1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Steelyard, Merchants of the

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16872861911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 25 — Steelyard, Merchants of the

STEELYARD, MERCHANTS OF THE, Hanse merchants who settled in London in 1250 at the steelyard on the river-side, near Cosin Lane, now Ironbridge Wharf. Henry III. in 1259, at the request of his brother Richard of Cornwall, king of the Romans, conferred on them important privileges, which were confirmed by Edward I. It was chiefly through their enterprise that the early trade of London was developed, and they continued to flourish till, on the complaint of the Merchant Adventurers in the reign of Edward VI., they were deprived of their privileges. Though Hamburg and Lübeck sent ambassadors to intercede for them, they were not reinstated in their monopolies, but they succeeded in maintaining a footing in London till expelled by Elizabeth in 1597. Their beautiful guildhall in Thames Street, adorned with allegorical pictures by Holbein, and described by Stow, was made a naval storehouse; The land and buildings still remained the property of the Hanseatic League, and were subsequently let to merchants for business purposes. Destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 they were rebuilt as warehouses, and were finally sold to the South-Eastern Railway Company in 1852 by the Hanseatic towns, Lübeck, Bremen and Hamburg. The site is now occupied by Cannon Street railway station.

See Lappenburg, Urkundliche Geschichte des hansischen Stahlhofes zu London (Hamburg, 1851); Stow, Survey of London (1598); Pauli, Pictures of Old London (1851); Ehrenberg, Hamburg und England im Zeitalter der Konigin Elizabeth (Jena, 1896).