics and served in many posts relating to finance and trade as well as the Navy. They were active in the great arguments of the day about both religion and politics and arguably were the first 'saints' in Clapham, one hundred and fifty years before Wilberforce, Thornton and their friends.
After the Restoration, Clapham was one of the major centres for nonconformist merchants for a further sixty years, as well as providing a home for at least fourteen ejected ministers. The following posts give examples of those who lived in Clapham.