- Portsoken Ward
- The eastemmost of the City wards, lying outside the Wall, and in its present state wholly within the parish of St. Botolph Aldgate.The history of the "Portsoken," which must be looked upon as partly legendary, is as follows: The Liber Trinitatis, or Cartulary of the Priory of Holy Trinity, which is quoted by Stow and of which a transcript is perserved in the Guildhall Library (MS. No. 122) (See Letter Book C. p.216), states that: Thirteen knights in the days of Cnut (note, in another version " King Edgar") very dear to the king and the kingdom besought of the king a certain land on the east side of London, abandoned by the inhabitants as being too burdensome (pro nimia servitute) that he would grant them the said land and the freedom of the Gild for ever, to whom the king willingly granted it on the following condition, namely, that each one of them should accomplish victoriously three combats, to wit, one on the earth, one under and one in the water, and that afterwards on a certain day in the field, which is called " Estsmithfeld," they should contend with lances against all comers, which they gloriously performed. And on the same day the king made it Cnihtegild (Knyttegildam), and he fixed its boundaries, namely, From the Gate which is called Aldgate to the place where the Bars now are towards the east on both sides of the street, and he extended it towards the Gate which is called Bishopsgate as far as the house of William the Priest, postea Gaufridi Tannani nunc heredum Colu(v)ere (See Culver Alley) et postea Johannis Esby set modo domini de Bowsere (Stow says Lord Bouchier) et omne (?). (The Latin is evidently corrupt) and then towards the south as far as the Thames, as far as a horseman entering into the water at low tide could throw a lance, so that the whole of "Estsmithfeld" with the right-hand side of the road, which leads by "Doddyngg'pond" to the Thames, and also the Hospital of St. Katherine with the mills which were founded in the reign of King Stephen, and the outer stone wall and the new Ditch of the Tower are of the same fee. For the stone wall and the Ditch of the Tower were made when King Richard was at Jerusalem by the Bishop of Ely, who was then the King's Justiciary, on account of a dispute between himself and Earl John, the King's Brother.The document goes on to relate the loss suffered by the Hospital of St. Katherine and the Church of the Holy Trinity on account of this Ditch which was made in East Smithfield and the confiscation of the grant to them by King Edward the Confessor.King Edward the Confessor granted a Charter of confirmation of their soke to his men of the English Knightengild, and William II. and Henry I. and Henry II. did the like, the language of the Charters being: " I have granted to all the men of the Cnihtengild their gild and the land which belongs to them with all customs, as they had them in the days of Edward the Confessor," etc. (Cal. Letter Book C. pp.218-19. The text is corrupt).Soon after the foundation of the Priory of Holy Trinity by Matilda, viz. in 1125, certain burgesses (burgenses) of London, described as descendants of the" noble knights" (nobilium militum Anglorum), viz. "Raduiphus filius Algody, Winuardus le Douerisshe, Orgarus le Prude, Edwardus Upcornhill ('Hupcornbille' in Guildhall MS), Blacstanus and Aiwynus cognatus ejus, Auwinus (Alwynus in Guildhall MS.), and Robertus frater ejus filil Leostani, Leostanus aurifabr' (sic) et Wyzo filius ejus, Hugo filius Wulgari, Algarus Secusenne, Orgarus filius Deremanni, Osbertus Drinchepyn, Adelardus Hornepitesinne" met together in the chapter-house of the church of Christ within the walls near the gate called" Algata" and gave to the church and the canons serving God there "totam terram et socam que dicebatur de Anglisch 'Cnithegildam' urbis que muro adiacet foras eandem portam et protenditur usque in fiuvium thamesiam."In confirmation of the gift the charters of Edward the Confessor and the others above mentioned were offered up on the high altar.The gift was further confirmed by a charter of Henry I. (Cal. L. Bk. C. pp.219 and 220).As a result of this, according to Stow, the Prior of Holy Trinity was admitted an alderman of the City in respect of this land and soke until the surrender of the Priory to Henry VIII. in 1531, since which time the Alderman of this ward has been elected like the other Aldermen.It is said that temp. William the Conqueror and long before, the Ward of Portsoken was called the Soke of Anglissh Knightgelda, and it appears to be so described in the City Records (Cal. L. Bk. K. pp. 81 and 82). It will be observed that the Portsoken in its original extent must have included the precinct of St. Katherine and the eastern portion of the Tower, in fact the whole of the present parish of St. Botolph, Aldgate, with probably the parish of Holy Trinity Minories in addition (See L. Bk. K. p. 81). But the portion now included within the Tower precinct was taken by force by successive Constables of the Tower. How the rest of the soke was lost to the City does not appear.The other portions taken out appear to comprise the precincts of St. Katherine's Hospital, of the Abbey of Graces, and of the house of St. Clare of the Minoresses. Unless these areas had been forfeited by the City previously, the privileges granted to the monastic institutions would effectually free them from the City's jurisdiction, and when the monastic houses were dissolved their possessions were seized into the King's hands and sold or distributed by him to private owners.
A Dictionary of London. Henry A Harben. 1918.