It also lately made the tribunal or hall for the judges of assize yearly, and the justices of the peace in their sessions, and is undoubtedly, except Westminster Hall, the fairest and best in England.
The stone font of this church for baptizing infants is now converted to a measure for corn in this hall, which also, as I said, is the weekly market-house. On the same is an inscription in old characters, which I leave for abler capacities than mine to interpret.
The founder of those Cordelier or Franciscan Friars was Francis of Assium, in Italy, who was born about the year 1140. His parents placed him to school for some time to study the liberal arts and sciences, and afterwards placed him to the trade and occupation of a merchant, which in Italy still, as anciently it was amongst the Jews, is so reputable an employment that even princes themselves are merchants: which trade or occupation Francis followed, with small gain or advantage, in a fair and righteous way, for some time, but growing discontented thereat, and not knowing thereby well how to subsist, he resolved, as others did, to follow indirect arts and practices to get more riches, by stealing the duties of such goods and merchandize as he bought and sold, which then was, and still is, a capital crime in Italy; and accordingly put the same in practice, and much enriched himself thereby, though at length his fraud was detected, himself indicted, tried for his life, and condemned to death for the same. Whereupon, in order to prevent the sentence inflicted upon him, and to avoid the halter, he gave the greatest part of his goods and estate to his prince, to grant or procure his pardon, and the other part to pious uses, in relieving the poor, and re-edifying and endowing three churches. Afterwards he fell into such great horror and trouble of conscience for those facts, and that he was fully informed from Hosea xii. 7 and 8, that a merchant cannot be without guile, nor a victualler with-