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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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
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 King appointed.
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.
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 called in,
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 pleasure.
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 he granted
(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 much resentment.
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.
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.
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 general interdict.
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 own name.
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 of them.
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 Bishop.
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.