JOHN & FRANCES WEST


and their Charities




John WEST was the son of Simon WEST, Citizen of London and Stationer, and Elizabeth, nee STARE or STAIR(E). He was baptized on 1st November, 1641, at St Mary's, Twickenham, where the parish registers also show his father as the son of Edward WEST a yeoman of Twickenham, and baptised on 13th November, 1614. John WEST was apprenticed to John PARRET, a member of the Clothworkers' Company, for eight years, on 14th November, 1658, and became Free of the Company by Servitude on 6th March, 1665/6 (1666 New Style).

Frances WEST was born Frances SAKES, at an unknown place, perhaps in 1643. She is undertstood to have married as her first husband Robert MICKELL, a scrivener whose burial as a victim of the Great Plague is noted on 25th September, 1665, in the register of St Christopher-le-Stocks church in the City of London. This is usually claimed as the first church rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666, since it was completed in 1671.

John WEST married the widowed Mrs Frances MICKELL by licence in the church of St Gregory-by-st Paul on 21 February 1665/6 (1666 New Style), when still strictly an apprentice. They lived near Stocks Market, which was on the site of the present Mansion House.

John WEST was also a City of London scrivener, which could then mean a notary (a man publicly authorised to draw up or attest contracts or similar documents, and to discharge other duties of a formal character) or one who received money to place out at interest, and who supplied those who wanted to raise money on security. Such a man was sometimes called a money scrivener, and John WEST is believed to have been an eminent one, a financier as we would say today.

On 23rd July, 1673, he received the Livery of the Clothworkers' Company. Among his friends was Sir John MOORE, President of Christ's Hospital (a school) 1684-1702 and Lord Mayor of London in 1681-2. John WEST was a member of the Court of Common Council from 1680 to 1723 and Deputy Alderman of the Ward of Walbrook in 1701 and from 1713 to 1723 (Guildhall Library references: Noble Collection and 'Mr Spanswick 1966).

Later described as an 'opulent Clothworker of his time', John WEST took the oath as Quarter Warden and Assistant of the Company on 21st January, 1690/1 (1691 New Style) and was afterwards elected Master for the year beginning October, 1707.

He held a retainer as a scrivener from the diarist, Samuel PEPYS, then known only as a senior Civil Servant, who had been Master of the Company in 1677-8. John WEST was one of the four witnesses to PEPYS's will and two codicils in 1703. He apparently attended PEPYS's funeral and, as his scrivener, together with his goldsmith and bookbinder, was presented with a ring to mark the occaision. In John WEST's case, the ring was valued at 15s., unless by chance it was one of the two 20s. rings which became mixed up with the 15s. rings and were given, without this being realised, to two of the seventeen recipients of supposed 15s. rings. John WEST's clerk, Mr MARTIN, received a ring valued at 10s.

PEPYS's verbal requests after the execution of his will included 'in plate - to Mr WEST, some small piece' which was 'made good to him by a large pair of tumblers weighing 23oz.10dwt. John WEST is said to haved died on 29th November, 1723, aged 82, and he was certainly buried on 5th December, 1723, in the middle of the Doctors' Chancel, St Christopher-le-Stocks church, to which he had been a financial friend and benefactor (see the sawn-down board in the NW corner of St Margaret Lothbury, City). Frances WEST is said to have died on 19th January 1724/5 (1725 New Style) and was certainly buried in the same place as her husband on the following 27th January.

The east end of St Christopher-le-Stocks adjoining the earliest building occupied by the Bank of England, which was on its present site it Threadneedle Street but covering a very much smaller area. The Gordon Riots in 1780 showed that the church and its tower threatened the security of the Bank, which also needed to expand. For these reasons the church was demolished in 1781-2, and the Bank's first extension was built over the site. In 1867, the human remains from beneath the church were removed to a vault in the South Wing of the East Catacombs in Nunhead Cemetery, South London, purchased by the Bank. A stone with a Latin inscription meaning "Below this slab lie mortal bones/All that remains of London Citizens/Who underneath St Chrisopher-le-Stocks/(Some time demolished) were buried/ Twice exhumed, now finally at rest/ A D 1867" was set in place and may be seen in the cemetery. St Christopher-le-Stocks churchyard was preserved until 1934 as a subsidiary garden courtyard within the Bank building.

Both John and Frances WEST made generous gifts for charitable purposes, by their wills and under Indtures excuted during their lifetimes. These included notable assistance for the blind, who still benefit under West Trusts administered by the Clothworkers' Foundation.

The parish of St Christopher-le-Stocks is said to have contained one hundred fine dwelling houses. John WEST owned two of them, and two yards, all close to the church. In December, 1723, Frances WEST gave properties in Ludgate Hill, Cannon Street, and Wallbrook, the latter being part of the site on which the Mansion House now stands, to a body of trustees to be used for specific charitable purposes after her death. On Frances WEST's death, however, the named body of trustees refused to accept the trust and, in 1736 and 1754, decrees of the Court of Chancery gave effect to her alternative direction, that of the Clothworkers' Company should act as trustee.

Among the charitable provisions of the trust was the payment of pensions to poor persons, with preference for the KIN of John and Frances WEST, so it was once loosley known as the "West Relation Trust". These pensions continue to be paid by the Clothworkers' Company, and latterley by the Clothworkers' Foundation, from the West Relief in Need Charity, established on 14th April, 1978, under the most recent of a succession of Charity Commission schemes which governed the admiistration of the trust until 1984. The responsibility for sush payments was then transferred to the Trustees of Christ's Hospital (actually a school), who already administered a similar but larger Charity under which the Kin of John and Frances WEST might benefit. The Clothworkers' Company possesses a book of family trees from which it is possible to trace back to John or Frances WEST the relationship of former pensioners and, sometimes, those of general enquirers.

Other enquirers and all prospective applicants for pensions should contact the Trustees of Christ's Hospital (a school), who keep important records at the school, at Horsham, West Sussex, RN13 7ls.


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Taken from information supplied by the John & Frances West Family Group.