OF THE CITY IN HENRY THE THIRD'S TIME.
King John being dead, Henry, his eldest son, was proclaimed
King, and was crowned at Gloucester the 28th of October following.
Lewis and the Barons in the mean time being not able to win Dover
castle, removed their seige, and came to London the 6th of Nov. following, determining to subdue the smaller castles first; and accordingly they went to Hartford castle, and beseiged it Nov. 12, and it
was yielded to them Dec. 6, in the mean time, Lewis's men had won
all Ely Isle, except one fortress, in which the King's people were
enclosed, and so went from place to place, conquering all as they
went, till after Christmas, and then the said Lewis called all his
favourers to a council at Cambridge, and no peace being made there,
he made a great cavalcade or military progress into Essex, Suffolk,
and Norfolk, (fn. 1) and miserably wasted those counties, taking the castles
of Heningham and Orford: as soon as Hubert de Burgh found he
marched this way, he sent to Thomas de Burgh, his brother, who was
chatelain or keeper of this castle under him, to defend it as well as
he could, but he was not in a condition to resist, for want of forces,
and therefore upon the approach of the Frenchmen to the city, he
fled out, in hope to escape, but was taken prisoner, and put under
safe keeping; and Lewis seizing the castle, put a garrison into it,
and made William de Bellomont or Beaumont, his Marshal, constable
thereof, plundered the citizens, and reduced the city to a poor condition. But being afterwards forced to quit the realm, in 1217, Hubert
de Burgh, who was constable of the castle, and sheriff of Norfolk and
Suffolk from the first to the ninth year of his reign, took possession
of the castle upon Lewis's departure to France, and the King being
reconciled, Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk, was then made constable
thereof, and indeed the constables and lords of castles in the seignories
or liberties thereto belonginging, exercised more arbitrary regality
over their vassals, than the kings themselves, so that Mat. Paris
and others say of them, "quot domini castellorum, tot tyranni, (fn. 2) as
many constables of castles as there were, there were so many tyrants.
In this year the King talliated or taxed his royal demeans, and the
citizens paid a hundred pounds towards it, Yarmouth burgesses 60
marks, Dunwich 100 marks, (fn. 3) which shows that town to have been in
a most flourishing condition, Ipswich 30, and Orford 15 marks.
In 1220, died Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk, and constable of the
castle, (fn. 4) and
Hugh his son inherited all his lands and honours.
In 1221, Hubert de Burgh, the King's Chief Justice, Martin de
Patteshul, Stephen de Segrave, Tho. de Heydon, Hugh Rufus or Rous,
and Fulk Bainard, were justices itinerants here. And this year died
Hugh Bigod Earl of Norfolk, and constable of the castle, (fn. 5) and the
Hubert de Burgh his Chief Justice, to have the custody of all his
castles, lands, and honours: he left
Hugh Bigod, his son, his heir.
In 1223, the government of this city, was changed into four
Bailiffs, instead of a Provost, by the King's Approbation, upon
suit made for that purpose by the citizens, but the charter or license, if
there was any granted this year, I have not seen.
In 1224, the Earl of Chester, and all the earls and barons of his
faction, were forced to surrender up all their royal castles they had
in their custody, into the King's hands, and then Roger Bigod Earl
of Norfolk, and constable of this castle, surrendered it up.
In 1226, the King sent his writ to Herbert de Alencun and Alex.
de Bassingbourn, acquainting them, that though the tallage or tax of
Norwich, which was now granted on all ancient royal demeans,
amounted to 460 marks, (fn. 6) yet for the value he had for the citizens, he
had pardoned it down to 200 marks.
In 1228, the citizens petitioned the King for a new charter, with
confirmation of all their old privileges, and addition of new ones, and
in particular to have the power of trying all writs of novel disseisin, (fn. 7)
which was granted them for a fine of 80 marks, (fn. 8) and six palfreys, (fn. 9)
paid to the King. This charter is still extant in the gild-hall, and
hath a seal of green wax fixed to it; it is marked, Carta quarta, or
the Fourth Charter, and is the same, word for word, as the preceeding charters of King Richard and King John, with this addition:
Concessimus etiam eisdem civibus, et precipimus, quod omnes hij
qui residentiam habent in civitate Norwici, et qui communicaverint
libertatibus, quas concessimus eisdem civibus Norwici, tallientur, et
auxilium dent, sicut predicti cives Norwici, quando tallagia, et auxilia
super eos posita fuerint. Concessimus etiam eis, pro nobis et heredibus nostris, quod si aliquis a consuetudinibus eorum, et scottis se foras
miserit, ad eorum societatem et consuetudinem revertatur, et scottum
ipsorum sequatur, ita quod nullus inde sit quietus. Hijs testibus, J.
Bathoniensi, R. Dunolmensi, W. Karleol, Episcopis, Hugone de
Burgo Comite Kancie, Justiciario Anglie, Stephano de Segrave, Phil.
de Albaniaco, Nicholao, de Molis, Johanne filio Philippi, Ricardo
filio Hugonis, et alijs. Data per manum venerabilis patris R. Cicestrensis Episcopi, Cancellarij nostri, apud Westmonasterium, xiijo die
Februarij, anno regni nostri tertio decimo.
That is to say,
We have also granted to our said citizens, and do command, that
all persons who dwell in the city of Norwich, and partake of the
liberties which we have granted to the same citizens of Norwich,
shall be talliated, (or taxed,) and shall pay aid, as the aforesaid
citizens of Norwich do, when tollages and aids shall be laid upon them.
We have also granted to them, for us and our heirs, that if any one
hath withdrawn himself from (paying) their customs and scots, he shall
be forced to return to their company and custom, and shall be obliged
to pay the same scot (or portion of tax) as they do, so that no person
shall be acquitted thereof. These being witnesses, Joceline (de Welles)
Bishop of Bath, Richard (Poore) Bishop of Durham, Walter (Malclerk) Bishop of Carlisle, Hugh de Burgh Earl of Kent, Justice of
England, Stephen de Segrave, Philip de Albany, Nicholas de Molis,
John son of Philip, Richard Fitz Hugh, and others; dated at Westminster, by the hand of the venerable father Ralph (Nevile) Bishop
of Chichester, our Chancellor, the 13th of February, in the 13th year
of our reign.
In the 18th year of this King, viz. 1283, (fn. 10) Benedict the Phisitian
brough an appeal against James, a Jew of Norwich, setting forth, that
whereas Odard, son of the said Benedict, a boy of five years old, went
into the street to play, about four years before, (fn. 11) the said Jew took
him, carried him to his house, and circumcised him in his member,
and would have made him a Jew, keeping him a day and a night
in his house, till it was common report that he was there, upon
which the neighbours came in a body, and found him in the Jew's
house, and immediately showed the boy to the Official, the Archdeacon, and Coroners, who were all present in court, and attested the
same; and further, that they saw the boy was circumcised, his member being much swelled, and that he called him Jurnepin, all which
he did maliciously, and feloniously, in disparagement of the cross and
Christianity, &c. and he appealed several other Jews by name, of
assisting and counselling the said James; and the boy then present,
and of the age of 9 years, being asked how they circumcised him?
answered, that some held him, and some shut his eyes, and another
cut his member; and the coroners of the liberties of Norwich city,
and 36 men of Norwich, were of the jury, and found that the boy was
circumcised; and that all the Jews of Norwich were consenting
thereto, except one, called Moses Ben Solomon, and the same was
attested by Richard de Fressingfeld, constable of Norwich, and
others; whereupon the King, and the major part of his council, viz.
the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the major part of the Bishops,
Earls, and Barons of England, because the like cause never happened
before in the King's court, and because such a fact properly belonged
to God and holy church, because circumcision and baptism belong to
faith, and likewise for that there was no felony in the case, loss of
member, maheme, (fn. 12) mortal wound, or other laick felony, to damnify
a man, without the command of holy church, it was resolved by the
court, that the fact should be first considered by holy church, and
the Ordinary: and there being a mark of gold offered, that the boy
might be seen by the justices, whether he was circumcised or not,
it was accepted, and they saw the boy, and his mother uncovered
of the skin at the head, and pronounced him circumcised, and the boy
was delivered to his father, to show to the ecclesiastical judges, and
the Jews were still to remain in prison.
This is the true record of this affair, which Rabbi Manasseh Ben
Israel, in his Vindiciæ Judæorum, or Vindication of the Jews, printed
in the Phenix, vol. ii. p. 396, would make us believe is a mere fiction,
in these words, "Mathew Paris, p. 532 writes, that in the year 1240, (fn. 13)
the Jews circumcised a Christian child at Norwich, and gave him
the name of Jurnin, and reserved him to be crucified, for which
cause many of them were most cruelly put to death, the truth of
this story will evidently appear, upon the consideration of its circumstances. He was circumcised, and this perfectly constitutes
him a Jew. Now for a Jew to embrace a Christian in his arms,
and foster him in his bosom, is a testimony of great love and affection. But if it was intended that shortly after, this child should
be crucified, to what end was he first circumcised? if it shall be
said it was out of hatred to the Christians, it appears rather to the
contrary, that it proceeded from detestation of the Jews, or of them
who had newly become proselytes, to embrace the Jew's religion.
Surely this supposed prank (storied to be done in Popish times)
looks more like a piece of the real scene of the Popish Spaniards
piety, who first baptized the poor Indians, and afterwards, out of
cruel pity to their souls, inhumanly butchered them; than of strict
law-observing Jews, who dare not make a sport of one of the seals
of their covenant."
I fancy this rabbi never saw the record before quoted, and was as
willing to pass by the foregoing example of St. William, who was
not only circumcised, but crucified, and if we may judge by example,
and the appearance of things, what reason could there be else for concealing this boy, after his circumcision.
Upon this, the King caused the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk to
make proclamation in the city of Norwich, that no Christian woman
for the future should ever be servant to a Jew, either to nurse or take
care of their children, or to serve them in any other capacity. (fn. 14)
Fabian, in the seventh part of his Chronicle, fo. 43, says, that "in
the xviij. yeare of Kynge Henrye, the Jewes dwellynge at Norwich
were broughte before the Kynge at Westmynster, to answere to a
complante made agayn them, by one called John Toly of the sayde
towne of Norwyche, that they shuld stele a chyld, and it cyrcumcised of the age of a yere, and after kept the same chyld secret to
the intent to crucyfye it, in dispyte of Christes relygion. But how
the matter was folowed, or howso the Jewes acquyted themselves
by their answer, truth it is, that they returned unpunished." (fn. 15)
Holingshed, fo. 219, under the 19th of Henry III. 1235, says, that
the King being at London, there was brought before him by one
Tolie, a complaint exhibited against the Jews at Norwich, which
had stolen a child being not past a twelve moneths old, and secretlie
kept him an whole yeare togither, to the end that he might (when
Easter came) crucifie him in dispite of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
and the Christian religion, the matter as it happened, fell out well
for the lad, for within a few daies before those cursed murtherers
purposed to have shed this innocent's blood, they were accused,
convicted, and punished, whereby he escaped their cruel hands."
Speed, fo. 532, tells us, that there were seven Jews brought before
the King, &c. and relates the fact as before; and Stow, fo. 183, gives
us the same account, and adds, that they designed to have crucified
him at Easter, "as themselves confessed before the King, and were
"convicted thereof, wherefore their bodies and goods were at the
King's pleasure;" and in 1246, being still in prison, they were forced
to give the King 100 marks for respite of judgment. (fn. 16)
About this time, the animosities that had subsisted for many years
between the monks and citizens now grew to a great height, the monks
having charters of liberties older than the citizens, were uneasy with
the liberties granted to the city by Richard the First, and his successours, they interfering with their ancient liberties, all which they
stretched to the utmost, on their part, as well as the citizens theirs; so
that both parties being resolute, the monks determining to stand out
to the utmost, so far enraged the populace, that the commons of the
city rose against them, entered the convent, robbed and burnt part of
it; the King being then at Bromholm in Norfolk, hearing of it, sent
the sheriff of Norfolk to take an inquisition of the burnings and depredations, but the burgesses would not suffer them so to do, nor make
inqusition themselves, as they were bound to do; (fn. 17) upon which, in the
19th year of his reign, Ao 1234, he seized all their liberties into his
own hands; but upon their submission, released that seizure very
soon; and in 1236, directed his writ to the sheriff of Norfolk, acquainting him, that according to their liberties, every one that merchandised in Norwich with the citizens should pay tollages, taxes, and
aids, with them, and therefore, his tenants in the fee of his castle were
obliged to pay with them, as citizens; (fn. 18) they having recovered that
liberty against him and his tenants, in his own court.
In 1239, Ralf Abbot of Ramseye, William of York Provost of Beverley, Hen. de Bath, Roger Thirkelby, Jeremy de Caxton, and Gilbert
de Preston, were itinerant justices here, to settle matters between the
convent and city, but that not being done, (fn. 19) the King himself came
hither, for on the 21st of March, in the 26th year of his reign, (fn. 20) the
King was at Norwich, for from hence he dated his writ to the sheriff
of Cornwall, to command him to distrain all them who had 20l. a year
in land, or more, either held by knight's service or soccage, or a whole
knight's fee in demean, to oblige them to be knighted.
It seems he made an agreement between the citizens and convent;
for finding the original of the dispute was by reason of their liberties,
the monks claiming to exercise all their liberties in their own jurisdiction and lands, and the citizens claiming to exercise their liberties in
the site of the monastery, and lands of the monks, they being not excepted in the city charter; it being impossible that both could be
exercised in the same place quietly, and it appearing plainly that
the monks had their liberties before the citizens, and consequently the
city charter had no occasion to except them, it not being in the King's
power to grant any thing that was another's property, by his own and
predecessor's grants before; he commanded that the citizens should
use all their liberties in their own jurisdiction, but should not pretend
to molest the monks in the lands or places belonging to their convent,
but that they should in all such places use their own liberties as heretofore; and accordingly, in 1244, when the tallage was laid, the city
of Norwich was talliated or taxed to raise 100l. but was pardoned their
part; but the men or tenants of the Prior of Norwich, who dwelt in
Norwich, and held of the King lands and tenements in Norwich, by
reason they have and enjoy all the same liberties as the citizens do, (fn. 21)
were now talliated at 20l. part of the said 100l. for the tax of the
city, which they were forced to pay, so that though the Prior carried
his point, the citizens carried theirs so far, as to make the Prior and
his tenants pay the fifth part of the tax of the city, for enjoying the
same liberties as they did. And thus the matter rested for some time,
though this was the original of the rancour and malice that always
subsisted between the convent and city.
In 1240, (fn. 22) it was commanded, that the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk
should have the custody of the castles of Norwich and Orford; and
that he should maintain them at his own charge: and accordingly
the year after, the said counties and castles were committed to Hamon
Passelew, during the King's pleasure, under the same form, and with
the same authority, that Henry de Neckton, late sheriff, held them.
About this time, the royal castles were frequently committed to the
sheriff, who was always called the custos or keeper of the castle, but
the earls, barons, &c. were always called constables of the castles, and
exercised royal power within the jurisdiction of their castles, which
the sheriffs did not, without special writ for so doing.
In 1247, the coin was so clipped, that it was thought convenient
to change the same, and make it baser; (fn. 23) whereupon new stamps were
cut, and sent down to all the mints in different places in England,
with a command to the mintmasters of those places, to use no other
stamp than that of the mint of London, and all the old stamps were
In 1249, the citizens sued the burgesses of Yarmouth for not permitting their ships (or keels) to come laden with their goods and
merchandises to the city, as they always did in time past, and for detaining them there. (fn. 24)
In the same year, the Prior of Norwich was sued for hindering the
King's bailiffs from excecuting writs in his lands, and not suffering
them to distrain any of his tenants, though they had warrants so to
do, and though it was for the King's own debt, and in particular for
suffering no officer but his own to enter his lands of Newgate, Pokethorp, Spitelond, (or St. Paul's parish, where Norman's spitel, or hospital, was,) and Holme-street in Norwich; and the steward of the
Prior's lands, &c. appeared, and justified the action, by producing
the King's charters for such liberties. (fn. 25)
In this year also, Odo de Beccles was prosecuted and fined for encroaching on the King's ditch, belonging to his castle. (fn. 26)
William Ribold, a felon, appealed William Noche of Norwich for
harbouring thieves, receiving stolen goods, and killing a man named
Joceline, in his presence, in his own house, which man when dead,
the said Ribold carried out of the city, and laid him in Thorp-Wood,
all which he offered to prove by duel, in case of appeal, body against
body, according to the law of the land; upon which Noche appeared
to justify himself, and pleaded that he was a citizen of Norwich, and
not bound to the common law of the land, as to duel, (fn. 27) but was ready
to justify himself according to the custom of the city of London,
which is, (that in case of suspicion of murder or man-slaughter,) there
shall be 18 jurors returned from the part of Walbrook, and 18 more
for the other part of the city, and then the party suspected shall
come before the King's itinerant justices, and shall swear, (fn. 28) that the
person whose death he is suspected to be accessary to, was never the
further or nearer to death, any way by him or any of his accomplices,
friends, or relations, by his knowledge; and then if the 36 men so
warned, shall voluntarily swear, that they believe his oath to be true,
he shall be acquitted, but if any one of them refuses voluntarily to
swear that, he shall be condemned: this being allowed, he pleaded,
that as a citizen of Norwich he had the same privilege, and it was
granted him, and 18 jurors were accordingly summoned from the
part of Norwich beyond the water, (or river,) and 18 more for the part
on this side the water, and the said Noche came before the justices,
with 36 jurors, and took his oath as aforesaid, and all the 36 did the
same voluntarily, upon which he was acquitted of the death of the
said Joceline, and then being asked how he would acquit himself of
the felony in receiving stolen goods, and accompanying and harbouring thieves, he answered he would be tried by a common jury of 12
of the citizens, and was so; who not only acquitted him, but returned
their verdict, that they found him guilty of no crime whatever: and
so he was discharded. (fn. 29)
At the same assizes, the Dean of Norwich city was prosecuted for
taking haliday-toll (fn. 30) of the citizens, viz. of all bakers and others, and
he pleaded that it always was a custom in the city, and his predecessors immemorially enjoyed such toll, and therefore he was discharged.
At the same time also, the citizens of Norwich were prosecuted with
the burgesses of Yarmouth, and the people of Acle, for selling in unsealed bushels, and the citizens for taking toll of every bushel of corn,
which they never used to do, and were fined for so doing; (fn. 31) and the
city liberties were seized, and Sir John de Lessington, Sir Betram de
Crioyll, and Sir Robert Walerand, were deputed stewards of the King's
liberties there; as is evident from several deeds inrolled before them
in 1251, Master Hugh being then the common or town-clerk.
The city of Norwich also, according to the summons from the justices itinerant, appeared by their jury of 12 men, who were to try an
assize, concerning one Gerard Godfolche, who was drowned in the
city, in the river Wensum, by falling out of a boat, valued at 5s. which
was to be answered to the King, and the jury being demanded, why
their city coroner did not take an inquest at his death, answered, that
the body was found within their city indeed, but on the fee of the
Prior of Norwich, where their coroner could not enter, by reason of
the Prior's liberty, which was exempt from the city; which being
proved, the city was acquitted, and Will. de Hakeford, steward of the
liberty, was called, who justified the exemption, and went so far as to
say, that the Prior was not answerable for any thing, neither to the
city nor to the King's justices itinerants themselves, neither could the
city coroner enter the liberty upon any extraordinary case whatever:
upon which, the justices demanded of him, whether the Prior's soc or
liberty answered the King, with the hundreds they were in, or with
the city? the steward answered, with neither, but by himself, their
steward: but it being found upon trial, that he had not answered the
King, (his deodand,) neither by himself nor by the justices, nor by the
city, nor by the hundred, all the soc and liberty was fined at the King's
In 1251, the night after Christmas day, there was a very great tempest throughout all Norfolk and Suffolk, to the great wonder and
astonishment of the people, both on account of its violence, as well
as the season of the year: this was thought, says Holingshed, (fn. 32) a token
of some evil to follow.
In 1252, was an exceeding great drought, so that the grass was
burnt up in the pastures, that the cattle were near starved, and this
produced many diseases among the people; but in the harvest time
there fell a great death and murrain amongst cattle, and especially in
Norfolk, in the fens, and in other parts of the south. Such was the
infection, that dogs and ravens, which fed on the dead carcasses,
swelled and died; so that the people dared eat no beef: this also was
noted not without great wonder, that young heifers and bullocks followed the cows, and sucked them as if they had been calves, and apple
and pear trees, after their fruit was ripe, began to blossom again, as if
it had been April: the cause of this murrain was thought to proceed
from the abundance of grass the earth threw out after the drought,
and the greediness of the half-starved cattle feeding thereon. (fn. 33)
In this year, being the 37th of Henry III. the King granted his
royal license to the citizens to enclose their city with a large ditch,
they being then in possession of all their liberties. (fn. 34)
In 1255, the King granted a second Charter to the citizens, the
original of which is now in the gild-hall, with the broad seal of green
wax, very fair: (fn. 35) in this he grants
(Dilectis civibus de Norwico, quod ipsi et eorum heredes, in perpetuum habeant hanc libertatem, per totam terram et potestatem nostram, viz. quod ipsi, vel eorum bona quocunque locorum in potestate
nostra inventa, non arrestentur pro aliquo debito, de quo fidejussores,
aut principales debitores non extiterint; nisi forte ipsi debitores, de
eorum sint communa, et potestate, habentes, unde de debitis suis, in
toto, vel in parte, satisfacere possint, et dicti cives creditoribus eorundem debitorum in justicia defuerint et de hoc rationabiliter constare
possit, et prohibemus super forisfacturam nostram decem librarum, ne
quis eos contra libertatem predictam in aliquo injuste vexet, disturbet,
vel inquietet. Hijs testibus venerabilibus pratribus Fulcone Londoniensi,
Waltero Wygorniensi Episcopis, Johanne de Plessetis Comite Warrewyk, Johanne Maunsel Preposito Beverlaci, Henrico de Bathonio,
Henrico de Bretton, Willielmo de Grey, Imberto Pogeis, Willielmo de
Sancta Ermin: Petro Everard, et alijs, data per manum nostram
apud Wodestok, tercio die Junij, anno regni nostri tricesimo nono.)
To his beloved citizens of Norwich, that they and their heirs, for
ever, shall have this liberty (or privilege) throughout all his realm,
and jurisdiction, viz. that neither they themselves nor their goods, in
whatever place they be found in his jurisdiction, shall not be arrested
(or seized) for any debt, which they shall not be bondsmen for, or
principal debtors themselves, unless it happens that the debtors themselves be of their society (fn. 36) (or company) and jurisdiction, and have sufficient to pay part or all their debts, and the aforesaid citizens shall
neglect (or refuse) to do justice to the creditors of the said debtors,
so that they can plainly prove it to be so, and we forbid, under
penalty of ten pounds to be forfeited to us, any one unjustly to vex,
disturb, or molest them in any case, contrary to the aforesaid liberty
these being witnesses, the venerable fathers Fulk Bishop of London,
and Walter Bishop of Worcester, John de Plesset Earl of Warwick,
John Maunsel Provost of Berverley, Henry de Bath, Henry de Bretton,
William de Grey, Imbert Pogeis, Will. Sanctermin, Peter Everard,
and others: given by my own hand at Wodstock, the 3d day of June,
in the 39th year of our reign.
The next year his Majesty came to this city; for the charter of
liberties by him granted to the port of Yarmouth is dated March 25,
1256, by the King at Norwich, being the same day that he granted
his third Charter to this city (fn. 37) which is now extant in the gild-hall,
with the broad seal of green wax hanging thereto; by this charter
(Quod ipsi in perpetuum habeant returnum omnium brevium nostrorum lam de summonicionibus Scaccarij nostri, quam de alijs, civitatem nostram de Norwico et libertatem ejusdem civitatis tangentibus,
et quod ijdem cives respondeant ad Scaccarium nostrum par manus
suas proprias, de omnibus debitis et demandis ipsos, cives contingentibus, et quod nullus vicecomes aut alius ballivus noster, de cetero
intret civitatem predictam ad districtiones faciendas pro aliquibus
debitis, nisi sit pro defectu civium predictorum, et quod nullus eorum
compellatur ad placitandum extra civitatem predictam, pro aliquibus
transgressionibus in civitate illa factis, contra tenorem cartarum suarum, et contra libertates suas, et quod singuli mercutores communicantes libertatibus suis et mercandisis, sint ad lottum et scottum
eorundem civium, et ad auxilia prestanda ubicunque fecerint residentiam, sicut esse debent et solent, et quod nulla gilda de cetero
teneatur in civitate predicta ad detrimentum ejusdem civitatis. Et
prohibemus super forisfacturam nostram, ne quis contra hanc libertatem et concessionem nostram ipsos inquietare, molestare, vel gravare
presumat. Hijs testibus, venerabili patre W. Norwicensi Episcopo,
Guidone de Lesignijs et Willielmo de Valencia, fratribus nostris,
Rogero de Thirkilby, Magistro Simone de Wonton, Willielmo de
Grey, Guidone de Rocheford, Petro Everard, Bartholomeo le Bigot,
Willielmo Gernun, et alijs; data per manum nostram apud Norwicum,
vicesimo quinto die Martij, anno regni nostri quadragesimo.)
That they for ever should have the return of all our writs, as well of
summons out of our Exchequer, as all other things, relating to our city
of Norwich, and the liberty of the said city, and that the said citizens
shall answer all debts and demands belonging to them, at our Exchequer, by their own (fn. 38) hands, and that no sheriff, or other bailiff of ours
for the future, shall enter the city aforesaid, to take distresses for any
debts, unless it be for want (or neglect) of the city's doing it; (by
their own officers;) and that none of them shall be forced to plead out
of the aforesaid city, for any offences committed in that city, it being
contrary to the tenour of their charters and liberties, and that all merchants enjoying their liberties and merchandising with them, shall pay
to the lot, scot, and aids, of the aforesaid citizens, wherever they
dwell, as they ought and used to do: and for the future, no gild (or
fraternity of merchants) shall be held in the aforesaid city, to the
damage of the said city. And we enjoin on pain of our forfeiture, (fn. 39)
that no one presume to disturb, molest, or trouble them, contrary to
this liberty and grant. These being witnesses, the venerable father
Walter Bishop of Norwich, Guy de Lesiguian and Will. de Valence,
our brothers; Roger de Thirkilby, Master Simon de Wanton, William
de Grey, Guy de Rocheford, Peter Everard, Bartholomew le Bigot,
Will. Gernun, and others; given by our hands at Norwich, the 25th
day of March, in the 40th year of our reign.
This same year, several goods belonging to the freemen were
arrested and stopped for the debts of others that were not free, at
Boston fair, as they had formerly been, but the city stood a trial and
got it, by producing their charter, which they had lately obtained for
this purpose. (fn. 40)
At the same time, the citizens complained of the Prior, for taking of
landgable of the citizens in the afternoon, when the bailiffs of the city
had taken it in the morning: and this was the beginning of another
insurrection between the commons and monks, for the Prior proving
he took it only in Holm-street and other places exempt from the city,
he recovered the action, which the citizens could not bear without
This year it was proclaimed in this city, and throughout the realm,
that every man of 15l. a year in land, held by knight's service, should
either be made a knight, or pay the king a mark of gold every year.
At this time also, the bailiffs of the city were called upon to show
how they dare enter the liberty of the King's castle at Norwich, but
on submission were pardoned.
In 1261, Philip Marmion of Tamworth castle, whom the King had
great confidence in, was made constable of Norwich and Orford
castles. (fn. 41)
In 1263, one Will. Cope was killed at Lakenham, in a gravel-pit;
but the city coroners did not sit upon him, because of the approaching
war, and fear of future danger: and being called upon by the justices,
they assigned this is a reason, and were excused: (fn. 42) and a good reason
it was, for so tumultuous was the city, that I meet with many prosecutions of the citizens for firing one another's houses by night, cutting the bell-ropes off, that they should not ring when they had fired
the houses, and such like: the whole being divided into various
factions, one part sided with the King against the barons that were in
arms against him, another with the barons; the bishop and clergy
were for the barons, the city bailiffs and commons (with those of the
castle-fee) were for the King; and in short, the old grudges between
the monks and the citizens, that dwelt in their exempt jurisdiction, and
those that dwelt in the King's jurisdiction belonging to his castle, and
the bailiffs, and corporation, and their citizens, were now renewed, and
got to such a height, that it was a dangerous time to live in: many of
the citizens were killed and found dead; if they were not of the city
party, the monks and their party would not suffer the city coroners
to take inquests; if they were of the monk's party, then the citizens
would not suffer the Prior's coroner to take any inquests; and thus
every thing was in confusion.
In 1265, Simon Mundford, and the barons his adherents, seized all
the King's castles, and divided them amongst themselves, and the
King being then in their power, they forced him to send circular letters
or proclamations to the sheriffs of the several counties, and particulary to Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk, and constable of the castle
of Norwich, to hinder all attemps made against the provisions of
Oxford, and the ordinances made at London, in his counties of Norfolk, and Suffolk. (fn. 43) But the King's fortune being changed, after the
overthrow of his barons at Evesham, he removed all the constables of
the castles that Monford Earl of Leicester, and the confederate
barons, had constituted, of which number Roger Bigod was one; and
John de Vallibus, or Vaux, was made constable of this castle, and
sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk; and there were so many things done
without punishment, that non omittas writs were directed to the
sheriff to authorise him to enter the city, notwithstanding their
liberties. (fn. 44)
In 1266, (fn. 45) about the middle of December, the disinherited barons
came from the Isle of Ely to sack Norwich, and the citizens prepared
to resist them, but the barons be ng courageous and skilled in war,
and men of judgment, presently took it, Sir John de Evile or Eyville
being their leader, and entering the city, they killed very many, others
they imprisoned, and all that day and night, till eleven o'clock the
next day, robbed and plundered the town, and carried away captive
with them many of the wealthiest citizens, to the isle, to which they
returned in triumph. (fn. 46)
Soon after, in this very year, there was a jury summoned out of the
parishes of St. John of Burgh-street, (fn. 47) and others, to try Thomas de
Karleton, one of the constables for the King's peace, for the murder
of Walter de Sterston, one of the city serjeants; but he was acquitted;
it appearing that the constable being forewarned of the barons coming
to sack the town, caused it be proclaimed through the whole city, that
the citizens might be provided to defend themselves, and that by
virtue of his office he desired the serjeant, according to his duty, to
cite the citizens in his ward to join the constable to defend the city;
which he not only refused, but gave him base language for his loyalty
to his prince, and endeavours to save the city: upon which, the constable having a sword drawn in his hand, gave him a stroke under
the breast with it, of which the serjeant died.
In 1267, the bailiffs were summoned to answer for the many murders and disorders committed in the city, but they contemptuously
departed the court without license, for which the King seized the city,
and kept it in his hands. (fn. 48)
In 1271, a commission was issued directed to Hugh Peeche, to enquire the value of the citizens goods which were forfeited to the King
for their contempt. (fn. 49)
This year, on St. Peter and Paul's day, as the monks were were at
prime, the lightning struck the cathedral steeple so violently, that it
cast down certain large stones of two of the pillars, with such violence,
that they sunk far into the ground, and all the monks fled for fear
out of the quire, except three, one of which fell flat on the ground,
and the other two held fast on the stalls, and so were saved; the
quire being full of stench and smoak.
There was also a very great flood, which did much damage to the
city and adjacent country.
In 1272, on the ninth day of August, (fn. 50) the citizens assaulted the
precinct of the monastery on all sides; (fn. 51) but William de Brunham or
Burnham, then Prior, with armed men, took upon him to keep it by
force against them, upon which they fired the great gates with reed
and dry wood, and burnt them down, with St. Albert's church, which
stood near them, and all the books, &c. in it; at the same time they
fired the great almonry and the church doors, and great tower, all
which were presently burnt. Others got upon St. George's steeple,
and threw fire with slings, and fired the great belfry beyond the quire,
so that the whole church was burnt, all but the Virgin Mary's chapel,
which was miraculously preserved; they burnt also the dormitory
refectory, entertaining hall, and the infirmary, with the chapel belonging to it; and almost all the buildings in the court (fn. 52) were quite
consumed: (fn. 53) many of the monastery, some sub-deacons, others, clerks,
and some laymen, were killed in the cloister and precinct of the monastery; others were carried out and killed in the city, and others
imprisoned. After which, they entered the monastery, and plundered
it of all the gold, silver, holy vessels, books, vestments, and whatever
they found not consumed by the fire, all the monks except two or
three, who were aged, being fled: not satisfied with this, they continued
three days together, slaying, burning, and robbing the tenants and
favourers of the church: the Prior himself fled to Yarmouth, and
instead of endeavouring to settle the mischief he first began, got
together a company of armed men, and came and entered Norwich,
with trumpet blown, and sword in hand, and fell upon the citizens
with fire and sword, wounding, killing, and destroying many of them
and their houses: which things, when the King was by special messengers informed of, he was very wroth and much grieved, and immediately dispatched messengers to all his ports in England and
France, commanding them, that if any Norwich men came thither
they should seize and imprison them, till he gave further orders; at
the same time also, he directed letters to all the bishops and nobles of
England, commanding them to meet him, on St. Giles's day, at Bury,
there to enter into council and advise him how to proceed against
the citizens for these heinous transgressions.
At the same time also, Roger de Skerning Bishop of Norwich called
together all his clergy, on the 30th day of August at Eye in Suffolk, (fn. 54)
and there by joint consent, an excommunication was published
against all that were concerned in these facts, in general, and several
that were particularly named, (fn. 55) and the whole city was put under a
On St. Giles's day the King held his parliament at Bury, and by
their advice, came himself to Norwich, to inflict condign punishment
for these crimes. He entered the city on the day of the Exaltation of
the Holy Cross, being Sept. 14, and at his request, the Bishop took
off the interdict from the city, and the King's justices caused some of
the offenders (34 in number, as the old roll says) to be drawn with
horses about the streets till they died; (fn. 56) others were carried to the gallows, and there hanged, drawn, and quartered, and their bodies afterwards burnt; (fn. 57) the woman that first set fire to the gates, was burnt
alive, and others, to the number of 12 persons forfeited their goods to the
King; which the rich men seeing, (as this monk says, who is not to
be credited in the affair,) they bribed the justices, the freemen of the
country, the King's counsel, and even a jury of 48 knignts, and so no
more coporal judgment was inflicted on any; and all of them falsely
and maliciously (as he says, but it was justly enough,) accused Will.
de Brunham, then Prior, of being in a great measure the occasion of
things coming to this extremity, and proved it so much to the King's
satisfaction, that he committed him to the Bishop's prison, and seized
all the manors and whatever belonged to the priory into his own
hands. (fn. 58)
He then also seized the city and all the liberties that were ever
granted to it, (fn. 59) and assigned custoses or keepers, to keep the city in his
Many of the citizens, at the King's coming, fled for fear, and
returned after he was gone: but what was most surprising, (says the
monk,) was, that many of the country and city clergy were on the
citizens side, which is a plain argument of the arrogant oppression of
the monks, both to them and the citizens; he wonders much that the
jury of knights should return, that the church might be burnt by fire
not well taken care of, (fn. 60) though at the same time he acknowledges, that
as to the fact their verdict was true, for they said, that the citizens
attacked and fired the gates and other places of the monastery.
The King, after the seizure, made the Prior of Binham custos of all
the manors, lands, goods and revenues belonging to the convent,
commanding him to find the convent all necessaries, and keep the
overplus without waste, till he had further orders from him; but the
revenues of the officers of the monastery were not seized from any
On 27th of Sept. the King left Norwich, and the day after, William
de Brunham the Prior voluntarily and freely resigned the priory into
the Bishop's hands, who was then ill at Thorp by Norwich: which
shows as if he was sensible enough of his ill management, and Will. de
Kirkeby was elected in his place the 1st of Oct. and confirmed at
Thorp, and installed Oct. 2, who immediately applied to the King,
and had the revenues and goods of his monastery delivered to him.
Notwithstanding the Bishop's illness, which came probably from
these vexatious affairs, great part of which seems to be owing to his
own haughty spirit; yet on the 18th day of the same month, the
citizens having refused to pay the sum demanded of them for damages, he interdicted the city again; and on the 16th day of November, in the same year, the King died at Westminster, in the 66th
year of his age, and 57th year of his reign; being then in possession
of the castle, city, and all its liberties.
Holinshed, Fabian, Mat. Paris, and Mat. of Westminster, (fn. 61) all of
them mention this affair particularly, and from them Nevile, Bishop
Godwin, (fn. 62) and the records I have seen, compared together, we may
find the truth of the matter, which is not to be had from the foregoing account of Cotton's; which seems to lay the fault upon the
citizens, when in truth it was owing to the Prior and convent, who
"was well inough borne out and defended by the Bishop of Norwich,
named Roger, who (as it is likelie) was the maister of the mischeefe,
though hands were not laid upon him, nor his adherents; perhaps
for feare, peradventure for favour: and no marvell though the lesse
faultie lost their lives as most guiltie:" (fn. 63) for no less than 30 young
men of the city were condemned, hanged, and burnt, to the great
grief of the other citizens, who thought the Prior was the occasion of
all the mischief, by getting together armed men, and taking upon
him to keep the belfry and church by force of arms. (fn. 64)
Speed, fo. 550, says, that when the King heard it, he first dispatched away, "Sir Thomas Trivet, his justice, (before whom a great
multitude were found guilty, and were condemned to be drawn and
hanged,) the King himself having in his company one Bishop, (fn. 65) and
the Earl of Gloucester, followed, where beholding the deformed
ruins, he could hardly refrain from tears; the Bishop of Rochester
therefore excommunicated the nocent, and the King condemned
the town in 3000 marks, towards the re-edification of that church,
as also to pay one hundreth pounds for a cup weighing ten pounds
in gold." But the city not complying to pay these fines, caused
things to be carried still on to a great height, between them and the
But in order to find the first aggressors, we must look into the beginning of this fray, which was occasioned in this manner:
At a fair, which was then kept on Tombland, (fn. 66) before the monastery
gates, there arose a quarrel, between the servants of the monastery,
and citizens, which coming to blows, the servants killed some of the
citizens, upon which, the city coroner comes and takes an inquest, and
finds them guilty, and issues out warrants to take the murderers
wherever they should be found; this was fact, and the whole that
could appear to the historians, that have given us the account of it;
but it appears by the evidences both of the church and city, that the
servants of the monastery, and the populace of the city, really fought
their master's old cause. This fair was held on Tombland, (fn. 67) and being
granted to the church by charter, the monks said the citizens had
nothing to do there, and that Tombland, Holmstreet, and Spitelond,
in Norwich, were exempt jurisdisctions from the city magistrates; the
citizens, on the other hand, insisted that the whole city was in their jurisdiction, no part whatever being exempted out of their charter, (fn. 68) which
contradiction the monks would not bear, and so took upon them to
be the first aggressors, their servants beginning the fray, which does
not seem to be accidental, the Prior having provided a sufficient
posse (as he thought) of armed men to guard him and his monastery;
but the coroner of the city taking an inquisition in their exempt jurisdiction, where they said their own coroner only had power to do it,
so enraged them, that they first excommunicated the citizens, and
endeavoured to do what damage they could to the city, and shutting
up their gates, not only prepared to defend themselves, but began to
offend others, and having got more weapons and strength, they began
to shoot first at the citizens as they went by the gates, and wounded
several: but on Sunday before St. Laurence's day, they issued out of
their gates as enemies, with a great noise, and all that day and night
went in a raging manner about the city, committing many extravagant insolences, killing several merchants and citizens, and plundering their houses; at last breaking into a tavern kept by one Hugh de
Bromholm, they drank up what wine they could, and let all the rest
out of the casks; the citizens perceiving these things, and seeing no
speedy end likely to ensue, the magistrates assembled, and immediately sent letters to his Majesty, to acquaint him with it, complaining much of the prior and monks, and in the mean time prepared to
defend their city, by ordering the citizens to assemble in the marketplace at 10 of the clock the next day, at which time so great a multitude appeared, that it looked like a large army: but in this the
magistrates were deceived, and so undesignedly occasioned the mischief that followed, for the populace in the utmost rage, (as they
well might, at such treatment as they had met with,) contrary to their
will and inclination, went to the priory gates, fired them and the
monastery in divers places, and committed all those exorbitant outrages before mentioned.
Provosts of Norwich. (fn. 69)
1216, Joceline Rocelin.
1217, William de Norwico or
1218, Theobald D'escois, L'escois,
or the Scot.
1219, Robert Ascolf.
1220, Herbert de Alencun.
1221, Alexander de Bassingbourn.
Bailiffs Of Norwich.
1223, Henry Fitz-Eustace.
R. le Munk.
Ralph L'estrencie or
1226, Alured de Hemlington.
Nic. de Campania or
Henry de Senges.
Eustace de Hethill.
1227, Adam de Tofts.
Nic. de Ely.
Roger de Swerdeston, or
Nic. de Eaton.
1230, Roger le Resh or Rash.
Herbert le Chapter.
John de Lenn.
Richer de Refham.
1232, Nigel le Wimer.
Will le Waller.
John de Sibton.
Ivo de Gadbi, Gavier,
Gavij, or Gayter.
1235, Walter Gamage.
Adam le Graunt.
Tho. de Senges.
1235, Rich. le Calue.
1237, Alan Fitz-Benedict, Benedicite, or Bennet.
Adam de Frechenei.
Edm. le Tonder.
1238, The same as in 1235.
1239, Aug. Argentein.
Gervase Lorimarius, or
Ralf le Pecimer.
1240, The same as in 1237.
1243, Isaac de Catton.
Godwin Aurifaber, or
Roger de Berwick.
Nic. de Chapele or Chapter.
1245, Andrew Minny.
Will. de Depeham.
Ralf le Pecimer.
Tho. de Limer.
1246, Odo de Beccles.
Will. le Clerk.
James de Colchester.
1247, Jvo de Gavier.
Hugh de Swathfield.
John de Sibton.
Nic. le Chapelle.
1248, Rog. de Berwick.
Simon de Metingham.
Hervy de Vallibus or Vaux.
Henry de Gust.
1249, Henry de Senges.
John de Attlebridge.
Ivo le Gavij or Gayter.
1250, Peter Civis, or the Citizen.
Rob. de Catton.
Otto le Texter, or the
Hugh de Swathfield.
1251, Ric. Lindernell.
Adam de Alby.
[Sir John de Lessington, Sir
Bertram de Crioyll, Sir Robert
Walerand, were stewards for the
King in this city; and master
Hugh was town-clerk.]
1252, John de Sibton.
Rob. le Plomer.
1253, Hugh le Clerke.
Walter le Clerke.
John le Graunt.
1254, Hervy de Erlham.
Peter Bois or de Bosco.
John de Hildolfeston or
1255, Will. Warrin.
Henry de Catton.
Warine de Hethill.
Tho. de Turkelee.
1256, Will. de Lyncolne.
Rob. de Smallburgh.
1257, Rob. de Bosco or Bois.
Reinald de Elingham.
1258, Will. de Refham.
Paul de Pagrave.
Roger de Tudenham.
1259, Tho. de Carleton.
1259, Adam le Spicer.
Will. de Pessenhall.
Nic. le Gris or Grice.
1260, Roger de Tudenham.
Ric. de Felmingham.
Tho. de Heningham.
1261, Hugh le Clerke.
Henry de Heylesden.
Roger de Swerdeston.
1262, Alex. de Refham.
Hubert le Taverner.
1263, John de Newbrigge.
Walter le Clerk.
Nic. de Hacford.
1264, Nic. Clement.
Simon de Berestrete.
1265, Adam le Clerk.
Ralf de Newbrigge.
Adam le Taverner.
John de Catton.
1266, Roger de Morley.
Roger de Tudenham.
William de Redeham.
1267, Adam de Toftes.
Rog. de Swerdeston.
Nic. de Ely.
Nic. de Eaton.
[Will. le Cunte was the King's
bailiff, when the liberties were
1268, Hugh Clerke.
Roger de Swerdeston.
1269, Peter Butt.
Nic. de Ely.
Nic. de Ingham.
1270, Nic. de Ely.
Adam de Toftes;
1271, Henry Clerk.
Adam le Spicer.
1271, Will. Paine.
Roger de Swerdeston.
1272, Nic. de Ely.
Rog. de Swerdeston.
Will. de Dunwich.
Adam le Spicer.
[The liberties were seized by the
King, who nominated custoses or
keepers of the city, viz.
Adam de Toftes.
Henry de Hellesden.
Herman de Stanhow.