Roger Conant's Life in London
Roger spent his late teens and early twenties in London learning the trade of a salter.
Can you imagine the culture shock that hit Roger when he arrived in London as a teenager after growing up in the East Budleigh protected bubble?
Roger’s recorded places in London: 1. Roger Conant and Sarah Horton were married at St. Ann Blackfriars, London on November 11, 1618 2. Roger’s daughter, Sarah Conant, was baptized at St. Lawrence Jewry, London on September 19, 1619 3. Roger’s son, Caleb Conant, was baptized at St. Lawrence Jewry, London on May 27, 1622 4. Christopher Conant, Roger’s older brother, married Sicily Croxon on 13 August 1617, in St Andrew by the Wardrobe
What we think we know: 1. Roger and Christopher left East Budleigh for London in 1609 or 1610. Roger was a teenager and salter apprentice. Christopher was a grocer in his early twenties. 2. Christopher left London for Plymouth Colony on the Anne in 1623 3. Roger left for Plymouth in 1623 or 1624. The exact ship he sailed on and the date is debatable. See Roger’s America page for more details. 4. St Ann Blackfriars was a stronghold of the Separatists Puritans. Roger was a Puritan, but not a Separatist who were the extreme wing of the movement and later were the first groups to go to America on the Mayflower in 1620 and later ships thereafter. But St Ann’s was known as a Puritans’ church. William Gouge was the minister and preacher for 45 years, from 1608. He was also a member of the 1643 Westminster Assembly of Divines, as was Roger’s elder brother John Conant. 5. Roger probably moved to the St Lawrence Jewry area after he was married. He may have moved his family away from the Blackfriars area because of the rowdy crowds who attended the theatres there. 6. Roger’s son Caleb went to Plymouth Colony with Roger and returned to England where he died at age 11. 7 Roger’s first daughter, Sarah, died at the age of one and was buried in London. 8. Roger spoke the Modern English of the Elizabethan times as seen in Shakespeare’s plays and other prose and poetry works of the day. Since he was from the southwest of England, he probably had a Devon Drawl that was easily recognizable in London
For detailed travel guide to London of the 1600s see Historical city travel guide: London, late 16th century - British Museum Blog . For additional fun reads about Shakespeare’s London see Shakespeare's London Years: Shakespeare's Time In London (nosweatshakespeare.com) and Shakespeare’s London | The British Library (bl.uk)
Highlights: 1. Puritans drank beer and wine, “To drink there is bottle beer and ale (never trust the water), strong for the men and weak ‘small beer’ for ladies, children and the clergy. There is plenty of wine available, white wine from France and the Rhineland, red wine from France, Spain, Italy and Greece, and fortified sweet wines, including Malmsey from Crete and Muscatel from France.” 2. But Puritans did not approve of drunkenness. 3. Everyone carried a dagger, “There is the usual level of petty violence inevitable when everyone carries at least a dagger and law enforcement is left to amateurs from the local communities serving short terms as constables and beadles. The authorities have tried to crack down on violent brawling by regulating sword length – check your rapier before you arrive, it will be broken at the city gate if it is more than a yard (0.91 metres) long.” 4. One thing you won’t be used to, visiting from the country, is timekeeping: there are clocks and chiming bells everywhere in the city, regulating curfews, church services, theatre performances and the rest. 5. Food: Food and drink of the familiar seasonal sort is readily available. Breakfast will likely be bread and butter, with perhaps some fresh fruit, if available. You will have lunch, your main meal, at 11.00–12.00 and supper, your evening meal, at 17.00–18.00. In a decent establishment you will have a choice of roast meats, pies, salad, tarts, fruit and cheese. You will be likely to eat in your inn or with the family you board with, but there is also plenty of street-food to hand – fruit and nuts, and a range of shellfish bought from the ‘oyster-wenches’ who work the streets – fresh, pre-packed food, though the shells are a nuisance underfoot, especially in bad weather, hidden in the mud. For the sweet-toothed there is marchpane (marzipan)