Steelyard, Steleyard, or Stilliard in Upper Thames Street, in the ward of Dowgate (facing the river), where the Cannon Street Railway Station now stands. "Their hall," says Stow, "is large, built of stone, with three arched gates towards the street, the middlemost whereof is far bigger than the others, and is seldom opened; the other two bemured up; the same is now called the old hall."
The Steelyard, a place for merchants of Almaine, that used to bring hither as well wheat, rye, and other grain, as cables, ropes, masts, pitch, tar, flax, hemp, linen cloth, wainscots, wax, steel, and other profitable merchandises.—Stow, p. 87.
Steelyard, a place in London where the fraternity of the Easterling Merchants, otherwise the Merchants of the Hannse and Almaine are wont to have their abode. It is so called Stilliard of a broad place or court, wherein Steele was much sold.— Minsheu, ed. 1617, and H. Blount both in his Law Dictionary and his Glossographia.
The Steelyard was lately famous for Rhenish Wines, Neats' Tongues, etc.— Blount's Glossographia, ed. 1670.
Other writers derive the name from its being the place where the King's steelyard, or beam, for weighing the tonnage of goods imported into London, was erected before its transference to Cornhill.
Lambecius explains the name Steel-yard (or as he calls it Stealhof) to be only a contraction of Stapelhof, softened into Stafelhof, and synonymous with the English word Staple, which is in the civil law Latin style of Edward III. termed Stabile emporium, a fixed port depot.—Herbert's Twelve Livery Companies, p. 12, note.
This latter derivation is by far the most likely; Minsheu is without doubt wrong, as steel until long after the adoption of the name Steelyard for their guild by the Merchants of the Hanse was only quite a secondary item in their trade.
---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.