Wren 300, a city full of people

Thomas Franckland of St Vedast

Thomas Franckland




St Vedast

Researched by Nicky Scowen

Standard biographical texts refer to Thomas as ‘an imposter and annalist’ and ‘a historian of singular character’. Born in Lancashire in 1633, he attended Brasenose College in Oxford, gaining an arts diploma and then becoming a Fellow in 1655. He studied divinity and became a preacher, but subsequently renounced holy orders to study medicine. He did not take his medical degree and became a fellow of the college of physicians by showing a forged diploma. He married Mary who died in 1670 and was buried in St Vedast’s.

In 1671 Thomas married Ruth Burcher in the Temple church. They had five children, four of whom died in infancy and were also buried in St Vedast’s. The family lived in Half Moon Court, Cheapside. There were several Half Moon Courts, the most likely being one that ran west out of Bow Lane, the end of which is now covered by Mansion House Station.

After Thomas’ fraud was discovered in 1677, he published in 1681 ‘The annals of King James and King Charles I’, a history of affairs of state from 1612 to 1642. This is a substantial work, based largely upon parliamentary reports and public documents and includes some information omitted from earlier histories about the Civil War. He appears also to be the author of a pamphlet entitled ‘The honours of the lords spiritual asserted, and their privileges to vote in capital cases in parliament maintained by reason and precedent’ (1679).

A decade later he received £800 of secret service money, for services unknown. During the intervening period he was involved in litigation on several matters including the alleged forgery of a will.

Reduced in circumstances and reputation, Thomas was imprisoned in the Fleet prison, where he died in 1690. He was buried in the Old Vault of St Vedast’s, with his first wife and children. At least some of his acquaintances must have considered him still worthy of his profession as in the burial register he is noted as being a ‘Doctor in Physicke’.

Thomas’ second wife Ruth, remarried in 1692 and she was granted Letters of Administration in Thomas’s estate.


Local churches were the focal point of sixteenth-century City life. Weekly worship and all the milestones of parishioners’ lives took place here: christenings, marriages and funerals. Many churches were lost in the Great Fire.

Read the stories of four that either survived or succumbed to the flames, and how they reemerged from the ruins.

Keep up to date with the latest news ...