13 Annotations

First Reading

vincent  •  Link

Gathering up some info from others postings to connect and re post on Hackney Carriage see
Mon for 3rd feb 1660 first mention?

First carriages?
1636: Hackney carriages in London according to :-
joe :-mon 3 feb asks:
"I believe even to this day there is an old law in effect that hackney carriages must carry a bale of hay for the horse."
was it repealled:?
Phil provides this titbit
"Half way down this page it says “Pity the poor taxi driver who, until 1976,. could be commanded by a policeman to reveal his or her bale of hay. If they did not have one in the boot [trunk], then they were clearly ill-treating their horse.”"
"A little bit more on the bales of hay…..." from David he says see this info

Paul Miller gives this info

"This link is Hackny coach rates circa 1722."

DQ mentions the the modern idiom for (those with a keyboard {this my edit})
"hack — “1. a Hackney 2. A worn-out horse for hire 3a. A hireling b. A writer hired to produce routine writing.
4. informal a. A taxicab. . . .”"
(This is before it becomes a nag....: my add on)

vincent  •  Link

additional conflicting info from :-


1st in London 1625; 20 hackney coach(carriage) for hire (taxi) :-
On June 24th 1654 (during Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth) the Court of Alderman of the City of London authorised the use of 200 licenses for hackney coachmen (there were no women drivers but following the death of her husband a widow could take over the vehicle licence which allowed her to rent the coach out to a licensed driver - a rule still in force today)

Although the licensing reduced the number of stops in the City, there were still a few unlicenced coachmen working, it was the Watermen of the Thames who complained bitterly. Until the arrival of the hackneys the only way to get from one part of the City to another, or to Westminster was by boat and which would include the then hazardous act of trying to row under London Bridge (built for wise men to go over and for fools to go under)

see rivals there in a book at:-

Peter Roberts  •  Link

Hackney Carriages, a short verbatum quote - Source;`The London Taxi`, Author Nick Georgano [born London 1932]. Shire Album No 150, published 1985. [Mostly about motor taxi`s]
"Londoners were first able to hail public vehicles in about 1620 when a certain Captain Baily bought 4 coaches, equipped his drivers with suitable livery and sent them to ply for hire in the Strand.
They soon attracted others, and within a few years at least a hundred were operating in London, causing severe congestion in the narrow streets. They were called `hackney coaches`, from the French `hacquenee`, meaning a strong horse hired out for journeys: a coach pulled by such a horse was fairly obviously a `coche a hacquenee`.
The numbers of coaches ..... reached seven hundred by 1694 ..... by December 1903 the total was 11404, made up of 7499 hansoms*[2 wheeled] and 3905 `growlers*`[4 wheeled]", a number never exceeded!

BUYING YOUR OWN [or just looking] - A hundred to a hundred and fifty 19th/20th Century and earlier horse drawn coaches [minus horses!!] are regularly offered for sale [4 times a year] by Messrs Thimbleby and Shorland Auctioneers, Reading, Berks.,
I attended regularly - and `became` a seasoned `Time Traveller` as I stepped through the gates into the Cattle Market/Auction Halls[themselves probably 100 years old!], back into the past, where I was surrounded by horse buses, hearses, coaches, gigs and commercials of all ages, shapes and sizes, most expertly renovated and exquisitely decorated, [and some decrepit!] but all outstanding value for money! Its a fascinating, rivetting, unrivalled, and `free` experience, unless you bid - well worth the 6 hour x 260 mile round trip necessary for me! Buyers, [and sellers!] present, include many from the Continent[eg. Scandinavia France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, and Spain, etc], Ireland and the US.
Its a truly memorable day, with almost a `Pepysian` flavour!!
Sale catalogues, collectors items of the not so far distant future, are beautifully illustrated, and can be ordered by post[

vincent  •  Link

How much strand to the tower.
A Table of Rates for Hackny Coaches in London, settled by Parliament, by Stat. 5. and 6. Will. and Mary.
For one Day of 12 Hours ----------------------- 10s. 0d.
For one Hour ----------------------------------- 1s. 6d.
For every Hour after the first -------------------- 1s. 0d.
From any of the Inns of Court to any part of St. James's, or City of Westminster, except beyond Tuttle street --- 1s. 0d.
From the Inns of Court, or thereabouts, to the Royal Exchange --------------------- 1s. 0d.
From any of the Inns of Court to the Tower, Aldgate, Bishopsgate, or thereabouts --- 1s. 6d.

And the same Rates back again, or to any Place of the like Distance.

And if any Coachman shall refuse to go at, or exact more Hire than the Rates hereby limited, he shall for every such Offence forfeit 40 Shillings; if you give Information against him at the Office for Licensing Hackney Coaches, in Surry street in the Strand.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Hackney men say at mangy hackney's hire,
A scald horse is good enough for a scabbed squire

Hackney-men, originally proprietors of horses let for hire: hackney = a saddle horse. It was not until the reign of Charles I. that the title was transferred to the drivers of vehicles, the year 1625 being the date of the first appearance of hackney coaches in the streets of London. They were then only twenty in number, but the innovation occasioned an outcry (Sharman): "The world runs on wheeles. The hackney-men, who were wont to have furnished travellers in all places with fitting and serviceable horses for any journey, (by the multitude of coaches) are undone by the dozens, and the whole commonwealth most abominably jaded, that in many places a man had as good to ride on a wooden post, as to poast it upon one of those hunger-starv'd hirelings."-—Taylor, Works (1630).
---The Proverbs, Epigrams, and Miscellanies of John Heywood. 1906

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The early Hackney Coachman did not sit upon the box as the present drivers do, but upon the horse, like a postilion – his whip is short for that purpose, his boots which have large open broad tops, must have been much in the way when exposed to the weight of the rain. His hat was pretty broad and so far he was screened from the weather.

In 1637, the number of Hackney Coaches in London was restricted to 50, but by 1802 it was 1,100.”


Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Infirmation about traffic in London 100 years later, it seems much caused by hackney coaches:

In the course of the 18th century, Britain’s towns became increasingly congested with private carriages as well as a variety of carts, drays and hackney coaches going about their business.
For pedestrians it could make negotiating the streets a nightmare. For MPs, keeping the ways around Westminster unclogged proved an uphill battle. ...

In the spring of 1749 Earl Fitzwalter's accounts recorded him taking possession of a new landau, the ultra-fashionable, low-slung convertible carriage, which had become very popular with elite society. His new wheels cost Fitzwalter £100, in addition to trading in his old landau, which the coach-maker valued at just £12.
This was far from Fitzwalter's only vehicle. A few years earlier, he had treated himself to a new chariot, which cost him half the price of the landau, and his account books note other conveyances, including chairs, for use by him, his countess and other members of the household.

As one of London's elite, Fitzwalter was typical in ensuring that he had the means to get around the capital, and travel to and from his estates, in style. For less wealthy members of society there were hackney carriages, stage coaches and post-chaises, while plenty of those engaged in trade had a variety of carts and wagons to help them with their businesses.

What all of this meant was that the streets of London and other towns and cities were often crowded and filthy. One commentator, William King, described how London was 'pestered with Hackney Coaches and insolent carmen' and equated the whole effect to 'Hell upon earth'.
It was not just the hackney carriages charging along the streets that made the place unnerving. There was also the resulting pollution.
The horses left mounds of excrement, while the vehicles cast mud, ordure and 'beer-froth' onto the unwary foot-traveller walking beside the road.
For a pedestrian like the poet John Gay, who described the experience of trudging the streets of London in his poetic series Trivia (1716) the place could be both thrilling and disturbing in equal measure. [Brant and Whyman, 2, 90]

Increased numbers of vehicles, unsurprisingly, resulted in traffic jams. In the 1750s, Joseph Massie noted that the area around Charing Cross became particularly bad when Parliament was sitting and during the corresponding legal terms in the courts:

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


This kind of gridlock was particularly unwelcome to MPs attempting to make their way into the palace of Westminster. The area around New Palace Yard seems to have been particularly prone to jams, making it hard for Lords and MPs to make their way through and into the palace complex. It is thus no great surprise that keeping the ways around the palace clear was something that preoccupied the members with some regularity.

At the beginning of each new session of Parliament, both Houses turned their attentions briefly to standard orders before getting down to debating the monarch's speech. Most importantly, it was a way of asserting their independence, but it also enabled them to ensure that recurrent nuisances were dealt with.

For the Lords, one of their first pieces of business, once the monarch's speech had been attended to, was the renewal of the order for preventing 'Stoppages in the Streets'. The repeated line was that there were so many hackney carriages and other vehicles cluttering up the areas around Westminster making it hard for Lords to fight their way into their chamber.
There seems to have been no particular concern about the ordure that must have been a feature of life as the horses did their business waiting for their next round. The problem was of convenience, not environment. ...

Of course, it was not just Westminster that experienced problems from congestion and from the at times ill-tempered conduct of coachmen hurrying their vehicles around.
In the City of London, the Bank of England was wedged into a narrow system of streets where 'a perpetual conflux of Wheel-Carriages of all kinds' proved particularly obstructive and got in the way of people going about their business. [Cockayne 174]
While efforts were made to redirect traffic away from customary fairs and markets, the conditions for London's pedestrians remained trying for much of the period as the weight of traffic continued to increase.

The solution, according to Gay, was to embrace pedestrianism, armed with a trusty walking stick:

"If the strong cane support thy walking hand,
Chairmen no longer shall the wall command;
E’en sturdy car-men shall thy nod obey,
And rattling coaches stop to make thee way…" -- John Gay, Trivia (1716)

More with purely 18th century connotations (whereas most of the above probably were becoming problems, and horse droppings were and evermore will be problems), see

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.


Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Nov