An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part I. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1806.
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Of The City in The Time of Henry The Sixth.
In 1422, Henry of Windsor, only child to King Henry V. being then scarce 9 months old, was proclaimed King of England, the last day of August, and according to his father's will, the regency of France was assigned to John Duke of Bedford, the government of England to Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, the guard of his person to Tho. Duke of Exeter and Henry Beaufort Bishop of Winchester, Lord Chancellor.
In 1423, there was a commission directed to Walt. Daniel, mayor, Will. Paston, and other justices assigned by the King, for a sessions of oyer and terminer, and general gaol delivery for the city and its county; and such commissions were very often taken out, as soon as their jails began to be full, (fn. 1) and were continued till lately, when they were disused, and ever since, the judges at the summer assizes, which are always held here, have tried all prisoners, &c. to this time. In the 6th year of the King, a commission of this kind was directed to the mayor, sheriffs, and the four justices of peace named by the mayor, Will. Paston, Will. Yelverton, (fn. 2) and others, before whom the two coroners for the city always appeared, as did also the sixteen constables for the four wards, and the two constables for the liberty of Holm-street, and the other two for the liberty of Spitelond, with the bailiff of the Prior's liberties in those places, and also the four men out of each ward, but what their offices were I cannot find, but take them to be designed for jurymen; at this time the liberty of the city by water appears to extend as far as Braiden. (fn. 3) And in this year was a statute made, (fn. 4) that the mark of every goldsmith should be known to the wardens of that craft, and there should be no silver wrought, unless it was as fine as the sterling, and then the keeper of the touch shall touch it with the leopard's head, and it was then ordained, that the cities of Norwich, York, &c. should every one have divers touches, according to the ordinance of the mayors, &c. of the same.
In 1424, there was a tripartite indenture made, by the mayor, aldermen, and commons, containing Constitutions for the better Government of the City; it was ratified at a common assembly in the Gild-hall, on Friday after St Lucy's day, and was afterwards confirmed by King Henry VII. under the broad seal, in 1492: (fn. 5) In this, the city is said to be "hevyly voysed for lak of good and vertuous governaunce with inn the seyd citee had, to gret dishonour of the mair, aldermen, and good commons, of the same." To remedy which, they made the following ordinances, to bind the mayor and aldermen, and to give good example to the commons.
"Thys heir ye Sire Mair, and alle myn Felas Aldermen, that her ben; that I from thys tyme forthe, as longe as I stonde in Degre and Estat of Alderman wyth inne the Citee of Norwych, to yow Sire Mair and to yowr Successouris Maires of this seyd Citee, xal ben obedyent, alle Constitucyons, and Ordinaunces, wyth here Peynes, and dependauncis, in thise present Endenturis, comprehendit, as wel as alle othir Ordenaunces, be yow, and your Aldermen, er your Successouris, er be the more Part of hem, for honour of the Estatis to ben mad, and ordeyned, with myn Body, and myn Good, xal holden, and susteyne, and in any Office, upon me, in name of the same Citee to be leyd, I xal me governe, be the Councel, and Advys of the Mair and Aldermen of thys same Citee, for the Tyme beyng, er be the Advys of the more Partye of hem. So help me God at the Holy-Doom."
And at this time it was ordained, that yearly at the swearing of the new mayor, and at such other times as the mayor should think convenient, the following proclamation (fn. 6) should be made in divers parts of the city in the mayor's name, viz.
'The Meyr of this Cite comaundyth on the Kyngis behalve, that iche Man kepe the Pees fro this tyme forthwarde, and that no man disturble, ne breke the forseid Pees, ne go armed wyth in the citee, upon the peyn of presounment, and forfeture of all the armure, & that alle manner Bakeris, baken iiij Lovys for a peny, and ij lovys for a peny of Bultell of Reynes, and that Bred, and all other Breed, that the Baxteris schall bake, be wele sesonde, & holden the ful weyghte, after the fourme of the statute ther upon made, and upon peyn ther upon ordeyned wyth inne this Cite. And that no Bakere, beye none qwete in the market beforn x of the clokke, and that alle Brewsters, and Gannokers, selle a gallon ale of the best be measure a selyd for 1d. ob. and a gallon of the next for 1d. and other as it hath be forn tyme ben used, upon peyne that is ordeyned in the Cite, and that all manner Taverners selle a galon of Redwyne of Gascoyne, of the beste, be mesured a seled for vjd. and a galon of Qwytewyne of Gascoine of Rochell for iiijd. and alle manner wynes according, like as they ben of valew, upon peyn that is ordeyned theron in the Cite, and that no Bocher ne Fissman, bringe no manner of vetaile into the Market to be sold, but yif it be onest, and holsome, as it owyth for to be, upon forfeture of the vetaile, and of other ponyschement, be discrecion of the Meyr of the Cite, and that none Cook, selle no vetaile, but it be well sesonde, and that thei rechafe no mete, in peyne of forfeiture of the vetayle, and upon other peynes ordeyned in the Citee, and that thei selle good and reasonable penneworths, and thei bye no manner vetayle in market beforn viiij of the clokke, and that non bye ne selle no manner of vetayle in none Jnne, with inne howses, but in the pleyn market, o peyne ther on ordeyned, and that no Manner man forstalle Whete, ne Malte, ne non other Corn, in the Cite, ne non other vetaile coming toward the Citee, be lond ne by water, ne non ernest geve, upon non vetayle, but in the plein market, upon peyn of forfeture of the vetayle, and uppon other peynes ordeyned in the Citee, and that non Alyon, (fn. 7) walk in the Citee in Somere, nor in wyntere, after the Curfu-bell (fn. 8) be rongyn, ne non Knyfe bere with poynt, in peyn of presonment and forfeture of his knyfe, ne that ther schall noon Alyon herverwe (fn. 9) non other alyon, comyng to the Citee, upon peyn ther on ordeyned, and that no man with in the Citee, pleye atte tenyes, ne coyting, ne dises, ne non other disonest pleyes, upon peyn of prisonment, but usen Schetyng, (fn. 10) and other onest Games, as the Kyngis commandment is, and that alle Constables of the Cite, iche man in his Warde, kepe the pees and make watches, as it is ordeyned, and arreste all manner of Night Walkers, and misdoers, and bring hem to the Kingis preson, uppon peyne ther on ordeyned, wyth inne the Cite, and that alle manner Men of Crafte, that ben foren or Estrangeres, that welyn comyn to the Citee, and usen her Craftis there inne, they schall freely dwell in the forseid Cite, wyth owtyn any amercyment, or lose of goods, a twelmond and a day, and over that in suche wyse as it haith ben used beforn in old tyme.'
About this time, a general persecution broke out among the Lollards, (fn. 11) in this diocese, men that earnestly desired the reformation of the English church, and were disciples of that great and good man John Wickliff, but had this name (as I think) given them at that time by the clergy, (who treated them as hereticks,) as a name of infamy and disgrace; but yet so zealous were they for the truth, such abhorrence had they of the Popish church and doctrine, that they chose rather to suffer many grievous torments, or even death itself, rather than forsake the truth, or deny the faith; upon which account, above 120 persons of this diocese, both men and women, sustained great vexations for the profession of the true Christian faith and pure Gospel of Christ: for at this time the King sent forth his letters to John Exeter, register of Norwich, to apprehend all that were suspected of Lollardy or heresy, wheresover they were found, and to send them to the next prison, there to remain till delivered by due course of law, and in particular to seize William White, priest, and others.
This William was of Kent, a scholar and disciple of Wickliff; he came into Norfolk, and dwelt chiefly at Ludham, (fn. 12) and instructed many in the light of the Gospel, and was the first (and at that time) only teacher of Wickliff's doctrine in this county, for it is evident the people of this shire had but one instructor, because they all maintained and held the same doctrines and articles of faith. This man was a priest, but not of the common sort of those times, being well learned, upright, and affable; he resigned his benefice to marry, but did not leave his duty, but continually laboured to promote the Gospel by reading, writing, and preaching. The points of doctrine which rendered him obnoxious to the then powers, were,
5. That such as wear cowls, (fn. 13) or be anointed, or shorn, are the lance-knights and soldiers of Lucifer, and that they all because their lamps are not burning, shall be shut out into utter darkness, when the Lord cometh.
Upon these articles he was brought before Archbishop Chichley at Canterbury, where he witnessed the truth he had so long preached; but at last his courage failing, he submitted to a recantation, and was abjured; but being soon after greatly troubled for what he had done, confessing his errour and offence, he became much stouter and stronger in Jesus Christ: for coming with his wife into Norfolk, he abode with one Thomas Moon of Ludham, and was so diligent in his teaching, that he converted many to the doctrine of Christ, and continued to do so, by travelling into divers places to sow the good seed of the word of God, which he saw blessed with great increase. But at last, by means of the said letters, he was taken, and brought before John Wakering Bishop of Norwich, by whom he was convicted of 30 articles, and being condemned, was cruelly burned in this city, in September 1424, (fn. 14) being the proto-martyr of this place; so holy, devout, and innocent, was his life and conversation, that he was much reverenced, and at his death many desired him to pray for them. When he came to the stake, he thought to speak to the people, to exhort and confirm them in the truth; but one of the Bishop's servants struck him on the mouth, and forced him to be silent, and so he ended a good life, to the great grief of many of his followers, both in the city and country; whose doctrine, though they would not permit him to declare it at his end, sprung up the faster, verifying the sentence, that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, for though he was thus violently taken away, he left so many excellent sermons and discourses among his followers, that though dead, he still speaks. After his death, his wife Joan, for spreading abroad the same doctrine, suffered much trouble and punishment at the Bishop's hands. (fn. 15)
In 1426, the Liber Albus, or the White Book, a fine fair vellum manuscript of the affairs of this city, was first compiled, and all the material evidences, and memorable occurrences, were entered there, by the command of Thomas Ingham, then mayor; and ever since, other things have been added as they happened.
In 1427, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester was here, being joined in commission of oyer and terminer, and general jail delivery, with the mayor, &c. and several felons were tried before him. (fn. 16)
William Sedman, late mayor, at his death left 22l. to the poor of Norwich county, and 40l. a year, for three years after his decease, to be distributed among the blind, lame, and most needy in the city. (fn. 17)
In 1428, one John Beverley, alias Battild, labourer, was attached by the vicar of Southcreak, the parish priest of Waterden, and a lawyer, and so delivered to master Will. Bernham, the Bishop's commissary, who sent him to the castle, there to be kept in irons; but upon his trial before the commissary, nothing could be proved against him, but yet so great was the hatred of the clergy against the Lollards, that when they could not burn nor torture, yet none should escape without punishment, and penance, whether right or wrong, for this man, though nothing was proved, was enjoined among other things, to fast with bread and water only, on the Fridy and Saturday next after his trial, and on the Saturday to be fustigated, (fn. 18) from the palace round by Tomblond, and thence to St. Michael's at Plea church, and through Cutler-rowe round the market, holding in his hand a wax candle of two-pence price, which he was to offer to the image of the holy Trinity at the high altar of the cathedral, after he had performed his penance, and then he was to quit the diocese, and come into it no more. (fn. 19)
These penances enjoined to those suspected of Lollardy grew afterwards very common here; for in 1430, John Finch was ordered three displings in solemn procession round the cathedral, and three more round the market, on three principal market days, his head neck and feet being bare, and his body covered only with a short shirt or vesture, holding a wax taper of a pound weight, to be offered to the Trinity, on the Sunday next after his penance: and the next year Nic. Canon of Eye was forced to a penance of the same nature round the cloisters, &c.
In 1429, it was enacted "that in every city, borough, and town of the realm of England, a common balance shall be, with common weights sealed, according to the standard of the Exchequer, upon the common costs of the said city, borough, or town, in the keeping of the mayor, or constable of the same, at which balance or common weight all the inhabitants of the same city, borough, or town, that have not such weights, and other that have, if they will, may freely weigh without any thing paying, taking nevertheless of foreigns, (fn. 20) for every draught within the weight of 40l. a farthing, and for every draught betwixt 40 pound and an 100 pound, one halfpenny; and for every draught between 100 pound and 1000 pound, a penny at most: whereof the weights shall be maintained, and the officers lawfully weighing, rewarded, by the discretion of the chief men of the city, borough, or town, according to his attendance to his said business, be it more or less. And the justices of peace, mayors, bailiffs, and stewards of franchises, have power by authority aforesaid, to examine the trespassers in this case, &c.; this statute to endure for ever, and every city upon pain of 10 pound, every borough upon pain of 100 shillings, and every town where a constable is, upon pain of 40s. shall have a common balance with weights according to the standard." (fn. 21) And by the 11th Henry VII. weights and measures were to be made of brass, and sent to the chief officers of every city, &c.; but by the act of the 12th of Henry VII. the weights and measures so made being found defective, all the old measures and brass weights were called in, broken, and melted down, to make new ones of, according to the size of this statute, that all might be alike throughout the whole realm, viz. every bushel to contain 8 gallons of wheat, and every gallon 8 pounds of wheat of troy weight, and every pound 12 ounces of troy weight, and every ounce 20 sterlings, and every sterling to be of the weight of 32 corns of wheat that grew in the midst of the ear, according to the old law of the land. Which regulation thus made, was of great service to the kingdom at that time, there being such variety of weights and measures, that sometimes the most cautious were deceived; but this was one only of the several excellent statutes made in this parliament, for to them we owe the first law against incendiaries, (fn. 22) by which it was made high treason if any threatened, by casting of bills, to burn a house, if money was not laid in a certain place, and afterwards did burn the house; as also that for regulating of elections, which sets forth, that whereas the elections of knights of shires in many counties had been outrageous by the very great and excessive number of people dwelling in those counties, many of which were people of small substance and no value, every one of which pretended a voice equivalent as to such elections, with the most worthy knights and esquires dwelling in those counties, whereby manslaughter, riots, and divisions among the gentlemen, were like to ensue, unless due remedy was had; in order for which it was enacted, "that the knights of the shires to be chosen within the realm of England shall be chosen in every county of the realm, (fn. 23) by people dwelling and resident in the same counties, whereof every one of them shall have land or tenement, to the value of 40s. by the year at least, above all charges, and that they which shall be chosen, shall be dwelling and resident within the same counties, and such as have the greatest number of them, that may expend 40s. by year as afore is said, shall be returned by the sheriffs of every county, knights for parliament, by indentures sealed, betwixt the said sheriffs and the said chusers to be made; and every sheriff of the realm of England, shall have power by the said authority to examine upon the Evangelists, (fn. 24) every such chuser, how much he may expend by the year." The sheriff that makes a false return forfeits a 100l. and a year's imprisonment without bail or mainprise, and the persons returned lose their wages. And had not the intention of this most excellent act been enervated by process of time, which by the difference of value of lands hath rendered us subject to the same grievances that this was made to preyent, I am apt to believe the many inconveniences that we see arise in our elections had been in a great measure stopped and hindered; these added to the other statutes "of hindering the exportation of wool, (fn. 25) of packing and winding wool, (fn. 26) and that no thrums or woollen yarn should be carried out of the realm," (fn. 27) make this parliament remarkable for their wisdom and love of their country, even at this distance of time; and in particular, Tho. Wetherby and Rob. Ingham, members for the city, were very strenuous and instrumental in procuring the last mentioned statutes, which were of great service to the place they represented; for at that time it subsisted in a great measure, as it still doth, by the woollen manufacture.
This year the contest between William Worsted Prior of Norwich, and his convent, and the mayor, sheriffs, and citizens, was adjusted, and an agreement made, by which the Prior had all his exempt liberty for himself and tenants, in Spitelond, Holmstreet, and Ratonrowe allowed and confirmed, all his tenants being to be free from serving at the turns of the sheriffs of Norwich, and to buy and sell in the city toll-free, and to have the ferry over the river Wensum (fn. 28) to the water-gates of the monastery, exclusive of the city, all Cunesford meadowes were to belong and be in the jurisdiction of the convent, the Prior to have view of frankpledge and court baron, weyf, stray, forfeitures of felons and fugitives, liberty of outfangthef, infangthef, toll, team, gallows, tumberell, and confiscated goods, and all other liberties which the priors had, in all the meadows, (except in the tower called the Dungeon,) and in all the hamlets and towns of Brakenddle, Lakenham, Eaton, and Erlham, to Erlham cross, and nether Erlham-street, and so to Heigham-gates, and also from Berstreetgates, by the middle of the road to the cross at the joining of the two ways, and thence to Trows Mill by the foot path, and from the mill to Trows Bridge, and from the bridge by the north side of the bank of Trows Ee, (fn. 29) to the river Wensum, including the Ee or water belonging to his manors of Lakenham and Newton, and all free pasture there, and free fishery in the Ee, and in Wensum, and a certain wharf in Wensum against the Gannok, and all the water and fishery from Trowse bridge to the end of Eaton wood, and also liberty of riding in the city and liberties thereof, on Friday before Whitsuntide, to proclaim their fair to be held on Tombland, all which fair and liberties thereto belonging, the city disclaimed, and the said Prior was to have the liberty to pass and repass the river Wensum at all times, with boats and other vessels, toll free; and further, the mayor, &c. were to pay 4s. every Michaelmas day to the Prior and convent, who on their part released to the city the tithes of 12 acres and 16 feet of land at the east end of the priory of Carrowe, together with liberty for the mayor, coroners, justices of the peace, &c. to exercise their several jurisdictions in all those places, over all persons, so they did not interfere nor meddle with the convent, their liberties, nor tenants, nor hold any real or personal pleas by writ or otherwise, or any sheriffs turn, in any of the aforesaid places or lands. And this was of so great service, each knowing their several jurisdictions, that many contests were avoided, though after some time the citizens disliked it, thinking the court had given too much power to the convent, and made them as it were their tenants, by the 4s. yearly payment, which was more complained of than all the rest. There was also another contest between the people of Yarmouth, and the city, concerning a publick crane new erected in that port, which affair was carried on strenuously, but the city recovered, for I find 4l. 2s. 10d. paid to serjeant Yelverton, and serjeant Godrede, their counsel at London, for removing the crane, and confirmation of their charter of liberties, and 13l. 19s. 9d. to Richard Monesle and William Knapton, whom the city sent to London on this affair. (fn. 30)
In 1433, arose a great controversy about the election of a mayor, which came to such a height, that there was a continual disturbance between the court and commons for several years. (fn. 31) It was occasioned by Thomas Wetherby, then mayor, who was resolved to have William Grey chosen mayor, against the will of the major part of the aldermen and commons, who named Richard Spurdaunce or Purdaunce, and John Gerard; upon which Wetherby, who had a house at Intwood, retired thither, and his party became so very mutinous in the Gildhall and city, that the aldermen were forced to assemble in a private house, and declare Purdaunce mayor elect; but that would not do, the commons fearing that the mayor being absent, the choice would not be deemed valid, would not disperse, unless he would come in person and confirm it, upon which the aldermen not knowing what to do, ordered the common council to wait upon Bishop Alnwyk, who was then a privy counsellor, and tell him the whole affair, which they did, and begged of him to send for Wetherby to come back, and satisfy the people, who did so, and consented to the choice of Purdaunce, and promised the Bishop and commons that he would rest satisfied in the affair; notwithstanding which, he afterwards complained of the choice as irregular and riotous, and procured a commission from the King, dated at Westminster, Sept. 14, directed to Sir Thomas de Morley, Sir John Radclyff, Sir Brian Stapleton, Sir Henry Inglose, Knts. John Fray, John Fitz Rauff, Esqrs. John Berney of Redham, Rob. Crane, and others, with John Cottusmor and William Paston, one of which were always to be present when the commissioners, sat, commanding them to enquire into the bad government of the city, and the want of proper regulations therein, and to certify and fine such as they found faulty, whether it was the mayor, sheriffs, aldermen, or commons; this so enraged the citizens, that they prosecuted Wetherby, Grey, and their party, and thus things continued in a broil till 1436, when the King directed another commission, dated at Lambhithe, March 14, to the Bishop of Lincoln, his right dear and well beloved cousin the Earl of Suffolk, the Lord Cromwell, Sir Will. Phelip, and to each of them, commanding them, or some one of them, to come in person to Norwich, to settle all divisions in the city, which would otherwise be its ruin, and to certify the cause thereof, in order to correct and punish the authors, according to law; upon which, Will. de Pool Earl of Suffolk came down, and had an assembly held on Thursday before Lady day, at which the mayor, sheriffs, Wetherby, Grey, sixteen aldermen, and thirty-six of the common council appeared, and submitted to the final arbitration of the said Earl, who determined as follows,
1. That the common seal, which had been forcibly taken out of the Gild-hall ever since May-day, 1438, by the commons, and by them kept, should be placed in the old accustomed place, in the treasury, and have four clavers chosen by the commons as usual, to keep it, under the signet of the mayor and four of his fellows.
2. All writings sealed therewith, or with any seal of office belonging to the city, against John Hauke, John Mey, Tho. Wetherby, Tho. Fishlak, John Belhagh, William Grey, John Qwerdlyng, and others, shall be void, and all shall be restored to their places, from which they were displaced by the mayor, aldermen, commons, &c. in 1433, when
And John Qwerdlyng, (fn. 32) who pretended to be chosen speaker for the commons, and was not, was disfranchised for carrying a false report as from the commons to Wetherby, then mayor, saying that they had named Grey, when in reality they had named Purdance.
John Mey, the jailor, for being a common rogue, coming into the hall at the election, armed, raving, and bawling out "Varlottes, I schal breke your hedes, and schal put yowe en Penteney," (fn. 33) striking many with the mace on the head,
This arbitration was signed by the Earl, mayor, sheriffs, aldermen, and common council, the 21st day of March, and the 14th of May following, the whole affair was recited, and the arbitration confirmed under the broad seal, which still remains among the Charters. (fn. 34)
In 1436, Robert Chapelyn was elected mayor, Richard Brasier and Walter Crumpe being sheriffs, all which continued in their offices till Sept. 8, and then acted by virtue of the King's commission, which impowered them so to do, till March 1st, and then Walter Eaton and John Lynneford of Stalham, were made sheriffs for the rest of the year, and
In 1437, John Cambridge was chosen mayor, and Simon Walsoken and Clement Rash, fishman, sheriffs, and so continued till Sept. 8, and then the city and its liberties were seized into the King's hands, who appointed John Welles, (fn. 35) alderman of London, custos or warden, and he confirmed the sheriffs in their office, but set aside the mayor, and acted alone till March 1st, when he assigned the mayor to act in his office under him, and for what reason I know not, but on the 15th of July, the two sheriffs were displaced, and Walter Eaton and John Linford were appointed sheriffs by the King's writ, during his pleasure; and on the 30th of Nov. a proclamation was sent hither, commanding all persons to forbear intermeddling in the differences between the court and commons, and that there should be no private meetings on either side, under pain of life and limb.
This year the salary of 50 marks, which was always paid out of the treasury at Christmas was paid to the mayor as usual, but afterwards to the warden; and by agreement between the new sheriffs, the city was to take all the profits of their office, and pay them handsomely out of it, and accordingly there passed an order of assembly, dated Dec. 9, by which the 50 marks for the warden, and the allowance to the sheriffs, was ordered to be raised in the same manner as the King's tenths or taxes, and any one that would not pay it, and had no goods to distrain, the collectors should nail up and set their seal on the door of the dwelling-house; and now Thomas Trewe was made sword-bearer for life, by grant of the mayor, aldermen, and commons, if he behaved well in his office, and the three serjeants for the maces, were also to hold for term of life, and had grants accordingly, at the instance of John Welles, the full notable and worthy warden, who joined the city in a letter to John Carpenter, to request the King's council for restoration of the liberties; and to ingratiate themselves the better, they taxed the city, raised 40 archers, and sent them to the King, to go towards raising the seige of the town and castle of Gynes, and advanced a 100l. by way of loan: but yet the liberties were not restored till 1439, when at the suit of Thomas Bishop of Norwich, and William Bishop of Lincoln, they had letters patents for that purpose, which were declared by the recorder, who brought them down.
The reason of the seizure was because of the daily disturbances and suits concerning their liberties, between themselves, the Prior and convent, the Abbess of Carrow, the Abbot of Wendling, and others, in some of which contests it was proved they exceeded their liberties, and so they became liable to be seized.
In 1440, they chose Robert Toppes mayor, John Broslard and John Spicer sheriffs, who executed their offices accordingly; and now the city raised a sum to bear the expenses of the most noble Humfrey Duke of Gloucester, and his Dutchess, who then visited it, and had a present made him of 40 marks; he was grandly feasted by the Prior and convent during his stay here. (fn. 36)
It was hoped that by this nobleman's interest the city might retrieve the King's favour as much as heretofore, but by a wrong step made, they lost it again; for at an assembly held the 18th of October, the mayor and sheriffs authorised Gregory Draper and others to sue in the Exchequer for the hundred pounds which they had lent the King. This gave great offence, upon which, in January following, Thomas Wetherby, who bare a great hatred to the commons, instigated the Abbot of St. Bennet's to prosecute the city for erecting their new mills upon the river Wensum, though they had stood already 10 years (fn. 37) without any objection; the Abbot's pretence was, that as lord of the manor and leet of Heigham, (fn. 38) he was seized of two watermills, and 160 acres of land, and of the river Wensum, with free passage, for boats and vessels in the said stream, to pass and repass to his abbey of Holm, and that these new mills not only hindered his passage, but stopped the water, so that it overflowed the banks, and damaged his land on both sides.
In answer to which the city proved that there were four ancient mills standing cross the stream ever since the Conquest, which stopped the water, and did more harm than these new mills; two of them afterwards were called Bumpstede or Appilyerd mills, which, with a house thereto belonging, were given to Balderic of Taverham by King Henry I. the other two, called afterwards Calke mills, stood on the King's stream within the city, and belonged to the manor of of Horsford, then the Lord Dacre's, and paid 8d. a year landgable, and were both in one house, the one being a fullingmill, and the other a cornmill, in the same manner as Bumpstede mills were; and whereas the Abbot suggested that Bumpstede mills stood by Hellegates, on one cut out of the river Wensum, and Calk mills on another cut out of that river, the main stream being between them, free for him to pass and repass, they proved that there was no stream at all between them, but when ever people went up stream by boats to Taverham, they were forced to pull the boat upon land at old Calk mills, at Hellesden mills, &c. or else they could not pass; and to show that he had no such damage, they proved that the Abbot's mills were Heigham mills, and that they standing out of the city bounds, and consequently higher up the stream than either the old or new mills, his own mills stopped the water before it could come to any of their mills; and as to the erection the new mills, they pleaded the necessity of it, by showing that in the time of Henry IV. the old mills were totally decayed and rendered useless, so that there were no mills to supply the city for 12 years, which was a great grievance, to remedy which, the commonalty cut out the midstream, that now is upon their own ground, and Robert Baxter, mayor, and other well disposed merchants, and divers other people, of their own proper goods, by way of charity for the good of the city, raised the new mills something below the meeting of the stream, in which place also there had anciently been mills placed, and that these new mills were not only of service to the city for grinding, but of good value, for out of the 128l. yearly paid into the Exchequer for the fee farm of the city, these mills produced 26l. clear.
But notwithstanding this appeared so plain, the commissioners, Thomas Tudenham, John Fray, and William Paston, who sat upon the case at Thetford, where the mayor and commons appeared, gave it directly against them, and they were compelled to leave the profit of the mills, by open force, for some time, and then it was left to the award of William de la Pole Earl of Suffolk, by which the city was to pay 100l. to the Abbot, and 50l. to the Prior of Norwich, for pretended damage done to his meadows at Trows, by these mills; which being declared to the commons at an assemby held on the 25th day of Jan. they were so enraged, that instead of sealing the award at that assembly, they rose in great numbers, came to the Hall, took away the common seal, that the award might not be sealed, which not only caused a great riot, but made the Earl, "ther gret hevy Lord, bycause his awarde was not obey'd," upon this, the Abbot and Wetherby prosecute the mayor, commons, &c. as rebels against the King, and brought down a privy seal, commanding the mayor, &c. to appear on the Utas (fn. 39) of the Purification of our Lady: the day before their appearance, the mayor, &c. went to Greenwich, to their good friend the Duke of Gloucester, to acquaint him with the whole, who promised the city that he would be "the citee's gode lorde," and would appear with them at Westminster the next day. At their return the went to sup together in Cheap, from whence one Bennet Joly, who came up with them by command of the privy seal, going to see his horse, was arrested by several serjeants at arms, whom the Earl, Abbot, and Wetherby had got, in order to have arrested them all, that they should not appear the next day, after they heard they had been with the Duke, and immediately they committed Joly to prison, "as a traytour, and riser ageynst the Kyng, and one of those that wold make a newe Kynge," but the mayor and those with him concealing themselves, the day after, being the 13th of Febr. they appeared before the Lords of the Council, and the Earl having the greatest interest at that board, the Duke could not hinder, but that the mayor was fined 50l. committed to the Flete, and laid there till the 26th of March following; and as soon as he was confined, they took out a commission of oyer and terminer, directed to Sir John Fortescue, Knt. chief justice of the King's Bench, William Westbury, and serjeant Godrede or Godard, who sat upon it at Thetford, where the mayor, sheriffs, and commonalty were indicted, and then the court adjourned to Norwich, which being now without governours, Wetherby procured one Tho. del Rowe to appear as attorney for the city, who pleaded a plea for them in the forenoon, and in the afternoon, at Wetherby's request, relinquished it, and submitted the city to the King's grace, and then the court adjourned to Thetford, to sit there on the 14th of March, where by judgment given, the liberties were all seized into the King's hands; and the 18th of March, 1442, Sir John Clifton, Knt. was made captain and governour thereof: and thus by the treachery of Wetherby and del Rowe, the city lost the opportunity of endeavouring to justify their plea, though it is plain there could be no sufficient defence made for the insurrection; but to complete the matter to his mind, as well as to oblige the Earl, upon the 10th of March, while the mayor was in the Fleet, Wetherby takes the common seal out of the chest, and according to the Earl's award, seals a bond of a hundred pounds to John Abbot of Holm, (fn. 40) another of 50 li. to the Bishop, and another of 50li. to the Prior, and delivered them, without the knowledge of the mayor, sheriffs, or commons. Not content with this, he took upon him to be ruler of the city, and knowing who he had to stand by him, pulled up the flood-gates of the new mills, and destroyed them, so that the bakers were forced to seek for mills ten miles round, to the great hurt and damage of the city, during all those years the mills stood so decayed.
This riot was called Gladman's insurrection, the account of which cannot be better known than from the indictment itself, it being proved by so many witnesses. (fn. 41)
That Will. Hempstede, merchant, mayor, and the commonalty of the said city, on Wednesday before the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, in the 21st year of Henry VI. designedly raised an insurrection, declaring they had power enough in the city and adjacent country to slay Tho. Browne Bishop of Norwich, John Abbot of Holm, and John Heverlond Prior of Norwich cathedral, burn their houses, spoil and rob them of their goods, and make them by force release all manner of actions they had against the city and commonalty, and that the King, by reason the city was a county by itself, and by reason of their strength, could not, nor had not, power to punish them for so doing; upon which, John Gladman, of the said city, merchant, rode on horseback as a King, with a paper crown on, and a sceptre and sword carried before him, by three persons unknown, and Robert Suger of Norwich, souter, (fn. 42) Robert Hemmyng of the same, hosteler, (fn. 43) Rich. Dalling of the same, coteler, and twenty-four others, went on horseback before him, with coronets (fn. 44) on their arms, and bows and arrows in their hands, like valets (fn. 45) of the crown to our sovereign lord the King, and 100 others unknown, on horseback and foot with bows and arrows, then and there following the said John Gladman, and calling the citizens to arms, in a riotous manner. And on the day of the conversion of St.Paul, for lack of good government of the governours of the city, they rang the bells, and the said mayor and commonalty, with 3000 other citizens and persons unknown, assembled by the said ringing, with force and arms, viz. with bows, swords, arrows, helmets, &c. in a warlike manner, and went to the Priory of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity at Norwich, in the county of Norfolk, (fn. 46) calling out, "lett us burne the priory, and kille the Prior and monks." and the priory gates being well and closely shut, they digged a passage under them, to enter by, and carried wood thither to burn the priory, and placed guns against the said priory; and so till four o'clock in the afternoon on the Tuesday following they continued in this manner, endeavouring to burn the priory, and kill the Prior and monks, till at that time, by threatnings and such attempts, they compelled Rich. Walsham and John Wychingham, monks there, to deliver them a certain evidence of the said priory, sealed with the common seal of the city, in which among other things, it was contained that Robert Baxter, late mayor, John Sipater and Will. Iselham, late city sheriffs, and the commonalty, granted to Will. Worsted, predecessor of the now prior and his successours, for ever, a certain annuity of 4s. to be paid by the mayor and sheriffs every Michaelmas, for ever, (fn. 47) and that the mayor, sheriffs, &c. should hold no personal pleas or sheriff's turn, or exercise any jurisdiction in Cunesford meadows, or in the towns of Brakendale, Eton, Lakenham, and Erlham, over any of their lands or tenants in the said places. And this evidence they carried away, and the said city, from Monday after St. Paul's Conversion, to the Monday following, they kept with gates shut, in a manner of defence against our sovereign lord the King, and would not suffer John Duke of Norfolk, (fn. 48) from Tuesday after St. Paul, for one week following, nor John Vere Earl of Oxford, and other the King's ministers, from Monday after the Feast of St. Mathew the Apostle, to Wednesday following, to enter the city, though they showed the King's commission to seize the rioters, and the peace.
2. The jury also presented, that the mayor and commonalty, on Monday after the Conversion of St. Paul, with force and arms, viz. swords, bows, &c. assaulted Walt. Asluk, Esq. Nic. Derman, clerk, Sir John Clyfton, Knt John Timperle, Esq. Tho. Ingham, Tho. Grafton, and many others of the said city, who would not consent to these riotous doings, threatening to kill them and many others in Thorp and elsewhere in the county, and the said Walter Nic. Sir John, John, Tho. Tho. and others, they imprisoned and cruelly used.
3. They presented also, that the city by virtue of the letters patents of King Henry IV. was made a separate county, and that from the time of that grant, the mayor and commons have and use a seal to seal bushels, with which they have sealed many, contrary to the King's standard, viz. the bushels they seal exceed the King's standard one gallon, and such they have sealed both for the city and county to sell and buy by, namely, one to Rob. Cutte, March 1, in the 20th year of the present King, and another to Rich. Tonge, and many others, and daily deliver such as are not agreeable to the standard, and will not suffer the people to sell in the city by the standard, but hinder them so doing by force and arms, when they have no such liberty.
4. They presented also, that the mayor and commonalty under colour of the King's grandfather's charter, have erected and used a certain court called a pie-powder court, held before the mayor, and another such court before the city sheriffs, and still hold them, by virtue of which they have imprisoned many, namely, 4 Oct. 20th of this King, John Wetherby at the suit of Rob. Laudesdale, when they have not, nor never had any such liberty, unless only on a Saturday during the time of the market of the said city. (fn. 49)
5. And under colour of the said charter, they have erected a fraternity or gild of one suit and livery, (fn. 50) called Le Bachery, and sustain it in the city though not incorporated; and under pretence of this, many assemblies and riots daily happen; the brethren of which are John Reyner, merchant, Walter Jeffry, skinner, Peter Laurence, attorney, and many others.
1. That the mayor and city never favoured or designed any insurrection, in which point they put themselves on their country; and Tho. Gresswold, who prosecuted for the King, continued the prosecution.
3. As to the bushels, they say they never hindered any one selling by the King's standard that would, but denied not, but there might be such sealed, and hoped if any were, that the King would not implead them.
4. As to the pie-powder court they pleaded, that they had two weekly markets on Wednesday and Saturday, and had always a pic-powder court (fn. 51) during the time of those markets, held before the city bailiffs, while there were bailiffs, and afterwards by the patents of (Henry IV.) held by the mayor and sheriffs, and that John Wetherby, at the suit of Rob. Laudesdale, was attached, by the precept of Will. Asshwell, then mayor, and his associates, justices of the peace for the city, for an affray or riot by him committed in the city, and not under pretence or colour of any authority of the mayor or sheriff's pie-powder courts, which were never pretended to be held, but during the time of the markets and on those days, and therefore as to that they were not guilty.
5. And as to the bachery gild, they say that there is a certain company or gild of citizens, who out of pure devotion and alms sustain and keep up a light in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin in the Fields in Norwich, support divine service, and repair and beautify the said chapel, which gild have been immemorially kept there on the Feasts of the Blessed Virgin, and other usual times, and on the gild days, viz. the Feasts of St. Mary, they appear in one sort of clothes or livery of their own buying, for the more decency, and make what offering they like to support the light, &c. and never caused or made any riot, or any thing like it.
6. And as to the river and mills they say, the bailiffs were, and the now mayor, sheriffs, &c. are, seized in fee of the city held of the King at fee farm, and being so, did erect sluices for their advantage on their own ground, and to better their common fishery and profit, and say that by it they have not damaged the King's highways, nor the Abbot's lands nor mills, nor hindered his fishing, rowing, or sailing, nor damaged the Bishop's nor Prior's lands more than before.
But this plea being withdrawn as aforesaid, their attorney threw them upon the King's favour and mercy, pretending that they would fine for their offences, and produce above 100 citizens as security for such fine; and Thursday the 14th of March next was set for that purpose, when they appeared at Thetford by their attorney, who instead of producing security, desired their plea might be revived, upon which, judgment of conviction of all the indictment was pronounced, and the liberties and franchises were seized, and retained in the King's hands till 1447, when Will. Hempsted, mayor, and the commons, by Thomas Croxton, their attorney, were forced to plead guilty, and submit to the King's mercy to be fined at his pleasure: upon which they obtained a privy seal of restitution of all their liberties, dated at Westminster, Nov. 8, and having requested letters patents of confirmation, it was granted, and for a 1000 marks fine paid into the Exchequer, they obtained an exemplification of the whole matter, with a restoration and confirmation of all their franchises, under the broad seal, which is dated at Westminster, Dec. 1, in the 26th year of this King's reign. (fn. 52)
There were many things that happened besides those already mentioned, that made the King, the Earl of Suffolk, and several of the nobility, so much against the city as they now were, for they had not only prosecuted for the 100 pounds due from the King, but actually refused to lend him a sum of money, (fn. 53) though he sent the noble prince John Duke of Norfolk, to solicit it.
Besides this, after they were convicted at Thetford, they prosecuted a bill, setting forth "The extorcions, oppressions, menteynaunces, perjuries, imbraceries, and wrongis, don to the mayr, aldermen, and comonalte, of the cite of Norwich, and to other singler personys of the same cite by Sir Tho. Tudenham, Knight, John Heydon, and others." In which they complained of several injuries that they had sustained, and particularly of an office taken at Cringleford in the year 1431, before Edm. Oldhall, escheator, brought by the Prior and his adherents of pure malice against the city, to revenge the two trials (fn. 54) that they had gained against him, in which it was untruly found, that the city had appropriated Thorp, Newton, Trowse, Lakenham, Brakendale, Eaton, Catton, Carrowe, Trowse Milgate, Magdalen hospital, and the land in those places, all which were then found falsely to be in Norfolk, in the hundreds of Blofield, Hensted, Humbleyard, and Taverham, and that they had also encroached to themselves Norwich priory, the Bishop's palace, Raton-rowe, Tombland, Holmstreet, and the Bishop's lands to Wensum river, and from St. Martin's bridge to St. Michael's land, and Pouly's hospital, or Norman's land, which were never in the liberty of Norwich, nor part of the city, but in Norfolk county, and Blofield hundred.
And further it was found, that the castle and shire-house, and certain tenements within the gates called Helle-gates, belong to the Abbot of Holm's manor of Heyham, and are not in Norwich liberty, but in the county of Norfolk; and by means of this, the city was disseized of its ancient suburbs; (fn. 55) all which they said was done by Heydon, who was their recorder, who favouring the Prior, betrayed them and their evidences, for which they afterwards displaced him, so that he joined Wetherby continually against them.
They complained also that Sir Tho. Tudenham and John Heydon, through their great covetousness and false might, oppressed all such citizens as would not consent to make such mayors and sheriffs as they liked, imprisoning such as resisted them, "purposing for gret lucre to haue as well the rewle of the cite of Norwiche, as thei haddyn of the schire of Norff." feigning an assault and battery to be made upon them, when there was no such thing.
They complained of them also, for procuring the Abbot of Wendlyng to sue the city in relation to the stathe called Holland's Stathe, which they enlarged by hiring a house and land of him, called Holland's, and the advowson of St. Clement's church in Cunesford thereto belonging, and 6s. 8d. of annual rent, for which they were to pay 13s. 4d.per annum for a long term, not yet expired, upon which the city erected a crane, piled the stathe against the water with free stone, and by building increased the rents to 45 marks per annum, upon which, "the seid Sir Thomas and John, at alle tymes ymagening to dystroy the comoditees and profytes of the seid citee, and trustyng in their grete myght and power, which they hadde and have in the cuntre, by the menes of the stywardship of Lancastre, and other grete offices, and for diverse other causes, that no man at that tyme durste make resystens agaynst them, knowyng ther grete malys and vengeaunce withoute drede of God, or shame of the world, as experience hath preved," sent thither Richard of Wode, bailiff of the Duke of Suffolk's manor of Cossey, (fn. 56) which as their servant in the year 1436, under pretence of the Abbot's rent being unpaid, in the Abbot's name, disseized the city of it, and keep it to this day in their hands, to the damage of 100 marks, against all faith and conscience, though it is well known the Abbot's rent is and always was paid by the chamberlains of the city.
They complained also, that finding themselves run to excessive charges by various suits raised against them, and by the commissions of oyer and terminer so often sued out, and finding the Duke of Suffolk was their great enemy, and made so by them, they sought to Sir Thomas, by the mediation of John Gerard and others, and agreed to give the Earl an 100 marks, and 20l. to Sir Thomas, and paid the said sums privately by the hands of Nich. Waterman; but instead of favouring the city according to their promises, they dealt more hardly with it, "and so the said Sir Tho. took of theym, the seid c. marc. and xxl. by briberous extorcion agaynst alle feyth and conciens."
They complained also, "that wher as it was so, that Alice Duchesse, that tyme Countes of Suff. late in her persone cam to the sayd cite, disguysed like an huswyf of the cuntre, and the sayd Sir Tho. Tudenham, and two other personys, went with heir also disguisyd, and thei to tak their disportis went out of the sayd cite, on an evyn agayn night, so disguisyd, toward a wode clepyd Lakenham wode, to tak the ayr and disport theym self be holdyng the same cite, and one Thomas Aylmer of Norwich, a dissour (or ditcher) whych had the dyches of the sayd cite in keping, estemyng in his conceyt, that the sayd Duchesse and Sir Thomas hadden a ben other personis, met wyth theym, and apposid theym of theyr goyng oute in that wise, and felle at variaunce with the seyd Sir Thomas so that thei faught, wher by the seyd Duchesse was sore affrayd, by cause wher of the seyd Duchesse and Sir Thomas token a displeser agayn the sayd cite, not withstondyng that the mair arestyd Aylmer and held hym in preson more than xxx. wekys, without baylle or maynprise for makyng the seyd affray, to that entente, therby bothe to chastice hym, and to appease the displesir of the sayd Duchesse and Sir Thomas," and the mayor not only imprisoned him, but all such as they said assisted and favoured Aylmer, notwithstanding which, they bare hatred to the city, and joined with Heydon, who was displaced from recorder as aforesaid, and so spirited up the Duke of Suffolk, to do all he could against it, and at last to bring the oyer and terminer to Thetford, by judgment of which the liberties were seized. And as to the insurrection, the city pretended that John Gladman of Norwich, "who was ever, and at thys our is, a man of sad (fn. 57) disposition, and trewe and feythfull to God and to the Kyng, of disporte as hath ben acustomed in ony cite or burgh thorowe alle this reame, on Tuesday in the last ende of Cristemesse, viz. Fastyngonge Tuesday, (fn. 58) made a disport with hys neyghbours, havyng his hors trappyd with tynnsoyle, and other nyse disgisy things, coronned as Kyng of Crestemesse, in tokyn that seson should end with the twelve (fn. 59) monethes of the yere, aforn hym (went) yche, moneth disguysed after the seson requiryd, and Lenton (fn. 60) clad in whyte and red heryngs skinns, and his hors trapped with oystyrshells after him, in token that sadnesse shuld folowe, and an holy tyme, and so rode in diverse stretis of the cite, with other people, with hym disguysed makyng myrth, disportes and plays, the sayd Sir Tho. and John Heydon, among many other ful straunge and untrewe presentments, mad by perjury of the sayd inquest, causyd the sayd mair and comonalte and the sayd John Gladman to ben indytyd, that thei shuld an ymagyind to a made a comon rysyng, and a coroned the sayd John Gladman as Kyng, with crown, ceptre, and diadem, as in the seyd presentment it sheweth pleyn; whereas they never attemptit, ne never swich a thyng ymagyned."
But whatever was designed, is not known, and if this was the beginning, it ended in a riot and great insurrection, as may be seen before, and is plainly too true by their not attempting in this bill to answer for their attacking the priory, and keeping the city so long against the noblemen sent by the King to quiet them; and accordingly we read in Stow, fo. 383, that "the citizens of Norwich rose agaynst the Prior of Christ's church, (fn. 61) within the same cite, and would have fired the priory; (fn. 62) they kept the towne by strength against the Duke of Norfolke, and all his power, wherefore the King sent thither, the chief judge John Fortescue, with the Earls of Stafford and of Huntington, who indicted many citizens and the Prior also; the liberties of the citee were seysed into the King's hand, and Sir John Clifton made captaine there, and many of the citizens fled over the seas into unknowne places."
But to return to other matters: in 1442, there was a statute made, that every year during four years, four wardens of worsted weavers should be chosen to do right, and make due search of worsteds in Norwich, and two in Norfolk, in which the length and breadth of all sorts of worsteds made in Norwich or Norfolk is fixed, which statute was confirmed the next year, and by that, Norfolk was to have four wardens, and the orders for the true making of worsteds, in Norwich, Norfolk, and Suffolk, are declared. (fn. 63)
In 1444, the statute for "The order for levying the wages of the knights of the parliament" was made, as well as that which sets forth "who shall be knights for the parliament. The manner of their election, the remedy where one is chosen, and another returned." (fn. 64) And this year,
Sir John Clifton, Captain of Norwich, had a bond given him by the city, for 300 marks, payable by 40l. each year on Lammas day. He continued captain or governour till April 20, 1446, and then, by reason (as I imagine, from the original letters of his which I have seen in the Gild-hall) of his kindness to the city, he was discharged, (fn. 65) and
Thomas Catworth, citizen of London and Norwich, was made warden by the King's commission, which was read in the Gild-hall to the aldermen and commons, the sheriffs being continued in their office; and by another commission, the Bishop of Norwich, the warden, William Yelverton, John Heydon, Tho. Ingham, John Jenny, junior, John Gerard, Ric. Brasier, and Ralf Segryme, were made justices of peace for the city, who were all friends to it, unless Heydon, and he was not to be much feared now, by reason that the year before, Thomas Browne Bishop of Norwich, and Tho. Wetherby, both died, and the Duke began to have things of greater consequence to himself, to attend to; and Walter Lyhart, the new Bishop, was for peace, which he set about to procure as much as possible, for the liberties were restored as aforesaid on Dec. 1, 1447, and Will. Henstede resumed the office of mayor, and Ralf Segrym and Tho. Allen, the sheriffs, did the same, and Henstede held his office to May following, and the sheriffs to St. Michael. (fn. 66)
In 1448, it was signified to the mayor and commons, that the King intended to honour the city with his presence, upon which they made great preparations to receive him, and placed his arms and the arms of St. George, painted on wooden shields, over the six principal gates; he entered the city on Saturday the 16th of June, and departed the next day; it seems they then paid him the 1000 marks fine, having given security for it; the Lord Scales accompanied him, for the city made a present of four gallons of wine to that nobleman.
This year was the statute made, that henceforward no fair or market shall be held on Ascension day, Corpus Christi, Whit Sunday, Trinity Sunday, or any other Sunday (except the four Sundays in harvest) nor on the Assumption of our Lady, All-Saints, or GoodFriday, under penalty of forfeiting all the goods shown on those days, in any fair or market, to the lord of the franchise or liberty, who by virtue of their old grants, might keep them three days after those feasts, or at any other times after proclamation by them made before which statute, (fn. 67) the Sundays and principal days were miserably abused; and the people themselves, and their servants, hindered attending divine service, and the worship of God; and the holidays set apart for God's service more horribly defiled with labours, drunkenness, and strifes, than the other days of the week; as the statute rightly observes.
In 1449, his Majesty came hither again, and entered the city at St. Bennet's-gates, (by which it appears he came from the Earl of Suffolk's house at Cossey,) on Saturday, August 29, and stayed all Sunday, and till Monday night, at the sole expense of the Bishop, the Prior, the Mayor and commons.
In 1450, the commons rose in divers parts, and did much damage, (fn. 68) but all was very quiet here, their most powerful enemy, the Duke of Suffolk, being slain: (fn. 69) For though the loss of Normandy was imputed much to the Duke of Somerset, at that time regent, yet the surrenders of Anjou and Mayne were laid to this Duke's charge, as well as the death of that noble prince Humphry Duke of Gloucester, this city's great friend, for which the commons exhibited their bill of grievances against him, and he was committed to the Tower; but no sooner was the parliament dissolved, but he was set at liberty, which so much incensed the common people, (who in general hated him,) that it made an insurrection, which by the diligence of the country gentlemen was soon stopped. And now another parliament is called at Leicester, where great care is taken in choosing of burgesses, hoping thereby to stop any further proceeding against the Duke, but his personal appearance in parliament, though he came in company with the King and Queen, gave such a general distaste to the house, that they began the assembly with petitioning for punishment to be inflicted on the Duke and others, at which time Ashwell and Hempsted, then members for the city, remembered the base usage they themselves and the place they represented had met with from him: this petition was seconded by the lords of the upper house, whereupon, to give them some satisfaction, the Duke's officers are all discharged, and he banished for five years, but with an intent to recall him as soon as the apparent hatred of the common people was a little appeased. But God did otherwise dispose of him, for when he took shipping in Suffolk, (or according to Fabian, in Norfolk,) with intent to go to France, he was met by a ship of war, called Nicholas of the Tower, taken and carried to Dover sands, there had his head chopt off on the side of the long boat, as a pledge for some satisfaction for the death of the good Duke of Gloucester: they left his body on the sands, which on the 1st of May was taken up and carried to Wingfield in Suffolk, in the chancel of which collegiate church he was interred, under a monument, which though much defaced, still  remains. And thus fell this great favourite, a sacrifice to the people, whom he had so much oppressed, and a just example to posterity, that as we do, we ourselves at one time or other, must expect to be done by.
In 1451, there arose a dissension between the King (who was of the Lancaster family) and the Duke of York, who pretended a right to the crown, as heir to Lionel Duke of Clarence, with whom John Duke Norfolk and many others sided against the King, which proceeded so far, that the Duke in 1455 became King in fact, and Henry only in name. (fn. 70)
At this time, Walter Jeffry was under-sheriff of Norwich, and continued so the next year, which being expired, he was prosecuted, and had 200l. levied upon him for exercising the office of under-sheriff more than one year together, "it beinge contrarye to the statutes made."
In 1452, (fn. 71) the Queen much frighted at the rumour of the coming of Edward Earl of March, son to the Duke of York, with a great power to London, endeavoured to make what friends she could, and among others visited this city for that purpose, as I learn from the accounts of the chamberlains this year, in which there is a charge made, for the messenger that came to inform them of the Queen's coming, and for painting the Queen's arms against that time: the mayor informed the city of it, and summoned an assembly to resolve upon what present to make, and how to entertain her; and the commons resolved to advance 100 marks as a loan to the King, and the aldermen to make her a present of 40l. and the commons made it up 100 marks, and 10l. for the King's brothers, who were with her, viz. 5l. for Edm. Earl of Richmond, and 5l. for Jasper Earl of Pembrook; so that the King now had of the city 200 marks; he having directed a commission to Thomas Lord Scales and the sheriffs of Norwich, for a loan of 100 marks towards providing defence for the city of Burdeaux, not long before this. And I perceive they made good use of this opportunity, by soliciting for a general pardon for all past offences, a new charter to confirm all their old liberties, and grant them several new ones, all which was complied with for a fine of 20 marks paid into the Hanaper, and the whole fee farm of the city for the last year being paid down to her, viz. 129l. 11s. 4d.; and accordingly at her return, the charter was passed in so ample a manner, that to ingratiate herself with the city, it was consented to in full parliament: it is dated at Westminster, 17th March, 30th Henry VI. (fn. 72) and is witnessed by John Kemp, Cardinal and Archbishop of York, Chancellor of England, Thomas Kemp Bishop of London, William Wainfleet Bishop of Winchester, John Mowbray Duke of Norfolk, Marshal of England, Edmund Beaufort Duke of Somerset, Constable of England, his beloved cousins; Richard Earl Warren, John de Vere Earl of Oxford, John Viscount Beaumont, Chamberlain of England, Sir Ralf Crumwell, Chamberlain of the Household, Sir John Beauchamp, Treasurer of England, and Master Andrew Hales, Keeper of the Privy Seal. By which, his former restitution of their liberties was confirmed, and a general pardon of all their offences granted, all their charters confirmed, with a full user for all their liberties not heretofore used, to all which was added the following addition of privileges, viz.
That they, "may for the future declare and plead all their customs and liberties, before us or our officers, by the mouth of their own recorder, in the same manner as the city of London now doth." (fn. 73)
And whereas the city, by grant of his grandfather King Henry IV. had power to determine all causes, by the mayor and four other justices of peace, relating to their offices, he now grants that for the future, the mayor, recorder, and all such aldermen as have born the office of mayor, shall be justices of peace for the city and county thereof ever after, so long as they continue aldermen.
The said justices, or four of them, of which the mayor and recorder shall always be two, shall be the King's justices, to enquire, on the oaths of the inhabitants of the city and county, from time to time when they think fit, of all felonies, transgressions, forestallers, regrators, conventicles or meetings against the peace, armed forces, designs to maim or kill, or of any companies that associate or distinguish themselves by hoods or liveries of one sort, contrary to the peace and ordinances published of hostelers, of all abuses of weights and measures, of all things relating to the sale of victuals, of all workmen, artificers, mendicants, beggars, vagabonds, servants, &c. and of all things belonging to the office of justice of peace.
And also, that they may for the future elect the under-sheriffs, town-clerks, and sheriff's bailiffs, at their pleasure, as freely as the city of London doth, because for such officers they are answerable. (fn. 74)
At this time the contests between the Prior and city were revived, concerning their liberties, now they had got them thus amply confirmed; but at an assembly, the court proposed to the commons, that it was best to make some agreement, and set forth their separate liberties anew, if they approved of it, to which they answered, they willingly consented, that Sir John Fortescue, the chief justice, and William Yelverton, the recorder, should determine all differences, and nobody else should be concerned; but the Prior insisted they should not name both, and so it came to nothing, till another assembly, and then they chose Richard Brasier, Walter Brasier, and Thomas Cambridge, aldermen, to whom they afterwards added Rob. Toppes, Ralf Segryme, and John Gilbert, aldermen, and eight commoners, to treat with the Prior; but it came to no effect till the next year, and then the Prior named two monks, viz. Sir John Wichingham, the Sub-prior, and Rich Walsham, Prior of St. Leonard's, and the city named Will. Ashewell, and Ralf Segrym, aldermen, John Edwards, chamberlain, and Walter Jeffry, under-sheriff, who could not agree on terms at first; but afterwards, by the good offices of the Bishop of Norwich, an agreement was made, and all things became very easy. (fn. 75)
Soon after this, there was a writ directed to the Bishop, and Will. Barley, and John Jenney, burgesses in parliament for the city, requiring them to take care and raise the whole tenth and fifteenth, which was granted the King in parliament to defend the realm, except 6000l. of it, which was to go towards the relief and comfort of the poor distressed towns, it being to be raised by the laity, the clergy being taxed by themselves; but the town of Yarmouth and city of Lincoln were to pay nothing, and this city had an abatement of 9l. 10s. 8d. out of their whole sum.
In 1453, William Cotton, receiver-general of Margaret Queen of England, received of the sheriffs of Norwich an hundred marks sterling, it being an annuity out of the fee farm of the city, granted last year in the parliament at Reding, to the Queen for life.
In 1454, Ralf Segrym and Thomas Elys were chosen to treat with Master John Wigenhale, clerk, one of the executors of Tho. Browne or Brounse, late Bishop of Norwich, either for payment of the 40l. given to the city by the Bishop, or else for security for it, which was again demanded in 1460.
In 1455, the mayor mentioned in assembly, that as the King was going to Walsingham, to make his offering to the Virgin Mary, after his recovery from a great illness, whether it would not be proper to know, if he designed to visit the city, or no. But I suppose he did not come, finding no further mention of it.
This year, on St Jerom's day, the court held a general commemoration, or anniversary obit, for the souls of all the deceased benefactors to the city, whose names and gifts, were all read out of a bead-roll kept for that purpose; it was held at the chapel of the college of St. Mary in the Fields, to which the court always went in precession, viz. the mayor, sheriffs, aldermen, common council, the twentyfour constables of the city, then thirteen poor people in one sort of clothing, who had 2d. each to pray for them, then nine chaplains to perform the exequies or service, each of which had 4d.; at the same time 6d. was given in bread to the prisoners in the Gild-hall, and the same to those in the castle, and 4d. to each house of lepers at the city gates 12d. for ringing, and 4d. to the bellman, 4d. for lights, and 16d. for the herce. (fn. 76)
The commemoration of their benefactors was kept once every year, though not always on the same day, or at the same place, but it was mostly here, this being the place where at that time much of the city business was transacted.
This year, in the parliament at Westminster, was a statute made, which sets forth, that 'whereas of time not long past within the city of Norwich, and the counties of Norfolk, there were no more but six or eight atturnies at the most, coming to the King's courts, in which time great tranquility reigned in the said city and counties, little trouble or vexation was made by untrue and foreign suits: And now so it is, that in the said city and counties, there be fourscore atturnies or more, the more part of them having no other thing to live upon, but only his gain by the practice of atturneyship; and also the more part of them not being of sufficient knowledge to be an atturney, which come to every fair, market, and other places, where any assembly of people is, exhorting, procuring, moving and exciting the people to attempt untrue and foreign suits for small trespasses, little offences, and small sums of debt, whose actions be triable and determinable in court barons, whereby proceed many suits, more of evil will and malice, then of truth of the thing, to the manifold vexations and no little damage of the inhabitants of the said city and counties, unless convenient remedy be provided on this behalf." (fn. 77) Wherefore it was enacted, that at all times from henceforth, there should be but six common attornies in the county of Norfolk, and six in Suffolk, and two in the city of Norwich, to be attornies in courts of record, all which fourteen attornies shall be elected and admitted by the King's two chief justices for the time being, of the most sufficient and best instructed, by their discretions.
In 1456, the common stock being much wasted, Will. Hempstede, alderman, remitted a debt of 42l. to the city, and Gregory Draper, alderman, another of 16l. John Wighton, alderman, another of 26l. and Rob. Furbishour one of 6l. And this year, on the 20th of Dec. a shock of an earthquake was felt in this city. (fn. 78)
In 1457, proclamation was made, that all men should provide arms of their own according to their degree, for this year the French, who always sought to annoy the English, fitted out two fleets to invade the sea coast towns; (fn. 79) they rifled Sandwich, and had a design upon Yarmouth, wherefore they dispatched a letter directed to the mayor and common council of Norwich, assuring them they were well informed that the King's enemies designed to beseige their town, unless they could guard themselves with armed men from the city immediately, (fn. 80) and therefore they begged their aid and assistance to remedy so great a misfortune: upon which they presently raised 200 armed men, and sent them to Yarmouth, and levied an aid for their maintenance.
This year, the recorder acquainted the mayor and commons, that Queen Margaret had persuaded the executors of Sir John Clifton, their late captain, to give her the 180 marks due to them, and that she had assigned it towards building her college in Cambridge; (fn. 81) upon which they chose Richard Brasier and others to treat with Sir John Heydon, supervisor of Sir John Clifton's will, to see if they could get any abatement, if they paid the money down, upon which Sir John referred them to Master Andrew Doket, the master of the college, who agreed, with the Queen's consent, to deliver up their bond, if they paid down 40 marks, which they did, and the thanks of the city in a common assembly, for the diligence and good management they had used in this affair.
About 1459, the noble science of printing was first used in England, but privately in some few abbies only. (fn. 82) The books then printed being sold as manuscripts; but in 1471, William Caxton of London, mercer, encouraged and assisted by Tho. Bourchier Archbishop of Canterbury, first erected a publick press in the abbey of St. Peter at Westminster, and soon after it was carried to the abbies of Canterbury and St. Alban's.
This divine and miraculous art, as Holingshed says, was invented first at Mentz in Germany, by Sir John Guttemburgh about 1440; but Fox and others refer it to 1450, and say that the first inventor thereof is thought to be a German, dwelling first in Argentine (or Strasburg) and afterwards citizen of Mentz, named John Faustus, a goldsmith; from whom Guttemburgh had it.
Mattaire says, (fn. 83) that the people of Harlem in Holland make Laurence Coster, their fellow-citizen, the first inventor of it: and accordingly have placed his effigies on his house there, with two inscriptions, purporting as much.
This excellent art soon spread over all Europe, and for its universal service in promoting knowledge and learning, met with deserved encouragement, it being esteemed one of the greatest blessings vouchsafed to mankind, for keeping up arts and sciences to all ages; for before, when books were all written at much expense, few could be owners of any, but men of fortunes, and consequently knowledge could not be sufficiently propagated, as was evident from the low ebb that learning was at when printing made its first appearance in the world; but since this art hath made books common, and easy to be purchased, the great increase of learning that immediately followed is a sufficient argument of its general use and advantage.
At an assembly held the day before St. George, it was ordained that the cloth seal lying in the common chest should be committed to the care of Robert Thompson, who should be tokener, and token and seal all cloths called Norwich cloth, with a lead seal or token, after he had measured them, and found that they were of length and breadth according to the ordinances made: and the woollen weavers were obliged to bring in a roll of the names of all their craft, with the several marks belonging to each man, by which the goodness of every man's cloth might be known by his mark, and the measure of it by the token.
In 1459, a commission was directed to the mayor and sheriffs, empowering them to see that every man had proper arms of his own, both offensive and defensive, and that they be all ready to attend the King at any time when he should call them, and this on their faith and allegiance, and that they should tax the city to maintain a standing force of archers, to be with the King, to enable him to resist the malice of Richard late Earl of Warwick, Richard late Earl of Salisbury, Edward late Earl of March, Edmund late Earl of Rutland, and Richard Duke of York, and their accomplices, who were this year attainted of high treason, for rebelling against the King. Upon which it was resolved, to raise 200 marks upon the wealthy citizens, but nothing on the poorer sort: this being done, the under-sheriff was sent to the King's council at London, to inform them and the chancellor of the poverty of many of the citizens, and to return the commission on the best terms he could.
In 1460, the aforesaid lords raised great forces against the King, upon which he directed another commission, dated June 3, commanding the mayor, by reason of the many hazards his own royal person was exposed to, to make immediate proclamation through all the city and suburbs, that all his subjects that loved him should repair to him well armed, wheresoever he should be, and that they should not omit so doing, on forfeiture of their faith and allegiance, and all they could forfeit; and that the mayor himself, or some other able person deputed by him, should come as captain and leader of all such persons as repaired to him, upon which the mayor and aldermen raised 40 armed men, and the commons 80, which being done, William Rookwood, Esq. according to his earnest request, was made their captain, and they agreed with him for six weeks pay, namely 6d. a day to every soldier; and sent them to the King.
Upon these commotions, they began to judge it necessary to think of fortifying and raising men to guard their city, towards the expense of which, the Prior gave 10 marks, the master of St. Giles's hospital 4 marks, and the Dean of the chapel in the Fields, 40s.
About the latter end of February it was resolved, that all the city gates should be kept shut and looked day and night, except five, which should be constantly guarded with soldiers, viz. 3 at Berstretegates, 5 at Nedham-gates, 4 at Westwyk-gates, 3 at Coslany-gates, 3 at Fibrige-gates; and at Bar-gates and Bishop-gates the wickets shall be kept by a soldier, who shall attend to let people in and out, and all the gates every night shall have a good guard and watch set, as well as in the towers, at the discretion of the mayor and aldermen.
And in this state the city continued till they received a letter from King Edward IV. to acquaint them that on the 4th of March, this present year, 1460, he had taken upon him the government of the realm, commanding them to proclaim him by the name of King Edward, and that all of what degree soever between 60 and 16 should arm themselves in a defensible manner, and hasten to him with all possible speed; upon which they proclaimed him, and assigned a competent number of soldiers, and a great quantity of provisions, for which the moiety of a whole tenth was assessed throughout the city.
So that they were forced to comply with the present time, though their captain and 120 soldiers were still with King Henry, who was now with his army in the north parts of the kingdom, the southern having all submitted to King Edward.
Mayors and Sheriffs.
|1423, Walter (fn. 84) Daniel 4.||John Wright, John Hodgekins or Hodkins.|
|1424, Rob. Baxter.||Will. Gray, Perys or Peter Brasier.|
|1425, Tho. Ingham.||Tho. Wetherby, Rob. Chapleyn.|
|1426, John Asger.||John Copping, John Gleder or Gelder.|
|1427, Tho. Wetherby.||John Wilby, Ric. Steynolf.|
|Stephen Bole, Henry Master, coroners.|
|1428, Ric. Moneslee or Mozeley.||John Alderford, Gregory Draper.|
|Peter Laurence, town clerk.|
|1429, Rob. Baxter 2.||Will. Iselham, John Sipater.|
|1430, John Cambridge.||Rob. Toppes, John Penning.|
|1431, Tho. Ingham.||Will. Ashwell, Tho. Grafton.|
|John Heydon, Esq. recorder, John Hauke, town-clerk.|
|1432, Tho. Wetherby 2.||John Dunning or Downing, Augustine Bang.|
|1433, Ric. Spurdaunce 2.||Robert Laudesdale, Will. Hempstede.|