Petition of the Water Bearers

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To the Honorable Aſſembly of the Commons Houſe of Parliament, and to the
Committie for grieuances of the ſame Houſe.

The humble Petition of the whole companie of the poore Water-Tankerd-bearers of the
Citie of London, and the Suburbs thereof, they and their families being 4000 in number,
liuing and releeued thereby.  Water-bearer in the name and behalfe of
the reſt followes this Petition.

Among the great multitude of poore diſtreſſed people of this kingdome, with ioyfull hearts and lifted vp hands to heauen, we your
petitioners, haue iuſt cauſe to ſay. Bleſſed be the Lord God of Iſraell, that moued the heart of his gration Maieſtie, to call ſo Ho-
norable an aſſembly in Parliament, which will not ſuffer Gehazi, to take Tallents of Siluer, nor change of rayments, but that euery
one, may ſit vnder his owne Oliue-tree, and annoint himſelfe with the fat thereof. Wee poore miſerable people labouring hardly for a
poore liuing, vnder great burthens, haue the bread taken out of our childrens mouthes, and our one, both contrary to good lawes eſtabliſhed
and all equity and good conſcience.

For, moſt honourable aſſembly, to make this their grieuance plaine, that they are matters of truth, and no ſuggeſtions or inforcements.
There was in the Parliament, holden in the 35. yeare of King Henry the eighth, an Act made and prouided, concerning the repayring, ma-
king, and amending, of the Conduits, in London, and that ſweete holſome running waters, and freſh ſprings, might be conueyed by Con-
, and fountaines, to the ſaid Conduits in London, and whereof the ſaid City, had bin before time well furniſhed, and abundantly ſerued.

In the ſaid Act there was a carefull prouiſo, that it ſhould not be lawfull, for the ſaid Lord Maior nor commonaltie, nor to their ſucceſſors,
or miniſters, to take away any water, or ſpring now brought, or hereafter to be brought, orconueyed, by Pypes or Trenches, to the manſion
of any perſon or perſons, nor for any perſon or perſons, by any way, deceipt, meane, or any other craftie conueiance, ſhall vndermine, mi-
niſh, withdraw, or abate any Spring, or ſprings, found or hereafter to be found, now brought or conueyed, ſtopped, abated, or otherwiſe
altered, from his dew courſe, and conueyance to the Conduits in London.

That the ſaid water brought to the ſaid City, by vertue of the ſaid Act, is the moſt wholſome, pureſt, and ſweeteſt water, comming to the
ſaid City, is not to be doubted or diſputable; and ſufficient ſtore thereof, at the ſpring heads. And yet notwithſtanding the ſaid former Act;
moſt of the ſaid water is taken, and kept from the ſaid Conduits in London, by many priuate branches and Cockes, cut and taken out of the
Pipes, which are layed to conuey the ſame, to the ſaid Conduits; and laid into priuate houſes and dwellings, both without and within the
City; whereby it is drawne out of the wayes, and many times ſuffered to runne at waſte, to the generall grieuance of all good Citizens, and
all others; repayring to the ſame, hauing their meat dreſſed with other waters, neither ſo pure nor holſome, as the Conduits water is, as com-
mon experience teacheth; contrary to the true intent of the ſame ſtatute.

There are, as was confeſſed by the Cities Plumber, one MrRandoll, fifteene branches or Cockes, laid into priuate houſes, and drawen from
the Conduits, contrary to the prouiſo in the ſame Act: and three branches or Cocks, laid by himſelfe without warrant, only for his owne
priuate gaine; by what warrant the other were granted to particular perſons, and taken from the common Conduits, we humbly deſire
that firſt the ſaid Randoll, may be ſent for and examined, and afterwards ſuch other perſons as we ſhall produce, beſides many others, who
may priuately take in water out of our maine pipes, and as yet vnknowne to the Petitioners.

Secondly, the water granted vnto Newgate, for vſe of that houſe only, is caried forth daily by fiue men to many places, which Tankerd-
bearers keepe no houres, but worke continually, and ſo exhauſt and draw away the water from the other Conduits.

The Lady Swinnerton is allowed, but 2. gallons euery houre, (an ill preſident, and againſt the prouiſo, of the ſaid ſtatute of 35. Henry 8.
but that branch is ſo great, as it yeeldeth thirteene gallons and better euery houre as it hath beene tried, which many times runneth at waſte,
if this one branch or Cocke, within this City doth or may draw away aboue a thouſand gallons extraordinarily from the Conduits in a
weeke, what wrong ſo many branches without the City, where leſſe care is had, is to be taken into your Honourable conſideration.

Fourthly, the water that now ſerueth Alderman-bury Conduits, doth belong to the pipes of Cheapſide, and was lately cut out of the
ſame, and that water which ſhould or would ſerue that Conduits of Alderman-bury, is wholy ſtopt or giuen to priuate houſes by the way.

Fiftly, Cornehill and Graciouſ-ſtreet men, complayning for want of water in their Conduits, there was three houres in a day abated by
the Chamberlaine of the City, at the requeſt of the Plumber, from the Conduitſ in Cheapſide, thereby to furniſh them with the more ſtore,
being ill ſerued, by the ſame pipes, but yet Cornehill and Graciouſ-ſtreet Conduits haue neuer a whit more water, nor the houres yet re-
ſtored to the Conduits in Cheapſide.

Sixtly, one of the maine and chiefeſt pipes runneth vnder part of Saint Martins Lane, and the Couen garden, in which places there are
lately erected many new buildings and dwellings of Bricke; and it is ſuppoſed that digging deeper for the foundations, and finding the
Pipes, they may take ſome priuate branches, out of their due courſe.

Your Petitioners doe humbly deſire, for that there is great defect of water, in the ſaid conduits: and that it is a generall grieuance,
to the whole City; and that diuers complaints, haue beene made by your Petitioners for redreſſe, but no reliefe can be procured,
and are vtterly remedileſſe, but by this Honourable aſſembly, that wee the Petitioners, may be permitted to preferre our Bill
into this Honourable houſe: For remedy of this grieuance, and as in duty we are bounden; ſo we will daily pray, that God may
bleſſe all your counſels, to the benefit of all ſucceeding ages.

Cite this page

MLA citation

Petition of the Water Bearers. The Map of Early Modern London, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 26 Jun. 2020,

Chicago citation

Petition of the Water Bearers. The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed June 26, 2020.

APA citation

2020. Petition of the Water Bearers. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London. Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

RIS file (for RefMan, EndNote etc.)

Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Petition of the Water Bearers
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
PY  - 2020
DA  - 2020/06/26
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  -
UR  -
ER  - 


RT Web Page
SR Electronic(1)
A6 Jenstad, Janelle
T1 Petition of the Water Bearers
T2 The Map of Early Modern London
WP 2020
FD 2020/06/26
RD 2020/06/26
PP Victoria
PB University of Victoria
LA English
OL English

TEI citation

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