Bristol Town Duties A Collection of Original and Interesting Documents [Etc.]. Originally published by [s.n.], Bristol, 1828.
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CHAPTER II. ORIGIN OF THE TOWN DUES.
We have already shown, in our former Chapter, that the Corporation, as Grantees under the Crown, have an unquestionable right to a certain Toll, called Custom, on Goods coming for Sale. We now proceed to shew, by the original tables, the amount of the Custom, and to prove (by a series of Documents) that it was a part of the present Toll, now known by the name of Town Dues. But before we proceed, we will introduce an observation or two concerning the Sheriff.
In the 5th year of the reign of Edward the 4th, an action was brought by William Porte, Treasurer of the King's Chamber, against John Coghan, late Sheriff of Bristol, for £111.8s. 6d., wherein the Defendant stated, that King Edward the 4th had, by Letters Patent granted to Queen Elizabeth, the fee farm rent of the town of Bristol, and that he had accordingly paid the same to the Queen; upon which the Court of Exchequer gave judgment against the Plaintiff.
In the year 1500, 15th of Henry 7th, the King granted, by Charter, that the two Bailiffs to be chosen, "as of old hath been used," should likewise serve the office of Sheriffs, and be sworn to execute both offices. This was the first appointment of two Sheriffs. A very prejudicial alteration, as it was doubtless then no longer considered an appointment of so much importance. In the year 1518, 9th Henry 8th, William Dale was elected Sheriff, when he complained, that the expences of the office very far exceeded the revenue, as exhibited by the statement of the Sheriff's Account, for the year preceding:—
|First, For the fee feme in the King's Exchequer||ciili||xvs||vid|
|Item to thabbot of Tewkesbury||xiiijli||xs|
|Item to the Priour of Saynt Jamys||iijli|
|Item to the Constable, Porter, & Waccheman of the Castell||xxviijli||viis||iijdob|
|Item to the ffossters of Kingeswood xili vijs||xili||viijs||idob|
|Item for the Pfres at Michelmas in thexchequer.||iijli||iijs|
|Item for wrytyng of the same||ijs|
|Item for wax and wyne||xiiijd|
|Item for a box and sendyng up the same||iiijd|
|Item for the Pfres at Ester||xlis||viijd|
|Item for a vewe of accompte||vs|
|Item for wryting of the same||ijs|
|Item for wax to seale the same and wyne||xiiijd|
|Item for a box and sendyng up of the same||iiijd|
|Item for making of their yeres accompte||viijli|
|Soma total of the said fee ferme wt the charges above wryten||clxxiijli||xvi||vid|
|Th Expences of the Shreves, and charges of them, their housholds, apparell, and officers:|
|Imprimis of the Shreves iiij waytyng men at xls a pese||viijli|
|Item for the Wages of the V porters at the V gats that is to say—Newgate xls Redclif gate xxvis viijd Tempill gate xxxiijs iiijd Frome gate xxs pety gate xxs||vijli|
|Item to the keper of the Key for his wages||xls|
|Item to the keper of the backe for his wages||xls|
|Item for the wynter livery for the sayd officers||xli|
|Item for the somer lyvery for the same officers||viijli|
|(fn. 1)sic orig. Item for the bothe Shreves expensis and costs of houshold and thapparell of theyme and their Wyves, by estymacion at the lest||ccxlli|
|The Costs payd by the Shreves to the Mayer and his Officers:—|
|Inprimis to the Mayr yerly for his pension xxli for xii yards scarlett viijls the furre vili xiijs iiijd for wyne iijli vis viijd for mynstrells iijli vis viijd for ij torches xiijs iiijd for the Comission of the Staple Courte xxijs vid for i Seabards xxxs Som||xliijli||xijs||vid|
|Whiche in consciens ought to be discharged.|
|sic orig. Item the Mayer hath more for certayne obits in the Towne vis viijd at ev'y obite (fn. 2) and for making of burgeses in the Staple Courte and certayne (fn. 3) fisshe of ev'y bote of ffishe whiche by estimacion may yerely be worthe besides his sedile||xiijli||vis||viijd|
|Item the Sword berer for his pension iijli his furre vis viijd his somer gowne xiijs iiijd ij hatt xls for a wynter gowne of vi brode yards at vis the yard Som xxxvis||vijli||xvis|
|sic orig. And besides this the Swordberer hath to his advantage all wepon that is drawen in affrays and pfits at obits and otherways.|
|Item to the Meyer is iiij Se jaunts iiij gowns conteying xviij yards at vs the yard amounting iiijli xs Whiche Swordberer and iiij Se jaunts been the Mair is daylly Se vaunts, and he oughte in conscience to here the charges of their wages and livery||iiijli||xs|
|Soma totalis to the Meyre and his housholds Se vaunts||lvili||xviijs||vid|
|Item to the Recorder for his fee xli for x yards scarlett vili xiijs iiijd for his furre iijli Som||xixli||xiijs||iiijd|
|sic orig. Which of good conscience ought to be borne and payed by the Chambre of the sayd Towne.|
|Item to the Town Clarke for his fee iiijli his fur vis viijd for parchment, wax and wyne xxs for ij lawe days vis viijd a gowne of vi. brode yards at vis the yard amount to xxxvis Som||viili||ixs||iiijd|
|It for x querys of paper for hym at Michael mas and ii forells and a bagge||iijs||iijd|
|It for iiij. brode yards of clothe for his Clarke at iiijs the yard||xvi|
|sic orig. which charges so payd to the Towne Clarke and his Clarke|
|Whiche Towne Clarke hath besides the said fee and other p'mysses the p'fits of the Meyers Court and other p'fits worthe xlli a yere or ther abouts.|
|Item to the Steward for his fee iijli for his furre vis viijd for parchement, paper and wyne ixs iiijd and a gowne of v brode yards at vis the yard xxxs||vli||vis|
|It for x. queyres of paper for him at Michaelmas wt ii forells and a bagge||iij||iijd|
|It for iiij brode yards of clothe for his Clarke at iiijs the yard||xvis|
|Whiche Steward hath besids his sayd fee and other the p'mysses the p'fits of the Shreves Court beying yerly worthe xxxli or therabouts.|
|Item to the Towne is Attorney for his fee iijli his furr vis viijd a gowne of v. brode yards at vis the yard xxxs Som||iiijli||xvi||viijd|
|Whiche of conscience the Chambre ought to bere for as moche as he is the Towne is Attorney and dothe no se vice unto the Shreves.|
|Item he hathe besids that of the Shreves for under Shreveship for his fee xls besids the p'fits for brekyng of the King's writts directed to the Shreves, which is by estimacion worthe vili Som||viijli|
|It to the Chamberlayne a gowne of v. brode yards at vis the yard Som||x||xs|
|Whiche the Chambre ought to bere for so moche as he is the officer thereof.|
|Item to the Prest of Seynt George for his wages vli vis viijd and a gowne of v. brode yards at vis the yard xxxs Som||vili||xvis||viijd|
|Whiche the Chambre ought to bere and pay for so moche as they have the land that was geven for mayntennce of the same.|
|Item to the Waterbaylley a gowne of iiij. brode yards and an half at vs the yard||xxijs||vid|
|Whiche Waterbaylley dothe unto the Shrieves no manner of sevice.|
|Item to the iij. Wayts of the Towne at Seynt George is tide vis viijd at Midsomer for theyr waytyng upon the Meyer xxs at Mighelmas iijs and iij. gownys conteyning xii. yards at iiijs the yard xlviijs||iijli||xvijs||viijd|
|Whiche the Chambre ought to pay.|
|Item to the Clerke of the Market a gowne of iiij. brode yards at iiijs of the yard||xvis|
|Whiche the Mayer ought to pay.|
|Item for Spiceis obite to the Mayer vis viijd to the Shreves iiijs to the Towne Clarke iijs iiijd to the Meyres iiij. Sejaunts xvid to xx. Prests vis viijd to the iiij. orders of freres xiijs iiijd to the vicar of Seynt Nycolas for light iiis for ryngyng the bells iiijs to the belman iiijs for bred to be delt to pore peple xxxs iiijd Som||iijli||xiijs|
|Whiche the Chambre ought to pay for so moche as they have the lond that was given for mayntennce thereof.|
|Item for keepyng of Seynt Nycolas Clocke||xxvis||viijd|
|Which the Chambre ought to pay for they have londs therefor.|
|Item for ryngyng of the common bell on Seynt Michaells is day||iiijs|
|Which the Mayor ought to pay.|
|Item for vi. torches at Seynt Georges xxs and drynkyng at the same fest vli||vili|
|For the whiche the Chambre ought to pay.|
|sic orig. Item for drynkyng at Cristmas to bothe Shreves xiijli vis viijd Whiche was not kepte this yere.||xiijli||vis||viid|
|Whiche may be fordone for ever.|
|Item for drynkyng at Trynetie Chapell||xls|
|Whiche the Chambre ought to pay.|
|Item for the Costs at Sessions of Gaole||vili|
|Whiche may be lefte.|
|Item for the Meyer is drynkyng at the Tolzey on Seynt Nicolas day vs||vs|
|Whiche the Meyre ought to pay.|
|Item for the Wrestlying at Seynt laurence afore the Mayor vis viijd and for perys and wyne there xiiis iiijd Som||xxs|
|Whiche may be lefte or else the Mayor ought to pay therefor.|
|Item for Wrestlyng at Seynt Jamys tydo before the Mayer||vis||viijd|
|Item for Bere betyngs before the Mayer Which may be lefte.||xs|
|Item to the Kyngs and Quenes Mynstrells||xs|
|Item to the Messengers of the Kyngs Eschequer||xiijs||iiijd|
|Item for a Sermon at Seynt Augustynes the Wednesday in Ester Weke||vis||viijd|
|Which the Chambre ought to pay for they have the land given therefor.|
|Item to the iiij. Orders of ffreres||xxxijs|
|Which the Chambre ought to pay.|
|Item for the Charges of Midsomer waeche of bothe the Shreves by estimacon||xxli|
|Item for a Ton of Wyne that tyme to the Crafts of the Town||iiijli||xiijs||iiijd|
|Item for bryngyng up of prysoners from Newgate comonly ev'y yere||vili|
|Item to the Knyghts of the Shire of Bristoll for going to the pliament when tyme requyreth for their expenses||xli|
|Som total of the payments ccclxxviijli iiij vd p libm Major||cccxlvijli||vdob|
|And the said Shreves have none other certayne for the said fee ferme and costes of the same but only the Kyngs toll and stondyng in the Stretes at Seynt James feyre wt fynes and forfeytures and other like casualties which dothe comonly amount to the yerely value of clxli xs viijd that is to say, from Michaelmas to Cristmas xxvli iiijs from Cristmas to Ester lxvili from Ester to Midsomer xiijli vis viijd and from Midsomer to Michaelmas lvili Item more the Shreves resceyve yerly for the Kyngs Goale or Prison xijli Som totales of the recepts||clxxijli||xs viijd p librm Major cclxxxxvili xviis||viijd|
|Item more they do yerely resceyve out of the Chambre||lxli|
|Som of the total receipts||ccxxxijli||x viijd|
|And so the said Shreves be charged above the foresaid recepts with the payment of Som of cxlvli xijs ixd Besids their houshold and appayrell of theym and their wives as is above wryten||cxlvli||xijs||ixd|
This Document shews, that the Sheriffs were in the receipt of the Toll, called Custom, granted 1st Edward 4th, in fee. In other respects it may be considered curious, as it throws a light on the Corporation revenue, and the mode in which this establishment was at that period supported; when we find the Mayor was even paid by the Sheriff the sum of £20. a-year, and whose only (fn. 4) perquisites, besides, arose from Obits in the town, and a certain number of fish out of every boat.
Sheriff Dale's complaint was enquired into in October, 1519, in the Mayoralty of John Williams; when it was resolved, that the revenues of the Sheriffs should be increased, and it was accordingly declared to consist of the undermentioned profits, amounting to between two and three hundred pounds a-year:— Saint James Fair—the Fee-Farm of the Gaol—Obits in the Town—the Profits of the (fn. 5) Key—the Profits of the Back—the Profits of Newgate—the Profits of Temple Gate—the Profits of Redcliff Gate—the Profits of Froom Gate and Pithay Gate— the Profits of the Standings in the Market—Amerceaments, Nonsuits, &c. in Courts—the Profits of Sessions, and Law Days —Fines, Frauds, Bloodsheds, Entries, Felons' Goods, Escheats, Forfeits, and all other casualties.
By this resolution of the Corporation, the whole of the Toll on Ships, and Merchandize, was granted to the Sheriffs, although the former, and part of the latter, had been expressly intended for the Repair of the Walls, Keys, and Pavements.
Soon after this illegal grant, an Act of Parliament was passed, inflicting a penalty on the Collector of any Custom or Toll, who should neglect to set up a Table of the same in some conspicuous place in the city. The following is a copy of the Clause:—
"Provided alway, yt al & singuler officers and ministers of every Citie, Boroughe, or Towne, wherein any suche Customes, Tolles, Duites, or Sumes of Money shal be demanded, as is above said, on this syde the Feaste of Penticost next comming, shal sette up, or cause to be set up, in open place, & places of every such Citee, Boroughe, or Towne, a Table, or Tables, by the which the certintie & very Duty of every such Custome, Tolle, & Duty, or Sume of Money, of such Wares, and Marchandise, to be demanded or required as is above rehersed, shall and may plainly appeare, and be declared to the intent that nothing be exacted otherwise then in old time hath beene used and accustomed, upon peine of every Citie not doing the same, to lose £5. and every Town Corporat to lose 40s, for every monethe that the same Table shal faile to be set up after the same Feaste the moitie of which forfiture to be to the King our Soveraign Lord, and the other moietie to the party that wil sue for the same by Writ, Bil, Plaint, or Information, in which acciō the Defendaunt shal have no essoine, wager of law, ne proctecciō allowed."
|Allum, the cwt.||2d.|
|Ascon, called Axton, the seame, that is a horse load||1d.||½d.|
|Antrum, the cwt. and it is called also Oxhell||poundage|
|Axson, and called Awy Axon, they be sold by||poundage|
|Armins, the timber accompting to the timber||poundage|
|Almonds, the cwt.||poundage|
|Anniseeds, the cwt.||poundage|
|All other things that doth begin with this letter A, that herein is not written, shall pay 2d. for every pound sterling.|
|Brazel, the cwt.||2d.|
|Bow Staves, the cwt.||3d.|
|Boardyes, the cwt.||3d.|
|Brook Fells, the cwt.||2d.|
|Beef, the barrel||3d.|
|Beans, the wey, and all other Grain||4½d.|
|Butter, the barrel, to be sold in the market (no thing,) and to be sold to him that will sell it again and not retail it.||4d.|
|Bitts for Bridles, and Lorrimers Ware that cometh by water||poundage|
|Bottinghold, Ringwood, Clapping-hold Waynkott||poundage|
|Brass Battery Potts, Bell Metal, the cwt.||poundage|
|Buff Hides, the dozen||poundage|
|All other things that doth begin with this letter B, that herein is not written, payeth 2d. for every pound sterling.|
|C — of every —||4d.|
|— a cloth grayned||6d.||3d.|
|— every whole cloths||3d.||3d.|
|— every dozen of cloth or kerseys||2d.|
|— every piece of Welsh fires||2d.||½d.|
|Cloth, every Brecknock||2d.|
|Cloth called Burgewaters and Normoltons, the dozen||2d.|
|Cloth, called Bristol Fries, the piece||4d.|
|Cloth, called Checkers and Irish Fries, the 100 yards||4d.|
|Cutts, called Hallamshire Cutts, the gross||2d.|
|Calve skins, tanned and untanned, the dozen||2d.|
|Calfs, sold alive||½d.||½d.|
|Cordewan Skins, every skin||½d.|
|Card Boards, the horse seame||1d.|
|Copper, the cwt.||1d.||1d.|
|Cork, the seame||1d.||½d.|
|Coales, the wey, accompting 48 bs||4½d.|
|Cloves, and all other Spices.||poundage|
|Cloth, called Irish Lynen Cloth, 100 yards||4d.|
|Conger, the burden and the barrel||2d.|
|Cwte, the tonne||poundage|
|Canvice, of Normandy||poundage|
|Cotton, Manchester Cottons, the piece||1d.||½d.|
|Currants, the ton 5d. p Mr. Dale||20d.||4d.|
|All other things that doth begin with this letter C, that herein is not written, shall pay for every pound sterling 2d.|
|* * * * * * * * (fn. 8)|
|Iron, the ton||6d.||6d.|
|Iron, the pipe|
|Iron, the hogshead|
|Iron, the cwt.||2d.|
|Iron Wyer, the stone||1d.|
|Iron, called Forest Iron, the water seame is 12 speres, and 12 speres is 2 gadds||4d.|
|Iron Wire, every 10 gadds is 60 speres, and every 60 speres is a tonn||20d.|
|Iron Plates, for chimneys, the dozen||poundage|
|Iron Plates, the stock cutt, 60 plates||poundage|
|Iron Bands for kettles||poundage|
|Iron Lorrimers Ware, as spurs, stirrups, bitts||poundage|
|Incle of all sorts||poundage|
|Jennetts, black, the piece||poundage|
|Ivory, the pound wt.||poundage|
|All other things that doth begin with this letter I, that herein is not written, shall pay for every pound sterling, 2d.|
|Kid Skins, the 100||1d.|
|Knives, called Hallamshire knives, sold by the gross or by the dozen||1d.|
|Knives, of all sorts, that be sold by the gross or by the dozen||poundage|
|Kanes, the thousand, or C.||poundage|
|Kettles, the cwt.||poundage|
|Kasketts, the great dozen||poundage|
|Kasketts, the dozen middle||poundage|
|Kasketts small, the dozen||poundage|
|Karving Knives, the case||poundage|
|Knives of Collan, the gross||poundage|
|Knives of France, the gross||poundage|
|Knives of Roan, the standart||poundage|
|Knives of Almond, the gross||poundage|
|Knives, called sword-blades, the dozen||poundage|
|All other things that doth begin with this letter K, that herein is not written, shall pay for every 20s. sterling, 2d.|
|— the cwt.||2d.|
|— called white leather, the cwt.|
|— Cloth, called Irish cloth, the hundred||3d.|
|— the thousand|
|— of Leather, the gross||2d.|
|— the last, that is 12 barrels|
|— the M.||2d.|
|Liquorice, the cwt.||poundage|
|Lead, the cwt.||2d.|
|Lead, that is called Lead Ore, the cwt.||poundage|
|Lignumvitæ, the cwt.||poundage|
|Leather for cushions, the dozen||poundage|
|Latten Bason, the cwt.||poundage|
|Leather Bags, with locks||poundage|
|Lyngs, the C. containing six score||poundage|
|Lamb, called fresh lamb, the mantle||poundage|
|Latten, Rowles of Latten, the cwt.||poundage|
|All other things that doth begin with this letter L, that herein is not written, shall pay for every 20s. sterling, 2d.|
|Mace, and all other kinds of spices||poundage|
|Mantles, every mantle||1d,||½d.|
|Mantle freis the C. yards||4d.||2d.|
|Matts, every 20 dozen||4d.|
|Millstones, the piece||2d.||2d.|
|Marterne, every skin||1d.||½d.|
|Malt, the wey laden||4½|
|Mackarel, the barrel||3d.|
|Malt, the barrel||3d.|
|Madder, the cwt.||2d.|
|Mare or Horse, for custom||1d.||2d.|
|Malmsey—Muscadyne Malasses, the ton, pipe or barrel (and so all other swete wines and Canaryes p Mr. Dale)||poundage|
|Mussels, every boat doth pay unto Mr. Sheriff a peck a-piece||1d.|
|Manchester Cottons, the piece||1d.||½d.|
|All other things that doth begin with this letter M, that herein is not written shall pay for every 20s. sterling, 2d.|
|Nutmegs, and all other kind of spices||poundage|
|Nails, all kinds of Flanders nails||poundage|
|Needles of all sorts||poundage|
|Nails, and called Forest nails, the sett according to the sett||poundage|
|Nails, of all kinds of English nails||poundage|
|Nutts, and called wall nutts, the barrel||poundage|
|Oyle, the tun||3d.||12d.|
|Oyle, the pipe||1½d.||6d.|
|Oyle, the hogshead||¾d.||3d.|
|Oyle, the barrel||2d.||1d.|
|Oade, the ton||16d.||8d.|
|Oade, the pipe||8d.||4d.|
|Oade, the quarter||2d.||1d.|
|Oade, the ballast|
|Orchell, the stone||1d.|
|Oranges, the thousand||2d.||2d.|
|Otter Skins, the piece||½d.|
|Onion Seed, the lb.||¼d.|
|Oysters, to the Sheriff of every boat, C. a piece|
|Pitch, the last containing 12 barrels||3s.|
|Pitch, the barrel||2d.||1d.|
|Pitch, the cwt.||1d.||1d.|
|Porpoise, the barrel||3d.|
|Pollock, the C.||2d.|
|Pilchers, the barrel||3d.|
|Pomgarnatts, the C.||poundage|
|Poldavys, the bolt||poundage|
|Pepper, the cwt.||poundage|
|Paper, as geere paper and all other paper||poundage|
|Prunes, the cwt.||poundage|
|Pan Brass, that is ready wrought||poundage|
|Pewter, the cwt. ready wrought||poundage|
|Perry, the pipe or the hogshead||poundage|
|Poynts, of all sorts, silk and thread||1d.|
|Permiceta, the lb. weight||poundage|
|Primmers the gross or dozen||poundage|
|Plates, white or black plates||poundage|
|All other things that begin with these letters N, O, P, that herein is not written, payeth for every 20s. sterling, 2d.|
|Querne Stones, the dozen||2d.|
|Qute, the ton or pipe||poundage|
|Quiltes, of all sorts||poundage|
|Querne Stones, the last, accompting 12 to a last||poundage|
|Raisins, the ton, containing 25 pieces to a ton||10d.||10d.|
|Raisins, the cwt.||2d.||2d.|
|Raisins, the piece of raisins||2d.|
|Rape Oil, the tun||3d.||12d.|
|Rye, the wey, containing 42 bushels||4½d.|
|Rosin, the cwt.||1d.||1d.|
|Reap Hooks, the dozen||½d.|
|Raisins of Currants, the cwt.||poundage|
|Rice, the cwt.||poundage|
|Red Lead, the cwt.||poundage|
|Raynes Boulters, the dozen||poundage|
|Rubarb, the lb. weight||poundage|
|Ruggs, of all sorts, or Caddos, p Mr. Dale||1½d.|
|Salmon, for the pipe of salmon —, for the trce. 2d., and for every fish ¼d. other 20d. a great pipe|
|Salmon, the hogshead, half so much||10d.||5d.|
|Salmon, the barrel||2½d.||2½d.|
|Stockfish, the last||3d.||4d.|
|Stockfish, the C.||4d.|
|Selverpin, the mase||½d.||¼d.|
|Saffron, the lb. weight||4d.|
|Silk and Raw Silk||4d.|
|Seame, the barrel||2d.||1d.|
|Salt, the ton, Bay or Portugal||4d.|
|Salt, the quarter, being 8 bushels||½d.||¼d.|
|Salt, white salt, every ton that doth come in trows or in waynes, a peck a piece to the Sheriffs|
|Soap, the seame||4d.|
|Soap, C. called black soap, the cwt.||2d.|
|Style, the burden||1d.|
|Searches, the dozen||2d.|
|Sheepfells, the 100||2d.|
|Scythes, the dozen||2d.|
|Scythe Stones, the C.||½d.|
|Swarffe, the last 12 barrels, to the last||6d.|
|Squirrel Skins, the tymber 1d. if they be less, then for every skin ¼d.||1d.|
|Shovell Trees, the horse load||1d.|
|Sack, the tun||6d.||6d.|
|Trayne, the tun||3d.||12d.|
|Trayne, the pipe||1½d.||6d.|
|Trayne, the hhd.||¾d.||3d.|
|Trayne, the barrel||3d.|
|Tar, the barrel||2d.||1d.|
|Tin, the cwt.||2d.|
|Tile Stones, called Cornish Tile, the 1000||1d.|
|Tallow, the stone||¼d.||¼d.|
|Tallow, the wey, containing 12 stone||3d.|
|Tallow Candles, the horse load||2d.||1d.|
|Tassels, the 1000||¼d.|
|Trenchers, the gross||¼d.|
|Thread, called Bolt Thread, and all kind of Thread||poundage|
|Wyne, called Gascon Wyne, the tun||6d.||6d.|
|Vinegar, the tun||3d.||3d.|
|White Leather, the C.||2½d.|
|Wax, the C.||2d.|
|Wire, called Latten Wire,||2d.|
|Wainscott, the C.||2d.|
|Wheat, the quarter||½d.||¼d.|
|Wheat, the wey, and all other Grain accordinly, 48 bushels||4½d.|
|Wool, of Ireland or Wales, 15lb. the stone||1d.|
|Wheeladge of every Wayne, for the wheledge||3d.|
|Wool, the sack of English wool||15d.|
|Wool, the todd of wool||1d.|
|Wool, the stone of wool||1d.|
|Verdigris, the pipe, ton, or hhd.||poundage|
|Wool Cards, the dozen||poundage|
|Varnish, the cwt.||poundage|
|Vermillion, the cwt.||poundage|
|All other things that doth begin with these letters Q. R. S. T. and W. that herein is not written, payeth for every 20s. sterliug 2d.|
HEREAFTER FOLLOWETH, The RATES DUE UNTO THE SHERIFFS of BRISTOL, for their Custom, and Murage, Keelage, and Keyage. (fn. 9)
|A ton of Wine||6d.||6d.|
|A pipe of Wine||3d.||3d.|
|A ton of Oil||3d.||12d.|
|A pipe of Oil||1½d.||6d.|
|A barrel of Oil||2d.||1d.|
|A barrel of Seame||2d.||1d.|
|A ton of Honey||3d.||12d.|
|A pipe of Honey||1½d.||6d.|
|A pipe of Salmon||20d.||18d.|
|A barrel of tar||2d.||1d.|
|A barrel Honey||2d.||1d.|
|A barrel of Pitch||2d.||1d.|
|A barrel of Herrings||2d.||1d.|
|A cwt. of Pitch and Rosin||1d.||1d.|
|A cwt. of Salt Fish||1d.||3d.|
|A burden of Salt Fish||1½d.|
|A hundred of Hake||1d.||1d.|
|A C. of Eels||2d.||1d.|
|A last of Stock Fish, amounting to 1000 fishes||3d.||4d.|
|A cwt. of Stock Fish||4d.|
|A last of coarse Herrings, amounting to 20 mase||9d.|
|A mase of Selverpin||½d.||¼d.|
|A cade of Red Herrings||½d.||½d.|
|A last of Red Herrings, accounting mase to the last||15d.|
|A boat of White Herrings||3d.|
|Freed (fn. 10)||A horse load of fresh Fish||1½d.|
|Freed||A fresh Salmon or Eels, the head||¼d.|
|A fresh Conger, that cometh by land||½d.|
|A fresh Lamprey, that cometh before Easter||¼d.|
|All manner of fresh Fish that cometh beside,||poundage|
|An Ox, a Cow, a horse, or a Mare||1d.||1d.|
|Freed||Every six Sheep, Kids, or Swyne||1d.|
|Freed||Every Beast that is fleshed||1d.||1d.|
|Every Horse that is scorsed one for another, both the parties shall pay 4d a piece||8d.|
|A hundred of Black Soap||2d.|
|A seame of White Soap||4d.|
|A Rough Hide||½d.|
|A Tanned Hide||½d.|
|A dicker of Hides in the Hare||7½d.|
|A dicker of Tanned Hides||5d. (fn. 11)|
|A last of Hides||12d.|
|A dicker of Buck and Doe||3d.|
|A dozen of Calve Skins, tanned and untanned||2d.|
|A Skin of Cordewan||¼d.|
|A Mantle, or every Mantle||1d.||½d.|
|A C. of Mantle Freis||4d.||2d.|
|A C. of Sheeps' fell||1½d. (fn. 11)|
|A C. of Lambs' fell||2d.|
|A C. of Brook fell and Kid fell||2d.|
|A C. of Goat fell||3d.||1d.|
|A C. of Bouge||2d.|
|A C. of Matterns||2d.|
|A tymber of Marterne||2d.|
|A tymber of Fox cases||2d.|
|If there be less, then for every skin||½d.|
|A tymber of Squirrel skins||1d.|
|If there be less, then for every skin||¼d.|
|A C. of White Leather tanned||2½d.|
|A C. of Irish Linen Cloth||2d.|
|A stone of Irish Wool or Welch Wool||1d. (fn. 11)|
|A weigh of English Wool||1d. (fn. 11)|
|A tod of English Wool||1d. (fn. 11)|
|A sack of English Wool||15d. (fn. 11)|
|A stone of Flox, both English and Irish||1d.|
|A dozen of Yarn||1d.|
|Every dozen of Cloth||½d.||½d.|
|Every whole Cloth, not grayned||1d.||1d.|
|Every Cloth grayned||poundage|
|A piece of Welch fries||1d.||½d.|
|Every piece of Brecknock||1d.|
|A dozen of Bridgewater or Moltons||1d.|
|A dozen Kerseys||1d.|
|Every piece of Bristol Fries||2d.|
|Freed||Six whole pieces of Wadmells Fannigne||2d.|
|Freed||Every dozen of Scythes||2d.|
|Freed||Every dozen Reap Hooks||½d.|
|A C. of Scythe Stones||½d.|
|A pack of Hemp Ware||2d.|
|A pound of Saffron||4d.|
|A pound of Silk||4d.|
|A C. of Madder||2d.|
|A C. of Allum||2d.|
|A C. of Wax||2d.|
|A C. of Lead, Copper, Brass or Tin||2d.|
|A C. of White Style||2d.|
|Every setting of Wode||2d.|
|A ton of Wode||16d.||8d.|
|A pipe of Wode||8d.||4d.|
|A quarter of Wode||2d.||1d.|
|A seame of Cork||1d.||½d.|
|A seame of Wood Axton||1d.||½d.|
|Every 20s. worth of Wood Axton, unwrought.||poundage|
|Every water seame of Forest Iron, accounting 3 quarters, or 18 pieces||4d.|
|Every stone of Wire||1d.|
|Every ton of Iron||6d.||6d.|
|Every C. of Iron||2d.|
|Every C. of Brazel Wood||2d.|
|Every ton of Fruit||10d.||10d.|
|Every head of Figgs||¼d.||¼d.|
|Every piece of Raisins||1d.||1d.|
|Every wey of Tallow that cometh by water||1½d.||½d.|
|Every horse load of Tallow or Candles by land||2d.||1d.|
|Freed||Every quarter of Wheat||½d.||¼d.|
|Freed||All other Grain, after the same rate|
|Freed||A wey of Beans||4½d.|
|A ton of Salt||2½d.||1½d.|
|A quarter of Salt||½d.||¼d.|
|A great gross of Red Poynts or White||1d.|
|A last of Lime||2d.|
|A 1000 of Lasts||1d.|
|Every wey of Coals:||3d.||1½d.|
|Every quarter of Coals||1d.||¼d.|
|Every cart load of Garlic||3d.||1½d.|
|Every horse load of Garlic||½d.||½d.|
|Every pipe of Grain, to colour withal||6d.||8d.|
|Every 20s. worth of Grain||poundage|
|A C. of Boards, a C. of Wainscotts, a C. of Ringwood, a C. of Bottinghold, a C. of Clap Boards||2d.|
|A C. of Bow Staves||2d.||1d.|
|A horse load of Card Boards||1d.|
|A horse load of Showell Trees||1d.|
|A horse load of Oysters or Mussels||1d.|
|Every wayne for his Wheelage||3d.|
|Oysters of boat to the Sheriffs one C. a piece|
|Mussells, of every boat, to the Sheriff a peck apiece|
|White Salt, of every ton that cometh by land or by water, a peck a-piece|
|All manner of Spices, Silks, and Cloth of gold||poundage|
These Tables prove that the Sheriffs' dues were composed of Custom and Murage; and that all Goods not rated in the Tables paid an ad valorem duty of two-pence in the Pound, which is well known to be the same in amount as the present Town dues.
"Ye shall well and truly make due search of, and for all such goods and merchandize as shall come this year unto the Key of Bristoll, and truly ye shall present the same unto the Sherieves of this cittie of Bristoll, or their Clarks, immediately after, and as soon as it shall come unto your knowledge, and all such sums of money and every parcell of the same, the which shall come unto your hands by reason of your office, you shall truly, without delay, content and pay unto your masters, the Sherieves; and dew watch ye shall make from tyme to tyme, and from tyde to tyde, as well by night as also by day, of all manner of dewties belonging to the same Sherieves, and this presentment unto them make of the same, as much as God will give you Grace, so help you God, and Hollydame, and by contents of this Book."
"All Keepers of the Key, upon Easter Monday and Tuesday, and Whitsunday, Monday, and Tuesday, must waite upon Mr. Mayor, and the Keeper of the Key shall break his fast, and dine upon the Monday at one of Mr. Sheriff's houses, and upon Tuesday at the other Sheriff's house, and all other officers except Mr. Mayor's officers."
In the 38th Henry 8th, great complaints having been made by the citizens and others, of the tolls demanded by the Sheriffs at the City Gates, the Key and Back, and serious riots having taken place in consequence, between the citizens and the collectors, meetings of the parishoners and vestrymen were summoned in their respective parishes, and it was generally agreed that application should be made to the Mayor and Commonalty to abolish the same, whereupon we find that William Chester, Nicholas Thorne, late Mayor, John Smith, David Harris, Francis Cuddrington, and William Carr, were appointed as a Committee, with power to examine the Sheriffs' books, with a view to ascertain the average receipts of the tolls and customs for 10 years last past, the result of which examination was reported to the Vestries, from which it appeared that the sum of £44. was near the average, and an arrangement to the following effect was immediately agreed upon:—That the Vestries should dispose of their church plate, valued at £528. 10s. 8d., and that the proceeds should be paid over to the Corporation to assist them in the payment of the money for the Gaunt's estates, which were made subject to an annual payment of £44. to the Sheriffs, for a compensation for part of their Tolls. In consequence of this agreement, we find the following ordinance proclaimed on the 14th June following, at the High Cross, and at the five gates of the town, which was the practice of those days:—
The Mayor and Aldermen, Sheriffs and Council of the King's Majestie's city of Bristol, and the discreet and loving Burgesses of the same, appearing, pondering, and considering, with good advisement and great deliberation, the great unquietness that doth daily happen and grow, as well to the said city and inhabitants of the same, as also to all they that do repair thither by water, of paying of tolls at gates, and other places within the same city, where divers and sundry perjuries, and great blasphemous oathes have been committed, to the high displeasure of Almighty God, and also to the great slander and evil report of the said city and Commons, and especially to the Sheriffs and their officers of the same, for the time being, in consideration whereof and for the better increase of the Common's wealth, as well of the said city, and of the inhabitants of the same, as also of the comers and goers thereto, to the intent to buy and to sell there, and also for avoyding of the said manifold perjuries that hereafter may ensue by reason of the same, it is fully condescended, determined, and decreed by the said Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Council and loving Commons of the same city of Bristol, that all the gates of the said city, from henceforth shall be free of all manner of tolls there to be demanded or taken, by the same Sheriffs or other officers, for the time being, of any person or persons, for any kind of merchandize, wares, or victuals, whatsoever it be, that shall pass or repass in or out of any of the same gates, wheelage of waynes always excepted, and also that all person or persons that hereafter will bring any kind of victuals to the Back or Key, or to the Market, as calves, sheep, kids, pigs, capons, eggs, butter, cheese, chickens, oatmeal, onions, garlic, fresh salmon, white small salt, and other fresh fish, that shall come by water or by land, and all kind of corn or grain, as wheat, rye, barley, oats, beans, peas, pulse, maize, malt, and all such other kinds of victuals or (fn. 12) grain that shall be brought to this city, to the intent to be sold to the Commons of the same, and all kinds of flanninge and wadmolls, quit of all manner of tolls and customs, that was wont to be paid to the said Sheriffs, for the time being, any use to the contrary before this time had, all kind of salt fish, red herrings, prisage of fish, all other customs notwithstanding always excepted and reserved out of this present proclamation. And forasmuch, at the time of the making of this first proclamation, the decay that the Sheriffs of the said city of Bristol had, and did sustain and take, and were likely to continue, was right well appeared and known, it was, therefore, considered and determined by the Mayor, Aldermen, and the Sheriffs, and the whole Council, in the Council-house, the said 14th day of June, anno 1546, and that certain discreet men of the same Council, that is to say, William Chester, Nicholas Thorne, late Mayor of the said city, and John Smith, David Harris, Francis Cuddrington, and William Carr, late Sheriffs of the same, should see and diligently peruse all the Sheriffs' books of the receipts of the tolls of the said customs, that hath been taken by the space of ten years last past, before the date hereof, and thereupon to make true certificate thereof to the said Mayor, Aldermen, and whole Council, to what sum of money every of the same years, one with another, have amounted unto, for that intent and purpose that such a sum might be appointed to be paid unto the Sheriffs of the said city for the time being, in recompence of the said tollsand customs, that the said Sheriffs should be rather gainers than losers, the which certificate hereafter followeth, the sum total of the 10 years amounting to £412. 3s. 4d. which sum, divided into 10 parts, amounting, one year with another, over and above the whole sum to £41. 4s. 4½d. Also there is allowed for the custom that the Sheriffs were wont to take yearly, of the northern men, (£2. 13s. 4d.) and for the custom of calves, pigs, wool, fresh salmon and fish, and other like things which now are free and at liberty, according to the proclamation (£1. 6s. 8d.) amounting the same yearly £41. 4s. 4½d. unto £45. 4s. 4½d.; and, forasmuch as it is found and perceived by the books of records, for 10 years last past, before the date hereof, exactly and deliberately examined, searched and perused, that the Sheriffs of the said city of Bristol have had and received, for the said tolls and customs, and other profits growing out of the premises now made free and set at liberty,, the yearly value and sum of, one year with another, £41. 4s. 4½d. towards the payment of the fee farm of the said city of Bristol, the said Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs, and Common Council, and Commonalty of the same, considering that the taking and receiving of the said yearly profits by the said Sheriffs and their officers, and such successors, do, and must, be discontinued and be extinct for ever, have with one assent and consent, fully determined and agreed that in full satisfaction, and for a better recompense of the said yearly value or profit, the Chamberlain of the said city of Bristol, and his successors for the time being, a yearly rent, or a moiety in ready money, £44.; that is to say, £11. at every quarter, to pay at four principal feasts, besides the wheeledge which the same Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs, Common Council, and Commons, are contented and pleased that the said Sheriffs and their successors shall take and enjoy for ever, over and besides the said annuity, which may be, by estimation, £3. 13s. 4d. by the yeare for ever more. The said Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Common Council, and Commons of the same, have considered, determined and agreed, that whereas the said Sheriffs had always before this time paid unto the porter or keeper of the three gates, in ready money, for their wages, £4. 18s. 4d. That from henceforth the said Sheriffs and their successors shall pay unto the porters, for their wages, yearly, £2. 6s. 8d.; that is to say, to the porter of Temple-gate, 13s. 4d., and to the porter of Redcliff-gate, 13s. 4d., and to the porter of Newgate, 20s., and to every of them their livery gowns at Christmas, according to the old custom and manner, and to the other two porters of Froom-gate, and of Pithay-gate, to every of them a gown at Christmas, as it hath been also accustomed before this time, so that the Sheriffs, and their successors, from henceforth, shall receive yearly more than any of their ten years, have amounted one with another, unto £4. 15s. 8½d., for that they do pay to them £44. and the profits of the wheelage may be worth £3. 13s. 4d., and do pay less money to the said porters than they were used to do, by £2. 6s. 8d., amounting to £50. by the year, that the Sheriffs and their successors shall receive the same for ever.
The Maior and Comonalitie of Bristol, for the better increase of the commonwealth of the inhabitants of the same citty, and others repairing thereunto, and for the avoyding of great unquietnes that dayly happened, by reason of paying throlle at the gates of the said city, to the Sheriffes of the same, whereby sundry perjuries and blasphemous oathes ware committed, and in consideration that the inhabitants of this city, with consent and agrement of the Church Wardinges and Vestrimen of every Parish, did contribute and give towards the purchasing of the Gaunts and County Lands, unto the Mayor and Comonalitie of Bristoll, the some of £523 10s. 8d. in platte, did by act of Common Counsell, ordayne and establish in the time of Robt. Adams, Maior, that from thenceforth, all the gatts of the city should be free of all mannour of all tolls there to be taken by the Sheriffes, or their officers, for all kind of merchandize, wares, wictualles, (wheelage excepted) and that all persons that will bring any kind of wictuall whatsoever (salte fishe and roialties excepted) or flaning wedlocke, wole, and yarne, to the Backe or Keye of Bristol, should be free or quitte of all mannour of throlle and custome that was wont to bee paide to the Sheriffes for the time; and to recompence the Sheriffes for such losse and decay, yt was, by general consent of the Maior, Aldermen, and Common Counsell, ordained, determined, and agreed, that in full satisfaction, and for a better recompense to be made to the saide Sheriffes, for the profitt of the said gatts and other costumes, so taken from them, the same being then examined and cast upp, for the term of tenne years, then past, and found to be of the yearly value of £41. 4s. 4½d. per ann., one year with another, the Chamberline of Bristol, and his successors, for the time being, shall yearly pay, for ever, to the Sherrives of the same city, for the time being, and their successors, one yearly rent or annyitie of £48. of lawful money of England, as appeareth in the great whit book, folio 61. And to the intent that the burgessess and inhabitants of the same city should have knowleg of such there freedom, the said Maior and Common Counsell having settled the same, did shortly after cause the same to be proclaimed in manner and form following, (vizt)—The Maior, Aldermen, Sheriffes, and Worshipfull Bretheren of the Counsell of the Queene, Maties of the city of Bristol, with the consent, will, and agreement of the discreet and loving Burgesses and Commons of the same aperteyning, pondering, and considering with good advizement and deliberation, the great unquietness that doe dayly happen, and grow, as well to the sd citty, where divers sundry perjuries and great blasphemous oaths have been committed, not only to the heigh displeasure of Allmighty God, but allsoe to the great slander and evil reporte of the said citty and commons, and especially to the Sheriffes and other officers of the same, for the time being; in consideration whereof, and for the better increase of the commonwealth, as well of the said citty, and the inhabitance of the same, as allsoe the comers and goers thereunto, to the intent to buy and sell thare, and also for the avoyding of all the aforesaid manifould perjuries and blasphemous oathes that hereafter may ensue, by reason of the same, it is fully condesended, determined, and agreed by the Maior, Aldermen, Sheriffes, Counsell, and loving Commons of the said city of Bristol, that all gates of the said city shall, from henceforth, be free from all manour of throll, ther to be demanded or taken by the said Sheriffes, or other officers, for the time being, of any person or persons, for any kind of Merchandize, wares, or wictuals, whatsoever they be, that shall passe or repasse in or out of any of the said gates, wheladge of waynes always excepted. And also, that all person and persones that hereafter will bring any kind of victuals to the Back or Keye, or the markett, as calves, sheep, kids, pigs, capons, butter, egges, cheese, chickens, oatmele, onyons, garlicke, fresh salmon, and all other fresh fishe that shall come by water or by land, or any kind of corne or graine, as wheate, rey, otes, beanes, peas, pulse, magtelin, mault, and such other kind of victualles or graine that shall be brought to this citty, to the intent to be sold to the commons of the same, or in common merkette, and all kind of woole, yearne, and flanninge, and wadwole, shall, from henceforth, be free and quitte of all mannour of custom and trouble that was wont to be paid to the said Sheriffes, for the time being, any use to the contrary had before this time had in any thing, notwithstanding, always excepted and reserved out of this present proclamation, and all kind of salt fishe, herring, prisage of fish, and other customs and royalties. The said Maior, Aldermen, Sheriffes, Counsell, and Commons of the same, with one consent and assent, is fully determined and agreed, that in full satisfaction of the said towle and custome of the gates, the Sheriffes for the time being, shall receave, by the hands of the Chamberlain, and his successors, Chamberlaynes for the time being, a yearly rent or annitye, in redy money, the sum of £44. by even portions, that is to say, att the Feast of the Annunciation of our Blessed Lady the Vergin, £22, and at the Feast of Saint Michall tharchangell, other £22, or within one month next ensuing every of the said Feasts, besides the wheeladge abovmentioned, which the said Maior, Aldermen, Sherrives, Counsell and Commons of the same, are contented and pleased, that the said Sherrives, and their successor, Sherrives, shall take and enjoy for ever. And alsoe, the said Maior, Aldermen, Sherrives, and Common Counsell of this city of Bristoll, for divers good considerations, have thought it good, beneficiall, and also profitable for the commonwealth of this citty, and all thinhabitance of the same, to proclaime and give knowledge, that from this day, being the fust of July, in the yeare of our Lord God, one thousand, five hundred, and fifty-nine, and in the first year of our Soveraigne, Lady Elizabeth, by the Grace of God, of England, France, and Ireland, Queene, Defender of the Faith, &c. You shall have there three market days in the weeke, that is, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, free for all the Queene Maties leigee people within her dominion, to come to the merketts with all kinds of victualls before mentioned, as butter, eggs, cheese, and all kind of graine, as wheate, rye, barley, and also all kind of woole, yarn, wadmolls, flanninges, and so to passe quietly thro' the liberties of this citty, untill you come to the merkett place appointed, or to be appointed, or in the High-street accustomed, without molesting or trouble of any man, woman, or servant, of what degree soever they be, and soe placed in the market aforesaid, you shall not open or sell untill the houre of 8 of the clocke in the morning in the summer, and 9 in the winter, when the merkett bell shall give you knowledge, and then it shall be lawfull for all the Que: Maties subjects to buy and sell in the same market, for the provision of theire houses that shall be necessary, from that houre till the houre of 12 of the clocke stricken at St. Nichollas church, and the common market bell to give knowledge at that houre every man, woman, and childe to depart from that market. And to the intent that as well all burgesses and inhabitants of the said city, and all other persons coming and resorting and coming to the said market, may make their provisions the better, it is commanded to all persons in the Queene or Sovraigne Lady's name, that they nor any of them doe forestall, or buy any thing manner of victual, graine, or any other manner of thing saleable whatsoever, being brought or coming towards the market, before the same things shall be unladen and set in the market place, or places heretofore accustomed, upon the pains and penalties in her Grace's laws, in that case provided, and that noe person presume to sell any thing in the said markett, or to buy any thing in the same, before the ringing of the market bell, at 8 of the clocke in the morning, nor after the second ringing the same bell, at 12 of the clocke, upon paine that every person doeing the contrary, shall incurr such dangers as have bin in ancient time for the same provided and ordayned.
After a perusal of the foregoing Proclamations, the fact appears to be clearly established, that prior to the date of the first ordnance, 38th Henry 8th, the whole of the profits of the Key, the Back and the Gates, were received by the Sheriffs, and that the following part of their revenue, viz. the whole of the Toll at the Gates, with the Toll at the Key and Back, upon corn fish, wool, yarn, flannel, wadmolls, cattle, and live stock, were immediately after abolished, and that the payment of £44. annually to the Sheriffs, out of the Gaunt Estates, was in lieu thereof, which payment will be found in the Audit Books of the Corporation, recently perused, wherein the sum is regularly entered to the Sheriffs' account up to the year 1775.
The following is a copy of the grant of the Gaunt Estates, which for many years have produced a very considerable revenue to the Corporation, in part purchased with the money which was paid by the Vestries for freeing the gates and the Key and Back.
To our most dear and very faithful cousin greeting. We command you, that under our Privy Seal, being in your custody, you cause our Letters to be directed to our Chancellor of England, commanding the same that he cause our Letters Patent thereupon to be made under our Great Seal, being in his custody, in the form following:—The King, to all to whom, &c. greeting.—Know ye, that we, as well on account of the sincere affection which we bear towards our town of Bristol, as for the sum of One Thousand Pounds sterling, paid into the hands of the Treasurer of our Court of Augmentation of the Revenue of our Crown, to our use, by our well beloved the Mayor and Commonalty of our said town of Bristol, of which sum of One Thousand Pounds, we confess ourselves to be fully content and satisfied, and acquit and discharge the said Mayor and Commonalty, and their successors therefrom, by these presents, of our especial grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion, we have given and granted, and by these presents we do give and grant to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty of our said town of Bristol, all the house and site of the late hospital, or house of Saint Mark of Billiswike, otherwise called the Gaunts, near our town of Bristol aforesaid, and all the church, (fn. 13) belfry, and burial ground of the same late hospital; and all our manors (fn. 14) of Erdecote, Gaunts, and Lee, with all their rights, members, and appurtenances, in our county of Gloucester, to the said late hospital or house called the Gaunt's, lately belonging and appertaining, and being parcel of the possessions thereof, and all our (fn. 15) manor of Stokeland Gaunts, with all its rights, members, and appurtenances, in our county of Somerset, to the said late hospital, or house of the Gaunts, in like manner lately belonging and appertaining, and being parcel of the possessions thereof; also our rectories and churches of Stokeland Gaunts and Overstowy, with all their rights and appurtenances, in our said county of Somerset, to the said late hospital or house called the Gaunts, lately belonging and appertaining; also the advowsons, donations, free dispositions, and right of patronage of the vicarages of the churches of Stokeland Gaunts and Overstowy, in our said county of Somerset; And all our manor of Wynterbornegounez, otherwise called Cherburgh, with all its rights, members, and appurtenances, in our county of Wilts, to the said late hospital or house, called the Gaunts, lately belonging and appertaining, and being parcel of the possessions thereof; and all our messuages, lands, tenements, meadows, feedings, pastures, rents, reversions, services, and other hereditaments whatsoever, to the said manors, or either of them, belonging and appertaining; and all manors, granges, mills, tofts, cottages, gardens, lands, meadows, feedings, pastures, commons, furze, heath, mores, marshes, woods, underwoods, waters, watercourses, fishings, fisharies, rectories, chapels and churches, advowsons, and rights of patronage of churches, vicarages and chapels, whatsoever, and with pensions, portions, tithes, oblations, glebe lands, rents, reversions, services, annuities, rents, reserved upon whatsoever demises and grants, knights' fees, escheats, reliefs, fee farms, courts leet, view of frank pledge, chattels, waifs, estrays, assize of bread, wine and beer, free warrens, and other our rights, jurisdictions, profits, emoluments, commodities, advantages, privileges, possessions and hereditaments whatsoever, in the said town of Bristol, and in the parish of Almondisbury and in Lee, in our said county of Gloucester, and in Stokeland Gaunts, Overstowey, and Brewham, in our said county of Somerset; and also in Wynterbornegonner, otherwise called Cherburgh, in our said county of Wilts, to the said late hospital or house called the Gauntz, in any way belonging or appertaining, or being parcel of our possessions or hereditaments, of the same late hospital or house, called the Gauntz, as fully and wholly, and in as ample manner and form, as the last master and brethren of the said late hospital or house called the Gaunts, or any of their predecessors, masters, and brethren of the same late hospital or house, in right of their said hospital or house, at any time before the dissolution of the same late hospital or house, or before that same hospital or house came to our hands all and singular the aforesaid manors, rectories, tithes, advowsons, lands, tenements, rents, reversions, services, and all and singular other the premises above expressed and specified, with their appurtenances, or any parcel thereof, had held or enjoyed, or could, or ought to have had held or enjoyed, and as fully and entirely, and in as ample manner and form, as all and singular those things came, or ought to have come to our hands, by reason or pretext of the dissolution of the said late hospital or house, or by reason or pretext of any charter, gift, or grant, surrender or confirmation, to us made by the late master and brethren of the said late hospital or house, called the Gauntz, under their coventual seal, or by any other means they came or ought to have come, and in our hands now are, or ought to be (except nevertheless always and out of this our present grant entirely reserved, all the manor of Poulett Gaunts, and all lands, tenements, rents, reversions, services, and hereditaments in Poulett Gaunts, Southam and Northam, in our said county of Somerset, which by our Letters Patent under our Great Seal of England made, lately we granted to Richard Cupper, his heirs and assigns for ever); also we do give, and for the consideration aforesaid, by these presents we have given, to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty of our said town of Bristol, all our manor of Hampe, with all its rights, members, and appurtenances, in our county of Somerset, late to our Monastery of Athelney, in our said county of Somerset, now dissolved, lately belonging and appertaining, and being parcel of the possessions of the same late Monastery of Athelney; also, all those our messuages, lands, tenements, meadows, feedings, pastures, commons, and hereditaments whatsoever, with the appurtenances now or late in the tenure or occupation of Richard Warre, Knight, and Robert Warre, the son of him, Richard, or either of them, or of their assigns, or either of them, situate and being in Hampe aforesaid, in our said county of Somerset, to the said late Monastery of Athelney, lately belonging and appertaining, and being parcel of the possessions of the same late Monastery of Athelney, and all, and all manner of woods and underwoods, of and upon the premises in Hampe, in the said county of Somerset, growing and being, and the rents, reversion and reversions, and annual profits of all and singular the premises in Hampe aforesaid, in the said county of Somerset, and all messuages, granges, mills, lands, tenements, meadows, feedings, pastures, commons, wastes, furze, heath, waters, fishings, woods, underwoods, rents, reversions, services, rents re served upon whatsoever demises and grants, and other our commodities, profits, emoluments, and hereditaments whatsoever, with their appurtenances, in Hampe, in our said county of Somerset and elsewhere wheresoever, in the said county of Somerset, to the said manor of Hampe in any way belonging or appertaining, or as heretofore being had, known, or reputed as member or parcel of the same manor of Hampe. Moreover we do give, and for the considerations aforesaid, we have given, to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty of our said town of Bristol, as well within the said manors of Erdcote Gauntz, Lee, Stockland Gaunts, and Wynterburnegonner, as within the aforesaid manor of Hampe, and all other the premises above specified, (except as before excepted) and within every parcel thereof, such, so many, the like as, the same, such as, and the like courts leet, view of frank pledge, and all to view of frank pledge, belonging and appertaining; and also the assize and assay of bread, wine, and beer, of chattels, waifs, estrays, free warrens, and other our profits, commodities, and emoluments whatsoever, such, so many, the like, and which, and as fully, and entirely, and in as ample and like manner and form, as the last Master, and late Brethren of the said late hospital, or house of Saint Mark of Billeswike, otherwise called the Gaunts, and the last Abbot, and late convent of the said late Monastery of Athelney, or either, or any one or more of their predecessors, or either of them, in right of the same late hospital and monastery, or either of them, at any time before the separate dissolutions of the same late hospital and monastery ever had held or enjoyed, or ought or might have had, holden, or enjoyed the same, in the aforesaid manors, lands, tenements, and other the premises, or in any parcel thereof, by reason or pretext of any prescription, use, or custom heretofore had or used, or by reason or pretext of any grant or confirmation, or of any letters patent by us, or by any of our progenitors, to the aforesaid last master, and late brethren of the said late hospital, and to the said last abbot, and late convent of the said late monastery of Athelney, or to either or any of them, or to any one or more of their predecessors, in any way made or granted, or by any other means, and as fully and wholly, and in as ample manner and form, as the said last master, and late brethren of the said late hospital, and the said last abbot, and late convent of the said late monastery of Athelney, or any of them, or any one or more of their predecessors, or of any of them, in right of their late hospital and monastery, or of either of them, at any time before the separate dissolutions of the same late hospital and monastery, or before that late hospital or monastery separately came to our hands had held or enjoyed, or ought to have had, holden, or enjoyed the aforesaid manors, messuages, lands, tenements, courts leet, view of ffrank pledge, chattels, waifs, estrays, free warrens, and other the premises, with the appurtenances (except as before excepted,) or any parcel thereof; and as fully and wholly, and in as ample manner and form, as all and singular those things came, or ought to have come into our hands, and now are, or ought to be in our hands, by reason or pretext of the separate dissolutions of the said late hospital and monastery, or by reason or pretext of any charter, gift, grant, surrender, or confirmation, or of any deeds, gifts, grants, surrenders, or confirmations by the said late master, and late brethren of the said late hospital, and by the late abbot, and convent of the said late monastery, or by either of them, under their Conventual Seals to us made, or by any other means whatsoever. Moreover, we do give, and for the consideration aforesaid, by these presents, have given to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty, all that our close of pasture, called Ayschen Close, and our one parcel, or the paddock of pasture next adjacent to the same close, called Aysten Close, late in the tenure of William Freman, and now in the tenure of William Chester, lying and being upon Saint Michael's mount, in the suburbs of our aforesaid town of Bristol, (to wit.) near the small street, called Magdalene lane there, to the late monastery or priory of Saint Mary Magdalene, near our town of Bristol, now dissolved, lately belonging and appertaining, and being parcel of the possessions thereof; which same pasture. called Ayschen close, and the aforesaid parcel or the paddock of pasture, to the same belonging, now are extended at the clear annual value of ten shillings. And also, we do give, and for the considerations aforesaid, by these presents, have granted to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty of our town of Bristol, all the house and site of the late house, late of the Minor Brethren, commonly called the Grey Friars, within our said town of Bristol, now dissolved, and all our houses, buildings, barns, dovecots, gardens, orchards, burial places, waters, pools, vivaries, land, and soil, as well within, as near to, and about the site, of seven ambets circumference, and precincts of the said late house of Minor Brethren, and all waters, water ducts, and water courses to the said house of the late Minor Brethren, in any way belonging, appertaining, running to and flowing from; also our one parcel of land, called the Lyme Kyln, now or late in the tenure of Thomas Haynes, in the town of Bristol aforesaid, to the said late house of the late minor brethren, lately belonging and appertaining, and being parcel of the possessions thereof; and also all prisage of all and singular fish within the town, liberties, and county of our said town of Bristol, annually, and from time to time happening, arising, increasing, or attaining, which same prisage of fish, lately belonged and appertained to the late Minor Brethren, and to the late house of Mendicant Brethren, commonly called the Black Friars, within our said town of Bristol, now dissolved. Moreover, we give, and for the consideration aforesaid, by these presents, we have given to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty of the town of Bristol aforesaid, all the house (fn. 16) and site of the late honse of the late Carmelite Brethren, commonly called the White Friars, within our town of Bristol, now dissolved; and all the messuage and house, called the Hoopers Hall, with the appurtenances, being within the site of the said house of the late Carmelite brethren, and all cemetaries, gardens, orchards, lands, and soil, as well within as near and about the site, of seven ambets in the circuit, and precinct of the same late house of the late Carmelite brethren, which now are, or lately were, in the tenure or occupation of David Hobbes, To have, hold, and enjoy, all and singular, the aforesaid site of the said late hospital of Bylleswike, otherwise called the Gaunts, and the aforesaid houses of the late Minor Brethren, and Carmalite Brethren, in the said town of Bristol, and all the aforesaid manors, messuages, granges, tenements, rectories, advowsons, tithes, lands, meadows, feedings, woods, rents, reversions, services, and all and singular, other the premises above expressed and specified, with all their appurtenances, (except as before excepted) to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty of our said town of Bristol, and their successors, for ever, to hold of us, our heirs, and successors, for ever,—to hold of us our heirs and successors in capite, by service of one Knight's fee, and yielding therefore, annually, to us, our heirs, and suceessors, Twenty Pounds sterling, at our Court of Augmentation of the revenue of our Crown, at the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, to be paid every year, for all rents, services, and demands whatsoever, therefore, to us, our heirs, and successors, in any way to be rendered, paid or done; and further, of our more abundant grace, we do give, and for the consideration aforesaid, by these presents, we do grant to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty, all issues, rents, reversions, and profits, of all and singular the aforesaid manors, rectories, lands, tenements, and other the premises above expressed and specified, with their appurtenances, from the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, in the thirty-first year of our reign, unto the present time, increasing or growing,—to hold to the same Mayor and Commonalty, of our gift, without account, or any other thing, therefore, in any way to be rendered, paid, or done to us, our heirs, or successors; so that express mention, &c. In witness, whereof, and these our letters shall be to you, in this behalf, a sufficient warrant. Given under our Signet, at our Manor of Greenwich, the Second day of May, in the thirty-third year of our reign.
Whether the Vestries had a right to deliver up the Church Plate, for the before-mentioned purpose, it is now useless to enquire. That they were entitled to the best thanks of their fellow-citizens, for removing so oppressive a tax, there can be no doubt. The Chamberlain gave a Bond of Indemnity to the different Vestries, in the event of the legality of the transaction being disputed. The following is a copy of the condition of the Bond, (fn. 17) dated the 18th June, 1547, which was given to the Parish of St. Nicholas:
The condicion of this present obligacion is suche, that where the Mayor and Comynaltie of the said citie of Bristowe haue of late, to their great costs and charges, obtayned and purchased of the kings Matie certen londs and te'nts to them, their heirs and successors, in ffee, as by the letters patents thereof made and sealed vnder the great seale of Englonde more playnlie may appore, ffor that godlie entent and charytable purpose. and for the better av'uncement of the comon welthe of the said citie, to make all the yates of the same citie ffree and quyett foreu' of allman' of Toll and Custom to be demanded there, by the shrifs of the same, or their officers for the tyme beyng, whiche said Mayor and Comynaltie not beyng able to accomplishe, the said charytable and godlie entent and purpose, and to make payment owte of honde to the king's Matie of suche great somes of money as was due for the same londs and te'nts haue borowed of the p'ishen's of the said p'ishe churche, as muche plate and moneye app'teynyng to the said churche, towarde the same godlie entent, as amounted to the som of xlvjli xvs iijd sterling, whiche some the said p'ishen's, wt their oon assent ar contented to release and yeue to the said Mayor and Co'yaltie towardes the same, vpon this condicion, that if the said Chambreleyn of the said citie of Bristowe, and his successors, Chambrelens of the same citie for the tyme beyng, do clerely acquyte, discharge, and saue harmeles the said p'ktors of the said p'ishe churche, and their successors, for the tyme being, and also the whole p'ishen's of the same p'ishe, as well against the king's Matie his heirs and successors, as also against all and eu'y other p'son and p'sons of and for the said xlvjli xvs iijd if any accompte thereof shalbe requyred. That then this p'sent obligacion to be voyed or els to stonde in his full power and vertue.
In the course of the investigation of the title of the Corporation to these dues, and during the progress of the Town Dues' Action, another highly important discovery was made, which must prove of considerable importance to the Strangers and Non-freemen of Bristol, who may legally avail themselves of it. A Table of Cities, Towns, and Ports has been found, the Freemen of which, under certain Grants and Charters from the Crown, at various times, for services rendered, and for certain purposes granted, are exempt from the payment of Custom and Toll at Bristol. The places exempted by this valuable document, extend to almost every port in Ireland, most of the ports in the Bristol Channel, and several populous inland cities and towns, many of which are, no doubt, ignorant at this day of this valuable exemption. The mode also in which exemptions have been claimed and enforced, and in several instances acceded to by the Corporation, is clearly pointed out, ascertained and authenticated. It is not improbable that the knowledge which the Corporation possessed of this important privilege of exemption, may, in addition to their ardent wish to conciliate the Members of Parliament for Ireland and Wales, during the prosecution of the Town Dues' Bill in the House of Commons, have induced them so readily to relinquish the Coastways and Irish Town dues.
London. (fn. 18)
All Bishopps, Abbotts, Pryors, Mynchons, and their Tenants be ffree for their own houshold or housholds, and of the own renewing, and ffor that they buy or sell to pay custom, unless they have charters to discharge it.
Exeter. (fn. 19)
Neeth. (fn. 20)
The mode of claiming exemptions appears to have been very simple. The merchant was merely called upon to produce a copy of the Charter of the Town under which he claimed exemption, accompanied with a Certificate that he was a Burgess of the same.
In the year of our Lord God, 1527, then Robert Hambrooke, smith, dwelling vpon Stratton upon the force, he had his Charter red, then being Maior, Mr. John Shipman, Thomas Silk and William Kelk, Shreves, and so he was ffound ffre.
In the yeare of our Lord, 1558, John Elliott, Esquire, of Plymoth, did shew ther Charter vnto Mr. Robert Addams, being Maior, John Pruett and John Browne, Sheriffs, and so they are ffre of all Customs.
The 30th day of July, 1609, John Butcher, Maior, Thomas Moore and William Young, Sherives, allowed ffree by ther Charter. Nicholas Ecolston, Maior of Lancaster, under his ffirme and seale, the 1st of August, in the 4th yeare of King James, that Nicholas Ecoolston, Maior, did app've himself to be ffree of all Customs and Dutyes, under the seale of office, by the aforesaid Maior and the Clark of Office, and that the said towne of Lancaster, and all Burgesses ar ffree since the raigne of Kinge John, and John Ecolston shewed the Charter, and is ffree with all Burgesses thereof.
From the following Entries, which are copied from the Books of the Corporation, it will appear, that the enjoyment of the privileges of a Burgess is not necessarily dependent on his residence in the city of which he is free. For instance; a Burgess of the city of London, residing in Bristol, has a right to claim the exemptions from Bristol Dues, in common with the Burgesses of this city.
The xv° day of January, 1596, William Yate, Maior, John Butcher, and Robert Aldworth, Shereives; Richard Chechester, of Berrinarbor, in the county of Devn, m'cht, and Georg Ingram, of Counsbury, in the said county, husbandman, came and shewed the coppie of ther Charter, and by oath sworne, that they ar ffre of the Dutchery of Lancaster, and ar tenants to the Dutchery, and payeth a yearely rent.
The xix° M'ch, 1605, Mr. Thomas James, Maior, John Robery and John Guy, Sherrives; Richard Rooly and John Russell, of Rowley, in the county of Stafford, naylers, of the same towne and county, came and shewed there Charter, and by oath sworne, that they ar ffree of all Customes and other Deuties w'tsoeu' and ar ffree in the ffirst yeare of Queene Mary, as ffre tenants to the King's Ma'tie, James, by the Grace of God.
The xxvij° of July, 1608, Nicholas Yeo, of Stratton, m'cht, is a ffreeman of the county of Exon, and admitted in the said fredome the xxiij° of October, in the xxixth yeare of our Gratious Queene Elizabeth, and in the yeare of the Mariolty of Mr. John Perian, the Maior of Exon. In witnes whereof Sir Georg Smith, Knight, and Maior of the cittie, have putte my hand and seale and the seale of office of the Mariolty, the 25th of June, 1608.
The 1st of March, 1614, John Skott, of Bristoll, refyner, and late of Shrousbury, hath shewed fforth a certifficate, under the seale of Shorusbury, and the hands of Thomas Ffawlkener and John Gardin', now Baylies there, that he is a ffreeman of that Corpo' con and towne, and therefore is ffree of petty Custom of this citty. Anno et die predict. Thomas James, Maior.
The said 1st of March, 1614, Ffrancis Geodolphin, of Monnocsbure, Esquire, did shew forth a certificate, under the seale of the towne of Helyston, in the county of Cornwell, and within the Dutchery, and ffredom graunted them by the ffamous Kinge John, late Kinge of England, as by their Charter appeareth, and that the said Ffrancis is Recorder of the same Barranes, they have viij hands, viz. Thomas James and seven Aldermen, as is extaunt, &c. and therefore is ffree of pettie Customes in this port as afores'd.
May the 22d, 1627, Edward Hickman, of Athie, in the realme of Ireland, m'cht, hath this day shewed his ffredom of London, (fn. 21) by copie of his oath, vnder the Chamber's seale of London, Cutbert Hackett, Maior, and RobtBateman, Chamberlayne, &c.
George Conway and Richard Conway, booth of Cashell, in the realme of Ireland, was booth of them maide ffree of Ross, in Ireland, the 29th day of Januarii, anno 1630. Francis Bennett, then sov'aigne of Ross, as appeareth by certificate, under the towne seale of Ross. G. B. (fn. 22)
The 28th day of July, 1633, Ffrancis Sawll, of Cashlie, within written, did shew his certificate, vnder the towne seale of Watterfford, and the Maior his hand vnto it the said certifcat, bearing date the 19th day of this instant, July, 1633, Sir Thomas Shirlock, Knight, Maior of Watterford, and Nicholas Brown and Andrew Wise, Sherriffs of the same. G. B.
Die p'dict, John Boyton, of Cashell, did shew his certificat, bereing date the 14th of July, 1633, for that he was then made and admitted a ffreeman of New Ross, under the towne seale, and the Maiors be the Sou'aignes hand to it Mr. Henry Bennett, then sou'aigne. G. B.
The Sheriffs continued to collect the Tolls until about the year 1640, when a new arrangement took place, viz.—the Corporation, by virtue of a deputation under the City Seal, appointed a receiver (fn. 23) of the Sheriffs' Dues. Mr. Brooks, Comptroller of the Customs, was the first person, and was succeeded upon his death by Mr. Moore, and after his decease, Mr. Elbridge, Mr. Stephens, Mr. Jones, and Mr. Harford were successively appointed, being all Comptrollers of the port. On the death of Mr. Harford, Mr. Charles Anderson, a late Member of the Corporation, was appointed Collector, and he holds the situation at the present time. These accounts were formerly made out by the Collector, who delivered in his statement, stating the particulars of the different entries. On the appointment of Mr. Stephens, all the accounts on Foreign Trade began to be entered in a gross sum for the month, whilst the Coastways Duties, which had been considerably reduced under a bye law, were collected on exports as well as imports, and which were separately entered, and a distinction made, between imports and exports, a distinction particularly worthy the attention of Nonfreemen, who will perceive that whilst each coastway entry expressly mentions whether it be for export or import, the toll upon foreign trade is entered in one sum for the month, without any such difference in the description. The inference from this is too clear for comment; and as the Corporation have all the accounts from the year 1640, and have produced no entries of any general foreign Export Toll, till after the year 1775, it is conclusive that no toll of that denomination could have generally existed during that period. Strangers through ignorance, and the collection of these dues being mixed up with those collected for the King's Duty, might have paid it; but the following evidence, on the part of the Defendant, adduced in the action against the late Wm. Miles, Esq. proves the loose mode of collection prior to 1775.
Geo. Bush (fn. 24) said he had exported without paying Town Dues.
David Lewis, Merchant, said he exported goods, some his own property and others on commission; that when dues had been demanded, he had refused to pay them, conceiving that they could not legally be required; and that for three years before that time they had ceased to demand them of him. That while he had been attending about his own goods, he had seen others entered, and the duties taken much below the value of them.
James Room saith, he gave in the value of the goods exported, that is to say, when of £200. or any other sum, the said persons demanding such tolls or duties, agreed to compound for the same at one-half, one-third, or one-quarter of such value or sum given in; and saith, that from the observations he made when such tolls or duties were demanded, and the persons consented to pay any thing during the whole of the time aforesaid, before and since the year 1728, they were generally compounded for in that manner. And this Deponent saith, that it appeared to him the reason thereof was, because such non-freemen and non-free burgesses of the city, thought there was no right or title for demanding and receiving the same, and therefore challenged such right or title to demand or receive the same; and that the persons demanding such tolls or duties chose rather to compound for the same, to induce such non-freemen and nonfree burgesses to pay such, than to assert and litigate their right to demand and receive such tolls or duties. And it also appeared to this Deponent, that such exporters of goods rather consented to compound for such tolls or duties, than to litigate the right of demanding and receiving the same, being afraid of the expence of litigating the right. Deponent had often seen persons refuse to pay such tolls or duties, and had exported their goods without paying either duties or tolls, or composition for the same.
James Sutton, merchant, had been clerk to merchants in Bristol, not freemen, who used to export goods, that the dues were not always demanded; that when they were, supposing his invoice to be £500, the dues were charged upon one-third of that amount; and he recollected other disputes with merchants not freemen.
Walter Jacks, merchant, once clerk to Bright, deposed to refusal by non-freemen to pay, and many disputes; knew one instance where £5. were paid on shipping goods value £1,500; and another where £3 were paid on an invoice of the like amount. That Messrs. Bright considered consignments of goods to them as their own property, and so did other merchants.
Thomas Jones, merchant, said the right of demanding tolls had always been questioned, and that although they had been paid, they were always considered as illegally demanded, and were paid to prevent expensive litigation.
Lancelot Cooper, merchant, said he always considered that there was no authority for the demand of dues, and that it was believed the Corporation received much less than the dues claimed, as they knew that the claim was bad.
There is little doubt that if the citizens of Bristol had done their duty, by coming forward to support Mr. Miles, the Corporation would, in all probability, have failed in establishing their title to the Toll on Exports, as they could shew no proof of any Export Toll having been collected, and the Table manufactured by Mr. Lewis (fn. 25) would have been of little use. The high state of preservation of the Corporation Records and Papers, is now well ascertained. It should also be remembered, that for nearly 400 years a toll has been collected, and yet the Corporation assert, that they have no Table of Dues prior to 1775!! Is this credible? Is it possible? How could the Collectors have calculated the amount? What data had they for their guidance? It appears, indeed, the production of a schedule of dues by the Corporation would have proved too much for their purpose, as it would have shown that one half of the Import toll is liable to repair the Pavements of the City, and that there is no toll on Exports at all. This is the reason why no Table of Dues has ever been produced.
It is evidently established by these Records, that the beforementioned Tolls were solely confined to goods coming to the Key and Back to be sold, and therefore, that no Toll was collected on Exports. And the state and view of Clement Bagot's account so describes it. In the Tables no Export Toll appears. The oath of the Collector likewise shows the Toll was on goods coming to the Key. Again it is stated in the Proclamation, that certain articles shall be free of Toll, coming with the intent to be sold; and if we consult the Collector's accounts, they show no receipt of Foreign Export Toll, nor is such Toll exhibited in any of their books.
If the Corporation then are not legally entitled to collect any Toll on Exports, we consider it the duty of every merchant to evade it in every possible way, as it is well known that the principal part of the Exports on which the Toll is now levied, consists of West India Orders, which are executed for the most part by burgesses. Only let orders be given that the goods be put on board at a fixed price, and every stranger would be relieved from the payment of Export Toll; or it would be extremely easy to get elected a burgess of some of the towns or cities exempted from Bristol Tolls, which would exempt the individual from payment of them altogether.
The actions, begun in 1775, never came to a fair trial; judgments went by default. In consequence of which, the Corporation began, for the first time, to collect the toll on all goods exported; and we find in the space of a few years, that although the trade of the port had evidently diminished, yet the Dues had increased nine-fold.
The following Circular, written by one of the present Court of Aldermen, when he was about to serve the office of Sheriff, throws considerable light on the amount and nature of the Dues at that period.
"Sir,—Mr. E. having given notice, at the last House, of his intention, at the next meeting of the Common Council, to move for an increase of the allowance to the Sheriffs, I beg leave to annex you a statement of some facts relating to the allowance to Sheriffs for the last 34 years, with some arguments thereon. The vast increase of the expences of the office in so long a period would justify a more considerable addition than Mr. E. proposes to move for, and were it not for my being personally interested, I should feel inclined to move, as an amendment, that the old allowance be now doubled. As it stands, I hope you will be convinced of the propriety of an increase being made, and that you will attend the House and give your vote in its favor, whereby you will oblige,
"From the year 1777, and including the year 1810, the sum of £420. has been annually voted to each of the Sheriffs of the Corporation; being a period of 34 years. Prior to that time, the produce of the Town Dues had been assigned to the Sher iffs, but they having declined to accep tthereof, £420. was determined upon to be a proper sum to pay to each of the Sheriffs, towards the expences of the office, called "Extra Expences."
"The Town Dues produced, in the year 1777, £500. 18s. 8d. only; but the net (fn. 26) produce of the same, in the year 1810, was £4578. 9s. 1d. so that the income of the Corporation, in this single article, had been progressively encreasing during the interval of 30 years, until it reached nine times its former produce, or £4000. per annum increase upon an income of £500.!!!
"In other respects, doubtless, the income of the Corporation has been very materially improved, and proper consideration has been shewn from time to time in the increase of the sums voted to the Mayors, to compensate for the unavoidable increase in the expences of that office. Liberal advances in the salaries of the officers and servants of the Corporation have likewise been made; but the case of the Sheriffs has hitherto been overlooked, although it must strike conviction to the mind of every individual Member, that a sum, which in the year 1777 was voted as a compensation to the Sheriffs for the extra expences of that office, must at the present time be, and has for many years past proved, very insufficient for such purpose.
"The office of Sheriff of this city cannot, in the present day, be served consistently with the dignity of the Body Corporate and the credit of the individual, without a costly equipage. This was not the case when the sum of £420. was first voted, nor for several years subsequent thereto; in some instances one equipage served both gentlemen; and in others, the shew was made up by hired carriages, and hired servants dressed for the day! Were any new Member to resort to such a practice, what would be the feeling of the Body Corporate, and what the sentiments of the citizens at large?
"The justice of a claim, on the part of the Sheriffs, to an increased allowance for their expences of office, is clearly manifest, and the very flourishing condition of the funds of the Corporate Body enables them to do that justice with a liberal hand. Moreover, the policy of the measure is a strong inducement no longer to delay putting the Sheriffs upon a proper footing. It must be well known to many Members of the Corporation, that persons of that rank in the city, whom it would be the wish of the Corporation to elect into their Body, cannot be chosen, because they have not taken up their freedom; and why have they not? because they would thereby render themselves liable to be so elected, and forced, either to pay a heavy fine, or to serve an office which would occasion a heavier expence to them. Whereas, were a liberal allowance to be voted to the Sheriffs, the terror of the office would be removed, and a supply of suitable persons would always be readily found to fill the vacancies occurring in the Common Council of this very ancient and most respectable Corporation."
It was about this period that the onerous and pernicious nature of the Town dues began to display itself, more particularly as regarded the heavy ad valorem duty; in consequence of which all high priced articles were entirely prohibited from being landed or shipped at the port. The Manufacturers in the neighbourhood even sent their goods, at considerable expence and inconvenience, either by inland navigation or land carriage, even through Bristol, to other ports, until the trade of the city, excepting in such articles as had been relieved by the low partial package rate, viz. on sugar, rum, wine, wool and tobacco, dwindled away to comparative insignificance. Frequent complaints were made to the Corporation of the onerous nature of the dues, but the Corporation, through their Solicitors, when they deigned to reply, gave the unvaried answer, that they could grant no relief.
In the years 1822–3, several Letters appeared in the Bristol Journal, under the signature of Cosmo, afterwards acknowledged to be from the pen of Mr. J. M. Gutch, the Editor of that Newspaper. The writer very ably pointed out the injurious tendency of these dues, and clearly shewed that nothing short of the Association of a body of Merchants could agitate this important question, with any prospect of success. To the writer of these very spirited Letters, the City of Bristol was, shortly afterwards, principally indebted for the formation of such an Institution, now well known as the Chamber of Commerce. This took place in the February of 1823. A Board of Directors was appointed, and a Committee formed, to investigate the local taxation of the port; and the Town and Mayor's Dues standing pre-eminently oppressive on the list, were first taken into consideration, and various Memorials were presented by this Body to the Corporation on the subject, couched in language the most respectful and conciliatory; but the Corporation unfortunately looked upon the labours and remonstrances of this Committee in an hostile point of view. Much correspondence, however, was entered into, and resolutions passed between the parties, when at length, the Corporation was induced to request the Society of Merchant Venturers, the Bristol Dock Company, and the Chamber of Commerce, to furnish them with information on the State of Trade, as connected with the local taxation of the port.
In the month of March, in the year after the Committee of the Society of Merchant Venturers returned their answer, which strongly exposed the impolicy of continuing the collection of Town Dues; and it is only to be regretted that the Society would not allow this most valuable document to be published. In March 1824, the Corporation brought a Bill into Parliament, containing a very prominent clause confirmatory of their title, but insuring no certain reduction of the dues. The Chamber of Commerce opposed the Bill, on the ground that it would give the Corporation a Parliamentary Title, in lieu of their doubtful one; it contained also no specific Table of Dues, the amount of which was left to be fixed by the Corporation.
After the Bill had been introduced and read a first time in the House of Commons, the Chamber of Commerce threatened such vigorous opposition to it, and were supported by and prepared with so many important petitions from various parts of the kingdom, likely to be affected by the measure, and interested in the reduction of the dues, that the Corporation were induced to withdraw the Bill, and through the medium of Mr. Davis, an arrangement was entered into by the Deputation attending in London from the Corporation, and that from the Chamber, which at the time appeared advantageous to both parties. The petitions were accordingly withheld; but on the return of the Deputies, the Common Council refused to confirm the arrangement, and the proposition was altogether abandoned.
In February following, a draft of another Bill was sent by the Corporation Solicitors to the Chamber of Commerce, requesting they would give their opinions thereon, and suggest alterations. Their reply, after a most laborious investigation of the Schedules of dues contained in the Bill, with some remarks on its clauses, was returned to the Council House. This was followed by a another communication, in which the Corporation stated, that they hoped the Chamber would support the Bill; to which in reply, they stated their intention to oppose it, and the following Speeches of Counsel will show the grounds of their opposition.
Mr. Harrison—"Sir, the Corporation of Bristol feel that in consequence of repeated discussions on the subject of these rates and dues, it is right that they should make a concession to the merchants, and persons interested in the wealth and prosperity of that port, with reference to the amount of those rates and dues, and they are willing to make any concession that is thought reasonable with reference to the mode of collecting them, and the subjects from which they are to be collected; and upon any of the points connected with details of that description, I and my Learned Friend are not instructed to be by any means tenacious. But I should be guilty of a want of candour, if I did not state to my Learned Friends that any opposition they may attempt to make on the foundation of attacking the rights of the Corporation, by introducing any clause into the bill affecting our rights, I must resist even at the hazard of losing my bill. If that description of attack is made, however anxious and desirous the Corporation are to afford every facility they can, or to come to an arrangement which would be highly beneficial to the trade and interests of strangers, and the merchants of Bristol; they cannot do it at the sacrifice of their legal rights being called into discussion—rights which belong to them by solemn adjudication and by ancient grants; and, therefore, if my Learned Friend puts forward his opposition on any ground of that description, I am compelled to say, that I must instantly retire, and that I am in no condition to afford the relief which it is the object of the Bill to afford."
Mr. Bompas—"As my friend Mr. Harrison has alluded continually to the feelings with which he is instructed, and as I have a wish to entertain feelings of the same description, I deem it right, before I begin, to say (and perhaps I may say it in the same terms as my friend) that I am instructed, on behalf of the merchants, with feelings towards the Corporation, I am quite sure, as amicable as those with which he can be instruct ed; nor have they come before this Committee with any other feeling, although allusion has been made by my friend just throwing in a few words, to endeavour, if he can (which I am sure he shall not) to prevent that amicable feeling. But in relation to the right, my friend, Mr. Harrison, says this is not the place to have a right called into question. Sir, we have no wish to interfere with the right at all, either one way or the other, by this bill; all we ask is to insert in this bill a clause—
Mr. Bompas—"I am in possession of the Committee, and all I shall have to state is this: we have no wish to interfere with the right by any such bill as this; we only ask that the right may not be interfered with one way nor the other; and as my friend, Mr. Harrison says, this is a tribunal which never will, either one way or the other, interfere with rights, if they will only insert that clause, which, according to the resolution of the Common Council presented to the Chamber of Commerce, by which they positively stated they did not wish to assume any right at all, and that they only wished to allow the bill to pass without interfering with rights, either one way or the other; if that clause shall be inserted, which will not interfere with the right either one way or the other, then I am quite sure we shall very soon come to an amicable conclusion as to the preamble. And I have only to state, it will not be fair to refuse such a clause as this, as it will not call on this Committee in the slightest degree to adjudicate the right, but merely to leave it as it stood; so that if ever it should be tried, you may not exclude any man in Bristol, nor the gentlemen who signed that petition, or take away from them the right which they have; especially as my friend, Mr. Harrison, said, from the beginning to the end, that this is not a tribunal which ever can, or ever will, entertain a claim of right And if that be so, will this Committee deprive any individual, who may or may not have signed that petition, and who may now be in Bristol, totally unacquainted with the proceedings that are now taking place, and finds to-morrow, behind his back, his right has been taken away from him? All they ask is, that they will only insert this clause, that their rights may not be interfered with one way or the other."
The Committee finally introduced the words "claimed to be," in the preamble of the Bill, but the Chamber being advised that a saving clause was still necessary, upon bringing up of the report, a clause was introduced, and was carried by a great majority.
We think it right to put this fact upon record, because it has been stated by some Members of the Corporation, that their title was never questioned until after the Bill was passed, (fn. 27) and in further confirmation of the fact, the Corporation cannot be ignorant, that there were Seven respectable Houses in Bristol, who had refused to pay the Dues, six months before the passing of the Act.
The Bill having passed the Commons, was taken to the House of Lords, where it remained for a considerable time, and on the last day but one of the Session, was read a second and third time, and passed; thus ended a contest conducted with the most extraordinary degree of feeling.
By way of conclusion to the present Chapter, we shall here very briefly remark. In the first place, that all legal dues have been shewn, in certain documents in the 16th and 17th years of Henry 6, which, when compared with those at present collected, present a frightful increase, and demand our serious attention.
Secondly. It has been proved, that many towns and boroughs are exempted from the Bristol dues. It may be objected, perhaps, that the proposing such advantages to other places, which the Burgesses of Bristol enjoy, might tend to diminish their own: but this is foreign to the question, for they are already legally entitled thereto, and any endeavour to conceal it from them is not only an act of injustice; but, if we even consider the point in relation to the interests of Bristol, we perceive that a more extensive knowledge of the circumstance, would be productive of considerable advantage to the city, by encouraging many other places to trade through the medium of our Port, which would be a source of great public benefit.
Thirdly. We have seen, that the Grants of the Gaunts Estates have added much to the revenue of the Corporation; and we must not lose sight of three very important exemptions from Toll, in the articles of Provision, Corn, and Wool, which have been explained.
In the last place, by way of reply to a general hint, that provided the Corporation were called upon to relinquish any part of their present Toll or Revenue, it must be compensated by a County Rate; we have only to observe, that the Corporation have already tried the experiment; and, that at a time when they were at the height of their prosperity, the Town Dues producing nearly £6,000. per annum, a County Rate was proposed; when, after putting the Corporation of the Poor to a considerable expense, they were obliged to yield, without accomplishing their object. We presume it will be some time therefore, if ever, before such an undertaking be again attepted.