This section is from the "An Architectural And Historical Account Of Crosby Place, London" book, by Edward L. Blackburn. Also see Amazon: An Architectural And Historical Account Of Crosby Place, London.
§ Sir Thomas Billesden, Haberdasher. Richard seems to have been concerned in dealings with several of the citizens. To Sir Edmund Shaw, Mayor in 1482, he sold much plate, viz. "four pots of silver parcel gilt,weighing. 281bs. 6ozs.; three pots and five bowls, with a cover, weighing 351bs.; twelve dishes, eleven saucers, silver, with gilt borders, weighing 36lbs.; twelve plates, silver, with gold borders, weighing 441bs. 1lozs.; moreover, two chargers, silver, with gilt borders; two chargers, ten saucers, one ewer parcel gilt; four chargers, two with gilt borders, two without. The weight of the said plate was 2751bs. 4ozs. of troy weight; and after. 3s. 4d. per oz. came to "650.13s. 4d." - Ledger Book of Richard III., vide Strype's Stow, vol. 2.
In 1501 we find Crosby Place assigned, by the Executor of John Easefloy, the representative of the surviving Executor of Sir John Crosby, to one Bartholomew Reed, whose wife, Elizabeth, held it until 1507. Between this period and 1523 it had devolved to John Best, Alderman of London, and from him, by purchase, to Sir Thomas More, Under Treasurer of England, and afterwards Lord High Chancellor,* who, on the 20th of January in that year, sold all his remaining term or interest in the lease of the "great tenement, called Crosbie's Place," etc. to one Antonio Bonvixi, or Bonvisi, merchant of Lucca. At this time forty-two years of the original lease from the Prioress and Convent had yet to run; previous to the expiration of which term, and after 1538, in which year Antonio Bonvisi obtained of Dame Mary Rollestey the "chamber in the alley," the "Priory of St. Elyn," as it is sometimes styled in the old Deeds, must have been dissolved, and its possessions have become Crown property;* for, on the 28th of August, 34th of Henry. VIII. (1542).* Sir Edward Northe, Knt. Treasurer of the revenues, "had received of said Anthony 207. 18s. 4d. sterling,*¡ due to the use of the King's Majesty," for the " gift, grant, and clear purchase of the house and site of the late Priory of Blackfryars, in Chelmsford," with "all edifices, orchards, houses, gardens, land, and soil of the 6aid late Priory, and for a croft of land, called Gravel Pits," in the county of Essex, and "for divers other crofts and parcels of land, late parcel of the possessions of the late Blackfriars;" and "for one tenement or messuage, called Crosbow's Place, lying and being in the parish of St. Ellen's, in London;" and "for divers other houses, messuages, etc. in the parish of St. Ellen and the parish of St. Mary-Axe, in London, late parcel of the possessions of the said late Priory of St. Ellen's".
From 1623 to 1547 Bonvisi continued to reside in Crosby Place. On the lst of April, in the latter year, he leases the same to William Rooper and William Rastell,* who then succeeded him in the occupation.* Two months previous to the date of this lease, Bonvisi entailed Crosby Place, and his other possessions, on Peter Crowle, or Growl, with remainder, in failure of heirs by the said Peter, to other parties named, upon like conditions; but three years after, viz. in the 3d Edward VI., 1550, he, with his family, "against his allegiance," as the inquisition taken shortly after recites, "went and departed out of England into the parts beyond the sea, without license, and against the force, form and effect of a statute and certain proclamation in that behalf made, published, and proclaimed." It would appear also, that Rooper and Rastell, the lease-holders under Bonvisi, as well as Peter Crowle and the other parties interested in the property, were likewise "departed beyond sea," by which means, and in pursuance with the effect of the above-mentioned statute and inquisition, their estates and effects became forfeited, and were afterwards granted by the King to Sir Thomas Darcye, Knt., Lord Darcye, of Chule.
* Beheaded, A. D. 1535.-For a fac-simile of his signature, from the deed of purchase, see the plate attached to the Appendices.
* Howell's History of London says it was surrendered Nov. 25th the 30th of Henry VIII. Stevens, in hi sadditions to " Dug-dale's Monasticon,*' gives the same date, and adds, "by Mary, the last Prioress," (probably the Mary Rollestey mentioned above), it was valued by Dugdale at 314. 2s. 6d., by Speed at 376. 6s.
* The King's Letters Patent, bear date the 9th of September, 1542..
*¡ This sum must have been paid more strictly in reference to the other portions of the grant; for the second section of the Act of Parliament, which vested in the Crown the monastic edifices and their possessions, provides for the rights of all parties holding under the different dissolved houses.
* This Rastell was, probacy, from the apparent collection of the families, a near relative of John Rastell, the brother-in-law of Sir Thomas More, and a celebrated writer of moralities and interludes about the latter end of Henry VII's reign. One of his publications, and a very curious one, as evincing an attempt to introduce subjects of science and natural philosophy as amusements on the stage, bears this title, "A new Interlude and a mery, of the nature of the IIII Elements, declarynge many proper points of Philosophy Naturall, and of dyvers strange Landys, etc."-See Percy Reliques.
* This lease was granted for "4 score and 10 years," commencing at Lady Day, 1547, at the yearly rent of 11. 14s. 8d., payable quarterly.
The absence of Bonvisi, and those connected with him, may be referred to the troubles occasioned by the difference of opinion on religious subjects ; and the persecutions against those who retained the observances' of the former, or Catholic forms, which took place about this time. We find, on reference to the History of England, that about 1549, an Act of Council, established a Commission, to search after and examine "all heretics and contemners of the Book of Common Prayer." In the execution of this office, we are told by Hume, the Commissioners were invested with a power which extended even to the repeal of any statute that might interfere with their object, and that many tradesmen of London were examined by these Commissioners. This, with the fact that several executions followed such examinations, is sufficient to account for the abandonment of their property by the family of Bonvisi, who, with the other parties mentioned as connected with them, and interested in Crosby Place, were evidently favourers of the old persuasion, from the circumstance of their re-appearance in England immediately on the accession of Queen Mary; in the first year of whose reign (1563) Anthony Bonvisi was, by Lord Darcye, "for divers good causes and considerations," restored to the possession of his former estates.* Soon after his return Bonvisi appears to have deceased; and though he had obtained a license to alienate, he does not seem to have availed himself of it, for we find the property descending, in the following month to that in which he was himself re-possessed, to Peter Crowle.