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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In 1697, the coin was new regulated, the old money being taken in, and new coined; for which there were mints erected in divers places, among others, one at this city, which began to work in September, and in this and the next year, coined 259,371l. the quantity of coin and plate brought in here to be coined, was 17,709 ounces.
It began to rain Oct. 4, at night, and continued without intermission (except a few hours on the 6th day) till the 10th at noon, which caused such a rage of waters as overflowed the lower part of the city, and did much damage, it broke down Trowse, Harford, and Bungey bridges.
In 1700, the exchange was begun, the mayor, aldermen, &c. went in form with musick before them from the market to the Newhall, and there proclaimed a publick exchange, to be held every day from eleven to one of the clock holidays, and such other times as the hall should be used for publick business, being excepted.
Tho. Seaman, Esq. died Aug. 18, and gave 20l. a year for ever for the binding out two boys, and 5l. a year for ever to bind out two girls, out of the parishes of St. Bennet's, St. Swithin's, St. Margaret's or Heigham.
Mr. Tho. Lombe was appointed undertaker to set up lamps to enlighten the city, (fn. 1) according to a late act of parliament, (fn. 2) for enlightening the streets of the said city: and in the 10th of Queen Anne it was confirmed and enacted, that every householder, charged with 2d. a week to the poor, whose dwelling-houses adjoin to any market places, streets, publick lanes, or passages within the said city, shall yearly every night from Michaelmas to Lady day, as it shall grow dark, set or hang out on the outside of their respective houses, towards such streets, &c. candle, or visible and convenient lights, and continue the same until 11 o'clock at night, for enlightening the streets, &c. for the conveniency of passengers, under 2s. penalty for every neglect, to be levied by distress on the offenders goods, by warrant under the hands and seals of the mayor and two justices of the peace, to be disposed of by the mayor and court of aldermen, as they shall think proper, in support for the lights aforesaid, provided that all such persons as by the approbation of the mayor and court of aldermen, shall agree to contribute to maintain, and continue lamps instead of candles, to be placed near the houses of such contributors, and at such distances as shall from time to time be appointed by the order of the mayor and court of aldermen, so long as such lamps shall be continued in use, shall be discharged from such forfeiture, upon paying his respective share and contribution money according to that agreement. (fn. 3) By virtue of which act the streets are enlightened with lamps, which being of the old fashion, and not globular, and standing at a great distance from one another, do not well perform their design; there is a committee nominated by the court of majoralty, to manage this affair, who depute a collector of the money to defray the charge, which is raised by a rate settled by the committee.
There was also an act passed for erecting a court of conscience in this city, which sets forth the advantages the city of London received by such a court, by preventing many charges of arrests, and other proceedings in law. And that the city and county of the city of Norwich being very populous, &c. divers vexatious suits for several debts were daily commenced, more expensive to the parties than the debts, &c. for which they sue, to the ruin of their families, and filling the prisons with miserable debtors, and creating great charges to the several parishes wherein they were inhabitants, for their support and maintenance. It enacted therefore, that there should be a court of request or conscience, for the relief of the poorer sort of people in small debts, erected and established: and that the persons for that purpose hereafter named, should be commissioners for hearing and determining all such matters and causes as by that act are appointed to be heard and determined in the said court of conscience, (that is to say,) the mayor, aldermen, and comnon council of the said city for the time being, or any three or more of them, whereof the mayor or one of the aldermen for the time being, to be one of the said three, who are hereby authorised and empowered to execute the powers and authorities of the act, in such manner as is therein expressed. And before any one of the commissioners shall execute any of the authorities of the act, be shall take the oath following before the mayor or steward, as follows,
I A. B. do promise and swear, that all such matters and causes as I shall order and determine by virtue of the act, I will order and determine with justice and equity, according to the best of my knowledge and understanding. So help me God.
And it was enacted, that to prevent defrauding or oppressing the poor, either plaintiff or defendant, that the costs of suit, and number of officers to the said courts, and the fees to the said officers for dispatching the business of the said courts be such, and no other, than what are hereafter mentioned, (that is to say,) for every plaint 2d.; for every order 4d.; for every precept, or warrant to commit to prison, 6d.; for every search 2d.; for every satisfaction acknowledged on the order 4d.; for every warrant for levying the debt by sale of goods 6d.; to the beadle attending the court for warning every person 4d.; for serving every precept or warrant 4d. And Thomas Steward, gentleman, was appointed register and clerk of the said court of conscience, to continue as long as he well and truly demeaned himself in the execution of his office; and in case of misdemeanor, the said commissioners are authorised to remove and displace him, the said register or clerk, for such misdemeanor, and appoint such other person or persons, to execute and supply the said offices and places of him that shall so misdemean himself: and for the execution of the matters in the act contained, the said Thomas Steward is register and clerk of the court of conscience, who is to nominate his deputies and beadles for the said court, to be approved by the commissioners, and in case of removal upon lawful conviction of any misdemeanor, or decease, of the said register or clerk, the said respective commissioners, upon such removals or death, are to nominate and appoint other persons as they shall think fit, for the supply of such vacancies as shall happen.
And it was further enacted, that the said commissioners, or any three or more of them so appointed as aforesaid, are authorised and required to meet and assemble themselves together on Monday in every week, and oftener, if they shall think fit, in such place as shall be appointed by the said commissioners for the time being, or the greater number of them then present, to hear and determine alt such matters of debt or actions on the case, upon any assumpsit for the recovery of any debt not amounting to 40s. brought before them according to the true intent and meaning of the act. And every person inhabiting, or that shall inhabit within the said city and county of the said city of Norwich, and the parishes and liberties thereof, being a tradesman, victualler, labouring man, or other person, which hath, or shall have any debt or debts owing unto him, her, or them, by any person or persons whatsoever, being a tradesman, victualler, or labouring man, or other persons inhabiting, or that shall inhabit within the said city or county of the city of Norwich, and the parishes, places, and liberties thereof, being under the value of 40s. shall and may cause such debtor or debtors, to be warned by the beadle of the court of conscience, or his agent or agents, by writing, left at the house or place of abode of such debtor or debtors, to appear before the said commissioners; and the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, have power and authority, by virtue of the act from time to time, to set down such order, and orders, to be made between such party and parties complainants, and his, her, or their debtor or debtors, defendants, touching such debts, not amounting to the value of 40s. before the said commissioners as they shall find to stand with equity and good conscience in a summary way, with or without adjournment, not tying themselves to the exact forms and methods of the common law, or other courts of justice; which said order or orders shall be final and conclusive, to all persons therein concerned, their executors and administrators; nor shall any writ of errour, certiorari, or process of law or equity lie, for the removal, stay, or reversal of the same, all such their orders are to be registered in a book or books fairly written, to be kept in the said court, and as well the plaintiff as defendant shall observe and keep the same in all points; and for the due proceeding therein, is lawful for the said commissioners of the said court, or any three or more of them, to minister an oath to the plaintiff or defendant, and also to such witnesses as shall be produced on each party if the said commissioners or any three or more of them shall so think meet.
And it was further enacted, that if any such creditor or debtor, after warning given, to him, her, or them, as aforesaid, by any officer of the said court of conscience, shall without some just and reasonable cause or excuse to be allowed of by the said court, refuse to appear in the said court, that then it shall and may be lawful for the officer or officers of the court, by order of the commissioners, or any three or more of them, to cany and convey such party or parties to some prison in the said city and county of the city of Norwich, there to remain without bail or mainprize until he, or they, perform and fulfil the order of the court; and in case any creditor or debtor, plaintiff or defendant, do not, or shall not, obey and peform such orders or decrees, as the said court shall make, set down, or direct, in, for, and concerning such debt or debts, or the payment or allowance of any costs or damages for, or in respect of the same, that then it shall and may be lawful to, and for the said officer and officers of the said court, by the order or warrant of the commissioners, or any three or more of them, to levy such debt or debts, damages or money, by the commissioners awarded, out of the goods and chattles of such creditor or debtor plaintiff or defendant, by sale of the same, returning the overplus, if any be, to such party or parties, and if sufficient goods and chattles of such party or parties cannot be found within the jurisdicton of the court, whereby or whereout such debt or debts, costs or damages so awarded, shall And may be levied, raised, and satisfied, that then it shall be lawful for such officer or officers of the court, by the order or orders of the commissioners, or any three or more of them, to carry such party and parties to some prison within the said city and county of the city of Norwich, there to remain without bail or mainprize until he, she, or they, do and shall perform and obey such order, orders, or decrees of the said court; and if any person or persons being qualified as aforesaid, and inhabiting in the said city, shall at any time next after the 1st day of August in the year of our Lord 1701, commence and prosecute any action in any of his Majesty's courts at Westminster, against any person inhabiting or residing within the said city and county of the city of Norwich, and places before mentioned, for any debt or sum due upon contract, promise, specialty, or otherwise, which upon the trial shall be found not to amount to the full sum or value of 40 shillings over and above costs, no judgment shall be entered upon record, upon any such verdict, and if any judgment shall be entered thereon, then such judgment shall be, and is declared null and void; and also the defendant in every such action shall have his costs in the said suit, to be taxed by the said court or their proper officer, where such action shall be tried, and paid him by such plaintiff in the said cause, any law or custom to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
And it was further enacted, that if any person or persons shall at any time be sued or prosecuted for any thing by him or them done or executed by the authority in pursuance of the act, he and they shall and may plead the general issue, and give the said act, or any other special matter or thing in evidence, for his or their defence, and if the plaintiff or plaintiffs be non-suited in any such action, or forbear further prosecution, or suffer discontinuance, or upon trial a verdict shall pass against him or them, then such defendant or defendants, shall have treble costs to him or them awarded against such plaintiff or plaintiffs, and such execution and means to recover the same as in other cases where costs by law are given to the defendants. And it was provided, that this act should not extend to any debt for rent, upon lease for lands or tenements, or any other real contracts, nor to any other debt that shall arise by reason of any cause concerning a testament or matrimony, or any thing concerning, or properly belonging to the ecclesiastical court, albeit the same be under 40 shillings.
And it was further enacted, that if any person or persons, should at any time be prosecuted for any thing by him or them done, or executed by the authority, or in pursuance of the said act, he and they shall and may plead the general issue, and give the said act or any special matter or thing, in evidence for his or their defence, and if the plaintiff or plaintiffs shall be non-suit in any such action, or forbear further prosecution, or suffer discontinuance, or upon trial a verdict shall pass against him or them, then such defendant or defendants shall have treble costs to him or them awarded, against such plaintiff or plaintiffs; and such execution and means to recover the same as in other cases where costs by law are given to defendants provided that nothing in the act should extend to the limits of the palace of the Bishop of Norwich, or the precincts of the cathedral church of Norwich, or to any other person or persons which shall be at any time residing within the said limits or precincts, or either of them, as long as they shall continue there to reside.