Social Life in Queen Anne's Reign, Volume I.

Ashton, John


CHAPTER XX: Sight-seeing and Fairs

CHAPTER XX: Sight-seeing and Fairs


BUT clubs were not the only social enjoyments. The populace had, during this reign, many free sights-and the numerous visits of the Queen to the City provided fine shows gratis. She dined at Guildhall on the Lord Mayor's day after her accession, and she visited the City again on November 12 the same year, accompanied by both Houses of Parliament, to return thanks for the successes at Vigo. Certainly January 19, , was kept as a fast; but on September 7 of that year the Queen again went to , in commemoration of the victory at Blenheim and the capture of Gibraltar; and on January 3, , the standards [1]  taken at Blenheim were carried, by a detachment of horse and foot guards, from the Tower, and hung up in . On the 6th of the same month the Duke of Marlborough dined, by invitation, with the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, at Goldsmiths' Hall. Once more the Queen visited , on , to return thanks for the Duke's forcing the French lines in Brabant, and yet again for the victory at Ramilies on


June 27, . This time, the colours taken were deposited in the Guildhall, with great pomp, on December 19, : the Queen, and Prince George, going into to see them pass. On this occasion the Duke dined with the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, in Vintners' Hall. On December 30 of the same year, the Queen gave thanks at for the successes of the last campaign in Spain and Italy; and, as the newspaper account informs us, 'the Night ended with Ringing of Bells, Bonfires, Illuminations, and other Rejoycings.'

Yet again was there another day of public rejoicing, on May 1, , to celebrate the union with Scotland, and the Queen once more visited . But this was to be the last. On thanksgiving day, July 7, , to celebrate the conclusion of peace, Anne was too unwell to play her accustomed part, and was reluctantly compelled to abandon it and remain at home. The fireworks on this occasion were splendid. 'Those in began about Ten at Night, and ended about Eleven; when those upon the , over against , began, and lasted till after Midnight. Besides that these were in both Places Excellent in their kind, they were play'd off with the utmost Regularity and good Order; so that we have not heard of the least Mischief done either upon the River or in ;' and, as was observed in the , No. 103: 'In short, the artist did his part to admiration, and was so encompassed with fire and smoke that one would have thought nothing but a Salamander could have been safe in such a situation.' But these seem to have been eclipsed by a display at Dublin in honour of the Queen's last birthday, February 6, , as is recorded in the of February 16, .

The Londoner, too, had his Lord Mayor's Show, with its fun, perhaps just a trifle rougher than in our day. Owing to the difference of old and new style, Lord Mayor's day was on October 29 instead of November 9 as now. naturally revels in it [2]  : 'Tuesday 29. Windows in stuck with more Faces at Ten, than the Balconies with Candles on an Illumination Night. Wicked havock of Neats-


Tongues and Hamms in the Barges about Eleven. Artillery Men march by two and two, burlesqued in Buff and Bandileers. The Vintners and Brewers, the Butchers and Apothecaries justle about precedence; 'Tis pity they are not incorporated. The Ladies pelted with dead Cats instead of Squibs from Twelve to Three. Mob tumultuous. Boys starting to see that which, as the Old Woman said, they must all come to one Day.' And in the he gives a very long account of the show, its pageants, and the rough humour of the spectators.

'I took three lads, who are under my Guardianship, a rambling, in a hackney Coach, to shew them the town; as the lions, the tombs, Bedlam.' [3]  These were the three great sights of London: the lions at the Tower, the tombs in , and the poor mad folk in Bedlam. 'To see the lions ' is proverbial, and these had to be visited by every one new to the City. In there were four, two lions and two lionesses-one with a cub. In this reign three of the lions died almost at the same time, and it was looked upon by some as an event of dire portent. laughingly alludes to the popular idea of something awful happening on the death of a 'Tower' lion, when, in the Freeholder, he makes the Jacobite squire ask the keeper whether any of the lions had fallen sick when Perth was taken, or on the flight of the Pretender. When dead they were sometimes stuffed, as relates. He also says there was a leopard, three eagles, two owls, and a hyena. That was in ; and , writing in , went to see the 'lions, eagles, catamountains, leopards, &c.' He also relates [4]  his experiences of a visit to the Tower itself: 'Walked with Mr. Dale to the Tower; was mightily pleased with the new and excellent method the Records [5]  are put into (of which see a letter of the Bishop of Carlisle to me;) and viewed many great curiosities of that nature, and original letters from foreign kings and potentates, upon parchment, and paper as old (reckoned as great a rarity) to the Kings of England, very ancient tallies, Jewish stars, &c., which the obliging Mr. Holms showed


me, who also gave me an autograph of Queen Elizabeth, that was his own property; then went to view the several armouries, as that more ancient of the weapons taken in the year from the pretended Invincible Armada, and those modern from Vigo, and in other memorable transactions of this age; the present armoury for use is put to a surprising method, in the form of shields, pyramids, trophies, &c. Some of the elder and later kings' armour are placed as though mounted on horseback.'

also visited the Tower, after seeing the lions, and has left a most amusing account of what he saw, which is far too long for transcription. He first noted ' a parcel of Bulky Wardens, in old fashion'd Lac'd Jackets, and in Velvet Flat caps, hung round with divers colour'd Ribbonds, like a Fool's hat upon a Holiday.' Indeed, their costume was identical with their present state dress, only it was utterly marred by their wearing portentous periwigs. Under the guidance of one of these gentry he was shown Traitor's Gate, the White Tower, and St. Peter's Church; and afterwards, the Grand Armoury, where he was particularly delighted to see that 'at the corner of every Lobby, and turning of the Stairs, stood a Wooden Granadier as Sentinel, painted in his proper Colours, cut out with much exactness upon Board.' Arrived in the arsenal, he was handed over to one of the armourer's men, who had 'everything as ready at his fingers' ends, as the Fellow that shows the Tombs at . The first Figure at our Coming in, that most effected the Eye, by reason of its bigness, was a long Range of Muskets and Carbines, that ran the length of the Armory, which was distinguish'd by a Wilderness of Arms, whose Locks and Barrels were kept in that admirable Order, that they shone as bright as a Good Housewifes Spits and Pewter in the Christmas Holidays, on each side of which were Pistols, Baggonets, Scimiters, Hangers, Cutlaces, and the like Configurated into Shields, Triumphal Arches, Gates, Pillasters, Scollopshells, Mullets, Fans, Snakes, Serpents, Sun Beams, Gorgon's Heads, the Waves of the Ocean, Stars and Garters, and in the middle of all, Pillars of Pikes, and turn'd Pillars of Pistols; and at the end of the Wilderness, fire Arms plac'd in the Order of a


great Organ.' Coming thence, he noticed the Tower rooks, as he called those men who asked 'Whether you will see the Crown, the whole Regalia or the King's Marching Train of Artillery ?' He would have none of them, but went with a warder into the armoury proper, where he 'View'd the Princely Scare crows, and he told us to whom each Suit of Armour did belong Originally, adding some short Memorandums out of History, to every empty Iron side; some True, some False, supplying that with Invention, which he wanted in Memory.' He would not see the Regalia, but got a description of it from the warder, 'and so Cozened the Keeper of our Eighteen Pence a piece.' The warder told them 'there was a Royal Crown, and a new one made for the Coronation of the late Queen Mary, and three others wore by his Majesty with Distinct Robes, upon several occasions; also the Salt, Spoons, Forks and Cups, us'd at the Coronation.' Altogether, a visit to the Tower then very much resembled one nowadays.

As to the tombs at , what more do we want to know about them, as they then were, than what is contained in No. 26, where grumbles at Sir Cloudesley Shovel's monument, 'Instead of the brave rough English Admiral, which was the distinguishing Character of that plain gallant Man, he is represented on his Tomb, by the Figure of a Beau, dress'd in a long Perriwig, and reposing himself upon Velvet Cushions under a Canopy of State?' And for all else in the grand old abbey, have we not the lifelike description of Sir Roger's visit? [6]  how he saw Jacob's pillar, sat in the Coronation Chair, handled Edward the Third's sword, and afterwards wanted the Spectator to call on him 'at his Lodgings in Norfolk Buildings, and talk over these Matters with him more at leisure.' It would be a literary profanity to deal with them except in their entirety.

But the lions, the tombs, and Bedlam could never be sufficient recreative pabulum for a large city, so there were outlets for the exuberance of their spirits in the three fairs, Bartholomew, May fair, and Southwark. Bartholomew fair stands pre-eminent, both for its antiquity, its size, and length of duration. In Anne's time it was no longer the great mart


for cloth it used to be-and the fair was given over to rioting and unlimited licence. This fair is a most congenial subject for 's pen, and he gives it free range-too free, alas! for many extracts. He describes the entrance to it as a 'Belfegor's Concert, the rumbling of Drums, mix'd with the intolerable Squalling of Cat Calls and Penny Trumpets,' so, to get out of the noise and smell, prominent in which latter was 'the Singeing of Pigs, and burnt Crackling of over Roasted Pork' (which was a specialty in the fair), he turned into an ale house, where he had doctored beer, and was so annoyed by a waiter, who would constantly inquire, 'Do you call, sirs?' that he threatened to kick him downstairs. From this upper room he could see the booths, and note the humours of the fair: the mock finery of the actors, who were 'strutting round their Balconies in their Tinsey Robes, and Golden Leather Buskins;' and the sorry buffoonery of the Merry Andrews. Having rested, he sallied forth into the fair, saw the rope-dancers, one of whom was a negress, who set a countryman near into fits of laughter, which he explained: 'Master, says he, I have oftentimes heard of the Devil upon two Sticks, but never Zee it bevore in me Life. Bezide, Maister, who can forbear Laughing to see the Devil going to Dance ?' He speaks in high terms of the German rope-dancer, of whom Lauron gives two portraits. He then went into a booth to see 'a Dwarf Comedy, Sir-nam'd a Droll,' but does not seem to have cared much about it. He and his friend then refreshed themselves with 'a Quart of Fill-birds, and Eat each of us two Penny worth of Burgamy Pears,' and witnessed another performance. They then needed solid food, so determined to have a quarter of a pig (sucking pig of course), and made their way to Pye Corner, 'where Cooks stood dripping at their Doors, like their Roasted Swine's Flesh,' but the total absence of cleanliness in the cookery was so repulsive, that they had to forego the luxury.

After undergoing the certain penalty of having his handkerchief stolen, he went to see another droll, the plot of which seems to have been perfectly inexplicable, and he came to the conclusion that 'Bartholomew Fair Drolls are like State Fire Works, they never do any Body good, but those that


are concern'd in the Show.' The wax-work was then visited, and then they went to a music and dancing booth, in which they not only had a most discordant instrumental concert, but saw a woman 'Dance with Glasses full of Liquor upon the Backs of her Hands, to which she gave Variety of Motions, without Spilling,' and a youthful damsel perform a sword dance, which was succeeded by 'abundance of Insipid Stuff.' They got away, and passed by the 'Whirligigs,' went into a raffling shop, and the Groom Porter's, after which he went to an alehouse to rest himself and smoke a pipe, and finally went home, thoroughly tired.

This, then, was a true record of a visit to Bartholomew Fair, by the aid of which we shall thoroughly appreciate the following advertisements of the amusements there :-

'At the great Booth over against the Hospital Gate, during the time of Bartholomew Fair will be seen the Dancing on the Ropes, after the French and Italian Fashion, by a Company of the finest Performers that ever yet have been seen by the whole World. For in the same Booth will be seen the two Famous French Maidens, so much admired in all Places and Countries wherever they come (especially in Mayfair last), where they gain'd the highest Applause from all the Nobility and Gentry, for their wonderful Performance on the Rope, both with and without a Pole; so far out doing all others that have been seen of their Sex, as gives a general Satisfaction to all that ever yet beheld them. To which is added, Vaulting on the High Rope, and Tumbling on the Stage. As also Vaulting on two Horses, on the great Stage, at once. The Stage being built after the Italian manner, on which you will see the Famous Scaramouch and quin. With several other Surprizing Entertainments, too tedious here to mention. Perform'd by the greatest Masters now in Europe. The like never seen before in England.'

Rope-dancing was evidently very popular, for there is another booth, in which Blondin is outdone. 'It is there you will see the Italian Scaramouch dancing on the Rope, with a Wheel Barrow before him with two Children and a Dog in it, and with a Duck on his Head; who sings to the Company, and causes much laughter.' And yet one more, for it introduces


us to the most famous rope-dancer of the reign- ' Lady Mary.' 'Her Majesty's Company of Rope Dancers. At Mr. Barnes and Finly's Booth, between the Hospital Gate and the Crown Tavern, opposite the Cross Daggers, during the usual time of Bartholomew Fair, are to be seen the most famous Rope dancers in Europe. And 1st. 2 young Maidens, lately arrived from France, Dance with and without a Pole to admiration. 2. The Famous Mr. Barnes, of whose performances this Kingdom is so sensible, Dances with 2 Children at his Feet, and with Boots and Spurs. 3. Mrs. Finly distinguished by the name of Lady Mary for her incomparable Dancing, has much improv'd herself since the last Fair.' Lady Mary is frequently mentioned in contemporary literature, and on one occasion is alluded to 'as little dressed as Lady Mary.' This probably arose from her dispensing with petticoats in dancing. The German rope-dancer, immortalised by Lauron, is dressed in a fine frilled Holland shirt, trunk hose, and tights-in fact, the usual acrobatic dress; and notices two dancers, 'who, to show their Affection to the Breeches wor'em under their Petticoats; which, for decency's sake, they first Danc'd in; But they doft their Petticoats after a gentle breathing.' This probably accounts for the caustic remark in the (No. 51), 'The Pleasantry of stripping almost Naked has been since practised (where indeed it should have begun) very successfully at Bartholomew Fair.'

There were, also, natural curiosities to be seen. 'At the next Door to the Sign of the Greyhound in , is to be shown (by Her Majesty's Order) a Wonderful and Miraculous Sight, a Male Child which was born in Garnsey of the body of Rebecca Secklin, and now sucks at her Breasts, being but Thirty Weeks old, with a prodigious big Head, being above a yard about, and hath been shown to several Persons of Quality.'

'By Her Majesties Authority. At the Hart's Horn's Inn in Pye Corner, during the time of Bartholomew Fair, will be seen these strange Rarities following, viz. A Little Farey Woman, lately come from Italy, being but Two Foot Two Inches high, the shortest that ever was seen in England, and


no ways Deform'd, as the other two Women are, that are carried about the Streets in Boxesfrom House to House, for some years past, this being Thirteen Inches shorter than either of them; if any Person has a desire to see her at their own Houses, we are ready to wait upon them any Hour of the Day.

'Likewise a little Marmazet from Bengal that dances the Cheshire Rounds,[7]  and Exercises at the Word of Command. Also a strange Cock from Hamborough, having Three proper Legs, Two Fundaments, and makes use of them both at one time. Vivat Reginae' (sic).

'Next Door to the Golden Hart in , between the Hospital Gate and Pye Corner during the time of Bartholomew Fair, is to be seen the Admirable Work of Nature, a Woman having three Breasts; and each of them affording Milk at one time or differently, according as they are made use of. There is likewise to be seen the Daughter of the same Woman, which hath breasts of the like Nature, according to her Age; and there never hath been any extant of such sort, which is wonderful to all that ever did, or shall behold her.'

Theatrical performances naturally took a prominent part; for the two theatres shut up during Fair time, and Mills, Doggett, and Penkethman, all fair actors, and belonging to the regular stage, had booths here, and did well; in fact, Penkethman became wealthy. As remarks [8] : 'After struggling with a Long See-Saw, between Pride and Profit; and having Prudently consider'd the weighty difference between the Honourable Title of one of His Majesties Servants, and that of a Bartholomew Fair Player, a Vagabond by the Statue, did at last, with much difficulty, conclude, That it was equally Reputable to Play the Fool in the Fair for Fifteen or Twenty Shillings a Day, as 'twas to please Fools in the Play House at so much a week.'

At Parker's Booth was played the Famous History of Dorastus and Fawnia, 'With very pleasant Dialogues and Antick Dances.'

'Never Acted before. At Miller's Booth, over against


the Cross Daggers, near the Crown Tavern, during the time of Bartholomew Fair will be presented an Excellent new Droll call'd

'The Tempest, or the Distressed Lovers,

With the English HERO and the Highland Princess, with the Comical Humours of the Inchanted Scotchman, or Jockey and the three Witches. Shewing how a Nobleman of England was cast away upon the Indian Shore, and in his Travels found the Princess of the Country, with whom he fell in Love, and after many Dangers and Perils, was married to her; and his faithful Scotchman, who was saved with him, travelling thorow Woods, fell in among Witches, where between 'em is abundance of Comical Diversion. There in the Tempest, is Neptune with his Tritons in his Chariot drawn with Sea Horses and Mairmaids singing. With Variety of Entertainments, Performed by the best Masters; the Particulars would be too tedious to be inserted here. Vivat Regina.'

There seems to have been another version of this play, which, after all, was only a travesty of Shakespeare's 'Tempest.'

'At Doggett's Booth, Hosier Lane End, during the Time of Bartholomew Fair, will be presented a New Droll, called the Distress'd Virgin, or Unnatural Parents, Being a True History of the Fair Maid of the West; or The Loving Sisters. With the Comical Travels of Poor Trusty in search of his Master's Daughter, and his encounter with Three Witches.

'Also Variety of Comick Dances and Songs, with Scenes and Machines never seen before-Vivat Regina.'

In the next advertisement we see three of 'Her Majesty's Servants' combine in keeping a booth in the Fair. 'At Pinkeman's, Mills' , and Bullock's Booth, In the Old Place over against the Hospital Gate, During the


time of Bartholomew Fair will be presented, A New Droll call'd 'The Siege of Barcelona, or the Soldier's Fortune, With the taking of Fort Mount jouy, Containing the Pleasant and Comical Exploits of that Renown'd Hero Captain Blunderbuss and his Man Squib; His Adventures with the Conjuror; and a Surprizing Scene of the Flying Machine, where he and his Man Squib are Enchanted; Also the Diverting Humour of Corporal Scare Devil. 'The Principal Parts Acted by the Comedians of the Theatre Royal, viz. Colonel Lovewell . . . Mr. Mills. Captain Blunderbuss . . Mr. Bullock. Squib, his Man. . Mr. Norris, alias Jubilee Dicky. [9]  Corporal Scare Devil . . Mr. Bickerstaff. Maria, the Governor's Daughter Mrs. Baxter. The Dame of Honour . . Mrs. Willis.

'To which will be added the Wonderful Performance of the most celebrated Master, Mr. Simpson the famous Vaulter; Who has had the Honour to teach most of the Nobility in England; and at whose request he now performs with Mr. Pinkeman to let the World see what Vaulting is. Being lately arrived from Italy.

'The Musick, Songs and Dances are all by the best Performers of their kind, whom Mr. Pinkeman has Entertained at extraordinary Charge, purely to give a full Satisfaction to the Town. Vivat Regina.'

'At Ben Johnson's BOOTH (by Mrs. Mynn's Company of Actors). In the Rounds in , during the FAIR, Will be presented an excellent Entertainment, being the Famous History of WHITTINGTON, Lord MAYOR of LONDON: Wherein besides the Variety of SONGS and DANCES, will be


shown an extraordinary View of several stately and surprising SCENES; as a Rowling Sea, bearing a large Ship under Sayl, with Neptune, Mermaids, Dolphins, &c. Also a Prospect of a Moorish Country, so swarming with Rats and Mice, that they over run the King and Queen's Table at Dinner; Likewise a large diverting SCENE of Tapestry, fill'd with all living Figures; and lastly, concluding with a Lord Mayor's Triumph, in which are presented nine several Pageants, being Six Elephants and Castles, a Magnificent Temple, and two Triumphal Chariots, one drawn by two Lyons, and the other by two Dolphins; in all which are seated above twenty Persons in various Dresses; with Flaggs, Scutcheons, Streamers, &c. The Preparation and Decoration of which infinitely exceed both in Expence and Grandeur, all that has ever been seen on a Stage in the FAIR. The Chief Parts are performed by Actors from both Theatres. Vivat Regina.'

Here we see a departure from the old drolls, and a reliance on the part of the management on mechanical and spectacular effects: besides which, there was the puppet show, pure and simple. 'By Her Majesties Permission. At HEATLY'S Booth, Over against the Cross Daggers, next to Mr. Miller's Booth; During the time of Bartholomew Fair, will be presented a Little Opera, Call'd, The Old Creation of the World Newly Reviv'd, With the Addition of the Glorious Battle obtained over the French and Spaniards, by his Grace the Duke of Marlborough. The Contents are these- Vivat Regina.'

This show seems to have been popular, for in another fair we have it again with variations: 'At Crawly's Booth, over against the Crown Tavern in during the time of Bartholomew Fair, will be presented a little Opera call'd,. The Old Creation of the World, yet newly reviv'd, with the addition of Noah's Flood; also several Fountains playing Water during the time of the Play.

'The last Scene does present Noah and his Family coming out of the Ark, with all the Beasts, two by two, and all the Fowls of the Air seen in a Prospect sitting upon the Trees. Likewise over the Ark is seen the Sun rising in a most glorious manner, moreover a multitude of Angels will be seen in a double rank, which presents a double prospect, one for the Sun, the other for a Palace, where will be seen six Angels, ringing six Bells.

'Likewise Machines descends from above, double and trible, with Dives rising out of Hell, and Lazarus seen in Abraham's bosom, besides several Figures dancing Jiggs, Sarabrands, and Country Dances, to the Admiration of all


spectators; with the merry Conceit of Squire Punch and Sir John Spendall.

'All this is compleated with an Entertainment of Singing and Dancing with several Naked Swords, Perform'd by a Child of Eight Years of Age, to the general Satisfaction of all Persons. Vivat Regina.'

As a specimen of the dancing booth visited, take the following handbill: 'James Miles, From Sadler's Wells, at Islington; Now keeps the GUN MUSICK BOOTH, in Bartholomew Fair. Whereas Mr. Miles by his Care and Diligence to oblige the Gentry, and all others that are Lovers and Judges of good Musick, has put himself to an extraordinary Charge, in getting such Performers, as, no doubt, will give a general Satisfaction to all. This is also to give Notice to all Gentlemen, Ladies, and Others, That they may be accommodated with all Sorts of Wine, and other Liquors; with several extraordinary Entertainments of Singing and Dancing, which was never perform'd at the Fair, viz.:- Vivat Regina.'

There was a famous Merry Andrew who used to act for , and who, at other times, followed the vocation of a Horse Doctor. There is a very curious elegy upon him, still extant [10] :

That us'd to visit


or May Fair, To pertake of the Lewdness that is acted there; T' oblige the Mobb, that did some Pastime lack, He'd Merry Andrew turn; and name of Quack Forsake a Fortnight, then that time expir'd The Name of Doctor was again acquird.

Occasionally there were rather more refined exhibitions, but they were very rare. Here is one, 'In the first Booth on the left Hand from the Hospital Gate, over against the Royal Oak Lottery, in Bartholomew Fair, from 9 o'clock in the Morning till 9 at Night, will be exposed to publick View, all the most valuable wrought Plate taken by her Majesties Fleet at Vigo. Having been first Lodged in the Tower and never exposed before but in the Tower, viz., a fine large


Altar Piece with 6 Angels at full proportion, standing round on Pedestals, 4 Apostles supporting the 4 pillars, and 4 Angels attending them, with each a lamp for Incence in their Hands, also a Crown set with Valuable Stones, a Holy Water Pot garnish'd with Curious Fillegrin Work, and a great many other extraordinary Curiosities of Gilt and Fillegrin Plate, all brought from Vigo. The like never seen in England before. Price 6d.'

Bartholomew Fair began on August 24 of each year, being St. Bartholomew's Day, and lasted fourteen days. In and it was reduced to the old term of-three days, and in , , and stage plays were prohibited in the fair. The revenue derived from it formed part of the income of the Lord Mayor, and in a proposal was made to allow the Lord Mayor 4,000£. a year for the maintenance of his office, and abolish his perquisites; when Bartholomew Fair was valued at 100£. per annum.

On June 2, , 'the Common Council of this City Mett, and the lease for holding Bartholomew Fair expiring the 11th of August, agreed, That for the future none should be kept for Stage Plays, raffling Shops &c. which tend to debauchery; but only 3 dayes for the sale of leather and Cattle, according to its antient custome.' [11]  The raffling shops were clearly illegal, for the same writer says, October 11, : 'Yesterday the grand jury found bills of indictment against all those persons who kept raffling shops in the Cloysters during Bartholomew fair.' But all the legislation in the world was impotent to put down this fair, until, in this century, public opinion as to the expedience of fairs was changed, and 'Bartlemy' fair was proclaimed for the last time in .

May Fair, or, as it was originally called, , was of old date, as Machyn mentions it in his 'Diary for .' , also, calls it by the latter name when he speaks of it: its name of May fair was comparatively recent, and was, of course, owing to its being held in that month. It was held on the north side of Piccadilly, and seems to


have had even a more evil repute than Bartholomew Fair. The Observator says: 'Can any rational men imagine that her Majesty would permit so much lewdness as is committed in May Fair, for so many days together, so near to her royal Palace, if she knew anything about the matter ?' Anyhow the fair flourished during the major portion of Anne's reign.

The shows were very much like those at the larger fair. Here is one in : 'At MILLER'S Booth in May Fair, the Second Booth on the Right Hand coming into the Fair, over against the Famous Mr. Barnes the Rope Dancer, will be presented an Excellent Droll, call'd Crispin and Crispianus; or a Shoemaker a Prince. With the Comical Humours of Barrady and the Shoemaker's Wife. With the best Machines, Singing and Dancing, ever yet in the Fair. Where the Famous Ladder Dancer performs those things upon the Ladder never before seen, to the Admiration of all Men. Vivat Regina.'

'Lady Mary' was at the same fair, and advertises herself by means of a disclaimer: ' Whereas it hath been maliciously reported that Mrs. Finley, who for her incomparable Dancing on the Rope, is unwillingly distinguish'd by the Name of the Lady Mary, was Dead; This is to inform all Persons, That the said Report is Notoriously false, she now being in Mr. Barnes's and Finley's Booth, over against Mr. and Mr. Simson's, next to Mr. Mills, and Mr. Bullock's in May Fair,' &c. And she was there again in : 'At Mr. Finley and Mr. Barnes's Booth, During the time of May Fair, will be seen a Compleat Company of near 20 of the best Rope Dancers, Vaulters and Tumblers in Europe, who are all excellent in their several Performances, and do such wonderful and surprizing things, as the whole World cannot parallel; where Finley, who gave that extraordinary satisfaction before Charles III. King of Spain on Board the Royal Katherine, performs several new entertainments, and where the Lady Mary, likewise shows such additions to her former admirable perfections, as renders her the wonder of the whole world.' She was very popular, as somewhat bitterly remarks in the 'Epilogue to the Bath' (acted


at , ), where he says he made grimaces to empty benches, while Lady Mary had carried all before her:- Gadzooks, what signified my Face ?

This, however, did not prevent from going there again; for in he issued the following advertisement: 'In Brookfield Marketplace at the East corner of Hide Park, is a Fair to be kept for the space of Sixteen days, beginning the First of May: The first three days for Live Cattle and Leather, with the same Entertainment as at Bartholomew Fair, where there are shops to be Lett ready built, for all manner of Tradesmen that usually keep Fairs; and so to continue yearly at the same Time and place; being a Free Fair; and no person to be arrested or molested during the Time of this Fair by Virtue of Pye Powder Court. And at 's Droll Booth will be performed several Entertainments which will be expressed at large upon the Bills, especially one very surprizing that the whole World never yet produced the like, viz, He speaks an Epilogue upon an Elephant between Nine and Ten Foot high, arriv'd from Guinea, led upon the Stage by Six Blacks. The Booth is easily known by the Picture of the Elephant and Mr. sitting in State on his back, on the outside of his Booth. Any body that wants Ground for Shops or Booths, may hire it of , enquire at the Bull Head in Brookfield Market, alias May Fair.'

He was there again in . 'At 's Booth in May Fair, to entertain the Quality, Gentry, and others, he has got Eight Dancing Doggs, brought from Holland, which are Admir'd by all that see them: and they will dance upon 's Stage in each Show. This Extraordinary Charge he's at (in procuring these Doggs) is purely to divert the Town. They are the Wonder of the World, The last Show beginning between 8 & 9 a Clock for the Entertainment of the Quality, as the Park breaks up.'

There was another theatrical company: 'At the NEW PLAY HOUSE in MAY FAIR, During the time of the FAIR will be Play'd, the True and Ancient Story of MAUDLIN the Merchants Daughter of BRISTOL and her lover ANTONIO.


How they were Cast away in a Tempest upon the Coast of Barbary; where the Mermaids were seen floating on the Seas, and Singing on the Rocks, foretelling their danger. The DROLL intermingled with most delightful merry Comedy, after the manner of an OPERA, with extraordinary variety of Singing and Dancing: By his Grace the Duke of Southampton's Servants. The Place will be Known by the Balcone adorn'd with Blue Pillars twisted with Flowers. Vivat Regina.'

May Fair boasted of its natural curiosities, as the two following advertisements testify: 'Near Hide Park Corner during the Time of May Fair, near the Sheep pens over against Mr. Penkethman's Booth; Is to be seen the Wonder of the World in Nature, being a Mail Child born with a Bear growing on its Back alive, to the great Admiration of all spectators, having been shown before most of the Nobility of the Land.'

'By Her Majesties Permission. This is to give Notice to all Gentlemen, Ladies and others, that coming into May Fair, the first Booth on the left Hand, over against Mr. Pinkemans Booth; During the usual time of the Fair, is to be seen, a great Collection of Strange and Wonderful Rarities, all Alive from several parts of the World.

'A little Black Man lately brought from the West Indies, being the Wonder of this Age, he being but 3 Foot high and 25 Years Old.

'Likewise 2 Wood Monsters from the East Indies, Male and Female, being the Admirablest Creaturs that ever was seen in this Kingdom; they differ from all Creaturs whatsoever, and are so Wonderful in Nature that it is too large to insert here.

'Also a little Marmoset from the East Indies, which by a great deal of Pains is now brought to that perfection, that no Creature of his Kind ever perform'd the like; he Exercises by Word of Command, he dances the Cheshire Rounds, he also dances with 2 Naked Swords, and performs several other Pretty Fancies. Likewise a Noble Civet Cat from Guiny which is admir'd for his Beauty, and that incomparable Scent, which Perfumes the whole Place. Also a Muntosh from Rushy, being very Wonderfully Marked.

'Also a Helliscope from Argier, being the Beautifuls Creature in all the World; specked like a Leopard. Vivat Regina.'

The '' would be incomplete without an account of a scene so congenial as May Fair, so of course he visited it; but it does not appear to have vied in any degree with Bartholomew Fair. 'We order'd the Coach to drive thro' the Body of the Fair that we might have the better View of the Tinsey Heroes and the gazing Multitude; expecting to have seen several Corporations of Stroling Vagabonds, but there prov'd but one Company, amongst whom Merry Andrew was very busie in coaxing the attentive Crowd into a good Opinion of his Fraternitie's and his own Performances; and when with abundance of Labour, Sweat, and Nonsense he had drawn a great cluster of the Mob on his Parade, and was just beginning to encourage them to Walk in and take their Places his unlucky opposite, whose boarded Theatre entertain'd the Publick with the wonderful activity of some little Indian Rope Dancers, brings out a couple of Chattering Homunculusses, drest up in Scaramouch Habit; and every thing that Merry Andrew and his Second did on the one side, was mimick'd by the little Flat nos'd Comedians on the other, till the two Diminutive Buffoons, by their Comical Gestures had so prevail'd upon the gaping Throng, that tho' Merry Andrew had taken pains, with all the wit he had to collect the Stragling Rabble into their proper order, yet like an unmannerly Audience, they turn'd their Backs upon the Players, and devoted themselves wholly to the Monkeys, to the great vexation of Tom Fool and all the Strutting train of imaginary Lords and Ladies. At last comes an Epitome of a Careful Nurse, drest up in a Country Jacket, and under her Arm a Kitten for a Nurslin, and in her contrary hand a piece of Cheese; down sits the little Matron with a very Motherly Countenance, and when her Youngster Mew'd, she Dandled him, and Rock'd him in her Arms, with as great signs of Affections as a loving Mother could well shew to a disorder'd Infant; then bites a piece of the Cheese, and after she had mumbled it about in her own Mouth, then thrust it with her Tongue into the Kitten's. Just


as I have seen some Nasty Old Sluts feed their Grandchildren.'

The other shows in the fair seem to have been very poor: two or three dancing booths, a puppet show, 'a Turkey Ram, with as much Wooll upon his Tail as would load a Wheelbarrow,' and a couple of tigers, were all could find worth recording.

The fair was disorderly, and in an incident occurred which materially assisted its downfall. ', May 16. The Constables of this Liberty being more than ordinary vigilant in the discharge of their duty, since the coming forth of her Majesty's pious Proclamation again Vice and Debauchery, and having in pursuance thereof taken up several Lewd Women in May Fair, in order to bring them to Justice, were opposed therein by several rude Soldiers, one of whom is committed to Prison, and the rest are diligently enquired after.' [12]  In fact, among them they managed to kill a constable, named John Cooper-for which murder a fencing-master named Cook was afterwards hanged at Tyburn; and, although the fair lingered a few years longer, yet it became such a nuisance that in November the Grand Jury of 'did present as a publick Nuisance and Inconvenience, the yearly riotous and tumultuous Assembly in a place called Brook Field, in the Parish of St. Martins in the Fields, in this County, called May Fair.' [13] 

This was the beginning of its end, and saw the last of the fair. 'Saturday 30 April . Yesterday was published a proclamation by her Majestie, prohibiting the erecting or making use of any booths or stalls in Mayfair, for any plays, shows, gaming, musick meetings, or other disorderly assemblies.' [14]  That this had been expected is shown by , writing on April 18, . ' Advices from the upper end of Piccadilly say, that May Fair is utterly abolished.' [15] 

The (No. 21) makes merry over its downfall, and says, 'if any lady or gentleman have occasion for a tame elephant, let them enquire of Mr. , who has one to dispose of at a reasonable rate. The downfall of May-fair


has quite sunk the price of this noble creature, as well as of many other Curiosities of Nature. A tiger will sell almost as cheap as an ox; and I am Credibly informed, a man may purchase a cat with three legs, for very near the value of one with four. I hear likewise that there is a a great desolation among the gentlemen and ladies who were the ornaments of the town, and used to shine in plumes and diadems; the heroes being most of them pressed, and the queens beating hemp.'

There was also a fair at Southwark, but of this very little mention is made in the newspapers or handbills. It was an old one, dating from , and was founded by a Charter granted by Edward IV., to hold a fair 'for three days, that is to say, the 7th, 8th, 9th days of September to be holden, together with a Court of Pie Powders, and with all the liberties to such Fairs appertaining.' It used to be opened with some degree of state by the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs, and was generally called 'Our Lady's Fair.'

The indefatigable public caterer, , was there, in , with 'the same Company that was at Bartholomew Fair over against the Hospital Gate, particularly the two famous French Maidens, and the Indian Woman; and also Italian interludes of Scaramouch and Harlequin, by those two Great Masters of their kind Mr. Sorine and Mr. Baxter; and likewise extraordinary Performances on the Manag'd Horse by the famous Mr. Evans and Mr. Baxter, who both perform several new things in their Way. And also Mr. Evans walds on the Slack Rope, and throws himself a Somerset through a Hogshead hanging eight Foot high, with several other Entertainments too tedious to insert here.'

In 'the two famous French Maidens the Lady Isabella and her Sister,' again attended the fair, accompanied by 'the Famous Mr. Luly, who walks on the Slack Rope without a Pole, and stands upon one Legg distinctly playing a tune on the violin; and likewise turns himself round on the Rope with as much freedom as if on the Ground.'

An old friend was also there, 'The Whole Story of the Creation of the World, or Paradise lost,' but seemingly its sole attraction was not sufficient, for it was accompanied by


' The Ball of Little Dogs come from Lovain, which performs, by their cunning tricks, Wonders in the World by Dancing. You shall see one of them named Marquis of Gaillardin, whose Dexterity is not to be compared; he dances with Mrs. Poncette his Mistress, and the rest of their Company at the sound of Instruments; observes so well the Cadance, that they amaze every Body. They have danced in most of the Courts of Europe, especially before the Queen and most of the Quality of England. They are carried to Persons of Qualities Houses if required. They stay but a little while in this Place. They give a General Satisfaction to all People that see them.'

Here also was to be seen the English Sampson, William Joyce, described by as 'the Southwark Sampson, who breaks Carmens Ribs with a Hug, snaps Cables like Twine Thread, and throws Dray Horses upon their backs, with as much Ease as a Westphalia Hog can crack a Cocoa Nut.' When he exhibited before William III., he lifted 1 ton and 14 1/2 lbs. of lead, tied a very strong rope round him to which was attached a strong horse, which, although whipped, failed to move him: this rope he afterwards snapped like pack thread. 'We are credibly inform'd that the said Mr. Joyce pull'd up a Tree of near a Yard and a half Circumference by the Roots at Hamstead on Tuesday last in the open View of some Hundreds of People, it being modestly computed to Weigh near weight.'


[1] There was an engraving made of these standards; and a handbill about it (Harl. MISS. 5996, 40) is curious, as showing how they pushed trade then. ' The Colours being only to be seen in Westminster Hall, several Gentlemen and Others have desired to share in the Commemoration thereof, by placing the Representation of 'em in their Halls and Houses: And now to accommodate those who are so disposed, the said Representation with the Imbellishments above mention'd, is done on fine Imperial Paper, and will in a Day or Two be left at your house for your Perusal, till call'd for next Day, when you are desired either to return it, or be pleased to pay Two Shillings and Sixpence to the Person that deliver'd the Same.'

[2] Comical View of London and Westminster.

[3] Tatler, No. 30.

[4] Diary, Jan. 21, 1709.

[5] The records were kept in the Tower until the present reign.

[6] Spectator, 329.

[7] See Appendix

[8] London Spy.

[9] So called because in 1699 he played the part of Dicky in Farquhar's Constant Couple, or a Trip to the Jubilee.

[10] Harl. MSS., 5931, 251.

[11] Luttrell.

[12] Postman, May 14/16, 1702.

[13] Stow's Survey, ed. 1720.

[14] Luttrell.

[15] Tatler, No. 4.