From Paradise Row to Newgate Prison
Mary Astell’s Paradise Row
Mary Astell is known to have lived in the terrace of houses known as Paradise Row, but the specific years of her residence there are not certain—as Reginald Blunt notes, however, the options of suitable housing during the late seventeenth century were not many. Blunt says that during these years, the village contained only “a hundred or so of houses, of which not more than a score were of any size or pretension”—since the occupants of many of those houses are known, Paradise Row would be “the only habitat which remained for them.” See Reginald Blunt, Paradise Row: or, A Broken Piece of Old Chelsea . . . (London: Richard Clay and Sons, 1906), 181. Astell must surely have been living in the terrace when she uses the occasion of her neighbor Hortense Mancini’s death in July 1699 to launch her own “reflections” upon the institution of marriage.
Blunt published his description of the “famous village street newly destroyed together with particulars of sundry noble and notable persons who in former times dwelt there” just after the terrace of houses in which Astell lived had been demolished.
Also useful for its view of Paradise Row is Walter H. Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 2: The Parish of Chelsea, Part 1. London: London County Council, 1909. This survey contains an extended description of all of the structures on the street during the time of On Paradise Row—it details who was living in each residence, noting structures on the south side of Paradise Row (pp. 3-9) and on the north (pp. 23-28); available at British History Online. It also includes information about the structure of the terrace of houses from which the street seems to have derived its name and in which Mary Astell lived. The work includes a number of photographs of the terrace of houses on Paradise Row.
Mary Astell’s Chelsea
For a definitive work on Chelsea, see Patricia E. C. Croot, A History of the County of Middlesex, vol. 12: Chelsea. London, Victoria County History, 2004; available at British History Online.
For an excellent discussion of the town and its growth, with a particular focus on the architectural developments in Chelsea, see Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, London 3: North West, The Buildings of England. London: Penguin, 1991. (Two sections from the Introduction, “Architectural Developments c. 1500-1680” [29-37] and “Eighteenth-century Urban Expansion” [37-38] are particularly relevant.)
Especially useful is “Map of Chelsea, Surveyed in the Year 1664 by James Hamilton, Continued to 1717,” available online at the “virtual museum” of the The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
In addition, there are many wonderful old books on Chelsea, filled with quirky detail, all of them readily accessible online. Among them—
Alfred Beaver, Memorials of Old Chelsea: A New History of the Village of Palaces. London: E. Stock, 1892.
Reginald Blunt, In Cheyne Walk and Thereabout: Containing Short Accounts of Some Ingenious People and Famous Places that Were by the Riverside at Chelsea. London: Mills & Boon, 1914.
George Bryan, Chelsea, in the Olden & Present Times. Chelsea: n.p., 1869.
F. Dawtrey Drewitt, The Romance of the Apothecaries’ Garden at Chelsea. 3rd ed. Cambridge: University Press, 1928.
A. G. L’Estrange, The Village of Palaces; or, Chronicles of Chelsea. 2 vols. London: Hurst and Blackett, 1880.
Thomas Faulkner, An Historical and Topographical Description of Chelsea, and Its Environs. . . . London: J. Tilling for T. Egerton, 1810.
Walter H. Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 2: The Parish of Chelsea, Part 1. London: London County Council, 1909; Survey of London, vol. 4: The Parish of Chelsea, Part 2. London, London County Council, 1909; available at British History Online.
Daniel Lysons, The Environs of London: Being an Historical Account of the Towns, Villages, and Hamlets, within Twelves Miles of that Capital, vol. 2: County of Middlesex. London: Cadell and Davies, 1795.
Astell’s Chelsea: All Saints Church
Walter Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 7: Chelsea, Part 3: The Old Church, 1921.
Randall Davies, Chelsea Old Church. London: Duckworth, 1904.
Astell’s Chelsea: Ranelagh House
Patricia E. C. Croot, A History of the County of Middlesex, vol. 12: Chelsea. London, Victoria County History, 2004; available at British History Online.
A. G. L’Estrange, The Village of Palaces; or, Chronicles of Chelsea. London: Hurst and Blackett, 1880, 2:15-20.
Astell’s Chelsea: Chelsea Hospital
Walter Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 11: Chelsea, Part 4: The Royal Hospital, 1927; available at British History Online.
Mary Astell’s London
London and London Life: Primary Sources
Several books published in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries offer views of the London that would have been familiar to Mary Astell:
Thomas Delaune, The Present State of London; or, Memorials Comprehending a Full and Succinct Account of the Ancient and Modern State Thereof. London, 1681.
Edward Hatton, A New View of London: or, an Ample Account of that City, in Two Volumes . . . London, 1708.
Roger L’Estrange, A Collection of the Names of the Merchants Living In and About the City of London . . . London, 1677.
John Strype, A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster. London, 1720.
Robert Campbell, The London Tradesman: Being a Compendious View of all the Trades, Professions, Arts . . . Now Practiced in the Cities of London and Westminster, Calculated for the Information of Parents and Instruction of Youth in Their Choice of Business. London, 1747.
London and London Life: Secondary Sources
There are too many books on London to list them all here, but the following have been especially useful:
Peter Ackroyd, London: The Biography. New York: Anchor Books, 2003.
Ian Mortimer, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Restoration Britain: A Handbook for Visitors to the Seventeenth Century, 1600-1700. New York: Pegasus Books, 2017.
Stephen Porter, Pepys’s London: Everyday Life in London, 1650-1703. Stroud [England]: Amberley, 2011.
Siân Rees, Moll: The Life and Times of Moll Flanders. London: Chatto & Windus, 2011.
Walter Thornbury, Old and New London: The City, Ancient and Modern. London: Cassell, 1881.
Maureen Waller, 1700: Scenes from London Life. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2000.
Ben Weinreb, et al., The London Encyclopedia, 3rd ed. London: Macmillan, 2008.
Astell’s London: Maps
Twenty-first century technology offers excellent views of early-modern London:
Civitas Londinum, the “The Agas Map” (1561), digital edition available at Map of Early Modern London. In addition to the map, resources include an encyclopedia of people, places, and events as well as a bibliography.
“A New Map of the Citties of London, Westminster & ye Borough of Southwarke, with their Suburbs” (1700), available online from the British Library.
“A New Mapp of the Citty of London, Much Inlarged Since the Great Fire in 1666” (1706), available online from the British Library.
“A New Plan of the City of London, Westminster, and Southwark” (1720), from John Strype’s Survey, digital edition available at The Grub Street Project, Topographies of Literature & Culture in Eighteenth-Century London.
John Senex, “A Plan of the City’s [sic] of London, Westminster and Borough of Southwark; with the New Additional Buildings” (1721), published in A New General Atlas Containing a Geographical and Historical Account of the World, available online at MAPCO: Map and Plan Collection Online.
John Rocque, “Survey of London, Westminster, & Southwark” (1746), available online at Locating London’s Past.
“A Riverside View of Georgian London” (1829), digital edition available at the Panorama of the Thames Projec
Astell's London: Lambeth House
For details about Lambeth House, later Lambeth Palace, see Walter Thornbury, Old and New London (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878), 6:425-47, available at British History Online.
Astell’s London: St. Paul’s Churchyard
For details about St. Paul’s Churchyard and the booksellers there, see Walter Thornbury, Old and New London (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878), 1:262-74, available at British History Online.
Astell’s London: The Royal Exchange
For details about the Royal Exchange, see Walter Thornbury, Old and New London (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878), 1:494-513, available at British History Online.
Astell’s London: Bridewell
A good introduction to “houses of correction” like Bridewell Prison and Hospital is available online at London Lives, 1690-1800: Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis.
Astell’s London: The Fleet
Especially useful sources are John Ashton, The Fleet: Its River, Prison, and Marriages (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1888) and Walter George Bell, Fleet Street in Seven Centuries . . . (London: Isaac Pitman and Sons, 1912).
For details about the Fleet Prison, see Walter Thornbury, Old and New London (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878), 2:404-16, available at British History Online.
For details about Fleet marriages, marriage houses, and Mrs. Ball’s Hand and Pen in particular, see John Southerden Burn, History of the Fleet Marriages, with Some Account of the Parsons, and Their Registers . . . (London: Longmans, 1846); Walter Thornbury, Old and New London (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878), 2:411, available at British History Online; and John Ashton, The Fleet: Its River, Prison, and Marriages (London: F. Fisher Unwin, 1888).
Astell’s London: Old Bailey
An excellent and accessible source is available online at The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London’s Central Criminal Court, 1674-1913. In addition to historical background and a searchable database of the accounts of trials that book place in the Old Bailey, the Ordinary of Newgate’s Accounts is also available at this site.
Astell’s London: Newgate
For contemporary details about Newgate Prison, see The History of the Press-Yard—the subtitle says it all: “A Brief Account of the Customs and Occurrences That Are Put in Practice, and To Be Met with in That Ancient Repository of Living Bodies Called ‘His Majesty’s Gaol of Newgate in London’” (1717). And, then, there is Daniel Defoe’s The Life of Moll Flanders. Moll is born in Newgate, but the shadow of the hellish prison haunts her throughout the novel, until at last she finds herself arrested and sent there: “I was carried to Newgate,” she exclaims, “that horrid place! My very blood chills at the mentioning of its name. . . .”
See also Walter Thornbury, Old and New London (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878), 2:441-61, available at British History Online. Particularly detailed and useful information about the prison’s layout is in Arthur Griffiths, The Chronicles of Newgate (London: Chapman and Hall, 1884).