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 Third began his reign, on the 20th day of Jan. in the year 1326, 7, and was crowned five days after at Westminster, by Walter Archbishop of Canterbury, he being then of the age of 14 years; at which solemnity Queen Isabel, his mother, made show of great sorrow and heaviness, but as Daniel observes in his life of this prince, was afterwards pacified by the enlargement of her jointure, which took up three parts of the King's revenues, and among other things, she had an annual pension of a hundred pounds paid her by the bailiffs of this city out of the fee farm rent thereof; which at this time amounted in the whole to 126l. 11s. 5d. and the other 26l. were assigned to Sir John de Montgomery, so that the city were responsible for 11s. 5d. a year only, out of their whole fee farm to the Exchequer.
This King in his first Parliament at Westminster, had an act passed, by which, all cities, boroughs, and franchised towns, were to enjoy their franchises, customs, and usages, as they ought and were wont to do. (fn. 1)
At this time also, the King by charter, confirmed to Thomas de Brotherton, in tail general, all the estates and honours granted him in the 6th Edw. II. so that he was continued constable of the castle. (fn. 2)
In 1328, there was a statute made, (fn. 3) by which all the stables both beyond and on this side the sea, ordained by Kings in times past, were to cease, and all merchants whatever had liberty of coming into, and going out of England; and writs were sent to all sheriffs, mayors, and bailiffs, of good towns, to inform them of it; and among others, there was one sent to this city. It appears that the King was very disirous to encourage the trade of his subjects in all respects, for I find that his mother, Queen Isabel, had obtained a patent to be passed, with consent of Edward II. her husband, to one John Pecock; senior, (fn. 4) by which he had the assay or measuring of every piece of worsted made in Norwich or Norfolk, so that till they had paid him for so doing and had his seal on each piece, no maker could sell a single piece; and this office was assigned by the said John, with the King's consent, to Robert de Poleye; but upon the citizens representation how injurious it was to their trade, as well as expensive, their burgesses having complained of it in parliament, the patent was recalled, the assay taken of, and free trade for all worsteds granted; from which we may learn what a great manufacture was carried on in this branch of business, in Edward Second and Edward Third's time, to which the prodigious increase and popularity of the city was then owing.
In 1329, Simon de Berford, the King's escheator on this side Trent, gave the city much trouble concerning a great number of houses, shops, and tenements, lately erected by grant of the city, on the waste grounds of the said city, on pretence that all the waste belonged to the King and not to the citizens, and that the rents of all such buildings, should belong to the Crown, (fn. 5) by which means, great part of the city rents, namely all the rents de novo incremento, or new increased rents, would have been lost from the city to the value of 9l. 11s. 8d. a year, by which we may calculate the surprising increase of the inhabitants of this place, from the beginning of Edward II. to this time. The small rents or old rents of houses erected upon the city waste from its original to Edward the Second's time, amounted to but 9s. 2d. so that if we compare the new increased rents with the old ones, we shall find in about 30 years time, 19 times as many houses erected upon the waste as there were before; an argument sufficiently showing how populous it grew by its flourishing trade, and indeed its increase continued as surprisingly, till that fatal pestilence in 1349. To remedy this imposition, the citizens sent to Thomas Butt and John Ymme, their burgesses in parliament, then held at Winchester, to complain of the usage to the King and parliament; upon which, the King afterwards directed his writ to the said Simon, certifying him, that by the grants of his progenitors Kings of England, the citizens held the city and all the waste ground, by fee farm, in inheritance, and that therefore he had nothing to do to molest them in letting out such void grounds to be built upon, for their profit and advantage, towards paying their fee farm. This writ bears date at Reding, March 25, in the 4th year of his reign.
In 1329, it was accorded in parliament, that a parliament should be holden every year once, and more often, if need be. (fn. 6)
In 1330, another dispute arose between the Prior and city, but it was amicably accorded by agreement, dated June 6, in which the Prior releases all his right to the ground on which the citizens had built their walls between Barr-gate, (fn. 7) and Fibrigge-gate; (fn. 8) and the citizens released to the Prior all the land against the site of his monastery, between the precinct wall and the river Wensum; (fn. 9) and also agreed that the Prior might build houses on each side of Bishop'sBridge, so that a sufficient passage should be left on both sides of the bridge by arches or otherwise, for watering of horses, and lading and unlading goods, and that he might build upon the bridge and make gates to be inhabited as the other city gates, and should have the sole profit of them, on condition the citizens and their successours have the keeping of those gates. (fn. 10)
This year, Roger de Kerdeston was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, and governour of the castle. (fn. 11)
In 1331, the King appointed divers staples for wool and sheep skins, and other commodities, among which, Norwich was appointed the only one in Norfolk and Suffolk: (fn. 12) they were so called from the Saxon word [stapel], which signifies the stay or hold of any thing, (fn. 13) because by common order and command, the merchants of England were obliged to carry their wools, wool-fells, clothes, &c. thither, for the sale of them by the great, or (as we now speak) by wholesale, no one daring to sell such commodities but in such staple towns, by which means all trading places were very desirous of being staples, both for the convenience of carrying on, as well as increasing trade among them.
This year was a suit renewed between the citizens and the burgesses of the port of Yarmouth, which was commenced in 1327, (fn. 14) when the citizens petitioned the King against the burgesses, for taking toll and other customs against the liberties of the city charters, all which the city produced: in answer to which, the burgesses of Yarmouth alleged, that they did so, by virtue of the charter of King Edward I. by which they were created a Port, upon which they had a day assigned to produce that charter, which they did not, but dropt the suit, as it should seem, because the city charters were older than that, and so could not be injured by it, but now, the burgesses were so angry that the city was made a staple, that they proceeded so far as to stop all ships, vessels, and boats, from coming through their port to the city, which was the original of this grand suit between them, upon which the burgesses produced the charter of King Edward I. which made them a port, and granted them divers privileges, and pleaded, that their town stood on an arm of the sea, which was the King's port, and that no one could merchandise, pass, or repass, contrary to their charter. To this the citizens pleaded that Norwich was a mercantile and trading town, and one of the royal cities of England, situate on the bank of a water and arm of the sea, which extended from thence to the main ocean, upon which, ships, boats, and other vessels have immemorially come to their market, which is held every day in the week, and to their publick marts or fairs, which are held twice in the year, with all manner of merchandise, as well foreigners and strangers, as Englishmen and denizens; and all this, long before Yarmouth was in being, even when the place which that now stands upon, was main sea; and that ever since to this time, they have used this their right, having always sold and bought, laded and unladed, all their goods and merchandise, free from all tolls and customs, not only at YarmouthParva, but any where on the arm of the sea, which they now call Yarmouth Port, and all over England, and all foreign merchants paid all their customs at Norwich, which was the then port and in the King's hands, namely 4d. every ship of bulk, and 2d. every boat, and all other customs for their merchandise; all which were due to the Kings of England, in right of that their city and port, till King Henry II. granted the city, and all the tolls, rights, and customs, belonging to it, to the citizens and their heirs for ever, paying to the Exchequer a fee farm rent of 108l. a year; (fn. 15) all which have been confirmed by divers kings, and enjoyed by the city to this day, till the men of Yarmouth now began to hinder them in so doing, to their great damage, and to the hinderance of their paying to the King his fee farm, for which reason they petitioned the King to recall Edward the First's charter made to Yarmouth, or not suffer it to be prejudicial to the city; upon which the King directed his writ (fn. 16) (by advice of his privy council) commanding the bailiffs of Yarmouth to make proclamation in their town, that if any hindered or any way molested, the merchants vessels of what kind soever, from passing and repassing through the port of Yarmouth, to and from the city of Norwich, that they should forfeit all their goods and chattels forfeitable, for so doing.
In 1333, R. de Ref ham, then sheriff of Norfolk, sent a copy of the King's proclamation to the bailiffs of Norwich, commanding them, to cause proclamation to be made in the city, that no man presume to take more than 24s. for the best living ox fatted with grain, and if not fatted with grain, only 16s.; the best fat cow 12s.; the best fat swine of two years old 4s.; the best fat mutton unclipped 20d.; and if clipped 14d.; a fat goose 2d. ob.; 2 pullets 1d.; 4 pigeons 1d.; a good fat capon 2d.; a fat hen 1d.; and 24 eggs 1d. and if any person shall take any more, he shall incur the King's forfeiture. (fn. 17)
This King, in the 11th year of his reign, granted a charter, dated at Westminster on the 4th day of October, (fn. 18) in which he recited and confirmed all the former charters granted to this city, but there are no new liberties added. The witnesses are, John Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry Bishop of Lincoln, Master Robert de Stretford Chancellor and Elect of Chichester, Henry de Lancaster Earl of Derby, William de Monteacute Earl of Salisbury, Henry de Ferrers, and John Darcy le Cosyn, Steward of the Household.
And the year following, by his royal prerogative, he granted a toll without an Act of Parliament, for murage to repair the walls of the city. (fn. 19)
This year, 1336, is memorable for the great increase of the Flemish stuffs, or worsted manufacture, which proved the most advantageous trade to the nation in general, and this city and county in particular, that ever was introduced among any people, for which reason I cannot omit observing what I have met with, as to its rise and increase.
The inestimable value of our English wool was not unknown to our ancestors, even at the time of the Conquest, as appears from Domesday book, where the sheep of every manor are exactly registered; but yet the manufacturing of it was done by foreigners, and the value then consisted in the goods that were imported in exchange for it; and as far as I can find, it continued so, at least till Henry the First's time, when (as I take it, though Fuller (fn. 20) makes a doubt of it) the colony of old Dutch, frighted out of their country by an inundation, came hither, and settled, (as he thinks in Pembrokeshire only) but I am apt to believe, several of them at that time settled at Wursted or Worsted in Norfolk, and so early introduced the art of stuff-weaving there, which, as is natural to suppose, soon made its way into this city; not that I think it grew to be of any great consequence till the latter end of Henry the Third and Edward the First's time, when it much increased, so that in Edward the Second's time, worsted-stuff was famous; and Norwich increased very much by the making of it.
That it was first of all introduced at Worsted, I make no doubt, from its name, which occurs in the most ancient things I meet with, in relation to it, it being as plain that it had that name on that account, as the name of Norwich-stuffs at this day, for the same reason; and it is evident, that those historians who say the Flemings introduced the making of them first in this year, are in an errour, and were led to it by their finding such numbers of that nation introduced here at this time, who indeed did bring that valuable branch with them, namely, the making of what we now call broad-cloth, or the art of clothing.
Their introduction here was owing to the great intercourse between the English and Netherlands, which was increased ever since the King married Phillippa, daughter to William Earl of Hainault; which though it was a match made up hastily by Queen Isabel, his mother, for her own ends, yet a better could never have been made upon deliberation, either for the King or country, for though her parentage was not great, and her portion small, yet her virtue was recompense more than sufficient for those deficiencies, for never had King a better wife, nor subjects a better Queen, neither was there any one with the greatest fortune, that ever did the kingdom such signal service as she did, by the introduction of this art only, from her own country, for till now we may say, though the English had worstedstuffs and such like, yet hitherto they were ignorant in curious clothing: but to give you Fuller's own words, who hath been very large on this subject; (fn. 21) "The King and state began now to grow very sensible of the great gain the Netherlands got by our English wool, in memory whereof the Duke of Burgundy not long after, instituted the order of the Golden-Fleece, wherein indeed, the fleece was ours, the golden theirs, so vast their emolument by the trade of clothing. Our King therefore resolved if possible, to reduce the trade to his own country, who as yet were ignorant of that art, as knowing no more what to do with their wool, than the sheep that weare it, as to any artificial and curious drapery, their best cloathes then being no better than freezes, such their courseness for want of skill in their making: but now the intercourse being settled between the English and Netherlands, unsuspected emissaries were employed by our King into those countries, who wrought themselves into familiarity with such Dutchmen as were absolute masters of their trade, but not masters of themselves, as either journymen or apprentices. These bemoaned the slavishness of these poor servants, whom their masters used rather like heathens than Christians, yea rather like horses than men, early up, and late in bed, and all day hard work, and harder fare, (a few herrings and mouldy cheese,) and all to inrich the churles their masters, without any profit to themselves.
But oh! how happy should they be, if they would but come into England, bringing their mystery with them, which would provide their welcome in all places. Here they should feed on fat beef and mutton, till nothing but their fullness should stint their stomacks: yea they should feed on the labours of their own hands, enjoying a proportionable profit of their pains to themselves, their beds should be good, and their bedfellows better, seeing the richest yeomen in England, would not disdain to marry their daughters unto them, and such the English beauties, that the most envious foreigners could not but commend them.
Liberty is a lesson quickly conn'd by heart, men having a principle within themselves to prompt them in case they forget it. Perswaded with the premises, many Dutch servants leave ther masters, and make over for England. Their departure thence (being pickt here and there) made no sensible vacuity, but their meeting here altogether amounted to a considerable fullness; with themselves they brought over their trade and their tools, namely such which could not (as yet) be made in England.
Happy the yeomans house into which one of these Dutchmen did enter, bringing industry and wealth along with them. Such who came in strangers within the doors, soon after went out bridegrooms, and returned sons in laws, having married the daughters of their landlords, who first entertained them, yea those yeomen in whose houses they haboured, soon proceeded gentlemen, gaining great estates to themselves, arms and worship to their estates.
The King having gotten this treasury of foreigners, thought not fit to continue them all in one place, lest on discontent they might imbrace a general resolution to return, but bestowed them thorow all the parts of the land, that cloathing thereby might be the better dispersed. This new generation of Dutch, was now sprinkled every where, though generally (when left to their own choice) they prefer'd a maritime habitation."
And indeed it seems a great many Flemings settled in these parts at first, as at Wursted, Norwich, Lavenham, Sudbury, &c. they landing chiefly at Yarmouth and the adjacent coasts, and it was the number of her countrymen being settled here, as I take it, that made the King and Queen so often visit this city as they did.
The Dutchmen that came over, first found fuller's earth, a precious treasure, of which there is more, if not better, than in all the world besides; a great commodity to the making of good cloth, so that nature (says our author) seems to point out our land for the staple of drapery, if the idleness (or the negligence) of her inhabitants be not the only hindrance thereof.
Soon after this, Norwich in a very few years became the most flourishing city in all England, by means of its great trade in worsteds, fustians, freezes, and other woolen manufactures, for now the English wool being manufactured by English hands, an incredible profit accrued to the people, by its passing through and employing so many, "every one having a fleece, sorters, combers, carders, spinsters, fullers, dyers, pressers, packers, &c." so that many thousands, that before that, could not get their bread, could now by this means live handsomely; and indeed the chief support of this city hath ever since been by the woolen-manufacture, which began to decline about the time of Henry VIII. but revived again in Queen Elizabeth's time, by means of the Dutch who came over then, and not only threw the trade into a different channel, but improved the goods to a much higher perfection, by weaving greater variety of them than heretofore, so that the bloody inquisition of the Duke of Alva, which forced these Dutchmen to flee hither for conscience sake, was the means which raised the trade of this place to that degree, as to vend above the value of 100,000l. a year in Norwich-stuffs only, besides the stocking manufacture, which some years ago, was computed at 60,000l. a year more; (fn. 22) and so much hath the government thought this trade worth protecting, that there are no less than fourteen statutes, besides many writs, proclamations, and ordinances established to guard it; which this King did in the most effectual manner that could be, at its first establishment, by prohibiting any wool to be transported unwrought, (fn. 23) and commanding that all clothes should be made here, granting habitation, with all privileges and liberties, to such artificers as would come over and inhabit here; at the same time enacting, that none should wear other than English cloth, except the King, Queen, and their children, and that no man should wear any facing of silks or furs, but such as could dispend 100l. a year, and this was the first sumptuary law, (fn. 24) that we meet with in history: and indeed if we credit historians, there was then a necessity for such laws, to restrain the extravagance of dress which then prevailed, and to oblige the people to encourage their own manufacture by the use of it; a law worthy this great King, and I cannot but wish that it had been unrepealed at this day.
In the 14th year of this King, the Earls of counties, who had the custody of the royal castles, often refused to suffer the sheriffs to imprison criminals in the castles, though it had been customary so to do; upon which the legislature took it into consideration, and made an Act of Parliament, that gaols which were wont to be in ward of the sheriffs, and annexed to their baliwicks, shall be rejoined to the sheriffs of counties, and that the sheriffs shall have the custody of the same gaols and prisoners there, as heretofore they used to have; and from this very time, this castle hath been the publick gaol of the county of Norfolk, and in the sheriff's custody to keep his prisoners in, as it still continues; though for some time after this the King did nominate a constable to the castle, for to keep it, as to its defence, in his name; for in 1354, 29th Edward III. Roger Clerk was constable of the castle. (fn. 25)
In the 15th year of his reign, the King appointed a turnament to be held at Norwich, and at the same time prohibited all turnaments elsewhere, and writs were directed accordingly to all sheriffs in England: (fn. 26) this exercise was much in use in ancient times, and is otherwise called justing or tilting; the knights that used this martial sport were armed, and so encountered one another on horseback, with spears or lances, by which they made themselves fit for war, according to the manner of that age, which made use of such weapons; but when guns, bombs, and other offensive ways of warring were universally introduced, the exercise as well as the weapons themselves, became totally neglected: this turnament began in February 1340, and the King, and Queen Phillipa his wife, came in person to this city to see it, and staid some time, for he was at Norwich on Wednesday February 14, being St. Valentine's day, for then Sir Rob. de Bourchier, his Lord Chancellor, came from London to him here, leaving the great seal behind him, and did not return till the third of March following, (fn. 27) soon after which, the King, Queen, and court, went from hence, the turnament being over at Easter; and I find by the accounts of the celerers and other officers of the priory, (fn. 28) that they lodged in the monastery, for there occur several entries this year of sums given towards bearing the expenses of the King and Queen's household. (fn. 29)
At this time the gates and towers of the city were fortified, and made up fit to dwell in, (they having been built, but not fitted up ever since the walls were finished,) by Richard Spynk, citizen of Norwich, (fn. 30) who for the profit and defence of the city, and adjacent country, and for the honour of the King, gave 30 espringolds, or warlike instruments, to cast great stones with, to be always kept as follows, viz. 2 in Coslany-gate, (fn. 31) 2 at St. Austin's-gate, 2 at Fibriggegate, 1 at Bishop's-gate, 2 in the tower by the river by the dungeon, 1 at Consford-gate, 6 in the great Black Tower by Berstrete, 6 at Berstrete-gate, 2 at Nedeham-gate, (fn. 32) 2 at St. Giles's-gate, 2 at Westwyck-gate, (fn. 33) and 2 at the Tolhous; (fn. 34) and to every espringold 1 hundred gogions or balls, lock'd up in a box, with ropes and other accoutrements belonging to them, and also 4 great arblasters or cross-bows, and to each of them a hundred gogeons or balls, and 2 pair of graples to draw up the bows with; and other gogeons and armour: he also gave 200l. 5s. to enlarge and deepen the ditches belonging to the city walls, and laid out much money in repairing a low place between the river and St. Martin's or Coslany-gates, and made the portculice, (fn. 35) with all the instruments belonging to it, both bars and chains, and covered and leaded that gate; he also made the stone front of St. Austin's-gate, in which the port-culice hangs, and leaded and covered the gate, and made the port-culice there, and built 45 rods of wall, and 4 towers, between St. Austin's, and Fibrigge or Magdalen-gates, and in a great measure built those gates, and made the chains and port-culice, and built Bishop-gate upon the bridge, and repaired the bridge and its arches, and he made the port-culice, chains, &c. at Berstrete-gates, and covered and leaded those gates, and the same he did at St. Stephen's or Nedham-gate, at St. Gile's gate, and at Westwyck-gate, and he laid out above 100l. more, about the bars, chains, and gate, at Bishop's-Bridge, and in building a stone wall at Roscelines Stath; he built also the tower on the other side of the river, and made two great chains to go cross from tower to tower, so that no vessel could enter the city by the river without leave, which tower now stands over against the city walls by Cunsford-gate, and fixed an instrument to the tower on the west side of the river, to wind the chains upon, and leaded, covered, and fortified, Conesfordgate, and the great Black Tower of Berstrete, and the 2 towers between that and Berstrete-gate; and in the low tower he made chambers of board, and leaded them, and in the high tower he made 2, chambers and covered it, and in the 2 towers beyond Nedham-gate he made chambers and covered them with lead, and covered Heghamgate with lead, and made bars, chains, &c. and the same at Barrgates; (fn. 36) and all the gates and towers he whitened, and made their windows; and when he had done this, he offered another hundred pounds, if any would raise as much more, to finish all the towers in the same manner as those he had done; and when no man in the city would undertake to do it in that manner, the said Richard undertook it, and performed it by God's grace; for which, the citizens gave him their common seal to pay him their part, and also, that neither he nor his heirs male, for ever, should be obliged to bear any office, or serve on any juries in the city, without their own consent, and that he and they should be for ever quit and free from all tallages, taxes, &c. in the city, as also from all customs for merchandize bought and sold, and from all murage and pavage whatever: and the city agreed to find constant guards to guard the walls, in the gates and towers, and look after and keep in order the espringolds, and other instruments which he gave them; and if such guards neglected their duty, on complaint made by him or his heirs, the city was to turn them out, and place others; and if the said Richard died without heirs male, his eldest daughter and her eldest heir was to be in the place of his heir male, and if he had no children, his next heir was to enjoy the same privileges, according to the indentures between the city and him, to which, John de Stratford Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir William de Claxton, Prior of Norwich, Sir Robert de Ufford Earl of Suffolk, Sir John Bardolf Lord of Wormgeye, Sir John de Norwich, Sir Edward de Cretyng, and Sir Peter de Ty, Knights, were witnesses; they all being at Norwich on the 10th day of December, in the 17th year of the King's reign, when I imagine the King was also here.
The city being by the conduct, generosity, and good management of this worthy citizen, thus finely fortified and guarded, and all the gates, walls, and towers fully finished, at an assembly of the bailiffs and commonalty, held on St. James's day in the 18th Edward III. at the request of the said Richard Spink, whose labours, expenses, and gifts to the city could never be enough recompensed, it was ordered and established, that it should be proclaimed every quarter of a year, street by street, throughout the whole city,
That if any one suffers any beast to enter the city ditches, or throw or lay any thing whatever into them, or into the arches of the city walls, or into any of the gates, that they should be fined for every such offence, by which he proposed to keep them in that good and beautiful order which he had put them in; and the very day after, having now perfected all his great undertakings, he signed a general release to the city, of all debts, actions and demands, to that day, reserving to himself and heirs the liberties aforesaid, which he so much deserved. (fn. 37)
In 1343, Oct. 19, on Sunday night was an exceeding great rain and high wind, which came so violently upon the passage-boat then coming from Yarmouth, that it sunk in the river Wensum belonging to the city of Norwich, close by Cantele, and out of 40 persons, two only escaped with their lives; as appears from the inquest of Thomas de Morlee, the city coroner: (fn. 38) and the same year the Chronicle in the Gild-hall says, that in March, there happened a great earthquake in many places in England.
In 1344, Richard de Lyng, parson of Redeham, John de Berneye, and John Chevelee, gave the citizens a piece of ground on which the city wall was built, extending from Barr-gates to the river Wensum, to which Sir John de Norwich, Sir William de Kerdeston, Sir Peter de Ty, Sir John Howard, and Sir Bartholomew Bateman, Knights, were witnesses.
This year, their Majesties vouchsafed to honour the city again with their presence, as appears from the accounts of the priory, where they lodged, as also from a license of mortmain granted to the nuns of Blakebergh, (fn. 39) which is dated the 27th of Dec. in the 18th year of his reign, witness ourself at Norwich. And at this time the city was so much in favour with the Queen, as to ask her to request the King for a grant of all his royal jurisdiction, belonging to the fee of his castle here, which she did accordingly, and obtained it; for the next year, being the 19th of his reign, John de Berney and Richard Clere were appointed commissioners, before whom a writ of ad quod dampnum was executed, concerning the fee of the castle of Norwich, it being grown doubtful from its long continuance in the Earls of Norfolk, whether it belonged to them or to the King only, and it was adjudged to the King, and that the Earls of Norfolk held it only as the King's constables, upon which the castle itself was confirmed to the sheriff of Norfolk to keep the King's prisoners in safe ward in, and as such continues annexed to the county of Norfolk for a county gaol; (fn. 40) but as to the jurisdiction belonging to it, return was made by John Howard, then sheriff of Norfolk, that it would be no damage to the King to grant it to the city, except the loss of 12d. arising from the pleas of the jurisdiction; (fn. 41) and at the same time, getting their old friend the Queen to inform his Majesty, that the inhabitants of the castle ditches being in the fee of the castle, were not only not taxable with the city, but exempt from the bailiffs of the city, and out of the city jurisdiction, and that often, when any of the citizens were indicted for felony and other offences, they took refuge there and avoided justice, being screened by the sheriff of the county and his bailiffs of that liberty, and so could not be punished, which encouraged many such felons, and hardened others in their wickedness; the King upon this sealed a Charter (fn. 42) dated at Hertford, Aug. 19, in the 19th year of his reign over England, and 6th over France, John, Archbishop of Canterbury, R. Bishop of Chichester, R. Bishop of London, Richard Earl of Arundel, Thomas de Beauchamp Earl of Warwyk, William de Clinton Earl of Huntingdon, Robert de Ufford Earl of Suffolk, Robert de Sadyngton Chancellor and Treasurer, William de Edyngton Treasurer, Richard Talbot Steward of the Household, and others, being witnesses: by which, the better to enable the bailiffs and citizens of Norwich to pay their ancient fee farm rent, he granted,
Quod ipsi, et successores sui, de cetero habeant jurisdictionem, in omnibus placeis, circa fossata castri nostri dicte civitatis inhabitatis, que sunt de feodo dicti castri, existentibus, jam inhabitatis et inhabitandis, et quod placee ille sint de tali natura et condicione, sicut alie placee et tenementa dictorum civium in civitate predicta (domo vocata le Shirehous, ubi communia placita dicti comitatus tenentur duntaxat excepta.)
Et eciam quod habeant plenam cognicionem tam de tenuris dicti feodi, quam de alijs placitis, quibuscunque, infra feodum predictum, per brevia nostra, et returna brevium, et summonicionum de Scaccario nostro ac executionem eorundem, emergentibus, et quod de transgressionibus, felonijs, et receptamentis felonum et fugitivorum, quibuscunque, infra dictum feodum, de cetero contingentibus, inquirere, et inde justiciam facere possint, secundum legem, et consuetudinem civitatis predicte.
Et eciam quod homines in dictis placeis jam morantes, et in posterum moraturi, de cetero sint de lotto et scotto dictorum civium, et ad tallagia, auxilia, et alia onera, dictam civitatem tangeocia, cum hominibus ejusdem civitatis, pro rata porcionis sue contribuant, et ad hoc, si necesse fuerit, per ballivos dicte civitatis compellantur, absque hoc, quod Vicecomes comitatus predicti, qui pro tempore fuerit, vel ministri, se de dictis placeis, vel de residentibus in eisdem, in aliquo intromittant, vel ipsos ballivos et cives, de libero ingressu, ad easdem placeas, et egressu de eisdem, impediant, vel perturbent, ita quod dicti ballivi et cives in quacunque concessione nobis, de decimis et alijs quotis et auxilijs nobis jam facta, vel nobis et heredibus nostris in posterum facienda, nobis ad Scaccarium nostrum, in porcione ad nos, de residentibus in placeis predictis pertinente, ultrà id, quod dicti ballivi et cives nobis reddunt, vel reddere solebant, pro porcione civitatem predictam contingente, respondeant.
Et insuper quod dicti ballivi et cives, heredes et successores sui, omnes redditus de placeis predictis inhabitatis, et inhabitandis, per dictos ballivos colligere et levare valeant. Reddendo inde nobis et heredibus nostris, ad Scaccarium nostrum, et heredum nostrorum, per manus suas proprias, ultra antiquam firmam civitatis predicte, viginti et sex solidos, et decem denarios, pro redditu dictorum placearum jam inhabitatarum, sex solidos et octo denarios pro leta, et novem solidos pro placitis et perquisitis curie ibidem, ad quas summas, redditus dictarum placearum jam inhabitatarum, et proficua lete, ac placitorum predictorum, per annum se extendunt, sicut per inquisitiones pleniùs est compertum, et ultra summas illas, decem solidos, et decem denarios, de incremento, et eciam duodecim denarios, quos de amerciamentis et proficuis placitorum predictorum, occasione presentis concessionis, amisimus, (ut est dictum) necnon redditus, ad quos dictas placeas inhabitandas cum de licencia nostra inhabitate fuerint, contigerit arentari.
Preterea considerantes sumptus et expensas, quos dicti cives circa clausuram civitatis nostre predicte, gratis apposuerunt, volentes quod propter hoc, eis gratam facere respensivam, de gracia nostra speciali, et ad requisitionem, Isabelle Regine Anglie matris nostre carissime, concessimus et hac Carta nostra confirmavimus prefatis ballivis et civibus, quod ipsi, et heredes, et successores sui, in dicta civitate morantes, perpetuis temporibus quieti existant, de jurisdictione clerici mercati hospicij nostri, et heredum nostrorum, ita quod idem clericus seu ministri sui, dictam civitatem, aut feodum predictum, ad assaiam mensurarum, vel ponderum, aut id aliquæ alia, ad dictum officium clerici mercati qualitercunque pertinencia, faciend: et exercend: de cetero, nullatenus ingrediantur, nec idem officium ibidem, in presencia, sive absencia nostra, vel heredum nostrorum, exerceant quovis modo.
That they and their successours for the future, should have the jurisdiction in all places inhabited about the ditches of our castle of our said city, which are of the fee of the said castle, whether they be now, or shall be hereafter inhabited, and that those places be of the same nature and condition, as other places and tenements of the said citizens in the city aforesaid, (the house called the shire-house, (fn. 43) where the common pleas of the county are held, only excepted.)
And also that they shall have the full trial, as well concerning the tenures of the said fee, as of all other pleas whatever issuing within the aforesaid fee, by our writs; and shall also have the returns of our writs and summonses of our Exchequer, and the execution thereof, and also power to make enquiry of all manner of transgressions, felonies, concealments of felons and fugitives, hereafter happening within the said fee, and thereupon may do and execute justice according to the law and custom of the city aforesaid.
And also, that the persons now dwelling in the aforesaid places, or that shall hereafter dwell there, shall be of the lot and scot of the said citizens, and shall contribute according to their rated portions, to all tallages, aids, and other burthens belonging to the said city, with the men of the said city; and if there be occasion, they shall be compelled so to do, by the bailiffs of the said city, and neither the sheriff for the time being, nor his officers, shall enter the places aforesaid, nor concern themselves with the residents in them, nor any way hinder or disturb the bailiffs of the city or the citizens, from free ingress and egress, to and from all the said places, provided that the said bailiffs and citizens shall answer to us at our Exchequer in all tenths, taxes, and aids, already made to us or our heirs, all the portion accruing to us and our heirs, from the residents in the said places, over and above the ancient portion which the bailiffs and citizens used to pay, for the portion of their city.
And in order to do this, the said bailiffs and citizens, and their successours, shall have power to collect and levy all such payments of all the persons now inhabiting, or that shall hereafter inhabit in any of the places aforesaid, paying to us and our heirs, at our Exchequer, over and above the old fee farm of the city, the annual sum of 26s. 10d. for the rent of the said inhabited places, and 6s. 8d. for the leet, and 9s. for the pleas and perquisites of the court thereto belonging, at which sums, the annual rents of the said places already inhabited, and the profits of the leet, and of the pleas aforesaid, are valued, as by the inquisitions more fully appear: and an increased rent of 10s. 10d. a year, besides the aforesaid sums, and also the yearly sum of 12d. which by this grant (it is said) will be lost to us by amerciaments and other profits of the pleas aforesaid; and from the rents of the places now inhabited and built upon, and which might accrue by licensing other places to be inhabited and built upon.
Furthermore, considering the costs and charges which the said citizens have been at, in enclosing our city (with walls) without any expense to us, and being willing to make them some agreeable recompense, we of our special favour, and at the request of Isabel Queen of England, our most dear mother, have granted, and by this our Charter confirmed, to the aforesaid bailiffs and citizens, that they and their heirs and suecessours, dwelling in the said city, shall be for ever free from the jurisdiction of the clerk of the market of the household of us and our heirs, so that the said clerk or his officers for the future, shall in no wise enter the said city or the fee aforesaid, to make assay of any measures or weights, or to exercise or do any other things, any way belonging to the said office of clerk of the market, neither shall they in the presence or absence of us or our heirs, exercise the said office in any manner whatever.
So that by virtue of this charter, the city became sole proprietors of all the exempt jurisdiction of the castle, and of all the castle-ditches, and lands belonging to the baliwick of the castle, the site of the castle itself, namely the principal hill on which it stands, and the first ditch round it, to the foot of the principal bridge, which is and always was repaired by the county, and the old shire-house which stood southward of the said bridge being excepted; the latter by this charter, and the former by the statute afore-mentioned, which, as the Essay rightly observes, was confirmed by the succeeding statutes of Richard II. Henry VII. and Edward VI. (fn. 44) in all which, though the castle of Norwich is not particularly named, yet it being always a royal castle, it is effectually within those acts, as if it had been mentioned by name, so that being annexed to the county of Norfolk, by authority of King and parliament, for the use of the sheriff of the county for the time being, there to keep in safe custody such persons as by the laws of the land, are to be committed to the county jail: it is not grantabte to any person by patent, charter, or otherwise, neither can any person lease it, assign it, or set it over, to any person whomsoever, nor any way alienate it to any private person; it being now the property of the county, which is obliged to repair and maintain it for the use of the sheriff for the county jail, as is done at this day. (fn. 45)
In 1343, the order was renewed in a common assembly, held in the chapel of the Virgin Mary in the Fields in Norwich, which then was the usual place where the most part of the city business was transacted, that no man should be compelled to serve as one of the bailiffs of the city, unless he had not served that office for 4 years last past, but those that were willing, if they were chosen, might serve as often as they pleased. (fn. 46)
In 1347, Robert Poleye, one of the King's valets, (fn. 47) notwithstanding his patent mentioned at p. 80, was recalled, still exercised the assay and alnage (fn. 48) of worsted in Norwich and all Norfolk, and insisted his patent was still good during his life, upon which the worsted-weqvers and merchants prayed a revocation in parliament, and that they might have the grant, and were answered, "It seemeth to the council, that. the same ought to be granted for the common profit of all estates," and so it was revoked, and the bailiffs had a grant of it for a time, but no alnager here was to intermeddle with whole woollen cloths, so that from this time the city had the alnage or measuring and sealing of all worsted-stuffs only.
In 1348, Jan. 1, the plague broke out in this city, from which time, to the first of July following, as our historians assure us, there died no less than 57,104 (or more rightly as others have it, 57,374) persons, in this city only, besides religious and beggars; (fn. 49) the great numbers that all historians agreed died here in this mortality, surprise some, who imagine, that because there are not so many now in the whole city, there must be a mistake in the figures, but there is not, for thus saith the best record (fn. 50) for this purpose, "In yis Yere was swiche a Dethe in Norwic, [th]at [th]ere died of [th]e Pestlence lviij Mil. iij L. lxxiiij, besyd Relygius [e]t Beggars." and our historian afore quoted, is only mistaken as to the time, it being computed from Jan. 1, 1348, to Jan. 1,1349, namely a whole year. Now at this time, Norwich was in the most flourishing state she ever saw, and more populous than she hath been ever since, for then there were no less than sixty parish churches, besides seven conventual churches within its walls, and the large parishes of Pockthorp and Heigham, besides the conventual chapel of St. Mary Magdalen, without the walls, in the whole, 70 places of divine worship, which being considered, if the decrease of these be calculated, it will appear, that it was then indeed something fuller of people than it now is, but not Dear so much as at first view we may think; for take the parishes one with another as they are at this day, and I believe there will be found upwards of a thousand people for each parish, so that at the time of this pestilence, I believe there was upwards of 70,000 souls in the city and its suburbs; and if the following account be true, as I find it registered in the Book of Pleas, (fn. 51) kept in the Gild-hall, I make no doubt but our forefathers were as exact and true in this calculation as they could be, which is thus, "Anno Domini Mo. ccco. xlixo. manus solius Dei omnipotentis,genus humanum quâdam plagâ mortiferâ percussit, que a regionibus australibus incipiens, et ad partes aquilonales pertransiens, omnia regna invasit: hec plaga Christianos, Judeos, et Saracenos, pariter prostravit, confessorem, et confitentem simul (fn. 52) extinsit: hec plaga in multis locis, nec quintam partem hominum superstitem reliquit: tantaque pestilencia ante hec tempora, non est visa, nec audita, nee scripture commendata. Creditur enim, multitudinem hominum tarn copiosam, aquis diluvij, quod in diebus Noe evenit, interemptam non fuisse." That is to say, In the year of our Lord 1349, God Almighty visited mankind with a deadly plague, which began in the south parts of the world, and went thorough even the northern parts thereof, attacking all nations of the world; this plague equally destroyed. Christians, Jews, and Saracens, killed the confessor and the confessed: in many places this plague did not leave the fifth part of the people alive, it struck the world with great fear, so great was the pestilence, that the like was never seen, heard, nor read of before, for it was believed, that there was not a greater number of souls destroyed by the flood in the days of Noah, than died by this plague. (fn. 53) And this infection did not only extend to mankind, but the cattle perished with the murrain in most places; yea so much did this pestilence rage here and in the diocese, that " in many monasteries and religious houses, there were scarce two of twenty left alive." (fn. 54) And it appears from the Institution Book of this time, (fn. 55) that in this year there were 863 institutions, the clergy dying so fast that they were obliged to admit numbers of youths that had only devoted themselves for clerks by being shaven, to be rectors of parishes; and I find, (fn. 56) that Pope Clement VI. by his bull dated at Avignon, Oct. 13, at the request of William Bateman Bishop of Norwich, dispensed with 60 clerks, though they were only shavelings, and but 21 years of age, to hold rectories and other livings, the bull setting forth, that it was done that divine service might not cease in the diocese, he being acquainted by the Bishop that there had been, and was, no less than a thousand parish churches void of incumbents in this diocese, and it was the want of clergy to supply the cures that prompted that Bishop to found Trinity Hall in Cambridge, for a constant supply of clergy for the diocese, as he himself tells us in his instrument of reservation of the profits of the rectory of Blofield in Norfolk for a term of years, towards the support of the members of that college.
In 1350 was a great turnament held here, on Monday, being the Feast of St. Nicholas the Bishop, and Edward Prince of Wales, commonly called the Black Prince, was present at it, as appears by the treasurer's accounts of this year, (fn. 57) he being then treated by the city, with a grand entertainment made for him at the poblick expense, which came to 37l. 4s. 6d. Sir Robert de Ufford, and many other of the nobility being with him; they also treated the Prince's retinue; and it seems from what I have observed from other things, though it is not mentioned in the accounts, that the Queen was then here.
In 1351, there was a general review in this county, complaint being made that they sold by false measures and weights, and many towns' came before the itinerant justices, and fined for such offences, to above 1000l. value, some being fined 5s. some 6s. but great Yarmouth was fined a 100 marks, and the city the same sum, (fn. 58) which was raised by a tax upon the citizens, laid by the bailiffs and commonalty.
In 1353, the staples beyond the sea were recalled, (fn. 59) and the staples of wools, leather, wool-fells, and lead, were fixed to be perpetually holden at the following places in England, viz. Newcastle upon Tine, York, Lincoln, Norwich, Westminster, Canterbury, Chichester, Winchester, Exeter, and Bristow, and those commodities which shall be carried out of the said realm shall be first brought to the said staples, and there be lawfully weighed by the standard, between merchant and merchant, and the customs of the staple thereof paid, shall be witnessed by bill, sealed with the seal of the Mayor of the staple, (fn. 60) and then shall be carried to the ports belonging to the said staples, viz. from Norwich to Great Yarmouth, &c; and according to this statute, the mayor of the staple here had a salary of 20l. per annum, and the two constables of the staple 5l. per annum each, and the mayor and constables took recognizances before them, to which end the King sent a seal to the city, for the use of the mayor of the staple, to seal all such recognizances with, which is now in the Gild-hall, and is an exceeding fine one; it hath a bust of the King with his crown on; on each side of his head is a lion guardant, part of his royal arms, which lion from this time was inserted in the city arms under the castle, as we see it at this day; the circumscription is,
No sooner was this staple established, but at the Prior's fair, the mayor, &c. of the staple imprisoned some of the Prior's tenants of St. Paul's parish, and interfered with the toll, assize of bread and ale, and other liberties in the fair time, upon complaint of which, the King directed his writ to the mayor and constables of the staple, dated at Westminster, July 12, commanding them not to molest the Prior in any thing he enjoyed before the staple, but to set free those that were imprisoned, and not to meddle with any thing that the statute of the staple did not authorize them to meddle with; (fn. 61) and by the 3d chapter of the statute, it was made felony for any English, Welsh, or Irish merchant to transport wool.
In 1355, it was enacted that all county coroners should be chosen by the freeholders, and that all sheriffs for the future should hold their office but one year. (fn. 62)
In 1355, the King having before writ to the bailiffs and commonalty of Norwich to provide him 120 armed men, and to send them to Portsmouth by Sunday in Midlent, to go over with him to France; by another letter he deferred the sending them till ten days after Easter, because his transport ships were dispersed by storms, but commanded they should not fail then, as he had commanded most of his cities and market towns in England so to do. (fn. 63)
In 1357, Isabel Queen Dowager of England, mother of the King deceased, (fn. 64) by whose death the hundred pounds a year paid out of the fee farm of the city returned to the Crown, and the bailiffs became again answerable to pay it at the Exchequer.
In 1361, was a great dearth and plague, which was called the second pestilence; (fn. 65) and this year, on the 15th of January, was a prodigious wind, which blew so vehemently from the south-west, that it did much damage to many high buildings all over England, and to this city in particular, for it blew down the tower of the cathedral, and that beat down great part of the choir; it lasted so violent for 6 or 7 days, that the people were in great fear and danger of their lives; (fn. 66) and the following rains were so great, that at hay-seal, and harvest, there were such inundations as did abundance of damage.
In 1364, the King directed his writ to the Londoners, commanding them not to trouble the citizens of Norwich for any tolls, customs, &c. in London, they being free therefrom by the grants and charters of him and his progenitors.
In 1365, the King commanded that Peterpence should be no more paid to Rome, which had been used to be paid there, ever since the year 679, when Ina King of the West-Saxons ordained this payment for the maintenance of a school for English scholars at Rome: it was called the King's alms, and amounted in the whole to 300 marks a year, and every one that had 30 pennyworth of goods of one sort of cattle of their "own, was to pay that 30th penny. Holingshed says, that it was afterwards gathered in some shires of the realm, till the Dissolution in Henry the Eighth's time. (fn. 67)
The Chronicle of St. Alban's under this year says, at "that time a Sekenes that man calle the Pockes sleme both men and women thrughe they entectynge." which is the first time that I have met with any account of the small-pox raging in England.
In 1368, at an assembly held in Whitsun week, it was ordained by universal consent of the city, that the bailiffs should be yearly, chosen at Michaelmas, by the bon-gentz, or the commons of the city, who shall also then choose 24 out of themselves, as common-council to represent themselves in all assemblies; the city treasurers shall also be elected at the same time, and the auditors in like manner, who shall audit all accounts yearly within eight days after St. Michael, and no common seal shall be set to any thing without the 24 consenting, and the chief of the commons, neither shall any business of consequence be transacted without them, and all business concerning the city shall be born at the city charge, the keys of the treasury, the chests, gates, and turrets, shall be delivered by the old bailiffs to the new ones, on Michaelmas day, or within four days after at longest, by which we may see how the city was then governed. (fn. 68)
This year there came a writ directed to the bailiffs, to come personally to London, to inform the King and his Council, what was best to be done in relation to secure the shipping of the kingdom. (fn. 69)
In 1369, was a great dearth and pestilence, called the third plague, which seized the people so suddenly, that many who went to bed well, were found dead in the morning. (fn. 70)
And this year the people of Yarmouth had gained so much upon the interest of Norwich citizens, that notwithstanding all their endeavours, Yarmouth was made a staple town, (fn. 71) and in
1371, the King directed a writ to the bailiffs, good people, or commons of Norwich, commanding them upon their fealty and allegiance, to provide and send him a good barge, well furnished and fit for war, to go against the common enemies of the land, the French and Spaniards; his council having advised him to command the cities and good towns to furnish him with such, to enable him to go against his enemies: at this time also,
The bailiffs and commons granted to Robert Popingeay, their fellow citizen, all their tenement and garden in the parish of St. Mary in the Marsh, abutting on Tombland north, and St. Cuthbert's churchyard south, on a little lane called Seve-cote-row east, and partly on a tenement of the Prior and Convent, and a tenement of the said Robert, west, which tenement was in the parish of Little St. Mary, and is now part of the Popingeay inn.
In 1372, June 9, the King had a parliament at Winchester, which lasted but eight days, it being held on purpose for the merchants of London, Norwich, and divers places of the realm, to answer to the defamation laid upon them, namely, that they would rise and rebel against the King; (fn. 72) I find there was no return made from Norwich to this parliament, and only four bishops and four abbots were summoned to attend it, but imagine the merchants cleared themselves, because I meet with nothing more of it.
In the year 1377, on the 21st day of June, died the mighty and victorious King Edward III. in the 64th year of his age, having reigned 50 years, 4 months, and 27 days, being the first that in his title constantly used the words post Conquestum, to distinguish the King Edwards after the Conquest from those before it. (fn. 73)
Posvi devm adivtorem mevm, civitas norwici. (fn. 74)
For the fee of the castle lately purchased, per annum 2l. 14s. 4d. which was thus accounted for, (fn. 75)
The rents of the places inhabited came to 1l. 6s. 10d. the leet 7s. 8d. the pleas and perquisites of the court 9s. the increased rent 10s. 10d. the King's loss yearly 1s.; and because the bailiffs of the city by virtue or their office always paid the whole rent, they were allowed towards it, all the tolls of the bakers, butchers, fullers, tanners, diers, fishermen, the customs of the fiver Wensum, the tolls of the fish-market and beast-market, the rents of the shops, the new increased rents, all the small farms or old rents, the tronage or custom paid for weighing things at the publick beam, in the market, and other rents and customs, but all were not sufficient to answer the sum.
At to. 6 of the Book of Customs, the customs for all merchandise and wares coming to the city by land or water, are exactly entered; as first, every thousand herrings pay 1d. or 10d. a last; every hundred saltfish 2d.; every hundred mackarel one halfpenny; a cart 2d. &c.; and whereas many disputes arose, who should be chargeable with the tax to repair the gates, walls, and towers, which the bailiff's and commons had power to lay as often as occasion required, the King, upon application made, sent his writ, dated at Langley, commanding that all houses in the liberty of Norwich should always pay to it, and at the same time a return was made concerning the walls, which is entered in the Book of Customs at the last leaf, viz.
From the river to Coslany or St. Martin at the oak gate, are 112 battlements, and 10 upon the gate, and from thence in the walls and towers to St. Austin's-gate are 69 battlements, and upon that gate 12; from thence to Fibrigge or Magdalen-gate in the walls and towers are 153, and upon that gate 13; and from thence to Barr or Pockthorp-gate in the walls and towers 178, and on that gate 10; (and those from that gate to the river being about 40, are omitted, because I suppose when this return was made, they were not quite finished;) from thence the river passes by the east side of the city, till we come to the Dungeon, or Round Tower, standing cross the river by Conisford gate, which was the old boom, (fn. 76) on which Dungeon tower are 12 battlements, and on the tower and wall to Conisford-gate are 26, and on that gate 14; and from thence to Berstrete-gate are 150, and on that gate and the wicket by it are 27; and thence to Nedham or St Steven's-gate in the towers and walls are 307, and on that gate and wicket 38; from thence to St. Giles's gate in the walls and towers are 229, and on St. Giles's-gate and the wicket 15; and thence to Westwick or St. Bennet's-gate are 100, and on the gate and wicket 16; from thence to Heigham-gate in the towers and wall 79, and on that gate 4; thence to the river on the wall and tower 16. The rest of the leaf being cut out, we cannot positively say the reason of it, but think this return was made in order to appropriate the particular parts of the walls, gates, and towers, to the several parishes to maintain and repair them, as I find the constant practice was afterwards so to do.
Bailiffs of Norwich.
Burgesses in Parliament.
2 Parl. at York, Richard (fn. 77) Arundell, John de Morlee.
49 Parl. at Westm. Barth. de Appilyerd, Will. de Blickling. (fn. 78)