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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Edward the Second began his reign July the 7th, in the year of our Lord 1307, (fn. 1) and reigned 19 years, 6 months, and 15 days, with whom
Walter de Norwich, son of Jeffry de Norwich, was so much in favour, as to be one of the Barons of the Exchequer in 1311, and in 1314 was summoned to parliament as a parliamentary baron, and afterwards made Treasurer of the Exchequer, which office he held several years: he obtained liberty for free-warren in all his demean lands, and a fair to his manor of Ling in Norfolk, on the eve and day of St. Margaret, (July 20,) and two days following; and continued always in great favour to his death. (fn. 2)
In 1312, there was information given to the King, that several persons, as they were building the city walls, found large sums of money in the ditches, and in digging the trenches for the foundations, all which were of the coin of King Henry I. upon which the several persons were attached, and delivered up the money to the assay-master of the mint here, and an assay thereof being made, it was found, that one pound of silver of that money was more in value by three pence, or three pennyweights, than a pound of the then current coin. (fn. 3)
In this year, Thomas de Brotherton, (fn. 4) had a charter of the King in tail general, of the honours of Roger Bigod Marshal of England and Earl of Norfolk, by which he became constable of this castle during the King's pleasure, and it seems by his arms still remaining carved in stone on the walls, that it was he that fitted up the castle in the manner it now stands, for I think by his coat twice cut on the pilasters of the arch of the staircase, that he built that staircase, made that arch, and added the battlements which were on the top, and left the building much as we see it now. (fn. 5)
In 1314, the price of provisions rose to a very great height, occasioned partly by the wars between the English and Scots, by reason of which, great part of the land laid waste, partly by the intemperate season, the immoderate rains spoiling the corn in the earth, and almost the whole product of it afterwards, so that people were forced to eat horse-flesh, dogs, cats, mice, and whatever they could get; and to moderate the price of things, there was a parliament called at London, in which it was ordained, that an ox fatted with corn should be sold at 1l. 4s. if fatted with grass, at 16s.; a fat cow at 12s.; another cow at 10s.; a fat mutton fed with corn, and its wool on, at 1s. 8d.; if shorn, at 1s. 2d.; a fat hog of 2 years old at 3s. 4d.; a fat goose at 2d. ob.; a fat capon 2d.; a fat hen at 1d. and 24 eggs at 1d. and whoever sold for more should forfeit his wares to the King: and immediately upon this ordinance, orders were sent to the sheriffs of every county to proclaim it in all publick places in their shires, and to certify it to the chief officers of all cities and towns corporate, and accordingly the order for Norfolk was directed to R. de Refham, then sheriff, and is dated at Westminster, March 14, in the 8th year of King Edward II. and the sheriff immediately sent a transcript thereof to the bailiffs of Norwich, requiring them to put it in execution forthwith, as the King specially commanded. (fn. 6) But the scarcity still increasing, this order was obliged to be soon revoked, for such was the price of corn, that the King could scarce get bread to sustain his household. Fox says, that some stole children and eat them, and that many perished for hunger. Baker says, that thieves in prison plucked in pieces those that were newly brought in among them, and eat them half alive. Seldom, says Speed, hath so terrible a famine been heard of here; and what was as bad, the next year, the unwholesomeness of the food that they were forced to eat, occasioned a pestilence of which great numbers died, as also of the bloody-flux and fevers; and such was the murrain among the cattle, that people dared not eat their flesh, so that this plague and famine would have destroyed the greatest part of the people (as was thought) had not the King ordered that no wheat should be malted, a great deal of which in those times was consumed that way; and indeed it was high time to do so, for corn was sold at the then extravagant price of 20s. a comb; and this famine and mortality began in 1314, and lasted to the May in 1316, being above two years. (fn. 7)
In 1317, there was another murage granted, (fn. 8) by the help of which, the walls were finished in 1319, or 1320.
And this year also, Sir John Howard, son and heir of William Howard, (fn. 9) one of the judges of the court of common-pleas, was made sheriff of Norfolk, and custos of this castle, which, in 1321, was in the King's own hands, as appears by a writ directed to the sheriff, commanding him to furnish it with all warlike stores, and the garrison with victuals, and all necessaries; (fn. 10) and the year after, William de Rudham was made constable.
In 1326, the King kept his Christmas at St. Edmund's Bury, and being sore afraid of the Queen's return, and of those exiled persons that were with her, he commanded musters to be made in every city, burgh, town corporate, hundred, and wapentake, in all England, to exercise the men in arms, both horse and foot, that so they might be ready whenever they were called; he ordered also that beacons should be erected, in order to raise the people at a distance whenever they were fired: the order for the array and muster to be made in this city, is dated at Norwich, January 26, (fn. 11) by which I conclude the King was then here in person, and went from hence to the Virgin at Walsingham, at which place, his Charter (fn. 12) made to this city is dated on the 3d of February following. It is an ample charter, confirming and reciting all former charters by way of inspeximus, but there are no new privileges added: the witnesses were, Thomas de Brotherton Marshal of England, the King's brother, Hugh de Despencer Lord of Glamorgan, Robert de Montealt, Thomas Bardolf, and Tho. le Blount Steward of the Household.
About Michaelmas, Queen Isabel, Roger de Mortimer, Edmund of Wodstock Earl of Kent, the King's brother, Will. Trussell, and many others, landed at Orwell by Harwich in Essex, and soon after came to this city, (fn. 13) and thence went to St. Edmund's Bury, where she staid some time to refresh herself, and then prosecuted her wicked designs against the King with such success, that he was deposed the Christmas-day after, and was murdered on the 21st of Sept. following, in he year 1327. (fn. 14)
In 1327, there was a great fray between the townsmen and monks of Bury, in which the abbey was damaged to 1000l. value, so that the King sent down forces, which made them submit, and 24 of the chief of the town were imprisoned there, 30 carts full of the townsmen were carried to Norwich, of whom 19 were hanged, and the rest confined. (fn. 15)