No. 62 Portsoken Ward Volunteers
CLUB ARMS [2nd Motion] (see original 1799 description below)
Portsoken, traditionally referred to with the definite article as the Portsoken, is one of the City of London‘s 25 ancient wards, which are still used for local elections. (see maps – click to expand). Historically an extra-mural Ward, lying east of Aldgate and the City walls, the area is sometimes considered to be part of the East End of London.
The ward is about 5 hectares in area, and is mainly oriented north-south, with the central part informally known as Aldgate. John Stow‘s Survey of London records that the “soke” – in this context the right to extract fines as a source of income – (later “liberty“) was granted in the time of Saxon king Edgar the Peaceful, east of Aldgate to a guild of knights, the Cnichtengild, in exchange, essentially, for regular jousting. Norman kings confirmed these rights but later the land was voluntarily transferred to the Priory of the Holy Trinity by the descendants of the guild. In 1120 or 1121 (the exact date is unknown), the Portsoken was granted as a liberty to the Priory of Holy Trinity, which had been founded in 1107 by Queen Matilda, the wife of King Henry I. The sitting prior of Holy Trinity became, ex officio, an alderman of the City of London Corporation representing the Portsoken ward, and remained so until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII in 1531. The Ward originally extended as far south as the Thames, but the growth of the Tower of London beyond the line of the London Wall, disputes with the Tower, the creation of the Liberties of the Tower of London and other factors resulted in the southern area being lost to the ward and to the City of London as a whole, after around 1200.
In 1332, a tax assessment showed 23 taxpayers in the Portsoken. However, this figure only included freemen of the City of London who possessed moveable property worth more than 10 shillings, and so did not include the poor, non-citizens, or members of religious orders. A later subsidy roll from 1582 showed that the ward’s taxpayers had been assessed to pay a total of 57 pounds, 11 shillings and 4 pence. The Portsoken has long had a mixed population, and in 1483 is recorded as having more aliens in its population than any ward in the City Of London. Since the 1840’s, nearly all of the Aldermen of the Ward have been Jewish.
Original Description of the unit from 1799:
PORTSOKEN WARD VOLUNTEERS.
CAPTAIN COMMANDANT, JAMES SHAW, ALDERMAN OF THE WARD.
This Volunteer Corps was formed May, 1798, to serve within the City under the direction of the Lord Mayor. It consists of one Company of Infantry, about 80 Rank and File, joined to Bishopsgate Ward Association. It has not yet received its Colours; and its Committee is composed of the Elders of the Parish, who are chosen by a parochial assembly.
THE PRINCIPAL OFFICER IS,
Captain Commandant, James Shaw, Alderman of the Ward.
Helmets. The Label is inscribed PORTSOKEN WARD; and the Ornaments on the right side of ditto are, Crown, Garter, and Motto.
Breast-plate, oval; P. V. in cypher.
Buttons; P. V. in cypher.
Cartouch-box; a Star.
|Dimensions||25.5 × 32.5 cm|
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