Historical references to London's sounds

A database of several hundred historical descriptions and references to London's sounds. They're drawn mainly from primary sources such as autobiographies, diaries and statutes, as well as novels written around the times they depict.

11th to
16th to
18th Early
 Demonstrations     2 1 1   1  
 Elections and election campaigns     1          
 Meetings and indoor gatherings       1   2    
 Public political oratory   2       1 1  
 Strikes and trade union activities     1       1  
 Political, sectarian and ethnic conflict   1   1     1  

Period referred to: Mid-13th century

Sound category: Political > Public political oratory

Title of work: Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London

Type of publication: Administrative record

Author: Unknown

Year of publication: 1257

Page/volume number:

A crowd responds to political oratory at St Paul’s Cross

But the others declined to grant them any inquisition; and so, they being at the King's mercy, John Maunsel and the others who had been sent by his lordship the King, came to Saint Paul's Cross; and one of them, using bland words, and, as it were, preaching unto the populace, while promising them that all their rights and liberties should be preserved unimpaired by his lordship the King, further said, 'supposing that any bailiff or bailiffs of theirs should have treated them unjustly, and have inflicted many evils and hardships upon them and upon the City, supposing such a case, ought they, according to the law of the City, to defend themselves as against the King, upon his making suit, by the oaths of twelve men, and as against their fellow-citizens by the oaths of six, and so be acquitted of all the consequences of such an offence?'

To which enquiry (no conference being first held among the discreet men of the City, as is usually the practice), answer was made by some of the populace, sons of divers mothers, many of them born without the City, and many of servile condition, with loud shouts of 'Nay, nay, nay,' in contravention of the privilege of the franchises that had been granted unto the City of old, and by their predecessors, citizens of blessed memory, obtained, and, until that time, strictly observed.

Period referred to: 1380s

Sound category: Political > Public political oratory

Title of work: The Chronicles of Froissart

Type of publication: Chronicle

Author: Jean Froissart

Year of publication: 1380s

Page/volume number: How the commons of England rebelled against the noblemen

John Ball’s preaching at the start of the Peasant’s Rebellion

These unhappy people of these said countries began to stir, because they said they were kept in great servage, and in the beginning of the world, they said, there were no bondmen, wherefore they maintained that none ought to be bond, without he did treason to his lord, as Lucifer did to God; but they said they were not of that nature, for they were neither angels nor spirits, but men formed to the similitude of their lords, saying why should they then be kept so under like beasts; the which they said they would no longer suffer, for they would be all one, and if they laboured or did anything for their lords, they would have wages therefor as well as other.

And of this imagination was a foolish priest in the country of Kent called John Ball, for the which foolish words he had been three times in the bishop of Canterbury's prison: for this priest used oftentimes on the Sundays after mass, when the people were going out of the minster, to go into the cloister and preach, and made the people to assemble about him, and would say thus:

'Ah, ye good people, the matters goeth not well to pass in England, nor shall not do till everything be common, and that there be no villains nor gentlemen, but that we may be all united together, and that the lords be no greater masters than we be. What have we deserved, or why should we be kept thus in servage? We be all come from one father and one mother, Adam and Eve: whereby can they say or shew that they be greater lords than we be, saving by that they cause us to win and labour for that they dispend? They are clothed in velvet and camlet furred with grise, and we be vestured with poor cloth: they have their wines, spices and good bread, and we have the drawing out of the chaff and drink water: they dwell in fair houses, and we have the pain and travail, rain and wind in the fields; and by that that cometh of our labours they keep and maintain their estates: we be called their bondmen, and without we do readily them service, we be beaten; and we have no sovereign to whom we may complain, nor that will hear us nor do us right. Let us go to the king, he is young, and shew him what servage we be in, and shew him how we will have it otherwise, or else we will provide us of some remedy; and if we go together, all manner of people that be now in any bondage will follow us to the intent to be made free; and when the king seeth us, we shall have some remedy, either by fairness or otherwise.'

Thus John Ball said on Sundays, when the people issued out of the churches in the villages; wherefore many of the mean people loved him, and such as intended to no goodness said how he said truth; and so they would murmur one with another in the fields and in the ways as they went together, affirming how John Ball said truth.