Bartholomew in London

Leather tankard
Bartholomew’s tankard

In tyme wee came to London in order to improve our fortunes and purchased ye Grey Goose, a rather rundown tavern in Fleete Streete, hard by Saint Bride’s church, betwixt Shoe Lane and ye Fleete Bridge. By our diligence and hard work over ye yeares wee have turned around its fortunes and now make a good profit from our trade. Abigail has a small brew house in ye back yard and is now well known in our neighbourhood for ye excellence of her beer.

On ye last day of January in ye yeare of Our Lord sixteen hundred and forty nine I did witness ye execution of King Charles I of blessed memory, a day of great infamy in ye history of England. Try as I might I was unable to dip my kerchief into ye blood of ye martyr being prevented from doing so by a most saucy and coarse soldier who threatened to knock out my brains with ye butt end of his firelock if I came too close to ye scaffold. So, alas, I have no remembrance of his late majestie although there are many yt do have such souvenirs. When ye new King, Charles’ son, came over from Holland in ye May of sixteen hundred and sixty hee declared yt those who had fought in his late father’s cause should have a just reward for their pains and losses – some being sorely oppressed by Parliament after their victory. I approached his Majestie’s commissioners giving them evidence of my service and my wounds. My petition was successful and I was granted a small pension.

In ye vi yeares since his Majestie was crowned King Charles II London has seen a great change in its fortunes. Ye theatres closed by the odious Oliver Cromwell and his puritan cronies have reopened and wee now have woman actors – to ye great scandal of our former lords and masters and those of a more Godly aspect. It is true that ye war wee wage against ye Dutch started well at ye battle of Lowestoft last yeare but since ye iv Day Battle in May things have not gone well and ye great outbreak of plague last yeare led to ye deaths of many thousands and much woeful lamentations in this city has been called by some God’s judgment on ye wickedness of ye court. London is now at peace – although suffering at ye moment from an unseasonably hot and dry August, I cannot remember when itt last rained – but as wee approach September with ye cooler days of autumn to come and ye Christmas period to follow (another old tradition banned by Cromwell and revived by his majestie) wee look forward to further peace and prosperity.

Bartholomew Weever

xxvth August 1666