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Margaret Lendall (fl. 1660 – 1668)

Margaret Lendall was a Haberdashers’ Company apprentice milliner/lace-seller who worked on the Royal Exchange in 1660s London.

Robert White, The Royal Exchange of London, 1671 © The Trustees of the British Museum, 1880,1113.3683

In October 1660, orphaned siblings Margaret and Robert Lendall petitioned Charles II, asking him to ‘comisserate theire present suffering condition and to allow them a subsistence dureing theire minoritie’.[1] Their father, Captain Robert Lendall, had ‘endeavored to manifest his fidellitie […] by bringing of twelve shipps from the Ennimie to yor Majtie’ during the British civil wars, but after their parents died in Vlissingen in the Netherlands, the Lendall siblings were left ‘in a sad and wanting condition’.[2] There is no further trace of Robert Lendall the younger. However, Margaret Lendall petitioned Charles II again several years later, crucially providing more details about the help that she had received from the king. Charles II had:

put up yor Petr to be an Apprentice in the Royall Exchange London for the Terme of Seven yeares the wch is now expired and the Said Trade being to Sell all Sorts of Rich Laces and other things of great value requireing a Considerable Stock for want whereof, yor Petr (who is destitute of Freinds and all other meanes of Subsistance) cannott Sett up the Same wthout yor Mats Espetiall Grace and favor.[3]

The decision to put Margaret out as an apprentice was surely intended as a practical means of establishing her self-sufficiency, and she had evidently acquired the skills required in order to set up in business independently. However, this second petition makes the drawbacks of entering a trade that required a stock of costly wares clear. Without capital, Lendall was once more dependent on the charity of her patron. She hoped that Charles II could be further prevailed upon to provide her with the start-up costs necessary to run her own business. The Treasury Minute Book for 1668 notes that on 24 July, ‘Margaret Lendall Peticon read’, and a warrant for £200 on the Exchequer was issued. By 4 August 1668, ‘special direccons’ had been dispensed by the king ‘to draw ordrs for paymt […] unto Margaret Lyndall daughter of Capt Robert Lendall as of his Mays free guift an reward of Eminent Services by him pformed to his late Maj on Board the Fleete in the year 1648’.[4] The order was signed on 5 August 1668 suggesting that this generous response ‘of his Majties bounty’ allowed Margaret Lendall to start up in trade.[5]

Cross-checking with livery company binding books confirms that Margaret Lendall had indeed been apprenticed following her petition to the king in October 1660. She was bound to Richard Chapman of the Haberdashers’ Company on 7 November 1660.[6] The timing indicates that her case had been deemed not only legitimate but urgent.

Margaret Lendall’s term of seven years had elapsed before she presented her second petition, suggesting that she had completed it in full as was required by the Statute of Artificers (1563). However, Margaret’s experience of serving her apprenticeship coincided with both the Great Plague in 1665 and the Great Fire in 1666. On 16 August 1665, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary that there were ‘very few upon the Change […] about us two shops in three, if not more, generally shut up’, with ‘plague being all thereabouts’ in mid-September, and the ‘Change pretty full, and the town begins to be lively again’, though ‘most shops shut’ by October 1665.[7] When the Great Fire destroyed the Royal Exchange the following year, Gresham College served as an interim space for tenant-stallholders before the Second Exchange was rebuilt, though the shops in the upper pawn only reopened in March 1671.[8] Placing Margaret Lendall’s apprenticeship in context with the events of the mid 1660s provides an insight into her tumultuous experience of serving a formal apprenticeship in London during these events, and the potential disruption to her training that she endured.

Margaret Lendall does not appear to have sought the freedom of the Haberdashers’ Company and unfortunately no further trace of her can be found. It is possible that she married and changed her name. Perhaps she moved into the metropolitan suburbs, nearer to the Court and a wealthier clientele where she may have enjoyed some celebrity as the daughter of a Royalist sea captain.


[1] The National Archives (TNA) SP 29/20, Petitions, October 1660, fol. 46. See also A. Saunders, ‘The Organisation of the Exchange’ in The Royal Exchange ed. by A. Saunders (London, 1997), p. 97.

[2] TNA SP 29/20, fol. 46.

[3] TNA SP 29/281A, Undated petitions and papers, fol. 103.

[4] TNA T51/18, Treasury Miscellanea Warrants Early, fol. 50.

[5] TNA T60/36, Treasury Order Book, fol. 46.

[6] Guildhall Library (GL) MS 15860/6, Haberdashers’ Company Apprentice Book, fol. 84.

[7] 16 August 1665, 14 September 1665, 26 October 1665 in R. Latham (ed.), The Shorter Pepys (London, 1986), pp. 516, 526, 546.

[8] A. Saunders, ‘The Second Exchange’ in The Royal Exchange, ed. by A. Saunders (London, 1997), p. 134.


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