Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Clare-Market Taverns


Clare Market lying between the two great theatres, its butchers were the arbiters of the galleries, the leaders of theatrical rows, the musicians at actresses' marriages, the chief mourners at players' funerals. In and around the market were the signs of the Sun; the Bull and Butcher, afterwards Spiller's Head; the Grange; the Bull's Head, where met "the Shepherd and his Flock Club," and where Dr. Radcliffe was carousing when he received news of the loss of his 5000l. venture. Here met weekly a Club of Artists, of which society Hogarth was a member, and he engraved for them a silver tankard with a shepherd and his flock. Next is the Black Jack in Portsmouth-street, the haunt of Joe Miller, the comedian, and where he uttered his time-honoured "Jests:" the house remains, but the sign has disappeared. Miller died in 1738, and was buried in St. Clement's upper ground, in Portugal-street, where his gravestone was inscribed with the following epitaph, written by Stephen Duck: "Here lie the remains of honest Joe Miller, who was a tender husband, a sincere friend, a facetious companion, and an excellent comedian. He departed this life the 15th day of August, 1738, aged 54 years.

"If humour, wit, and honesty could save

The humorous, witty, honest, from the grave,

This grave had not so soon its tenant found,

With honesty, and wit, and humour crown'd.

Or could esteem and love preserve our health,

And guard us longer from the stroke of Death,

The stroke of Death on him had later fell,

Whom all mankind esteem'd and loved so well."

The stone was restored by the parish grave-digger at the close of the last century; and in 1816, a new stone was set up by Mr. Jarvis Buck, churchwarden, who added S. Duck to the epitaph. The burial-ground has been cleared away, and the site has been added to the grounds of King's College Hospital.

At the Black Jack, also called the Jump, (from Jack Sheppard having once jumped out of a first-floor window, to escape his pursuers, the thief-takers,) a Club known as "the Honourable Society of Jackers," met until 1816. The roll of the fraternity "numbers many of the popular actors since the time of Joe Miller, and some of the wits; from John Kemble, Palmer, and Theodore Hook down to Kean, Liston, and the mercurial John Pritt Harley. Since the dissolution of this last relic of the sociality of the Joe Miller age, 'wit-combats' have been comparatively unknown at the Old Black Jack."[38]

[38] Jo. Miller; a Biography, 1848.

John Timbs
Club Life of London Vol. II
London, 1866