Category Archives: alsatia

Thomas Baston’s “Little Republick”

Little is known of Thomas Baston, a printmaker specializing in naval scenes. It appears he was born in the early 1670s, fought the French at sea and perhaps the Irish on land, lived and worked in London, had prints commissioned … Continue reading

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Shadwell’s Glossary

As the online version is missing it, I present here the glossary that accompanied Shadwell’s The Squire Of Alsatia, comprising the cant terms used in that play. Taken from the 1688 text, and checked against the critical edition by J.C. … Continue reading

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The Language of Alsatia: earliest uses

When was the word ‘Alsatia’ first applied to Whitefriars? Cunningham’s Handbook of London (1850) states: “ALSATIA. A cant name given before 1623 to the precinct of Whitefriars, then and long after a notorious place of refuge and retirement for persons … Continue reading

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The Milford Lane Bermudas

The major problem with the historical slang discussed in the previous post is that our main source for it, the canting vocabularies, cannot be taken as proof of what was actually voiced. Not only do contemporary dictionaries dramatically transform the … Continue reading

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The Language of Alsatia: Cant, Analogy and Toponyms

‘Alsatia’ was not only a name for Whitefriars and a generic term for places outside the law, but also an example of a linguistic practice of ‘toponymic analogy’: bestowing a foreign place name upon a local area on the basis … Continue reading

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The Life of Charles Towers, a Minter in Wapping

Of all the sanctuaries, Wapping Mint, also known as the New Mint, was the most audacious and the shortest lived. Set up by refugees from Southwark Mint after the act of 1722, the claim for being a sanctuary was based … Continue reading

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The London Spy visits Whitefriars

What happened to the sanctuaries after the passing of the 1697 act against “pretended privileged places” is a difficult question. In at least one case, a sanctuary survived it:¬† Southwark Mint continued to harbour debtors until 1722. Perhaps this was … Continue reading

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John Evelyn and Saint Martins In The Fields

A curious entry in John Evelyn’s diary, and the only one I’ve found concerning sanctuary: [1687] 25th March. Good Friday. Dr Tenison preached at St. Martin’s on 1 Peter ii. 24. During the service, a man came into near the … Continue reading

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Luttrell on Winter

Continuing the search for documents about Captain Francis Winter, leader of the Alsatians in the riot against the Templars, here are extracts from Narcissus Luttrell’s A Brief Historical Relation of State Affairs from September 1678 to April 1714. This¬† is … Continue reading

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The Ordinary of Newgate’s account of Captain Francis Winter

The Ordinary of Newgate was the curious title of that prison’s chaplain. One of the perks of the post was the right to the publication of the biographies and last words of the condemned, and it is the account of … Continue reading

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