A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 1, the City of Kingston Upon Hull. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
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Origins, p. 11. Wyke upon Hull, p. 13. The King's Town of Hull, p. 15. The Scottish and French Wars, p. 21. The Wars of the Roses, p. 23. The Town and the King, p. 26. The Growth of Town Liberties, p. 28. Officers, p. 29. The Town Council and the Commons, p. 35. Courts and Customs, p. 37. Parliamentary Representation, p. 39. Town Finance, p. 40. Crown Customs and Duties, p. 42. Local Customs and Duties, p. 45. The Regulation of Alien Merchants, p. 50. The Admiralty of the Humber, p. 52. Economy, p. 54. Oversea Trade, p. 59. The Town, p. 70. The Townspeople, p. 80.
Hull came into existence in the late 12th century as one of the many 'new towns' which were being founded to foster the growing trade of the early Middle Ages. (fn. 1) The speculative enterprise in this case was that of Meaux Abbey, which lay seven miles to the north. So successful was it that a century later the town, which had hitherto been known as Wyke upon Hull, was acquired from Meaux by Edward I, further developed as a port, and dignified with the title of Kingston upon Hull. (fn. 2) Before the foundation of Wyke the site had been uninhabited and was part of the territory of the hamlet of Myton. The mouth of the River Hull, giving in to the Humber, may nevertheless have attracted ships to its shelter much earlier: it was the Scandinavian vik, or creek, which gave its name to Meaux's new town. (fn. 3)
The hamlet of Myton, the scene of the later town plantation, is first mentioned in 1086. This 'farm at the confluence' of the Hull and Humber (fn. 4) was then merely a berewick of the manor of North Ferriby, its carucate and a half forming part of the estates of Ralph de Mortimer; at that time the land was waste. (fn. 5) No more is known of Myton until Meaux began to acquire it in the 12th century. A large part of it—seven bovates— was then held by the Camin family, and it eventually passed to Maud Camin and her husband Robert, son of John of Meaux. Between 1160 and 1182 Maud and Robert granted four of these bovates to Meaux Abbey, together with other possessions there which included pasture for 800 sheep, a fishery in the Humber, two-thirds of their salterns, the toft where the hall (aula) was situated, and two-thirds of their fee of the Wyke of Myton (del Wyc de Mitone). (fn. 6) This last item suggests that the name Wyke was no longer being applied to the mouth of the River Hull alone, but also to the land around it. The grant excluded three bovates which Maud's mother Anor held for life, but between 1197 and 1210 the abbey acquired these, too, from Maud's son, John of Meaux. (fn. 7) Maud and Robert also confirmed to the abbey three grants made by undertenants of the Camins, comprising three more bovates of land and one toft. In addition, the abbey received from William de Sutton and Benet de Sculcoates the rest of the Wyke (reliquam partem del Wyk), alternatively called Wyk del Huldernesse, and from Robert de Benneyre three acres of meadow. (fn. 8) By about 1200 it had thus acquired the whole ten bovates of its estate in Myton.
Meaux subsequently converted the hamlet of Myton to a grange. The abbey was at this period actively draining and improving the low-lying lands of the Hull valley, (fn. 9) and a fall in sea-level, reaching its climax about 1200, (fn. 10) may have facilitated such work around Myton. At the same time, the town of Wyke was established, and for its haven the River Hull, according to Meaux's chronicler, was diverted into a shorter and straighter course to the Humber, following the line of Sayer Creek; 'in the course of time the old Hull, being obstructed, was scarcely worth calling a drain'. (fn. 11)
The occupation of Myton grange involved Meaux in disputes with neighbouring landowners over the use of the common pasture there, in what was later known as Myton Carr. In 1160–82 William de Stutville and Benet de Sculcoates were said to have occupied the greater part of the common pasture in the course of making ditches to drain the marsh of Cottingham; (fn. 12) and in 1210–20 the men of Swanland were taking Meaux's sheep from the pasture. For his settlement of the latter dispute, as well as his confirmation of Meaux's rights to its lands in Myton, the abbey paid £33 6s. 8d. to Eustace de Vescy, who held an intermediate lordship between Meaux and the Mortimers. (fn. 13) The common pasture was apparently shared by Meaux with several neighbouring villages: the manor of Swanland, for example, was said to have pasture in 'Mytonker' in 1286. (fn. 14) The maintenance of sea banks along the Humber was no doubt a prominent part of the work of the grange, especially since a gradual rise in sea-level was in progress during the 13th century. (fn. 15) Especially serious flooding occurred in the middle of the century, when Myton was among Meaux's estates along the Humber that were badly affected. (fn. 16) Wool-growing was no doubt a principal object of Meaux's farming here, as on its other granges, and the 'pastures and sheepcotes' at Myton are mentioned in 1177. (fn. 17) Little more is known of the grange. Meaux acquired some meadow in Myton by exchange with Gerard de Furnival in 1270–80; and the abbot built 'a stone house' at Myton in 1235–49. (fn. 18)
Other disputes, over ecclesiastical rights in Myton, are first recorded in 1197–1210. The chapel of Myton was in the parish of Hessle, whose incumbent forcibly entered the grange to take corn for tithes. In settlement, Meaux agreed to pay £1 a year in lieu of tithes. (fn. 19) The rectors of Hessle, Guisborough Priory, revived the dispute in 1221–35, alleging that Meaux had destroyed the chapel at Myton and claiming restitution. This time Meaux agreed to pay 5s. a year. (fn. 20)
Much less is known about the town than the grange, and the topographical aspects of both are far from clear. (fn. 21) The hamlet of Myton, with its chapel, probably stood on the west side of the River Hull, not far from its confluence with the Humber. (fn. 22) The Hull is said to have formed the boundary between the wapentakes of Harthill and Holderness. The land around the Hull apparently became known as the Wyke, taking its name from the river mouth, the two parts of it being the Wyke of Myton on the west bank and the Wyke of Holderness on the east. There is no question of the name Wyke at this stage being that of a second settlement. After Meaux acquired the property, a grange was established with its buildings on the east side of the river, in the Wyke of Holderness; later in the Middle Ages its site was known as Grangewyk. (fn. 23) The town of Wyke was also placed on the east side of the Hull, but its haven—either from the beginning or as the result of a change made during the 13th century—was a new course of the river, still further east. This new course followed Sayer Creek, which took its name from the lord of the manor of Sutton, in Holderness. (fn. 24) The change of course has been the subject of much conjecture. The new course may have been truly 'new', or merely an existing, secondary, outlet of the Hull; the replacement of the 'Old Hull' may have been the result of a deliberate diversion, or of the natural silting-up of the old course; and the location of the junction of the old and new courses is uncertain. The junction may have been at Sculcoates Gote, a short distance north of the town; when the haven was formally granted to the town in 1382 it was described as stretching from that place to the Humber. (fn. 25) The position of the mouth of the Old Hull seems established by references to it in the 14th century, (fn. 26) but the exact course of the river round the north of the town has not been traced. The new course remained the wapentake boundary, (fn. 27) and when Wyke eventually was provided with a chapel it was still, like the old chapel at Myton, in Hessle parish. The abbey's own chronicler is strangely silent about the establishment of the town of Wyke and the development of its port and trade; Meaux's physical achievements as a town-builder, though hardly open to doubt, cannot be described.
Wyke upon Hull
Whatever the topographical uncertainties, it is clear that the port of Wyke upon Hull—often called simply either Wyke or Hull—was established soon after Meaux's acquisition of Myton, and that it speedily attracted a considerable trade. (fn. 28) It is first mentioned in 1193, when the wool contributed by various monasteries for the ransom of Richard I was collected at 'the port of Hull'. (fn. 29) Soon after, in 1197–9, there is record of 45 sacks of wool being sold at Hull, (fn. 30) and the export of wool became one of the leading branches of its trade. When the ports of the east and south coasts were taxed by King John in 1203–5, Hull's £345 was the sixth largest contribution; only London, Boston, Southampton, Lincoln, and King's Lynn paid more, and among those below Hull were York with £175, and Hedon, with only £64. (fn. 31) Thereafter, Hull continually appears among the ports to which royal mandates were directed with regard to such matters as the export of wool, the detention of alien merchants, the discovery of clipped money, and the piracy of ships and goods. (fn. 32)
There is no further opportunity to examine Hull's position among the ports until customs duties began to be collected on exports of wool, woolfells, and hides in 1275. The merchants of Lucca were appointed to receive the customs, and their deputy at Hull was Theobald Janiani. (fn. 33) The first account, for ten months in 1275–6, shows 67 cargoes leaving the port, with 4,172 sacks of wool, 4,704 woolfells, and 39½ lasts, 75½ dickers, and 103 hides. The trade was dominated by alien merchants, who made about 180 shipments, while Englishmen made only 20 or so. Among the aliens were many from the Low Countries, others of Germany and France; most of the Englishmen were from northern towns, such as Beverley, Grimsby, Barton, Hedon, and York, but none was described as of Hull itself. (fn. 34) The amount of wool exported in 1275–6 was unusually high and was not reached again, in surviving accounts, until 1288–9, when 4,517 sacks went out. Nevertheless, between 2,084 and 3,983 sacks were exported annually in the years 1279–80 to 1289–90. In nine of those years, Hull made the third largest contribution to the royal customs revenues, being exceeded only by Boston and London; in two years it was fourth. (fn. 35) One other customs account survives from the period before Edward I took over the town. In the year 1291–2 73 cargoes left Hull, with 4,270 sacks of wool, 11,384 woolfells, and 92 lasts, 13 dickers, and 1 hide. (fn. 36)
The other main branch of Hull's 13th-century trade, the import of wine, is also recorded from early in its existence as a port. Royal wine was being carried from Hull to York as early as 1204, (fn. 37) and there are references to wine ships reaching Hull in the 1220s. (fn. 38) Archbishops of York were among others who bought their wine in Hull: Giffard and Wickwane, for example, both did so. (fn. 39) And in 1291 415 tuns of royal wine were distributed from Hull. (fn. 40) Of the other merchandise entering and leaving Hull there is little evidence at this period, but the purchase of falcons there in 1276 (fn. 41) may indicate an import from Norway which is met with again in the 14th century. (fn. 42)
Meaux's administration of the port in the 13th century is obscure. The abbey presumably had bailiffs there, though they are rarely specifically mentioned; a royal writ of 1290 was directed to the bailiffs of the abbot, (fn. 43) but most of the king's mandates went simply to 'the bailiffs of Hull'. (fn. 44) In 1226 and 1230 Saer de Sutton was named as one of them. (fn. 45) Saer had been appointed to the custody of the port by Henry III, (fn. 46) and his responsibilities seem to have been to enforce the king's rights over imports of wine— the first taste, pre-emption, and prisage. It was Saer de Sutton who was closely involved in the appropriation of rights in the port by the archbishops of York.
As lords of the town of Beverley the archbishops had long claimed the right of passage along the River Hull, but in the course of the 13th century they extended their claims to the appointment of coroners on both banks of the river and to the levying of duties on imported goods. Their first attempt to levy duties infringed not the rights of the king but those of the earls of Aumale on the east bank of the river. About 1213 the archbishop's men are said to have attempted to usurp the tolls for measuring and weighing which were taken by Saer de Sutton as lord of the manor of Sutton. (fn. 47) The archbishops' claim to rights in the port itself seems to have been founded on Saer's actions as royal bailiff there. Saer's men, according to an enquiry held near the end of the century, went to taste the wine on a ship entering the port. The ship was found to contain treasure and, on Saer's instructions, they took it, killing the crew in the process. Saer was indicted for this offence and to secure the favour of Archbishop Gray (1215–55) he resigned to him all his rights in the river. (fn. 48) This story is supported by the assertion, at an inquisition held in 1275–6, that Gray appropriated the port as the result of the 'crime' of Saer de Sutton. (fn. 49) Archbishop Giffard continued Gray's appropriation and in 1267 secured a charter from the king which confirmed to him the port, with the prisage of wine and other goods, as his predecessors had held it. (fn. 50)
When Giffard was called to uphold his claim in 1275–6 the charter seems to have been ignored. It was recorded that there was no known authority for the appropriation of the port. (fn. 51) A new king's chamberlain and gauger of wine was appointed in 1278, and Hull was one of the ports which received writs in his favour. (fn. 52) Subsequently Archbishop Wickwane, like Giffard before him, failed to produce authority for the archiepiscopal rights in Hull, and the prisage was taken into the king's hands. (fn. 53) In 1286–7 Wickwane disclaimed any right to prisage, though he maintained his claim to first taste and preemption of wine. (fn. 54) Prisage and gauge money were in 1287 being collected in Hull, on the king's butler's behalf, by Hamon Box, (fn. 55) and in 1290 by Joricius the Fleming. (fn. 56) When Archbishop Romeyn in his turn was called to substantiate his claim, in 1293, he too disclaimed the right to prisage; but he insisted on his right to first taste and preemption, and to have coroners for the River Hull, all of which the archbishops had, he said, enjoyed 'of old'. (fn. 57) It was to be some years before an archbishop again laid claim to prisage at Hull. (fn. 58)
There are few references to the buildings and streets of the early town. After Meaux's destruction of the chapel of Myton (fn. 59) there seems to have been no provision for worship in Wyke until 1285, when a chapel is said to have been founded there, (fn. 60) still in Hessle parish. Two priests were licensed to celebrate there in 1291, and a visitation of Harthill Deanery took place in the chapel in February 1293. (fn. 61) The first religious house in the town was founded at about the same time, but it is not known whether the Carmelite friars erected any special buildings on their plot in Monkgate; they were soon to leave this for a larger site. (fn. 62) Similarly, the messuage in Hull Street where the abbot sometimes held his pleas, mentioned in 1293, may have been only a dwelling-house; the location of Meaux's gaol, the other place where pleas were held, is not known. (fn. 63) It was not until 1279 that Meaux acquired the right to hold its weekly market and fifteenday annual fair; (fn. 64) both may have been held in Marketgate, though at least one site was reserved for a fair and apparently never so used. (fn. 65)
The King's Town of Hull
In 1286 a new abbot succeeded to a heavy burden of debt at Meaux, and almost at once decided to farm out both the town of Wyke and the grange of Myton: they were let to William de Hamelton, Dean of York, for twenty years, and he paid the whole rent of £533 6s. 8d. in advance. The value of the property ensured Hamelton a handsome return on what amounted to a loan. It was no doubt because the terms were so favourable to Hamelton that after only a year the abbot sought to recover the lease and offered to pay Hamelton £100 a year until his rent should be repaid. It is possible that the two parties had got wind of the king's intention to acquire the property, and Hamelton drove a hard bargain for the surrender of the lease. Hamelton later became Edward's chancellor, and the king was to say of him that there was 'no one else in his realm so expert in its laws and customs'. (fn. 66) After five years of bargaining he reached agreement with Meaux: over and above the £533 6s. 8d., Hamelton was to have £5 a year and the grange of North Dalton, worth £10 a year, for life, and he lived for another eleven years. When account was taken of dilapidations and repairs at Dalton, and other expenses, Meaux reckoned that it had lost over £1,000 on the whole transaction. (fn. 67)
Edward I's interest in Wyke may have stemmed largely from his need of an adequate supply port in the north. In 1293 the lordship of Holderness, including the ports of Hedon and Ravenser, escheated to the Crown. (fn. 68) Both these ports, however, had their disadvantages, the one two miles inland along a winding creek, the other exposed on Spurn Head where it was destined before long to be destroyed by the sea. The haven of the River Hull was a better proposition, and there the king planned 'to develop (stabilire) a port suitable for ships and merchandise'. (fn. 69) Edward was twice in the neighbourhood in 1292, and it was perhaps during his visit of September that final plans for the acquisition of Wyke were made. (fn. 70) In November he ordered a valuation of Wyke, (fn. 71) and this was carried out in the following January. (fn. 72) By the end of that month Meaux had granted all its rights in the town to the king, (fn. 73) and in March Edward took possession of both Wyke and Myton. (fn. 74)
In its grant of Wyke Meaux recorded that in return the king had given the abbey 'great profit' for which it was 'well content'. This satisfaction was soon dispelled. Wyke and Myton were together valued at £103 2s. 8d., and the king offered Meaux a like sum each year until other property should be provided in exchange; this is probably the explanation of the £97 2s. 5d., given to Meaux in part payment of £148 13s. 9d., that was allowed in the accounts of the king's first keeper of the town. (fn. 75) The valuation of 1293 was, it seems, hardly a generous one: only a year earlier Wyke and Myton had been valued for taxation purposes at as much as £126 15s. (fn. 76) Edward's grants to Meaux began with an acre of land and three advowsons, and continued with the manors of Weelsby (Lincs.) and Pocklington, and land at Wawne, in October 1294. (fn. 77) These last three gifts were made in payment of £85 of the value of Wyke and Myton, but Meaux subsequently found that they brought in only £70 7s. 11d. No grant was made for the remaining £18 2s. 8d. of the value of Wyke and Myton, and Meaux also complained that the king had kept the rent for the last half year before his acquisition of the town and grange. Meaux alleged that the offer of three more manors was lost through the malice of a king's clerk sent to value them, and it was eleven years before the king made his final grant to the abbey: the church of Skipsea, and license to purchase £30-worth of land in mortmain. Edward had, however, also confirmed King John's charter to Meaux and granted free warren on all its lands. (fn. 78)
The events and records of 1293 throw a good deal of light on the character of Hull at the time of the king's take-over. (fn. 79) The inquisition into the ownership of Wyke and the valuation of the town which were ordered on 28 November 1292, were carried out by two prominent royal officials in Yorkshire, Peter de Champagne and William de St. Quintin, on 3 January 1293. Their findings confirm that the abbey held the whole of its estate in Wyke under Sir John of Meaux, with the exception of 9½ acres which were held from Sir Gerard de Furnival. But they reveal in addition an estate of which there is no earlier record—that belonging to Sir William de Aton; like the rest of Wyke this was in the fee of Sir William de Vescy. Meaux's part of the town included 55 messuages and 54 plots of land, held by 76 different tenants, and a further 12 plots, then unlet; none of the plots was yet built upon. There was also a site of 7¼ acres measured out for the fair and worth £1 9s., stallage in the market worth 13s. 4d., and profits of the court worth £5. The total value of Meaux's property was put at £78 14s. 8d. Sir William de Aton's share of Wyke was small: two messuages and four tofts, worth £2 17s. 8d. One of the messuages was rented from him by the archbishops of York. The 'Aton Fee', as it was always later called, was not part of the king's acquisition. The abbey's grant to the king, made on 31 January 1293, included all its estate described in the valuation, together with several pieces of land on the west side of the town, between it and the 'old dike'—perhaps the old course of the River Hull; these were Wykcroft, part of Milncroft, and a plot called Custwik. The site set aside for the fair is described as lying on the opposite, the west, side of the Old Hull. Edward was in the East Riding at the time this grant was made, and he sent several leading members of his household to witness it.
Edward next ordered a valuation of the grange of Myton, which was made on 14 March by Peter de Champagne and two other royal officials. The site of the grange and its buildings were valued at 13s. 4d. The land belonging to it included the ten bovates which Meaux had acquired, worth £15, together with various meadows, pastures, sheepfolds, and cottages belonging to them; these bovates were charged with the cost of maintaining the Humber banks and cleaning dikes. The grange also included a sheepfold called Humbercote, 13 acres of common meadow, 8 acres of pasture in Suthwik, 22½ acres of arable in Milncroft, and two windmills. In all, the grange was worth £24 8s. The valuation continued with Sir William de Aton's property. He had in Myton seven bovates of land, with similar appurtenances to those belonging to Meaux, as well as 10 acres of meadow and £1 2s. in annual rents. The total value was £12 12s. That the king should have had the Aton Fee valued, both in Myton and Wyke, suggests that it was his intention to acquire it, together with Meaux's property, but this was not in fact done.
Still before the date when he took possession of the property, the king had two other documents drawn up. One was a rental of Wyke, made on 17 March by the same men who had valued the grange three days earlier. There were some minor changes here from the details of the valuation of 3 January, but little difference in the total value of the town. The rents of messuages and plots was now put at £67 12s. 4d.; the values of the plot assigned for the horse fair, of stallages, and of court profits were unchanged; and an additional item was the Hales, (fn. 80) valued at £4 3s. The total was £78 17s. 8d., but the rental also mentioned several lettings of plots from the 22½ acres in Milncroft, included in the valuation of the grange of Myton. The second document was a valuation of lands and tenements taken for making three roads into the town, drawn up by Peter de Champagne and others on 18 March. Meaux had already, when granting Wyke to the king, given him permission to take land from their holdings around the town for this purpose. Now details were given of land taken from various men: 19 acres for the road to Hessle, 10 acres for that to York, and 14 acres for that to Beverley, the total value being about £6. This was the last of the preliminary arrangements: the following day the king took possession of his new properties.
The town and the grange were from the outset governed by a royal keeper, sometimes styled a bailiff. (fn. 81) The first holder of the office, John de Husthwaite (1293–6), was described as bailiff, the second, Richard Oysel (1296–1307), as keeper; and Oysel employed another man as bailiff 'for keeping the town and holding the court'. It is perhaps convenient to use the term 'keeper' for the principal officer, and 'bailiff' for the subordinate. Husthwaite, a Yorkshireman, was a royal clerk; during his keepership he filled at least one other Crown post in Hull, acting as a collector of customs in 1294–6, but during at least part of his keepership he must have been absent from the town on other duties. In 1296 he was granted a prebend at York Minster. (fn. 82) Oysel was a royal official of long standing. Like his predecessor, he acted as a customs collector at Hull and held other posts in the north which may often have taken him away from the town. Oysel died in office. (fn. 83)
During his period in office Husthwaite's receipts included all those profits in Wyke and Myton shown in the earlier valuations and rental. He accounted for the whole £67 12s. 4d. rents in Wyke, which was now called Kingston upon Hull, but his actual receipts from some other sources were variable: courts, for example, brought in as little as £4 10s. 7d. in a whole year in 1295–6, and as much as £5 12s. 6d. in 1294–5 and £4 1s. 10d. in his first half year. His total receipts in the three whole years of his keepership were £105 10s. 8d., £112 19s. 10d., and £111 17s. 11d. His expenses, of between £1 and £3, included the cost of repairing the Humber banks and the stipend of a beadle who made summonses and distraints. At the end of his keepership Husthwaite received several allowances against his account. Rents remitted included those of three plots taken into the king's hands for the making of a quay, and those of 51 'new plots outside the town'—some for two years, some for four. These new plots were presumably laid out in the more westerly part of the town, and, though allotted to tenants, they were not yet built upon. A large payment was made to Meaux, as already noted, (fn. 84) for the period before any grants of land were made in exchange for Wyke and Myton. Finally, Husthwaite's own stipend was about £7 a year.
Richard Oysel's receipts as keeper at first showed only a modest increase on those of the earliest years of the king's ownership. In the first six whole years the receipts varied between £115 10s. 9½d. and £121 1s. 0½d. Increased court profits made a notable contribution to the income: in 1297–8, for example, they were £10 10s. 8d. And one new item was quayage, which produced £1 15s. in 1297–8. Expenses in these years including the ever-necessary costs of the Humber banks and the stipend of Oysel's bailiff. The remaining three years of Oysel's accounts show a marked increase in revenues, to £130 9s. 7½d. in 1303–4, £143 8s. 6½d. in 1304–5, and £141 11s. 2½d. in 1306–7. The chief reason was the opening of a brickyard near the town which contributed £8 in 1303–4 and £14 in 1304–5, no bricks being made in the third of these years. The rent of a new water-mill added another £5 in 1304–5, and in the same year court profits reached as much as £19. The failure to build on plots in the town, which continued into the early 14th century, (fn. 85) suggests that Edward's plans for the development of the port may not have been wholly fulfilled. Certainly his profits showed no rapid or dramatic increase. The average net income for the thirteen complete years of Husthwaite's and Oysel's accounts was £114 11s. 11d., a modest rise from the valuation of Wyke and Myton at £103 2s. 8d. in 1293.
The physical development of the town after the king's acquisition was probably limited in extent, though some noteworthy changes were made. The street plan, with its grid pattern so typical of new towns of the time, already existed and was largely Meaux's work. (fn. 86) Several of the more westerly streets may have been improved, and two were apparently named after two of the royal officials who took part in the transactions of 1293, Peter de Champagne and Roger de Lisle. The plots in this part of the town were certainly not soon built upon, and it may be doubted whether the existing houses of 1293 that were then thatched were duly roofed with tiles within two years and a day, as was specified in the rental of 17 March. Among the plots which failed to be developed were the site which Meaux had reserved for the horse fair, and the Hales, both of which remained vacant during the time covered by Oysel's accounts. The Hales was presumably intended as the site for a market; the plots are variously described as assigned ad halas, pro halis, and ad nundinas pro hales.
The achievements of the first decade began with the proclamation, in July 1293, of two weekly markets and a six-week annual fair. (fn. 87) The prompt taking of three plots into the king's hands for the building of a new quay, later known as King's Staith, on the south side of Kirk Lane was, however, apparently not followed by any work of construction. The making of the quay was ordered as late as 1297; (fn. 88) £10 was spent on the work that year, and the plots were not returned to their owners—the work presumably having been finished—until 1302. Also in 1297 the king ordered Oysel to build 'suitable houses for the stay of his bailiff and others necessary for the custody of that town'— presumably a keeper's residence. It was to have hall, chambers, and chapel, various domestic buildings and a well, and a ditch around it with a bridge for entry from the town. (fn. 89) The location was to be 'at Myton near that town', and it seems likely that the building was erected on the site later used for the Poles' manor-house; (fn. 90) £50 was spent on the work in 1296–7. Next, in 1300, a mint and an exchange were established, (fn. 91) work on houses for them costing £24. A churchyard for Holy Trinity was consecrated in 1301, and enlarged—from the Hales—in 1302, to obviate the dangerous journey along the Humber shore to the mother church at Hessle. (fn. 92) Also in 1302 inquisitions were being held about new approach roads to the town, and work was in progress a few years later. (fn. 93) In 1303 Oysel was ordered to make a new water-mill on the Old Hull; (fn. 94) timber costing £61 was brought from Sherwood Forest for the work, and part of the pasture of Suthwik was used for the site. Finally, a large new site for the Carmelite Friary was provided by the king in 1304. (fn. 95)
The trade of the port was little affected by the changes of 1293. Wool exports continued to run at a high level, averaging about 2,950 sacks a year in 1295–9. (fn. 96) In a typical year, 1299–1300, 95 cargoes left Hull with 3,922 sacks of wool, 7,122 woolfells, and 89 lasts, 25 dickers, and 12 hides. (fn. 97) Besides its normal trade, however, Hull was soon fulfilling the role of a supply port and base for Edward's Scottish campaigns. Wine was sent from Hull to the king at Norham (Northumb.), as well as to religious houses as far distant as Durham. (fn. 98) In 1297 the king called for provisions from Hull, for an expedition to Scotland, to be sent north, (fn. 99) and the town was also required to provide ships for such expeditions. Such a demand had been made in 1296, and in 1298–9 a barge made at Hull and sent to Scotland cost £28. (fn. 100)
Despite the strengthening of the royal control of the port, the old claims of the archbishops of York to privileges there were soon raised once more. The immediate point at issue on this occasion was the coronership of the River Hull. In 1297 'certain strangers of the eastern parts', who were in the port, took one of their number to be buried in Drypool churchyard; there the archbishop's men seized the body and held an inquest on the death, in contempt of the king and the lordship of Holderness. An inquisition in the following year found that both banks of the river from 'the issue of the Old Hull (Veilhull)' to the Humber—that is, the new course of the river which formed the haven —belonged to the fee of Aumale; the lordship of the port and water was his. (fn. 101) At that time the lordship of Holderness was in the Crown's hands by escheat. Perhaps as a result of these findings the archbishop seems to have reached agreement with the king's butler about prisage of wine in the port. In 1298 Archbishop Newark appointed Roger Malecake to take both prisage and gauge money, which the archbishop said he had of the king's butler, and to have the first taste, which he said was in the right of the archbishopric. (fn. 102)
By 1293, and therefore within a century of its foundation, Hull had grown to a town of some 60 households. (fn. 103) There is little other than the evidence of some of their names to suggest whence the inhabitants had come; but topographical surnames are common and some point to an origin in the surrounding countryside and in north Lincolnshire. Thus there were apparently migrants from Ousefleet, Cottingham, Barton, Risby, Aldbrough, Drypool, Anlaby, Ruston, Newland, Riplingham, Bainton, Rowley, Middleton, and Malton. Others seem to have come from further afield: Bedford, Stamford, Warwick, Newark, and Lincoln. (fn. 104)
An examination of the names of jurors in local inquisitions between 1293 and 1303 (fn. 105) points to the identity of the more prominent townsmen at that time, and significantly 16 out of 22 lived in the chief street, Hull Street, 11 of them with houses abutting on the river. Some of them had several messuages. A few—Hugh, son of Isabel, Robert de Barton, Gilbert de Bedford—served as customs officials in the port; Bedford was once coroner of the town, Barton later represented it in Parliament. Other leading merchants were John Rotenhering, Henry Daniel, and Alexander Cok, the last of whom lived in Ravenser. Another property-owner in the town who actively traded there though not primarily a Hull man was Hamon Box, a citizen and merchant of London. (fn. 106) Three other prominent tenants were landowners from the country: Geoffrey de Hotham, of Cranswick, Sir Robert de Percy, and John de Ousefleet. Some of these men held not only messuages but also vacant plots, other tenants held plots alone. Between the dates of the valuation and the rental, moreover, several new tenants took up plots; they included the royal official, Roger de Lisle, the first keeper-to-be, John de Husthwaite, and the Dean of York, Henry de Newark. There seems to have been some speculation in plots, in the knowledge of the king's impending take-over.
The immediate advancement of the town and its status after 1293 culminated in the royal charter of 1299, by which it was declared to be a borough and was granted various liberties. (fn. 107) Its chief officer remained the keeper, appointed by the king, but it was to the burgesses that he took his oath to maintain the borough's privileges. Only on the default of the keeper was a sheriff or other royal officer to enter the town to execute writs; the return of writs was to belong to the burgesses. Pleas concerning land, trespass, or contract were to be heard only in the town, before the keeper. The burgesses were also granted the right to dispose of their tenements freely by will.
The charter entitled the burgesses to elect a coroner and present him to the keeper to be sworn; soon after, the Sheriff of Yorkshire was duly instructed to have the coroner elected and sworn in the county court. (fn. 108) There was to be a prison in the borough, and also a gallows outside it so that the keeper might do justice in cases of infangthief and outfangthief. In the field of mercantile privileges, the burgesses were to be quit of paying toll, pontage, passage, pavage, murage, and all other customs on their goods throughout the kingdom. They were to hold two markets a week and a thirty-day annual fair. Finally, since some inhabitants of the town might not be burgesses, it was provided that anyone who wished to enjoy these liberties and customs must be at geld and scot with the burgesses—that is, bear his share of their charges—whenever the borough was tallaged.
Hull, like one of its local rivals, Ravenser, which received an almost identical charter on the same day, had petitioned for the charter to be granted, asking for all that was in fact given. It had also offered to pay a fine of £66 13s. 4d. for the charter, which in due course it did, whereas Ravenser paid as much as £300. This may be regarded as one further expression of royal favour towards Kingston upon Hull. (fn. 109)
The Scottish and French Wars
During the early part of the 14th century preoccupation with the Scottish wars frequently led the king, with his courts, to settle at York. If York was at this time 'the hub of his war administration', Hull was certainly 'a principal supply port' for his armies and garrisons in the north. (fn. 110) In the words of the mayor and bailiffs, in a later petition for a royal grant of privileges, 'it is a port and the key of the north part'. (fn. 111)
Edward I was occasionally at Hull himself, as in 1300 and 1303, (fn. 112) and in 1304 he had a prolonged stay at his nearby manor of Burstwick. (fn. 113) Frequently Hull received the king's orders to supply men or to provide, man, and victual ships to carry provisions northwards. A ship from Hull was among those called for in 1301, and in the following year ships laden with food at Hull were wrecked on their way to Scotland. (fn. 114) Similar calls on Hull were made in 1314–15, and in 1318, when Hull was asked for soldiers for another expedition, a 'receiver of the king's victuals' was placed in the town. More soldiers were needed in 1319 when Edward II attempted to recover Berwick from the Scots, and timber for a peel (or palisade) was among the materials shipped from Hull. (fn. 115) The Nicholas of Hull was in the king's service at this time, at the town's charge, though it was several years before its master Nicholas Putfra received his payment. (fn. 116) It was perhaps under the stimulus of his military reverses and the Scots' incursion into Yorkshire at this time that the king decided upon the fortification of Hull, for which licence was granted in 1321. (fn. 117)
In 1322 the Scots pursued Edward to defeat at Byland (N.R.). Hull had again witnessed the collection of supplies, and the town had been exempted from a commission of array in view of the need to keep the port securely, though some townsmen served on board ship during the campaign. (fn. 118) The town had also raised two tallages—one of £39 to send the Trinity in the king's service, the other of £9 contributed by those who did not find men to fight at Byland. One of the town bailiffs had in fact led 20 men in the battle. When Edward, after his defeat, sought refuge at Burstwick he received a gift of £5 from the town. The first town defences were constructed, no doubt in some haste, during the course of 1321–4, (fn. 119) and this involved the townsmen in two more tallages— one of £77 for the town ditch, another of £64 for the palisade. Hull even contributed to work on the North Gate at Beverley. Nor was this all. It was probably during Edward's stay at Burstwick that the town proffered £69 in gifts of wine and money to prominent lords and royal officials, the king's treasurer among them. (fn. 120)
Warlike preparations were again in hand at Hull in 1324, this time with an eye on French enemies. The town was excepted from a commission of array because it had been ordered to prepare all its ships that were suitable for war and send them to sea. Siege engines were to be assembled in the town and stored until required, (fn. 121) and weapons and supplies were collected for transport to France. (fn. 122) During the following years concern for the safe keeping of the port twice led to the appointment of the Poles to act for the ageing keeper, Robert de Hastang. (fn. 123) The truce with Scotland that followed the English failures of 1322 was broken four years later, and ships were soon again leaving Hull for the north. (fn. 124) It was from Hull, Barton on Humber (Lincs.), and Ravenser that Edward Balliol set out with 88 ships in 1332 to claim the Scottish throne. (fn. 125) In the following year there was great activity in support of the campaign during which Berwick was successfully besieged and the English lordship over Scotland restored. Hull provided and manned at least six ships for the king's service, and siege engines and stone missiles, as well as supplies of food, were despatched to Newcastle and Berwick. (fn. 126) Hull ships continued to support Scottish campaigns in 1334–6, taking lead to Berwick, for example, carrying wine to Scotland, or being requisitioned to supplement the navy. (fn. 127) William de la Pole played a prominent part in these affairs, collecting and transporting flour, wine, salt, and other foodstuffs. (fn. 128)
With the onset of the French wars in 1337 ships and supplies from Hull were as often directed southwards as they were towards Scotland. Seven ships were fitted out at Hull in 1337 for service in the south, and in recompense the town was released from three instalments of a tenth and from the fine made for the charter of 1334. Again, in 1338, ships were ordered to be arrested at Hull to carry goods to Aquitaine. (fn. 129) Early in 1337 a galley for the fleet was being built at Beverley, and at Hull William de la Pole was responsible for building and manning another; this was probably 'the king's galley of Hull' which was apparently operating in Scottish waters in 1339. (fn. 130) Pole was also, in 1339, assembling victuals at Hull from Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, and the East Riding. (fn. 131) Other merchants of Hull were assisting the king with loans in the early 1340s; repayments arranged in 1340 included £200 to Robert de Upsale and Robert de Preston and £136 to Alan Cok, and in 1342 Henry de Brisele was repaid for the loan of over £570. (fn. 132)
Supplies continued to be assembled and dispatched to France: in 1346–7, for instance, eleven ships from Hull carried corn provided by the town's merchants, and in 1351 victuals of all kinds were assembled from a wide area. (fn. 133) The arraying of ships for the king in 1351 was said to have been delayed by rioting which prevented the inhabitants from leaving Hull; prisoners taken by the bailiffs for some 'enormous' but unspecified trespasses in the town were set free, a bailiff was assaulted, and the whole town was threatened. (fn. 134) It was presumably to assist expeditions to France that Hull was ordered to find mariners in 1354 and to repair three ships the following year; in 1355, indeed, the town was excused from levying men for Scotland because so many townsmen were already at sea. (fn. 135)
It may have been for Scotland that Hull was ordered to find soldiers in 1367, 1370, and 1371, (fn. 136) but the threat from France was again to the fore in 1372 when Henry de Selby and William de Snaynton were ordered to build and man a barge at Hull. The poverty of many of the inhabitants is said to have made it difficult to levy an assessment in the town, and Selby and Snaynton saw the work to an end from their own pockets, under the superintendence of one of the king's serjeants-at-arms. (fn. 137) The fear of French invasion in 1377 led the king to order the repair of Hull's defences and the raising of men in the town, and Hull and Beverley were jointly to provide a ship for the navy. (fn. 138) The unprecedented issue of licences for the shipment of 1,000 barrels of ale from Grimsby to Hull in 1377 and 2,000 barrels in 1378 (fn. 139) may reflect the great number of men and ships crowding the port at this time. By the 1380s the king's attention was again focused on Scotland. In 1384 most of Hull's fencible men were said to be in service there, and on account of the expense of fortifying the town Hull was exempted from sending members to Parliament. (fn. 140) The following year the Lethenerd of Hull, with a crew of 40 and carrying 50 archers, was sent to Scotland. (fn. 141)
Hull's last service to Richard II seems to have been the loan of £100 in 1397. (fn. 142) Soon, in company with the city of York, Hull was lending a like sum to Henry of Lancaster, presumably while on his way south after landing at 'Ravenspur' in 1399. (fn. 143) In 1400 Henry had another loan, of £200, from Hull for his campaign against the Scots, (fn. 144) and victuals were assembled at Hull for the expedition. (fn. 145) There is no evidence of lingering support for Richard in Hull. It is true that in 1402 Henry pardoned a number of men who 'rose in insurrection' there, freed prisoners from the gaol, and assaulted the mayor, (fn. 146) but their motives are not revealed. (fn. 147) Hull quickly fulfilled its usual role as a supply port, and in the following decades its ships were often to be taken for royal service overseas. (fn. 148)
The Wars of the Roses
In the 1430s and 1440s Hull greatly extended its customary practice of distributing gifts of wine and money wherever favour, help, and advice might be had. If the earls of Northumberland were most regularly courted in this way, Hull's gifts were nevertheless widely bestowed: in 1451–2, for example, wine was given to Lords Poynings, Ros, Egremont, Clifford, Neville, Salisbury, and Buckingham. (fn. 149) In the growing internal discord of the fifties Hull looked more strictly to its security with the locking of the town gates and the mounting of a nightly watch. (fn. 150) It showed its loyalty to Henry VI in 1454 when the Duke of Exeter, Lord Egremont, and Richard Percy were guilty of 'strange and unfitting demeaning' at both Hull and York, no doubt during their efforts to organize support for the Lancastrian cause. The king, then still under the sway of the Duke of York, thanked Hull for resisting them. (fn. 151) Also in 1454 the town lent the king £100, and in 1457 it was called upon to provide him with 50 archers (fn. 152) against the expected Yorkist invasion. When the invasion came in 1460 Hull was soon deeply involved in the struggle.
The year began with an incident which seems to have had little connexion with the approaching civil war. Lord Egremont arrived at Hull to hold the local Admiralty court, but his predecessor as Admiral of the Humber had deputed this office to the mayor and aldermen. (fn. 153) Alleging that his vociferous followers would have scared the inhabitants, Hull refused him admission and in March asked the king to order him to depart. Henry, however, replied that if Egremont came peaceably he should be admitted and the differences over the Admiralty court amicably settled. The town council decided to comply, if Egremont came with fewer than 60 followers; the mayor with 100 or 200 townsmen would meet him, and a daily watch of 60 men would be kept. Eventually, in May, Egremont was welcomed within the walls, but the council had decided that he would not be allowed to sit as Admiral; he was to be told that most of the evidence in the matter was at London, and that the dispute could not be determined at Hull. (fn. 154)
The security measures taken on this occasion were soon to be redoubled. In September 1460 all the gates were sparred with the exception of Beverley Gate, left open during daylight, and a quarter of each ward was set on watch at night. In October the watch was set at one half ward, the open staiths along the haven were gated and barred, and no one was allowed to leave or enter the town without licence. In November dikes were thrown up outside several of the gates, all trees and masts outside the walls were brought into the town, and animals were kept off the walls; one whole ward was to watch at night, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and an archer was then to be on guard at each common staith; Bishop Lane was barricaded; a gun was placed on every common and private staith, and 'on the landside' all men 'that be of power' provided a gun; finally, the aldermen on night watch searched houses for strangers. Attention was then turned to ships approaching the haven. Again in November, a chain was set across the mouth of the Hull, made from iron provided by 119 townspeople. A week later ships coming from the south were forbidden to enter until their officers had been before the town council to promise the good behaviour of the crews. The regulations were strictly enforced. Men were fined for leaving the watch after taking the watchword, or failing to turn out at all; one was fined, imprisoned, and mulcted of iron for the chain for a single offence. (fn. 155) A Yorkist attack must have seemed imminent.
In July the same year the town also provided thirteen soldiers to attend the king, (fn. 156) and they may have taken part in the defeat of the Yorkists at Wakefield on 30 December. Certainly Hull's mayor and Member of Parliament Richard Anson was killed in the battle. (fn. 157) After Wakefield the town continued to make gifts of wine to Lancastrian leaders, and the council bought a horse from a butcher to send to Queen Margaret. Fodder was given to men riding to St. Albans with the queen, and twice horsemen were paid for going to seek news. After victory at St. Albans the Lancastrians returned north to eventual defeat at Towton, on Palm Sunday 1461; Henry, Earl of Northumberland, was among their dead. Soon Yorkist forces were in Hull, and Hull's wine flowed in different channels. Gifts included those to the Earl of Warwick's men, to the captain of a Yorkist ship, to Lords Fauconberg and Salisbury, and three tuns of wine to Edward IV himself. (fn. 158) Edward peremptorily ordered Hull, a few days after Towton, to elect a new mayor, (fn. 159) for Anson had not been replaced. And in May the mayor, recorder, and seven members of the town council rode to see the king at York. (fn. 160) Edward's accession may not have been unanimously welcomed by the townspeople for 32 of them were expelled from Hull for their 'misrule' against the king, and three others were imprisoned while further enquiry was made; soon after, it was ordered that Nicholas Bradshawe, for his violent language, should have his head set at Beverley Gate. (fn. 161)
The war had seriously depleted Hull's financial resources and the chamberlains in 1460–1 ended their year of office with a huge deficit. (fn. 162) There were many debts to be repaid, and in August 1461 it was decided to take up and sell the lead pipes of the town's water conduit to raise the money. The chamberlains in fact received lead worth £110 in part payment of the arrears due to them, and their successors in office for 1461–2 similarly had £85-worth. A further £20-worth was sold, and eleven leading townsmen had debts totalling £93 settled in lead. In all, 57 fothers of lead were disposed of. (fn. 163) Money was also raised by other means, and early in 1462 one man was ordered to pay £6 13s. 4d. which he had refused to contribute when 'all the commons' had given money to Queen Margaret. (fn. 164)
With the Lancastrians still resisting in the north, Edward was not long in calling for ships and men from Hull. In 1461 he ordered six vessels to be prepared and the town council had the available shipmen divided between them; Thomas Etton sought, apparently unsuccessfully, for the discharge of one of them, the Mary Northeby, from the king's service on the grounds that he had already had licence to send three ships merchandizing. (fn. 165) A man was sent to Sir John Melton to discuss the provision of a priest for the shipmen and the victualling of the ships: the town had provided 150 quarters of corn at a reasonable price, and offered another 100; and Hull wanted a 'sharp letter' to be sent to the mayor of York about the city's share of the victuals. (fn. 166) Ships for the fleet were again called for in 1462, and a Hull brewer was paid £105 by the king for beer supplied to them. (fn. 167) In 1463 the Mary Bedford was prepared for service at the town's charge. The common clerk collected £42 in money and victuals from 88 inhabitants, and the ship was victualled by John Swan. The clerk also paid the wages of 20 soldiers, and in 1462–3 the town sent 22 soldiers to Newcastle. (fn. 168)
In charge of operations against the Lancastrian north Edward had placed the Earl of Warwick and John Neville, who became Lord Montague after Towton and in 1464 the Earl of Northumberland for his further services. It was they whom Hull now courted and assisted, and when the town was next in contact with the Northumberland seat at Wressle Castle it was to reach agreement in 1464 about the misbehaviour of Montague's men in the port. (fn. 169) A small amount of property formerly belonging to Henry, Earl of Northumberland, in Hull itself had been seized and granted in rewards: in 1462 the Duke of Clarence received an inn and John Ferriby a house. (fn. 170) To the operations against the northern rebels Hull continued to contribute men—in 1464 89 townspeople paid £9 to find 20 soldiers to join Montague at Newcastle; in 1468–9 12 men were raised; and in 1470 32 soldiers were sent to the king. (fn. 171) Hull was never itself threatened during these campaigns, but some slight precautions were occasionally taken. The gates were sparred at night in 1467; iron was acquired by compulsory purchase from the inhabitants in 1469, presumably for a new chain across the river to replace the old one, taken up late in 1463; and a sixteen-strong watch was set nightly, on the king's instructions, in 1470. (fn. 172) But in the comparative security of these years the town was prepared to have 'the postern against the Charterhouse' remade for the convenience of the Duke of Suffolk in 1465. (fn. 173) In their business in the north the merchants of Hull may have been more directly affected, and it was on account of the despoiling of their goods by the rebels that the mayor and burgesses in 1463 received a grant to export merchandise customfree. (fn. 174)
After the alienation of Warwick and the defection of Montague, the latter dissatisfied with the reward of a marquesate when the earldom of Northumberland was restored to the Percies, Edward went into exile in 1470. Hull soon had the opportunity to show its old loyalty to the restored Henry VI. In March 1471 Edward was back in England, landing as Henry of Lancaster had done at 'Ravenser Spurn'; but Hull refused to open its gates to him, and he went on towards Beverley and York. (fn. 175) After he had regained the Crown, however, Edward was able to reward one Hull man—the master of the ship which had brought him back from Zeeland. Two years later the same master was further rewarded to help meet the ransoms demanded when he and some others were captured by the French. (fn. 176)
With his rise to power in the north, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, now joined the Earl of Northumberland as Hull's chief advisor. Town officers sought him out at York with gifts of wine, and to speak with him on such matters as Hull's claim to the tolls of Pontefract. When Gloucester and Northumberland began to call for troops to meet the Scots, Hull made its customary contribution. Twice in 1481 thirteen men went from the town, with others from the county of Hull, at a cost on the second occasion of £21; and in 1482 there were soldiers from Hull with the king in Scotland. (fn. 177) When, after Edward's death in 1483, Gloucester was preparing to usurp the throne, Hull raised £15 to send 20 men to the army that Northumberland was raising for him at Pontefract. The arms of the new king were soon put up on Beverley Gate, and later that year 24 soldiers were sent to help Richard against the revolt of Buckingham: the first assessment of £16 was not enough, and £7 more had to be found for the men's wages. (fn. 178) In 1484 Richard rewarded the town with a grant to export goods custom-free, recalling its expenses 'in journeying in Scotland and in other places at the king's pleasure'. (fn. 179)
A year later Richard was dead, and in 1486 the mayor rode from Hull to visit Henry VII at York. In 1487 soldiers were sent to the king during the rebellion in support of Lambert Simnel, and Hull appears to have remained loyal in 1489 when the commons in the north rebelled against the levying of a heavy royal tax. Northumberland was murdered in this rising, but he had previously been entertained in Hull. The town's last military commitment of the century was to send troops for service against the Scots in 1496–7. (fn. 180)
The Town and the King
Its usefulness as a military base and as a source of ships, men, and supplies was only one aspect of Hull's value to the king. His financial gain from the town was also considerable. There were first of all the customs revenues in the port, though of course only a part of these was collected from merchants of Hull itself. (fn. 181) Secondly, there were the rents collected by his keeper, (fn. 182) which were replaced by the fee farm, fixed at £70 when the town was granted to the mayor and bailiffs in 1331.
From the beginning the farm was granted away by the Crown. In 1331 it was assigned to Robert de Hastang, the last keeper of the town, and at his death in 1336 it passed to William and Richard de la Pole. (fn. 183) The reversion was granted in 1339 to William's son Michael, (fn. 184) and he kept the farm until his attainder in 1388. The following year £26 13s. 4d. out of the farm was granted to a king's servant, William Elys, for life. (fn. 185) In 1391, however, part of the farm, £50 was restored to Michael's son, another Michael, and in 1392 the remaining £20 was granted to Henry le Scrope. (fn. 186) The Scropes received this assignment until 1446, (fn. 187) when it was recovered by the Poles. (fn. 188) The whole of the farm was subsequently received by the Poles, until it reverted to the Crown after Edmund de la Pole's attainder in 1504.
Hull does not seem to have paid any royal tallages, but it regularly contributed to direct taxation in the form of lay subsidies. To meet the sixth of 1322 £21 was raised by an internal tallage in the town, though only £10 is recorded as being handed over to the king's collectors. (fn. 189) A tenth assessed in 1332 apparently yielded only about £15, (fn. 190) but in 1334 the standard tenth fixed for future payments was £33 6s. 8d. (fn. 191) Even in the 1440s, after the general system of relief had begun, Hull was still paying its full quota. (fn. 192) Sometimes payment may have been excused: in 1338, for example, the town was released from several payments of a tenth—probably four in all—in return for providing ships for the navy. (fn. 193) Hull also contributed to the wool taxes in the 1340s (fn. 194) and to the poll taxes. In 1377 the poll tax produced £25 19s. at 4d. a head; (fn. 195) but the tax of 1381, though assessed at an average of 1s. a head, produced only £56 4s. because evasion reduced the number of payers by about a quarter. (fn. 196)
The king also benefited financially from Hull in the shape of occasional loans. Thus in 1400 he made a grant from the Hull customs to repay £300 lent by the town, and in 1454 a similar grant to repay £100. (fn. 197)
Finally, the king's interests in the town included the mint and exchange which Edward I set up soon after he acquired Hull from Meaux. Mint and moneyers were ordered to be established there in 1300, with the exchange in the custody of the Friscobaldi of Florence, and the keeper of the town was directed to repair houses to accommodate both mint and exchange. (fn. 198) There are surviving pennies produced at the mint, which had closed by the end of 1300. (fn. 199) No more is heard of an exchange until 1335, when Hull was one of the ports in which the king set up tables of exchange. (fn. 200) William de la Pole, as warden of the exchanges, received no profits from Hull in its first half-year's working. (fn. 201) No more is known of either mint or exchange.
The Growth of Town Liberties
For some thirty years after the granting of the charter of 1299 the town remained in the custody of the royal keeper. During that time it received no permanent enlargement of its liberties, but twice it was temporarily granted a privilege which was to be among those contained in the charter of 1331. In 1312 the king granted that, for a period of seven years, no native or alien in the town or the haven should be arrested or his goods distrained upon for debt, unless he was the principal debtor or surety, or for a trespass committed by another person. Further, it was granted that if a man's goods were distrained upon for debt, he might nevertheless dispose of them and make profit from them. (fn. 202) Similar privileges, this time for aliens alone, were granted in 1322 for one year. (fn. 203) Such was the value of privileges of this kind to a town that relied upon trade that Hull had the grant of 1312 published in several Hanseatic towns. (fn. 204)
Freedom from the authority of the royal keeper was not long delayed. In 1331, for a payment to the king of £166 13s. 4d., the burgesses were granted the town at farm for £70 a year. (fn. 205) This fee farm was the sum at which the town had been valued in 1320, (fn. 206) with an increment of £1 2s. 5½d. With emancipation came the creation of the mayoralty, and the right to execute writs and summonses of the Exchequer. The mayor and bailiffs (fn. 207) were to hold all pleas touching the borough, including those of infangthief and outfangthief, to execute the assize of fresh force in respect of tenements in the town, and to hold pleas of chattels and debts of £2 or more without royal writ; they were to determine all pleas, unless any touched the king or the whole community of the town.
The liberties of individual burgesses were also extended by the charter. Their right to plead or be impleaded in the town was now, of course, to be exercised before the mayor and bailiffs. They were not to be put on any juries impanelled by royal officers by reason of any lands and tenements that they held outside the borough, or by reason of any foreign trespasses, contracts, and agreements. Conversely, foreigners were not to be impanelled with burgesses by reason of property or other commitments within the town unless the king or the whole community were involved. And burgesses were themselves to be convicted in cases brought against them by strangers only by juries of fellow burgesses. Finally, nobody might be arrested, or his goods seized, for debt unless he was the principal debtor, pledge, or surety; and nobody might be arrested for another person's trespasses. Two further privileges granted by this charter were in the general interest of the townspeople: all vacant sites in the town were granted to the burgesses, and they were freed from the payment in any place of anchorage, strandage, sedege, and lastage.
Within three years these liberties were further extended in recognition of services rendered to the king in the Scottish wars. By the charter of 1334 (fn. 208) burgesses' property in the town was not to be put in mortmain, unless it was shown that it could be done without loss or prejudice to the borough. For the better securing of debts, both of burgesses and of visiting merchants, a statute merchant seal was granted. Lastly, the burgesses were acquitted of another local charge, quayage, throughout the realm. Further expansion of Hull's franchises awaited the charter of 1382. (fn. 209) This extended the town's jurisdiction to the haven of the River Hull so that its facilities and security might be improved without outside interference. It also strengthened the powers of the town's courts; the mayor and bailiffs were to determine all pleas, including assizes of fresh force and mort d'ancestor, touching matters arising in the borough, notwithstanding the fact that they were begun in one of the king's courts. Thirdly, the mayor and bailiffs were given power to enforce the assizes of bread, wine, and ale, and the custody and assay of weights and measures, with freedom from the supervision of the royal clerk of the market. This last privilege brought real financial gain; in 1321–4 the expenses and fines of the king's 'marshal of measures' had amounted to £14, and the townspeople had raised a tallage of £39 to pay them. (fn. 210)
It was nearly fifty years before fresh privileges were granted, though in 1433 the town felt it necessary to have certain of its existing rights re-enforced. (fn. 211) In 1440 the culmination of Hull's achievement of self-government saw the town given corporate status, and furthermore the status of a county. (fn. 212) Within it the mayor was now to be escheator and a sheriff was to replace the bailiffs. The mayor and sheriff were to hold a county court each month, and to hear pleas of all kinds, as the mayor and bailiffs had done in the past. The Yorkshire justices of the peace were excluded from the town, and the mayor and twelve other aldermen were to keep the peace in their place; the profits were to go to the burgesses. A second grant in the same year enhanced the dignity of the mayor and aldermen, notably by the right of the mayor to have a sword borne before him. (fn. 213)
In 1443 the town was empowered to buy lands worth £100 a year for the defence and repair of the port, (fn. 214) and in 1447 the county of Hull was greatly enlarged by the addition of an area stretching more than five miles west of the town. (fn. 215) The execution of all writs in the extended county was to belong to Hull, and a second coroner was to be appointed alongside the one authorized in 1299. This grant also authorized the town, after the death of the king's Admiral and his son, to appoint an admiral for the county of Hull, the township of Drypool, and the whole of the Humber. Though later confirmed, the town's privileges were not added to during the rest of the 15th century; it was upon these liberties, then, that the government of medieval Hull was based.
Between the replacement of Richard Oysel in 1307 and the creation of the mayoralty in 1331, the office of keeper of the town was held by five men; all were regular Crown servants rather than townsmen of Hull. (fn. 216) Longest-serving was Robert de Hastang, who held it for a few months in 1311 and again from 1316 to 1331, though he was unable to carry out his duties during the last years of his term. With one exception the keepers also had custody of the manor of Myton and from the combined rents of town and manor Hastang at least drew a fee of £100. (fn. 217) Hastang's grant was for life, but in 1326 Richard de la Pole was given custody of the town owing to Hastang's ill-health and the negligence of his deputies. Pole was to be given 'a reasonable fee' by Hastang, who was still to take the profits of the town. (fn. 218) Hastang's grant was confirmed in 1327 and 1328, but in 1330 Richard and William de la Pole were granted first the reversion of the keepership after his death, and then, because of Hastang's partial absence from the town, joint custody with him. (fn. 219) With the granting of the charter of 1331 it was William de la Pole who probably became the first mayor. The fee-farm rent was paid to Hastang until his death in 1336, when it reverted to the Poles. (fn. 220)
In 1331 the mayor assumed all the responsibilities of the keeper to preserve, govern, and advance the town. He was constantly called upon to carry out the king's business there and to maintain the king's interests; and if he was not, as his oath required of him, 'true to the king', he might expect to find himself called before the council at Westminster, as happened to Walter Hellward in 1342. (fn. 221) In the affairs of the town and its inhabitants his administration had to be prudent and just; he was sworn 'truly and meekly' to govern the burgesses, and for both rich and poor to 'right wisely deem [all] that falls to the office of mayoralty'. (fn. 222) The mayor was the central figure in the government of the town and his word was supreme. But means were not lacking to correct him if his behaviour was unjust: in 1440 he was made liable to be 'reconciled and reformed' by his fellow aldermen, and to be fined if he ignored their counsel. (fn. 223) In return he could expect not only loyalty from his subordinates but protection from the consequences of his actions; if he was sued for anything done on the town's behalf, the town would bear his charges. (fn. 224)
Respect for the mayor's person and office could not be taken for granted. In 1402, for example, an unruly crowd released prisoners from the gaol and the stocks and wounded William Chery and his serjeant, shouting 'down with the mayor, down with him'. The council ordered each of the offenders to 'submit me meekly' to the mayor and to perform severe penances. If they offended again they were to be heavily fined. (fn. 225) Strict punishment for showing contempt of the mayor's authority was, in fact, nothing unusual. (fn. 226) For his protection the mayor was attended by a common serjeant at least by 1353–4; by 1424–5 there were in addition two serjeants-at-mace, but their offices had existed without special designation since at least 1394–5. All three serjeants were described as bearing maces in 1429–31. (fn. 227) This was not, of course, their only duty for they were also 'officers of the law': they made arrests and presented offences to the courts, and they made summonses and attachments and levied distresses as the court required. The common serjeant was also responsible for collecting pavage and murage. (fn. 228)
Greater dignity was attached to the mayor's office after 1440. In that year he was licensed to have an upright sword borne in his presence, and both he and the newlyinstituted aldermen were to have gowns, hoods, and tabards in the same manner as the Mayor and aldermen of London. (fn. 229) It was no longer thought fit for him to sell victuals in the market-place, or wine or ale in his house. The sword-bearer was ordered to be 'in household' with the mayor; his fee was paid in equal parts by the mayor himself and by the commons, and he was also to have 'his advantage of the seal and all other avails' that the mayor's serjeant had enjoyed previously. There were now to be two serjeants: the chief one was to be 'daily in house' with the mayor and paid by the commons; the other was to be at the mayor's own charge, though the commons later agreed to pay part of his fee. (fn. 230) In 1456 the sword-bearer's fee became wholly at the town's charge. (fn. 231) For the remainder of the century, then, these were the three principal officers who bore the insignia, but a common serjeant was also appointed and he was sometimes described as 'at mace'. (fn. 232) The mayor seems to have kept the insignia in his own house, for John Green's widow returned them to the council chamber when he died in office. (fn. 233) In addition to attending upon the mayor and acting as an officer of the courts, the common serjeant at least seems to have had more general duties and he is encountered on such business as helping the chamberlains in 1493 to supervise the cleaning of the fresh-water ditches. (fn. 234)
At least from 1434 the mayoral election day was the morrow of Michaelmas. (fn. 235) The candidates were drawn from the aldermen after 1440. The procedure authorized in 1443 was for the aldermen to nominate two of their number and for the commonalty to elect one of them. (fn. 236) After 1440 it was forbidden for a man to hold the mayoralty for two successive years, (fn. 237) so that nominations were made from a narrow circle of twelve aldermen who normally held their offices for life. Occasionally a deputy was installed when a mayor was absent, as when Hugh Cliderowe sat in Parliament during his mayoralty in 1449. A deputy also took the place of John Green when he died in office in 1464. (fn. 238) In 1461, however, the king obliged a new mayor to be elected after Richard Anson had been killed at the battle of Wakefield. (fn. 239)
The mayor may not at first have received a fixed reward for his services. In 1353–4 the sum of £15 14s. was described as part of his fee, and in 1354–5 his fee and expenses totalled £26 13s. 4d. (fn. 240) In 1356, however, the fee was set at £13 6s. 8d. and he was to have the profits of the assize of bread and wine. (fn. 241) Between 1394–5 and 1407–8 it was raised to £20. In 1448–9 the mayor received £33 6s. 8d. but by 1450–1 the fee was again £20, and it remained at that figure for the rest of the century. (fn. 242) The mayor and sheriff were together ordered in 1442 to enforce the assize of bread, wine, and ale and were rewarded with the 'fines and profits' of the tipplers' guild. (fn. 243)
From the beginning the mayoral office was filled by a small group of the town's leading merchants. The first mayor, in 1331, may have been William de la Pole, and he certainly held the office in 1332, 1333, and 1335. (fn. 244) It is impossible to speak precisely of the identity of the mayors before about 1440, (fn. 245) but it is clear that in the 14th century certain individuals and families tended to have a strong hold on the office. Robert de Cross may have held it five times in the seventies and eighties, John Leversege six times around 1400, and Henry and Robert de Selby at least six times between them; there is more than one representative, too, of the Barton, Birkyn, Hanby, Upsale, and Dymelton families. Again, in the early 15th century, John Fitling, Simon Grimsby, John Tutbury, and Thomas Marshall were all mayor on several occasions. After 1440 it is possible to identify the mayors with certainty. (fn. 246) Between then and 1499 as many as 29 men held the office only once and 11 twice. Only 3 were chosen more frequently: Hugh Cliderowe four times in the forties and fifties, Richard Anson four times between 1450 and 1460, and Ralph Langton three times in the eighties and nineties. To the end of the century merchants, with an occasional mercer and draper, continued to dominate the mayoralty, giving place once to an apothecary, Lawrence Swattock. (fn. 247)
The principal assistants of the keeper, before 1331, and of the mayor until 1440 were the bailiffs. Their number before 1331 is not known, though two are named in 1317. (fn. 248) It was the bailiffs who were the usual recipients of royal mandates and grants, (fn. 249) whenever these were not directed to the keeper himself. The 1331 charter provided for four bailiffs but in fact only two appear to have been chosen. (fn. 250) Their duties were to act as the mayor's deputies generally, and royal communications were now normally directed to the mayor and bailiffs. They were also responsible for rendering the king's farm, which they collected twice a year, (fn. 251) and for carrying out the judgements of the town courts. (fn. 252) The bailiffs were elected by the commonalty, after 1434 on mayor's day, (fn. 253) and they were drawn from the same mercantile group as the mayors. (fn. 254)
In 1440 the bailiffs were replaced by a sheriff, to be chosen by the burgesses from among themselves. His responsibilities were much the same as those of the bailiffs, including the discharge of the king's farm. (fn. 255) Men who had been bailiffs were immediately excluded from the shrievalty, (fn. 256) but thereafter the office was filled from the same mercantile ranks. In 1443 it was laid down that the commons should elect the sheriff from two nominees put forward by the aldermen. (fn. 257) Many of the sheriffs went on to become aldermen themselves, and of the 61 holding office between 1440 and 1500— none served twice—as many as 36 later became mayor. (fn. 258) Like the mayor the sheriff had his dignity. In 1440 he was authorized to have at least one mace carried before him and to have two serjeants, at his own charge; the serjeant that kept the gavel was given a gavel fee and a payment from each prisoner in the gaol, and in 1441 fees were agreed for the sheriff's mace-bearers. (fn. 259) It was decided in 1442, however, that weapons should be carried after the sheriff only on the occasion of riots and similar gatherings. (fn. 260) The sheriff was forbidden in 1452 to retail beer in his house, and in the following year he and his wife were awarded crimson cloaks at the town's expense. (fn. 261) The sheriff received no fee, but in 1442 was entitled to share with the mayor the profits of the assize of bread, wine, and ale, (fn. 262) and he collected payments from those taken into custody. (fn. 263) Other profits due to his office appear to have included 'the issues of the justice of sewers'. (fn. 264)
Mayor and sheriff did not always work in harmony. Differences between them had to be settled in 1450 and 1454, on the second occasion after disagreement about the duties of the mayor's common serjeant-at-mace. He was to continue to exercise his office 'on the water' and elsewhere, but pledges of attachment were to be taken only with the assent and advice of the sheriff. (fn. 265) In 1462 it was the sheriff's serjeant whose actions were the cause of animosity. Henry Atkinson was deprived of the office and imprisoned for arresting a man in a burgess's house, contrary to the laws and customs of the town; when he left prison without the mayor's authority, the sheriff was ordered to keep him there. This dispute led to a reiteration of the custom that no officer was to make an arrest in a church, churchyard, friary, or burgess's house, except when treason, felony, or the keeping of the peace were alleged. (fn. 266) Those offences were presumably not involved in 1465 when the sheriff's serjeant was corrected again after making an arrest in a house. (fn. 267) Disagreement between sheriff and mayor over 'the occupation of the out shire' led to arbitration by the recorder and aldermen in 1467. It was decided that the blanch farm of the county belonged to the commons, but it was apparently with ill grace that the sheriff accepted the ruling. (fn. 268) Disharmony, however, was normally subjugated to the pursuit of common authority. A man who obstructed the roadway to the gallows, used by the sheriff, or who lacked respect for the sheriff and his office, was obliged to submit to the mayor and council. (fn. 269)
Almost without exception the sheriffs had already served as chamberlains. (fn. 270) The chamberlainship, the first step towards the mayoralty, had always attracted prominent burgesses, ever since William de la Pole and his brother Richard, the first recorded chamberlains, held the office in 1321–4. Not all, however, were merchants, and in the later 15th century those elected included, for example, beerbrewers, a bowyer, a butcher, and a glover. (fn. 271) The chamberlains were normally two in number, and they were chosen by the commons. In 1443 it was ordered that the election should be made from four nominees put forward by the aldermen. (fn. 272) Their oath bound them to 'busy be to do the common profit' and to carry out their duties 'having no consideration to your singular wealth'. (fn. 273) These last words were appropriate, for the office carried a considerable financial burden, especially during the 15th-century crises in the town's affairs.
In 1434 it was decided that newly-elected chamberlains should, within eight days, pay £20 to their predecessors, (fn. 274) presumably to repay money spent on the town's behalf. Such a sum was soon inadequate for the purpose, and in 1440 the £20 was ordered to be paid instead to the mayor and used for the town's benefit. (fn. 275) Payment of the sum due to the old chamberlains, however large, became customary, as did the payment of the current year's expenses from the chamberlains' own pockets whenever necessary.
The chamberlains were not always able or willing to settle their predecessors' claims. In 1448–9 the town's deficit reached £110 and the mayor had to arbitrate between the old and new chamberlains: he ordered £90 to be paid, but the rest was to come from the weigh-house profits in 1449–50. (fn. 276) Those profits were insufficient, however, and payment was not completed until the following year. (fn. 277) When in 1459–60 the deficit reached £120 payment again had to be enjoined, but the new chamberlains were permitted to defer half the payment until the end of their year of office, and this was to be the custom for the future. (fn. 278) During the course of 1460–1, however, as an especially heavy deficit loomed ahead, it was decided to elect four chamberlains at the coming Michaelmas in order to lessen each man's burden. In the event, the deficit was £210: even the four new men would not meet it, and they were imprisoned. Their personal contribution to the sum required was then reduced to £80, but they were also ordered to find £15 to pay for Edward IV's confirmation of the town's charters; for the rest, the old chamberlains were to have £20 in cash and the remainder in the form of lead from the town conduit, which was dismantled to meet these and other debts. (fn. 279) The deficit did not reach such proportions again until 1482–3, when it was £120; this time the chamberlains appear to have caused no trouble, though the mayor gave up half his salary so that they could more readily make up their account. (fn. 280)
The sheriffs, during their year of office, frequently acted in one other capacity—that of bailiff for Trippett. Four 'bailiffs', with no specified jurisdiction, first appear among the elected officers in 1454; for one year, 1470–1, they were described as bailiffs for the town and Trippett; and from 1482–3 they were almost always called bailiffs of Trippett. (fn. 281) Their appearance soon after the town had gained concessions in Trippett from the Charterhouse (fn. 282) suggests that this area was their main concern from the beginning. The sheriff of the year was always one of the bailiffs, and he was frequently assisted by the previous or present chamberlains and several times by the common clerk. (fn. 283)
The professional element in the government of the town was provided by the recorder and the common clerk. The recordership came into existence with the town sessions of the peace in 1440. For long the fee paid him by the commons was only 13s. 4d., (fn. 284) but a like sum may have been contributed by the sheriff for when the fee was fixed at £2 13s. 4d. in 1458 it was equally divided in that way. (fn. 285) In 1487–8 the town's payment to the recorder was increased to £2. (fn. 286) At different periods the town also retained several advisers or 'counsel'; two of them were described as serjeants-at-law, and one of them was for many years the lawyer William Eland. It was Eland who filled the recordership from at least 1460–1 (fn. 287) until 1486–7, frequently sitting in Parliament for the town during that time. (fn. 288) He had previously been a Justice of the Peace in the East Riding and Beverley, and in 1465 was appointed as the archbishop's steward at Beverley. (fn. 289) Eland's predecessors as recorder are less well known: Thomas Wilton from 1440 until 1450–1; Robert Killingholme, who once sat in Parliament for Hull and was another of its counsel, for the one year 1451–2; and Walter Grimston from 1452–3 until Eland's appointment. His successors were Edmund Thwaytes until at least 1489–90 and Robert Constable from at least 1494–5. (fn. 290) Constable, who died in 1502, was a serjeant-at-law and came from North Cliffe. (fn. 291)
The common clerks were men of less eminence. (fn. 292) Their fee was usually £1 6s. 8d. until 1444–5 and £3 6s. 8d. thereafter. The first known holder of the office was Alan le Clerk in 1321–4 and more than a dozen other names are recorded during the 14th and 15th centuries. (fn. 293) The longest-serving holders were Richard Doughty, from 1458 to 1484, and Nicholas Gysburgh, his successor, who was still in office at the end of the century. During his reign as clerk Doughty was once also a chamberlain, once sheriff, and several times a Trippett bailiff. (fn. 294)
The remaining officers of the town call for less attention. (fn. 295) There was at first one coroner, instituted by the 1299 charter and chosen by the burgesses, but after 1447 two chosen by the mayor and aldermen. (fn. 296) There were common attorneys, (fn. 297) both in the town courts and, sometimes, in London. There were two minstrels, first mentioned in 1394–5, who, at least in the second half of the 15th century, had on election to find pledges for the security of their silver collars. (fn. 298) There were two common chaplains from at least 1394–5, and in the 15th century four others whose payment was entrusted to the council. (fn. 299) And at various times fees and salaries were paid to such officers as ferrymen, clock-keepers at Holy Trinity and St. Mary's Churches, a market-keeper, clerks at York Castle (before the creation of the county of Hull), a brogger, cleaners of the freshwater ditches and the mamhole, and a schoolmaster. The town bellman appears in the second half of the 15th century, sometimes paying a small rent to enjoy the office; his duties included the making of graves and the cleansing of the two churches. (fn. 300)
Some trouble seems to have arisen in the 1440s over the practice of town officers serving as retainers. The occupants of offices were in 1442 forbidden by the corporation to take fees or clothing from knights or esquires living outside the liberties. (fn. 301) In 1443, however, the king observed that a 'grievous quarrel' over this matter had arisen among the burgesses, and he ordered the town to make enquiry. (fn. 302) The outcome is not known. In one other respect all the salaried town officers were subject to general regulation: in 1461 it was laid down that all must be burgesses and must live in the 'common rent'. (fn. 303)
The Town Council and the Commons
Until 1440 the representative element in the government of the town makes only a shadowy appearance. It seems, however, that a number of burgesses (fn. 304) was sometimes selected to assist the town officers. In 1351, for instance, an ordinance was made by the mayor, bailiffs, and chamberlains, and nineteen named burgesses. (fn. 305) In 1356 it was ordered that the mayor, bailiffs, and six of the 'best burgesses' (des meillours burgoys) must give their approval before certain payments were made by the chamberlains. (fn. 306) And, again, in 1379 it was decided that eight burgesses should be chosen each year to serve with the mayor, bailiffs, and chamberlains 'to counsel and ordain all things for the common profit'. (fn. 307)
The charter of 1440 replaced the 'best burgesses' by thirteen aldermen, one of whom became the mayor. They were to be chosen from and by the burgesses, and they held office for life, unless they resigned or had to be removed for some notable cause. In 1443 it was laid down that the commons were to make the election from two nominees put forward by the remaining aldermen. (fn. 308) It was promptly ordered that, like the mayor, aldermen should not sell beer in their houses, and they were removed from the liability of impanellment for jury service by the sheriff. (fn. 309) Two aldermen served for each of the six wards, and their oath bound them 'tenderly to entreat all those that be under your governance in your ward'. (fn. 310) The first surviving list of aldermen's names dates from 1442, (fn. 311) in Hugh Cliderowe's first mayoralty. Thomas Davy, Ralph Horne, Robert Holme, John Aldwick, John Haynson, and John Bedford had already served as mayor; Bedford was to do so again, and the other six all became mayor later—Thomas Diconson, Robert Auncell, Richard Anson, John Scales, John Steton, and Seman Burton. Only untimely death is likely to have kept an alderman from the mayoralty. And since only death created vacancies in their ranks (fn. 312) it was inevitable that when elected most aldermen had already served the town in another capacity. Thus John Recard, elected in 1473, Thomas Wood, in 1474, and Robert Alcock, in 1476, (fn. 313) had all been chamberlain and sheriff.
Wards, six in number, make their appearance in 1442, and two aldermen, as well as two constables, were assigned to each. The names of the wards are first recorded in 1449: Humber, Blackfriar, Trinity, Whitefriar, St. Mary, and Trippett; by 1459 Blackfriar was called Austin Ward and by 1481 Trippett had become North Ward. (fn. 314) There is no evidence that the wards had a judicial function or that wardmote courts were held, (fn. 315) but they were used for various administrative purposes. The aldermen and constables might be responsible for providing men to carry water in the town, for collecting money to pay for the cleansing of the fresh-water dike, or for keeping the town gates at night during periods of emergency. (fn. 316) Tax assessors and collectors were also appointed ward by ward. (fn. 317) Though assigned to particular wards for special purposes it seems unlikely that aldermen were resident in them or, indeed, always familiar with them. In 1494, when arrangements were being made for the safe keeping of the town, it was even necessary for the mayor to summon the council 'to the intent that every alderman should know his ward and the constables of the same'. (fn. 318)
It seems likely that there were occasions when town assemblies were attended, not only by the 'best burgesses' or the aldermen, but also by a larger body of burgesses. This was 'the commons', or 'the commonalty'. Thus 'all the commons' were present for the making of an ordinance in 1351, (fn. 319) already referred to, and for a similar purpose in 1434. (fn. 320) The commons were not assembled for routine administrative business, but on special occasions and for broadly political purposes they were called to the Guildhall by the ringing of the common bell. (fn. 321) They were regularly called for the election of aldermen or M.P.s, (fn. 322) and they were present, for example, to decide that foreign burgesses should bear all the burdens incumbent on resident burgesses, to agree that the office of Admiral of the Humber should be farmed by the town, to approve an increase in the common clerk's fee, and to hear a letter from the king about the restriction on the export of corn. (fn. 323) That they sometimes made their presence felt is shown by the action of two burgesses at an election in 1470: they 'openly with a high voice' demanded to see the charters and ordinances and it was allowed that twelve members of the commons might do so at a more convenient time. (fn. 324)
Occasionally a more select group of burgesses was called to assist the mayor and council. In 1459, for instance, an order for the watch to be kept was made with the assent of 'the most part [of] the most worshipful burgesses that have [been] sheriffs [or] chamberlains and they that are likely to be chamberlains'. Similar gatherings made orders for security in 1460 and for wine to be given to the king in 1461. And in 1483 the mayor, aldermen, and sheriff had the advice of past sheriffs and chamberlains, and 'all the best of the commons'. (fn. 325) More rarely, it seems, representatives of one section of the community were assembled to debate matters of only sectional interest. When in 1482 a mariner was called before the council for various misdemeanours and disobedience to the sheriff, he found himself faced by 'the most part' of the mariners of the town. (fn. 326)
The conduct of elections in which the commons took part is illustrated by several orders which suggest that corrupt practices were not unknown. Burgesses were instructed in 1434 to make their choice secretly, and only two 'worthy burgesses', chosen by the commons, and the common clerk who made the count were to hear their votes. (fn. 327) In 1456 it was necessary to forbid burgesses to have 'two voices' at elections, and to set a fine for the clerk if he wrote down names falsely. (fn. 328) The choice of men 'to go with the book among the burgesses' was in 1458–9 given to the candidates, or 'lites', up for election. And at the same time it was decided that if the mayor and aldermen were equally divided, as they might be in choosing nominees for the mayoralty, the mayor was to have a casting vote. (fn. 329)
The number of burgesses who attended when summoned to the Guildhall is not known. At first, the term 'burgess' may have applied to every inhabitant of the borough but during the 14th century it became limited to those who were properly qualified and admitted. The full complement of burgesses is unlikely ever to have been present at meetings: for the year 1442, however, that complement is known and it provides an indication of the size of the franchise. There were then 332 burgesses living in the town who had been admitted before Michaelmas 1441, and a further 24 were admitted in 1441–2. (fn. 330) Most burgesses were normally resident in the town. Indeed 'strangers' living outside the town franchises were denied burgess-ship in 1440, though they were apparently being admitted by 1450 when 'foreign' burgesses were ordered to share all the charges borne by those resident in Hull. (fn. 331) Even aliens were admitted after 1452, provided they had the approval of 'the more part' of the aldermen and 'the most part' of the burgesses; even after their admission, however, similar approval was necessary before they might attend a council meeting or an election. (fn. 332)
Burgess-ship conferred valuable privileges, as well as a share in the government of the town; above all it carried the right to set up in a craft or trade, for which nonburgesses required an annual licence. As the oath sworn by burgesses shows, burgessship also demanded full loyalty to the town and utter obedience to its officers. (fn. 333) Admission was by apprenticeship, fine, or patrimony, and by an order of 1412–13 (confirmed shortly before 1440) it was granted only with the assent of at least seven members of the council. (fn. 334) Most burgesses were admitted by fine: in 1450–9, for example, 109 were by fine, 62 by apprenticeship, and 26 by patrimony, and in 1480–9 the numbers were 57, 32, and 9 respectively. When drives to enrol new burgesses were made, in times of financial crisis, as many as 31 out of 40 paid fines in 1445–6 and 31 out of 38 in 1450–1. In both the 14th and 15th centuries the usual fine was £2, but from as early as the 1320s strangers and aliens were required to pay more, sometimes as much as £5. Aliens admitted by apprenticeship were disfranchised if their identity was discovered. Moreover, apprenticeship did not always give exemption from a money payment: one man paid £1 because his indenture was insufficient, another a like sum because he had been apprenticed to a 'foreign' burgess. (fn. 335)
Under the charter of 1299 justice was dispensed by the keeper of Hull, apparently sitting in court with the bailiffs. (fn. 336) The working of the court and the procedures upon which the government of the town was based are revealed by a detailed custumal of the early 14th century. (fn. 337) This laid down, for example, the frequency with which the court should sit: from tide to tide in cases involving mariners on board ships in the haven, daily where 'foreigners' were involved, and at weekly or fortnightly intervals when residents were concerned. After 1331 the court was held by the mayor and bailiffs. Occasionally the 'best burgesses' and the commons were present with them when matters were heard, (fn. 338) and so was the common clerk. (fn. 339) A separate court for recognizances of debts may have been held, after the seal for that purpose was granted to the town in 1334. (fn. 340) Hull was now a registry of recognizances for both statute merchant and statute staple debts, and certificates were regularly issued by the mayor and clerk. (fn. 341) Finally, although the Yorkshire Justices of the Peace doubtless frequently met at Hull, (fn. 342) there were occasions when the town had a distinct commission of the peace, separately from the county—in 1351–3, 1367, 1371, 1376–7, and 1380, for instance. (fn. 343) Its recipients were mainly prominent townsmen, the mayor often among them, together with several royal justices.
After the creation of the county of Hull in 1440 a monthly court was held by the sheriff, sitting together with the mayor. This seems to have in part replaced the court previously held by the mayor and bailiffs, for the sheriff was authorized to take the profits as the bailiffs had done before. (fn. 344) Fines of this court were, however, regularly accounted for by the chamberlains, (fn. 345) and the mayor may therefore have taken a share of them. (fn. 346) A great variety of minor nuisances were dealt with by this court: in 1450, for example, offenders included common bawds and scolds, a brothel-keeper, a chicken thief, a trespasser into his neighbour's garden, men who obstructed the streets and haven with rubbish, night-walkers, and those who kept 'unsuitable' hours in inns and playing at games. (fn. 347) The courts over which the mayor presided after 1440 conducted business that was equally varied. The mayor and sheriff, or sometimes the mayor and aldermen or mayor and council, met to consider such offences as the misdeeds of a woolporter, the neglect of the ferry-boat, the throwing of rubbish into the haven, and a marketing offence by a butcher. (fn. 348) This was presumably the court where the mayor and sheriff heard a plea of debt in 1441 (fn. 349) and where the mayor and aldermen settled differences between a Hull mercer and a London grocer over the payment of debts in 1453. (fn. 350) It may have been here too that the mayor, sheriff, and aldermen met 'in full court' to deal with recognizances for debt and other matters. (fn. 351) And it was probably before this court also that offences against the assize of bread were punished. (fn. 352)
The mayor and aldermen were in addition designated Justices of the Peace by the 1440 charter; at their sessions men were bound over and the fines that were imposed there contributed to the town revenues. (fn. 353) In 1451 it was ordered that four 'common sessions of peace' should be held each year, and two 'great courts' at which all suitors were to attend. (fn. 354) Nothing more is known of the second of these. One other court held in the 15th century was the court of Admiralty, acquired for the town when the mayor and aldermen became deputies for the Admiral of England in 1452. (fn. 355) It was laid down at that time that the court should be held every three weeks, and it was to determine pleas of debt, covenant, account, and trespass. (fn. 356)
Offenders convicted in the courts might be sent to the prisons or the gallows, or put in the stocks or the pillory in the market-place. For other crimes there was banishment. In 1453, for example, a woman was dismissed from the town for frequent and notorious, but unspecified, misbehaviour, and in 1456 an old man who assaulted a child was ordered to leave the town next day for five years. (fn. 357)
The jurisdiction of the various town and county courts was almost complete. One for later appointments, Cal. Pat. 1334–8, 253; 1343–5, 111; 1348–50, 427, 431; 1367–70, 326. special court did, however, enjoy some authority—the manorial court of Tupcoates in Myton, held by the Pole family. Surviving records of its business between 1390 and 1491 (fn. 358) suggest that it was mainly, if not entirely, concerned with the area outside the town walls, for instance with the use of pastures and the maintenance of roads and ditches. (fn. 359) In 1343 Richard de la Pole also claimed the right to hold a separate court for the Aton Fee in Myton, but alleged that Walter Hellward and others had prevented him from doing so. (fn. 360) Hellward was mayor at about this time and it was no doubt the town that opposed the holding of such a court, but the outcome of the dispute is not known.
The men who were responsible for the government of the town also filled its seats in Parliament. Their contribution to parliamentary proceedings was no doubt small, but while in London they were able to perform various services on Hull's behalf. In 1430–1, for example, they sought advice on the Iceland question; (fn. 361) in 1441–2 they had assistance concerning the payment of poundage on cloth; in 1445–6 they secured a commission to collect a tax; and in 1482–3 they obtained a copy of an Act concerning German merchants. (fn. 362) Useful as such occasional services might be, the members were not of vital importance to Hull and for the most part the town did not commit its most experienced men to a possibly long absence in London. Thus, in the 15th century, as many as 21 men sat in Parliament before they became mayor.
The men who served in the 14th century were numerous and for the most part undistinguished. (fn. 363) Of 54 known members, 31 served only once and 11 twice. Those who went most frequently were William de la Pole and Adam Pund, who sat six times each, and John de Barton, Walter Frost, and Thomas de Kirkeby, five times; Kirkeby was to sit three times more after 1400. The pattern is somewhat different in the 15th century. (fn. 364) The members continued to be drawn mainly from the ruling merchant class: of the 40 known members, 31 at one time or another served as mayor and at least 30 were merchants. But fewer men went to only one or two Parliaments, and several eminent figures emerge. Hugh Cliderowe served five times, Robert Holme and Richard Anson six, and John Fitling and William Eland twelve times each. Eland was exceptional among Hull's members: though he was also a merchant, he was by profession a lawyer and he was never mayor. (fn. 365)
As their identity might suggest, the M.P.s were effectively chosen by the town council. Before the creation of the county of Hull, little is known of the method of election; in 1422, for example, it is simply recorded that the members' names were returned by the town bailiffs to the Sheriff of Yorkshire, who had received the parliamentary writ of summons. (fn. 366) After 1445, of course, the writs were directed to the Sheriff of Hull and the election took place in the county court in the Guildhall. The returns refer by name to a body of electing burgesses varying in number from 12 to 36, but the choice was made 'with the unanimous assent of other worthy men who were then present there'. (fn. 367) The actual procedure followed was for the mayor and aldermen to choose four candidates, or 'lites', and for the commons to select two from the four. (fn. 368) The commons' share in the election was thus a limited one. Only five times, moreover, are they known to have rejected a candidate who was not successful on another occasion; it may be significant that John Swan three times failed to find their favour and never sat. (fn. 369)
The first of the town's financial burdens was to pay the king's farm. To meet it, money was collected by the bailiffs, and later by the sheriff, from the various propertyowners in the town. The town council itself made a relatively small contribution in respect of the property belonging to the community: in 1356 the rent of the South Ferry, £2 13s. 4d., was set against the community's share of the farm and was sufficient to meet it. (fn. 370) In the 15th century the chamberlains frequently handed over to the bailiffs or sheriff £9 4s. for this purpose. This 'old farm' was later, however, increased to over £10 as the result of gifts of property to the corporation. Whether it passed through the chamberlains' hands or not, the farm weighed heavily on the town at large. Only once, however, is there record of the payment falling into arrears: in 1409–10 the town was exonerated from the payment of nine years' arrears. (fn. 371)
For the rest, the town's revenues and expenditure were those recorded by the chamberlains. (fn. 372) During the period of government by the royal keepers, Hull's finances can be seen in detail only for the years 1321–4. These were years of especially heavy demand on the town's resources, notably for the building of the defences: it was perhaps to cover the whole of this work that the chamberlains took the exceptional course of rendering a single account for these three years. Besides defences, there was heavy expenditure on pavage, in providing a ship for the king, and for fees and gifts in furtherance of the town's interests. In all, £612 was spent. Such regular receipts as rents (£21) and payments from new burgesses (£30), together with £78 collected in tolls by way of pavage and murage, did not go far towards meeting this sum. Help came from various well-wishers, including Thomas de Holm, of Beverley, with gifts totalling £71. But as much as £277 had to be levied by eight tallages on the townspeople: two of them were intended to meet town debts, while each of the others was for a particular purpose. (fn. 373) There was still a deficit of £122.
After the burdens of 1321–4 there is little evidence of income from tallages, though £20 in arrears of tallages was received in 1354–5. There were, however, special occasions when money was assessed in the town. Several times the chamberlains accounted for 'tax' money, once specifying, in 1443–4, that the tax had been granted by the commons for the repair of the haven and jetties. On two other occasions money was raised to pay for the town's expenses in acquiring charters. For the charter of 1382 £97 was assessed, (fn. 374) and for that of 1447 £143 was collected. (fn. 375) Again, in 1452 an assessment was made for cleaning the fresh-water ditch. (fn. 376)
Assessments, nevertheless, were only an irregular source of income, and the other leading item in 1321–4, pavage and murage, fell away during the 14th century. Over £70 was collected in 1353–4 and over £80 in 1354–5, but only £10 in 1394–5, and the last murage grant expired in 1406. (fn. 377) In their places five items emerge as the leading regular sources of revenue: payments from new burgesses, rents from town property, the rent of the South Ferry, the profits of the weigh-house, and tolls. All were necessarily revenues which varied considerably with the trade and prosperity of the town.
Burgess-ship seems to have been an attractive proposition in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, rarely producing less than £20 in admission payments. The 1430s saw a distinct falling-off in receipts, and for the rest of the 15th century they were subject to marked short-term fluctuations. Twice, in 1445–6 and 1450–1, they reached an unprecedented £65; but especially after 1460 they were frequently less than £10, and twice in the 1490s there were no new burgesses at all. For property-rents, too, the turning point was reached about 1460. The chamberlains were charged with rents of about £20 in the mid-14th century, rising to £40 by 1400; the 1440s saw an increase of over £30, the 1450s of another £20, and by the end of the century the total charge stood at over £110. (fn. 378) The greater part of this money was in fact collected until the 1450s, but thereafter the 'decay of rents' of which the chamberlains were discharged rose rapidly. In 1456–7 the decay was still only £5, by 1460–1 it was £21, by 1485–6 £51, and at about that level it remained for the rest of the century. The rent of the South Ferry declined in much the same way: up to the 1460s it was running at an average of about £18 a year: thereafter it was about £8. (fn. 379)
More directly related to the trade of the port were the town's receipts from the weighhouse and from tolls. Both were highly variable. The weigh-house, until the 1450s, often produced £20 or £30 a year, though as much as £157 was received in 1439–40, and nothing in 1436–7. After 1454–5 these profits were usually less than £10, but a partial recovery brought them up to an average of £15 a year in 1494–9. Tolls of various kinds (fn. 380) regularly brought in £10 or £20 a year for much of the 15th century, falling below £10 only for short periods after 1450. A profitable period in the seventies saw tolls at their highest recorded figure in 1473–4 (£32), and as with the weigh-house there was a recovery in the nineties. The market tolls, which were normally let, produced on average an additional £4 a year.
Fines were the only other regular item of significance. Until 1440 they consisted entirely of payments made by non-burgesses, before the mayor in the Guildhall, for licences to practise a trade or craft, and they amounted to between £5 and £12 a year. After 1440 these 'unfree artificers' made the largest contribution to the fines received, but small amounts were also collected in the sheriff's court, at the sessions of the peace, and for the infringement of various marketing regulations. Occasionally a man fined for exemption from a town office: William Riplingham paid £2 in 1442–3 to be for ever exempt from serving as sheriff, and both Robert Chapman, a former York merchant, in 1443–4 and John Robinson, a mercer, in 1472–3 paid £5 for exemption from all offices. Although the total of these various fines at first increased, occasionally exceeding £15, it was almost always below £10 after 1458–9.
The irregular sources of income included the town brickyard, which produced from £15 to £35 a year in the early 15th century, though its running expenses were heavy. (fn. 381) In the second half of the century various attempts were made to bolster the town's dwindling revenues, most of them bringing in only a few shillings or pounds. They included fines on non-burgesses and duties on ships, (fn. 382) and also the profits of the court of Admiralty. The latter cannot have come up to expectations: the chamberlains often received nothing and never more than £4. (fn. 383) More substantial were three grants from the royal customs. In 1396 Hull was given £66 13s. 4d. a year for five years to help repair and maintain the town after damage by flooding. The first two instalments of this money were certainly received. (fn. 384) In 1463 the mayor and burgesses were empowered to ship goods for ten years, free of customs to the sum of £40 a year; and in 1484 for twenty years, to the sum of £60 a year. (fn. 385) For at least five years the first of the export grants was used to full advantage, but in 1467–8 only £27 was received; profits from the second grant are recorded by the chamberlains only twice—£36 in the first year and £11 in the second. (fn. 386)
Among the items of expenditure, fees and salaries of the town officers always bulked largest. (fn. 387) Together with liveries, they stood at £50 or so until 1444–5, soared to £88 by 1448–9, and though never quite so high again they only once fell below £70 during the rest of the century. The wages and expenses of the town's M.P.s were a frequent, if irregular, item; until 1450 they averaged £22 a year, but thereafter only £11. Apart from payments for gifts to solicit advice and favour, (fn. 388) and for fines to obtain licences and charters from the Crown, most of the remaining expenditure was for building and maintenance work in the town. The objects of this work were many, among them the defences, town property, the tilery, ferry-boats, sewers, the fresh-water ditch, paving, and staiths and jetties; all of these are considered elsewhere. The amount spent in this way was highly variable, but it often exceeded £100 a year.
The chamberlains' total receipts, in the surviving accounts, were usually between about £150 and £200 a year, only on a dozen occasions exceeding £200. But these sums include the charge of rents and conceal the growing 'decay': frequently in the second half of the 15th century the actual income was below £150. Until about 1440 income was normally ufficient to meet the town's expenditure, with a surplus of £10–£20 a year. For the rest of the century, however, there was almost always a deficit—often of £50, occasionally £100, and once, in 1460–1, of £210. The office of chamberlain was inevitably a burdensome one during this period. (fn. 389)
Crown Customs and Duties
The merchant trading through Hull in the Middle Ages was faced by a host of officials and subjected to an array of regulations and payments. Foremost among these officials were the royal customs men, usually comprising a controller, two collectors, a searcher, and, in the 15th century, a surveyor of search. During the course of the 14th century, as the English customs system was being extended and consolidated, they came to collect a wide variety of duties from both native and alien merchants. (fn. 390)
The 'ancient custom' on wool, wool-fells, and hides had been collected since 1275; to it was added, for aliens only, the 'new custom' of 1303 which fell on goods of all kinds. The new custom was suspended in part in 1309 and wholly in 1311, but restored in 1322. In addition to duties on specific commodities, the new custom included an ad valorem charge on general merchandise which later became known as the 'petty custom'. Thirdly there was the cloth custom, imposed in 1347. The customs officials also collected the subsidy on wool, fells, and hides—an additional duty granted to the king for limited periods, the first dating from 1322. In 1347 they began to collect poundage, a subsidy of so much in the pound value of general goods, and tunnage, another extra duty, this time on wine. From the late 14th century the subsidies became almost permanent. These various duties were almost all collected and accounted for, singly or in combination, by the Hull customs officials. The collectors sent up to the Exchequer, usually annually, a 'particular' account with details of ships, merchants, goods, and duties. The controller sent a similar account, a 'controlment' of the collectors' work. The collectors also sent a summary account, which was enrolled in the Exchequer. Finally, the searchers accounted for any goods which they had found to be shipped uncustomed. (fn. 391)
In the case of wine, responsibility was divided between the customs officers, who collected the tunnage, and the king's butler's deputy in Hull, who collected the new custom. The deputy butler also purveyed wine for the king and took the king's prisage, an additional import duty on wine. By the beginning of the 14th century prisage had become fixed at a tun before and a tun after the mast of a ship carrying 20 tuns or more, and one tun only from ships laden with 10 to 19 tuns; for each tun taken in prise the king paid £1 to the merchants concerned. The new custom in 1303 replaced prisage in the case of aliens, but prisage was again exacted from them between 1309 and 1322. (fn. 392) Wine merchants of Gascony and Germany were in dispute with the deputy butler at Hull, Richard de la Pole, in 1320, alleging delay in paying them for wine taken in prisage, as well as deficiencies in his conduct of purveyance. (fn. 393) After 1322 prisage was taken from denizens alone. By the early 15th century Hull and York merchants were attempting to avoid the imposition: in 1408 it was said that they shipped for the most part pipes of wine, rather than tuns, insisting that prisage should be taken in tuns and offering tuns of inferior wine to the king's officials. (fn. 394)
There were also other, more minor, royal officers in the port. Wine was subjected to one further duty, of 1d. on each tun gauged, buyer and seller each paying half. Little is known of the work of the gauger in Hull, though he may have been meeting some opposition in 1342 when an enquiry was ordered into the proper exercise of gauging in Hull and York. (fn. 395) The customs collectors had the assistance of weighers—the pesagers and troners of wool. In the early 14th century the tronage of wool at Hull was on several occasions farmed out in association with the pesage of lead and of goods sold by weight. (fn. 396) The weigh-beam for wool was temporarily removed from Hull in 1333, when York was made a staple town, but customs ceased to be collected at York after about 1340. (fn. 397) The use of a house in Hull, open towards the haven, for storing wool was forbidden by the king in 1343, and a place was appointed for it to be weighed. (fn. 398) The Crown officers most likely worked at the town's weigh-house, or woolhouse, from the late 14th century. Thus in 1442, when orders were made to prevent the evasion of customs, strangers' wool was directed to be laid in the woolhouse until it was full; denizens' wool might be kept in private houses provided the mayor was informed. (fn. 399)
Most of the Crown officers—controllers, collectors, searchers, deputy butlers, and gaugers alike—were local men, usually Hull merchants. (fn. 400) Prominent in the 1320s was Richard de la Pole, who was deputy butler and one of the customs collectors for some years before 1327, when he left Hull. At this period, too, more than one keeper of the town acted as controller. Leading merchants, throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, were often called upon: John Tutbury, for example, was collector of customs in 1397, 1398, 1401, 1412, and 1413. If such men found that public duty conflicted with personal interest, there is little evidence of the abuse of their offices. On one occasion however, in 1320, the collectors were suspected of conniving at the shipment of wool contrary to the staple regulations; (fn. 401) in 1386 the receipts of the pesager were under scrutiny; (fn. 402) and in 1416 all the Hull customs officers were subjected to enquiry. (fn. 403) The collectors might occasionally fall into debt with the Crown for customs revenues, as did Robert de Selby in 1385 when his property was seized by the king. (fn. 404) In 1462 the Crown was still collecting rent from similarly seized property to reclaim the debts of two men who had been customs collectors in 1342. (fn. 405) In their turn the collectors sometimes found it difficult to realize debts from merchants. (fn. 406)
Of the evasion of customs at Hull there is more evidence, though it is impossible to estimate the real extent of smuggling. Probably, however, here as in other ports, smuggling accounted for only a minute fraction of the total oversea trade. (fn. 407) Enquiries into customs evasion at Hull were made in the 1340s, (fn. 408) in 1356 when it was ordered that all customable goods must be handled by the king's weigher, (fn. 409) in 1392, and again in 1409. (fn. 410) Comparatively few examples of detection are recorded, most of them concerning wool. (fn. 411) Uncustomed goods might be shipped in Hull itself, but more often smuggling took place from remote creeks along the Humber; it was for noticing and arresting a ship carrying wheat and lead to Zeeland, smuggled at one such 'hidden place', that the mayor and bailiffs of Hull were rewarded with £5 by the king in 1359. (fn. 412) The customs officials might have additional responsibilities beyond the surveillance of customable goods; they were, for example, required at various times to watch for the carrying of money out of the country. (fn. 413)
The customs revenues from Hull, as from other ports, did not all find their way to the Exchequer. They were frequently granted away by the Crown to pay off loans, to provide annuities for royal servants and others, to provide the wages and salaries of men in the king's service, or simply as gifts. (fn. 414) Most often these assignments were met from money actually collected at Hull, but occasionally they took the form of authority for the customs-free shipment of goods. Other gifts consisted of wine from the king's prisage in the port. Hull men seem rarely to have benefited from such grants. An exception was Robert Michelson, a shipmaster, who received an annuity of £5 in 1471 for his services when the king sailed to England from Zeeland; a grant of £60 in 1473 towards the ransom-money when, with others, he was captured by the French; and an annuity of £10 in 1485. (fn. 415) Hull's town finances were themselves bolstered from the customs—sometimes by the repayment of loans, sometimes by gifts. (fn. 416) In the 14th century the Poles figured prominently among the recipients of such grants. During the second quarter of the century the Hull customs were constantly being assigned, in whole or in part, to William de la Pole, and one of his grants continued to be enjoyed by successive members of the family. (fn. 417)
The Crown's right to take customs and other duties was rarely challenged, but the old claim of the archbishops of York to wine prisage at Hull (fn. 418) was renewed early in the 14th century by Archbishop Melton. After an enquiry instituted in 1326 it was held that prisage rightly belonged to the archbishops, and in March 1327 the king ordered his butler not to interfere. (fn. 419) In April that year Richard de la Pole became king's butler. (fn. 420) He had until then been deputy butler in Hull and had also acted as the archbishop's representative there; upon his new appointment, Pole asked the archbishop to release him and recommended John de Barton as 'the most knowing man in the town to make your profit'. (fn. 421) Pole continued to take prisage for the Crown and attempted to excuse his failure to obey the king's instructions by arguing, before the Lord Chancellor, that the prisage ought by right to be the king's; in July the same year, however, he was told to obey the March order. (fn. 422) In 1330 Pole reported that the archbishop had ordered the butler to stop taking both wine custom and prisage at Hull. (fn. 423)
The town bailiffs actively opposed the archbishop's claim to this and other privileges in Hull, and both sides petitioned the king. (fn. 424) In May 1330 the bailiffs were told not to allow the archbishop to enjoy any privileges to the prejudice of the Crown or the town, (fn. 425) and Richard de la Pole was ordered to take prisages and wine customs in defiance of the archbishop. (fn. 426) The order to Pole was, however, reversed in December the same year, (fn. 427) and the king subsequently began proceedings against the archbishop to discover his title to rights in Hull. (fn. 428) Melton did not readily give way, and in 1332 he appointed a new bailiff to act in Hull on his behalf. (fn. 429) The following year alien merchants were said to have stopped bringing wine to Hull because they suffered the double imposition of custom, by the deputy butler, and prisage, by the archbishop's representative. These officers were accordingly ordered to take their duties from alternate ships while an enquiry was held. (fn. 430) The result was, it seems, in the king's favour, (fn. 431) and in 1334 James de Kingston, of Hull, a king's clerk, was rewarded with a church living for 'long service to the king and especially in the recovery [of] the king's prises of wine in the port of Kingston upon Hull'. (fn. 432) No more is heard of the archbishops' claim.
Local Customs and Duties
Royal customs were not the only charges on trade that merchants had to bear: local customs and special duties, collected by town officers, made a significant contribution to Hull's revenues. Though these charges were probably not as comprehensive or highly-organized as, for example, those of Southampton, (fn. 433) they were varied enough. First in time were murage and pavage, taken by royal grant on all goods brought to the town for sale. These were eventually replaced, as an element in the town's revenues, by local customs, tolls which again were charged on all goods passing through the town. The special duties included various shore-duties taken about the wharves and the weigh-house, and one or two port-duties on ships in the haven.
Hull, like other ports, exempted from its local customs a large number of English merchants, though never aliens. The town's own burgesses were presumably exempt by virtue of the grant in the charter of 1299 that they should be free of toll, pontage, passage, pavage, murage, and all other customs throughout the kingdom. Freedom from anchorage, strandage, sedage, lastage, and quayage were added by the charters of 1331 and 1334. Burgesses may similarly have been exempt from most of Hull's shoreand port-duties, but in the 15th century there are instances of their paying for house-farm at the weigh-house, and Hull ships were subject to the charge for ships lying in the haven.
Hull burgesses did not, however, after 1299 necessarily enjoy exemption from local customs in every other port, any more than the burgesses of other places did in Hull by virtue of similar charters giving general quittance from tolls. Such charters did not take effect in ports which already possessed the right to levy tolls. (fn. 434) Southampton had been granted that right in 1199, and it did not accord exemption to Hull by reason of a charter given a century later. In such cases it was the practice for mutual exemption to be settled by agreement, but no such agreement seems to have been reached with Southampton. In 1455 Hull ordered its brogger to take tolls from all 'foreigners' coming to market by water, including, it was stressed, the men of Southampton until it should be decided that the burgesses of Hull were exempt there too. (fn. 435) Another, earlier, dispute concerned Barton on Humber (Lincs.) where Hull men were being made to pay tolls in 1314. (fn. 436) A reciprocal agreement was, however, made between Hull and Scarborough as early as 1305, and confirmed in 1455, and another was made with Dunwich (Suff.) in 1458. (fn. 437)
In addition to the merchants of individual ports, certain privileged tenants throughout England could claim exemption from tolls in Hull, as in other ports. Such claims did not always go uncontested. The rights of the men of the Duchy of Lancaster in Hull were involved in the dispute of 1455, and Hull ordered that tolls should be taken from them on the ground that the town's right to levy tolls was older than the Duchy's right to exemption; the town was prepared to contest any resultant action at law, provided that its ancient rights were thought to give it a basis for so doing. (fn. 438) In 1477–8 Hull was in dispute with Pontefract, and the common clerk was in London in 1479–80, negotiating 'for the tolls of the Duchy of Lancaster'. (fn. 439) Henry VII, however, ordered that the men of the Duchy should enjoy their quittance from tolls at Hull. (fn. 440) Hull's attempts at a comprehensive imposition of tolls in 1455 may have provoked a subsequent agreement with other tenants who claimed exemption—those in the Ancient Demesne of the Crown. Thus an agreement was made with Blythburgh (Suff.) in 1475. (fn. 441) In 1458–9, however, Hull was laying claim to tolls from the tenants of Wakefield. (fn. 442)
The first of the duties known to have been collected in Hull in the 14th century were pavage and murage, for the upkeep of the streets and walls. The collection of tolls for pavage was first authorized in 1300 and for murage in 1321, and the last of a series of royal grants expired in 1370 and 1406 respectively. (fn. 443) Rates were set down for tolls to be taken on all goods coming to the town for sale, by sea as well as by land. (fn. 444) A detailed account by the collector of pavage and murage in 1361–2 showed separate receipts from wool, skins, cloth, and woad; it also included an ad valorem duty on various other goods (diverses darres), and charges on wool for cranage and for the fabric of Holy Trinity Church. (fn. 445) The chamberlains normally accounted for unspecified pavage and murage, but in 1321–4 they recorded receipts from, amongst others, wool, hides, skins, wine, and woad; and in 1354–5 they specified the pavage and murage of wool, hides, skins, cloth, herrings, and lead, as well as an ad valorem duty on other goods. (fn. 446)
Even after the last grants had expired, the chamberlains still recorded receipts of 'pavage and murage'. In 1423–4, however, these words were crossed out and 'tolls and measures in the water' inserted; (fn. 447) thereafter, with some variations, this was the usual description of these duties. The town was thus collecting local customs in the early 15th century, and it may have done so earlier. If the practice began in the late 14th century, the grant of the haven to the town in the charter of 1382 (fn. 448) may give a clue. It is not clear by what royal authority these tolls were taken, if indeed they were not of local origin; but the right to levy tolls may have been considered as one of the 'liberties and free customs belonging to a free borough' granted in the charter of 1299.
The tolls were presumably taken on all goods passing through the town. One possible list of the rates charged is comprised in a lengthy ordinance of 1351, (fn. 449) in which the town officers, 19 named burgesses, and the whole of the commons agreed on the 'assize' for nearly 90 commodities, both English and foreign. Three groups of collectors were appointed, including several prominent merchants, for the assize on different kinds of goods. The ordinance went on to list various other assizes which may in turn be the origin of the fines collected from unfree craftsmen and tradesmen in the town. (fn. 450) One other reference to rates of toll is made in 1474, when tolls for the export of corn were revised. (fn. 451)
It is not clear what relationship existed between the local customs as such, and the duty known as 'brocage' or 'correctage'. Officers called 'correctors' are first mentioned in the 14th-century custumal, where rates were laid down for the charges to be taken on 23 commodities in return for their work (pour lour office faire). (fn. 452) One further rate was 3d. in the pound on 'all kinds of other goods'. Both the chamberlains in 1354–5 and the collector of pavage and murage in 1361–2 accounted for duties charged on various unspecified goods at the rate of 2d. in the pound value; (fn. 453) on neither occasion was a name given to the duty, but it was presumably brocage. Again, in 1374, when the king ordered Hull to stop imposing brocage on the imports of Hanse merchants, it was described as a duty of 2d. in the pound. (fn. 454) It seems likely that brocage was connected with the supervision of sales and that the brogger—as the corrector was usually known —acted as an intermediary between denizens and alien merchants. (fn. 455) The proceeds in 1361–2 were nearly £5, but when the chamberlains accounted for correctagium in 1394–5 and later it usually produced only a few shillings and sometimes nothing at all. The duty is last separately mentioned in 1427–8 when the proceeds were as much as £3. In the 1430s the profits of the office of brocage of goods (de officio brogagii mercandizarum) were included with the tolls. (fn. 456) Though the brogger's office in Hull apparently originated in connexion with the supervision of the sale of merchandise, it was with the collection of tolls that it became most prominently concerned. (fn. 457)
It was the brogger who throughout the 15th century remained responsible for collecting the 'tolls in the water', and who towards the end of the century began to be alternatively known as the water-bailiff. (fn. 458) When the rates were set down in 1575 it was said that tolls were collected by the water-bailiff according to an order made in 1441, (fn. 459) but this was clearly not the beginning of either tolls or the brogger's collection of them. Tolls in the market-place were separately collected by the market-keeper, and these were presumably the rates for 'the gatherer of the toll' that were set down in 1437–8: they were for animals, fish, wool, and cloth, and for stallage. (fn. 460) The brogger, who was usually a salaried officer but occasionally a lessee, seems to have operated from the chain tower in the town wall, at the mouth of the haven. (fn. 461) In 1461 he rented from the corporation the house next to the 'brogger tower', and in 1465 he was using the 'toll tower'. (fn. 462)
Various shore-duties were collected at the woolhouse, or weigh-house, for the measuring, weighing, carrying, and storage of goods. Measuring is first mentioned in 1387, when it was ordered that only the common measures of the town should be used for corn, malt, salt, and other goods measured in the haven. (fn. 463) Cranage for wool was already being charged in 1361–2. (fn. 464) A weigh-house was built in the mid-14th century; (fn. 465) it was subsequently used for most bulky goods and for strangers' merchandise, but Hull men were allowed to use private and common staiths along the river front. An iron beam was ordered to be hung in the weigh-house in 1428–9, together with 'small weights', and strangers' goods were directed to be weighed there alone. (fn. 466) It clearly was difficult in practice to restrict strangers' goods to the weigh-house, for in 1457 the brogger was told to take charges from them, whether the weighing was done at the common beam, at a staith, or in a house. (fn. 467) The charges for weighing were set down in 1430, without reference to specific goods, and also those for the carrying of 16 different commodities by the porters, to and from the scale. The porters' charges were revised in 1437–8, and others were added: for the carrying of over 30 commodities by the catchmen, whose small boats were used in the unloading of ships; for the measuring of salt by the meters, and of corn and malt; and for the cranage and rolling of barrels of wine and oil. (fn. 468) Finally, house-farm for goods stored in the weigh-house was frequently paid, and a short list of rates is recorded in 1480. (fn. 469)
The chamberlains regularly accounted for the profits of the weigh-house, and for the rent of £2 paid jointly by the several wool-porters. With the decline in wool exports, it was decided in 1477 that the porters should pay this rent only when as much as 20 lasts of wool and fells was exported. (fn. 470) The measuring of salt was once recorded separately, as were 'measures' and 'measures in the water'; (fn. 471) but measures, like 'small weights', were usually combined with the brogger's tolls. The measures used by the brogger were often repaired and new ones made, and the stock of the toll-house in 1424–5 comprised various 'mettes', 'pykkes', and 'whasshemesours'. (fn. 472) New coal measures, too, were occasionally provided. (fn. 473) Little is known of the officer in charge of the weigh-house before the mid-15th century: in 1430 goods were weighed by the town's 'deputy', and occasionally the brogger was also the weigh-house keeper. A separate keeper was certainly appointed towards the end of the century, and his fee is first recorded in 1497–8. (fn. 474) In the second half of the 15th century the keeper normally accounted separately for the profits from goods stored in the weigh-house, from the common crane, and from the common beam for foreign merchandise. (fn. 475)
Several port-duties were imposed in the 15th century on ships in the haven. The first attempt to limit the stay of ships there was made in 1428–9: none was to ride for more than one tide between the haven mouth and the northernmost post of Grimsby Staith. An order of 1442 was apparently less stringent, declaring that aliens should not keep their ships in the haven south of the weigh-house for more than two tides, but it is possible that this order was additional to the first. And in 1452 'foreigners' were ordered not to keep their ships at the South End jetty for more than two tides, nor burgesses for more than three. (fn. 476) From 1451–2 onwards the chamberlains accounted for fines from ships lying at various jetties, in the haven as well as at the South End. (fn. 477)
The need for repairs to the haven and jetties led to the imposition of other duties on ships. Charges were collected from keels and larger ships entering the port in 1443–5, (fn. 478) and in 1464–5 scales of charges were laid down for English and alien ships ranging in size from 10–20 tons to 100 tons and over; keels of over 10 tons passing through the haven without discharging their cargoes were to pay duty too, and the haven work was also to benefit from a levy on the sale of beer. (fn. 479) The chamberlains promptly began to record the collection of these latter duties in 1464–5. (fn. 480) Finally, 'ballast money' began to be collected in 1494–5. (fn. 481)
One other duty on ships was authorized by the king in 1427, in response to a petition from a hermit, Richard Reedbarowe, who had begun to build a beacon at Spurn Head to guide ships into the Humber. The mayor was to take charges from all ships entering the estuary, and the money was to be applied under the supervision of five of the leading merchants of the town—John Tutbury, Thomas Marshall, John Fitling, Robert Holme, and William Robinson. (fn. 482) The duty was presumably to be collected at Hull, but no more is heard of it, and it is not known whether the beacon was ever lit.
Hull's rights to take local customs and duties were for the most part undisputed, but when the archbishops of York in the 14th century renewed their claim to certain liberties in the port, this brought them into conflict with the town as well as the king. (fn. 483) The archbishop's liberties in the River Hull were being infringed in 1306, and later that year he let them out, together with his houses in Hull, for seven years at an annual rent of £13 6s. 8d.; a month later one of the lessees was appointed as the archbishop's bailiff at Hull. A lease in 1309, for three years at £7 6s. 8d. a year, specifically mentioned the right to measure all goods sold 'in the water'. A bailiff was again appointed in 1312, (fn. 484) when this lease expired. The sale of goods in the water was prohibited two years later, after a petition by the burgesses to the Crown had drawn attention to the king's consequent loss of profits in the town. (fn. 485) The archbishop took exception to this prohibition, (fn. 486) but the outcome of his complaint is not known.
The archbishop's bailiff at Hull still had official recognition in 1321, when the king ordered him to help arrest goods in recompence for a Flemish act of piracy. (fn. 487) But it was perhaps in that year that the burgesses petitioned the king about the archbishops' rights in the port and the town: the king had to order the archbishop not to excommunicate 'offenders' while the matter was under consideration. (fn. 488) The town bailiffs petitioned again in 1330, and Crown enquiries were begun which resulted four years later in the archbishop finally losing his claim to take prisage of wine in Hull; (fn. 489) his claim to other privileges vis à vis the town, however, was still maintained. In 1338 Archbishop Melton produced documents in proceedings of the 13th century to support his claim to have coroners at Hull, and to take first taste and pre-emption of wine and other goods brought there for sale. (fn. 490) Melton may also have been the 'William Archbishop' at whose instance the king ordered two Hull men to show why the archbishop should not enjoy first taste and pre-emption; they had disposed of £20worth of corn after it had been bought on the archbishop's behalf. (fn. 491)
The archbishop's liberties were still in dispute in 1370, when he brought an action against the burgesses alleging that they interfered with his right to have deodands, to hold pleas, to measure merchandise, and to take tolls. The burgesses subsequently replied that the archbishops had no rights in the port which Edward I had made in Sayer's Creek. (fn. 492) It may have been to bring an end to the archbishops' various claims that the town was granted the port, in order to improve it 'without impediment', by the charter of 1382. (fn. 493) The charter described the haven as having formerly been called Sayer's Creek but now the River Hull. The diversion of the old river into a new course along Sayer's Creek (fn. 494) may have been a significant factor in the dispute between Hull and the archbishops. Their original liberties in the river, in respect of their lordship of Beverley, lay in the old Hull, and it was their claim to enjoy these liberties in the new river that was for so long in dispute. (fn. 495)
The Regulation of Alien Merchants
The local customs and duties of the town clearly fell most heavily upon alien merchants. Their stay in the port was, moreover, closely supervised. Aliens' hosts in Hull are mentioned as early as 1379 (fn. 496) and hosting may have been the common practice long before 1439, when an Act of Parliament (fn. 497) was given the administrative teeth lacking in earlier Acts which called for hosting. Thereafter, aliens duly presented themselves in the mayor's court where reputable townsmen were appointed as their hosts; they lived in the hosts' houses and acquainted them with all their transactions. (fn. 498) Hosts were obliged to submit to the Exchequer accounts of the dealings of their charges, and eleven accounts of hosts in Hull survive. (fn. 499) All were prominent burgesses, men like Seman Burton, Hugh Cliderowe, and Robert Holme.
The accounts reveal the activities of 54 men, most of them Netherlanders, who were in the town between Easter 1440 and Michaelmas 1441. The goods which they imported and exported were typical of those constantly passing between Hull and the Low Countries. Their imports, all told, were worth about £243, and almost all of them bought goods in Hull to export; eight are shown to have bought nothing, but at least four of these were still in the town. Rarely, however, did they buy to the full value of their sales of imported goods, and the total value of their exports was only some £129. The accounts also frequently give the names of the individual men to whom the aliens sold their imports, suggesting that at this time the 'common purchase' of aliens' goods was not always used.
Hosting seems to have continued for the rest of the century. There are glimpses of it at work in 1449–50; (fn. 500) the mayor and sheriff were disqualified from acting as hosts in 1452, (fn. 501) and this was extended in 1457 to customs officials, the brogger, catchmen, keelmen, and other aliens; (fn. 502) and the order for hosts to be assigned only by the mayor was reaffirmed in 1473. (fn. 503) Hosting was no doubt designed to discourage disorder as well as to facilitate the supervision of trade. A mistrust of aliens is to be seen in the reaffirmation of an old ordinance, in 1450, that 'Dutchmen', Scots, Orcadians, and Icelanders were not to carry weapons in the town. (fn. 504) In 1460 hosts were expected to answer for strangers who stayed for more than one night, and such people were sworn to good behaviour. (fn. 505)
The 'common purchase' of aliens' goods is first mentioned in 1379: it was then decided that the goods should be bought, for the use of the community, by four appointed burgesses and the brogger; any burgess who wanted a share of the goods was to come, within a day and a night, and pay id. for the right to take part, and the mayor and the aliens' hosts were each to have a double share. (fn. 506) An instance of the practice is recorded in 1449, when two Low Countries merchants claimed that the town owed them £2 18s. for herrings bought by the community, together with 7s. which they had incurred in court expenses seeking recompence; they also acknowledged their own debt of £1 1s. in tolls to the brogger. (fn. 507) Again, in 1457 the brogger was ordered to warn burgesses of the arrival in the haven of strangers' goods so that they might either attend themselves or send their pennies 'to the buying thereof'. (fn. 508) Common purchase may well have been difficult to enforce. In 1460 two men privately bought salmon, 'when the goods of all Dutchmen were bought by the mayor and his brethren', and shortly afterwards merchant strangers were ordered to sell their goods only to burgesses, not to native outsiders (fn. 509) —nor, it seems, to the community. In 1481, however, it was decided that the mayor should call together his brethren and other burgesses to buy merchant strangers' goods, 'as is of old time accustomed'. (fn. 510) Goods bought by common purchase may sometimes have proved an embarrassment for the council, as seems to have happened in 1460 over garlic bought for the town; it had to be ordered that nobody should sell any of his own garlic until that belonging to the town had been disposed of, on pain of losing his burgess-ship, and the garlic was ordered to be divided among the community. (fn. 511) Again, in 1440–1 some Rhenish wine was bought for the community at a cost of £30; but when it was subsequently sold by retail, the town made a loss of £7. (fn. 512)
The imposition of charges for the weighing of strangers' goods has already been noticed. As a corollary to this it was necessary to insist that goods were landed before being sold. In 1314 both alien and English merchants were ordered not to sell goods on board ship, though contracts for sale might be made there. (fn. 513) Again, in 1440, aliens were forbidden to sell their goods before they were landed, (fn. 514) though earlier it seems that Hanse merchants were allowed to sell certain goods on board the lighters (luchteschepen) as well as on land. (fn. 515) It was further ordered, in 1486, that inhabitants along the haven side must not take up strangers' goods from the river, unless the porters were there to do their work. (fn. 516) The sale of goods before they were landed led to an angry exchange between York and Hull in 1463. It was rumoured in York that Hull had made ordinances which allowed York citizens to traffic with merchant strangers in Hull, contrary to the statutes, and the mayor of York made objection. His counterpart in Hull alleged in reply that York citizens had bought much alien merchandise before it was landed and that Hull had forborne to seize the goods, trusting that the York men would reform. (fn. 517)
In some cases aliens were also bound to sell their goods by certain quantities. The merchants of Danzig were so restricted in 1455, and again in 1456 when they were permitted to sell in as small quantities as they wished to burgesses, but only in certain specified amounts to native strangers. (fn. 518) In the 1480s, when Hull was disputing Hanse privileges in the port, (fn. 519) this question was raised again. Hull was prepared in 1482 to allow Hanse merchants to sell merchandise to any stranger in gross and fish by the barrel; and Hanse shipmen and mariners to sell whatever goods they had, unless the quantities were so small that several lots had to be sold together. Agreement on this occasion broke down because Hull would not permit the sale of train-oil. (fn. 520)
Though most aliens in Hull were merely visiting merchants, some were accepted as residents and even burgesses. Conrad de Alemannia is described in 1309 as a burgess and merchant of Hull; (fn. 521) Tidman Smythus, another German merchant, acquired a tenement in High Street in 1350; (fn. 522) and 'Dutchmen' and a Gascon were made burgesses in the early years of the 15th century. (fn. 523) Other resident aliens were in more humble occupations, like the Scots who arrived in 1443 and 1444 with 'charters' from the Earl of Northumberland and were therefore allowed to stay. (fn. 524) Several of the 'Dutchmen' were beer-brewers: William Beerbrewer in 1428, Giles Beerbrewer, Peter Henrison, and Peter Simonson in 1453, and Brand, William, and the elder and younger Peter Beerbrewer in 1481. (fn. 525) In the later 15th century most of Hull's aliens were apparently from the Low Countries and Scotland; occasionally they may have come from further afield, like the dozen Icelanders who paid the alien subsidy in 1465–6. (fn. 526)
The aliens living in the town were normally only a small group. The number of householders paying the alien subsidy fluctuated between 17 and 24 in the 1440s, falling to 12 in 1453–5 and 1459–60, 10 in 1465–6, and 6 in 1483–5. The number of non-householders over the same period was between 12 and 28. (fn. 527) A similarly small number of aliens, 18 to 20 in all, is shown in the assessments to raise soldiers in Hull in 1481 and 1483; they were rated more highly for this purpose than were denizens. (fn. 528) The reduction in their numbers accords with the pattern of the town's oversea trade in the second half of the 15th century. Earlier in the century there may well have been more of them, and indeed in the summer of 1443 there was a considerable influx: 56 householders and 65 other aliens then paid the subsidy. (fn. 529)
The Admiralty of the Humber
Seafaring men in the port were concerned with one other jurisdiction, that of the king's Admiral or his deputy. Maritime offences and disputes throughout England were dealt with by the Admiralty court, which had been instituted about 1350 because of the difficulty of dealing with piracy claims involving foreign governments. Until then some ports had 'marine' courts of their own to deal with maritime matters, and the Hull town court, with its provision for sitting from tide to tide, may well have been competent in this respect. (fn. 530) Piracy claims before the mid-14th century had been dealt with by the common law courts or by Chancery. (fn. 531) After about 1350 the court of Admiralty presumably began to exercise its responsibility in Hull, though it may not at first have had all the functions that it later enjoyed. Thus the seizure and sale of deodands, even in maritime cases, may have been carried out by the king's coroner; in 1383 it was reported that 'divers deodands often fell to the king in that port, and were by the coroner seized into the king's hand according to the duty of his office'. (fn. 532)
By at least the 1380s, however, piracy claims involving Hull men were certainly being heard in the court of Admiralty, and Hull was playing a part in the local administration of the court's work. A Hull merchant had been charged with piracy by an alien and had been attached to reply in the borough court in the Guildhall; there, twelve Hull men declared his innocence. Early in 1387 this outcome was communicated to the Lord Chancellor by the mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses, and by the lieutenant of the Admiral of the North; the lieutenant was himself a leading Hull burgess, Walter Frost. (fn. 533) In 1404 John Tutbury and William Terry were appealing in the Admiralty court against the judgment of the Admiral of the North in a case about the 'spoiling or detention' of goods. (fn. 534) Again, in 1407 four Hull merchants appealed against the judgment of the Admiral of England, and they were still appealing in 1409, about the fees that they had been obliged to pay to the court. (fn. 535)
The town council was already seeking to resist and appropriate the local Admiralty jurisdiction in 1443–4, when an indenture concerning the office was drawn up between the town and Sir John Salvayn, (fn. 536) who was perhaps the Admiral's deputy. The letters patent of 1447, (fn. 537) however, authorized the town to appoint an Admiral for the Humber only after the death of the Admiral of England, John, Duke of Exeter, and of his son Henry. Nevertheless, the town succeeded in acquiring the office in 1452, apparently taking the place of Thomas, Lord Richemount Grey, as deputy. (fn. 538) In that year Henry, Duke of Exeter, appointed the mayor and aldermen as his deputies for Hull, Drypool, and the Humber. (fn. 539) The town agreed to pay him £5 6s. 8d. a year for a term of four years. Orders were made for the holding of an Admiralty court, for the fees and profits to be received, for a prison to be assigned by the mayor, and for the appointment of a commissioner to act as Admiral on the town's behalf. The first commissioner was Hugh Cliderowe and he was to receive half the net profits: the other half was to go to the commons. (fn. 540) The first profits of the office were made the same year. (fn. 541)
Later in 1452 the Duke of Exeter committed the Admiralty of the Humber to Sir John Gower, and in 1454 Gower renewed the appointment of the mayor and aldermen as deputies, this time for seven years and at a farm of £4 a year. (fn. 542) A room at the top of the Guildhall tower was appointed as an Admiralty prison in 1456. (fn. 543) The Admiralty of the Humber seems next to have passed to John, Lord Neville, and he wrote to Hull asking how he could be of assistance in the matter. (fn. 544) By 1460, however, the town's rights were challenged by a new deputy, Thomas, Lord Egremont. When he came to Hull to hold the Admiralty court the town at first refused him admission, but the king ordered the town to let Egremont in, if he came peaceably, and to show him evidence why he should not hold the court: if they could not agree the king's council would decide the matter. Hull did admit him but was adamant about the court. (fn. 545) This dispute was evidently solved, for the office was retained by the town (fn. 546) and commissioners were appointed in 1462, 1486, and 1488: it was not, it seems, an annual appointment. Neither, clearly, was it yet the practice, as it was to become later, to regard the mayor himself as the executive officer for the Admiralty of the Humber. The seven known commissioners in the 15th century were all prominent aldermen, but only the last— John Dalton in 1488—was appointed while he was mayor. (fn. 547) One of the commissioners, Seman Burton, is seen at work about 1480, hearing a case against a Danzig shipmaster in the Hull court. (fn. 548)
Throughout the Middle Ages Hull remained a leading port and trading centre for the North of England. Its oversea trade will call for special attention. (fn. 549) As a centre of collection and distribution it served as the 'outport' of Beverley and, above all, York, and it cast its net from Leicestershire and Derbyshire to Westmorland and Durham. In the 14th century it served the needs of the royal courts whenever they were at York, and the king's armies in Scotland. (fn. 550) The destinations of wine imported into Hull well illustrate the extent of the town's sphere of influence. Some went to the king at York or on expedition towards Scotland; some supplied royal manors as close as Burstwick and as distant as Colwick (Notts.); some went to the archbishops of York and the abbots of Fountains, Rievaulx, and Durham; more found its way to the de Lisle household at Cromwell (Notts.), to Lincoln, to Pontefract and Knaresborough, and to Whitby, Berwick, and Newcastle. (fn. 551) When Richard de la Pole, having been the king's deputy butler at Hull, became royal butler in 1327, he raised the salary of his successor at Hull expressly because 'he was much more troubled than the other deputies by going so often to York, Pontefract, Nottingham, &c. to survey and dispose of the king's stores there'. (fn. 552) Other goods passing through Hull included cider from Burgundy for the king, stockfish for Fountains Abbey and Durham, (fn. 553) and timber for Tattershall Castle (Lincs.); no doubt the whole range of Hull's imports made similar journeys.
Some of these goods found their way to and from Hull by sea, though coastal, in contrast to foreign, trade is poorly documented. Thus Durham Abbey put at least some of its wine from Hull into ships sailing to Newcastle. (fn. 554) Inland, rivers were of special importance to Hull's trade, above all the Ouse and Trent and their tributaries converging on the Humber; closer at hand, the River Hull itself served Beverley. Wool for export from Hull was passing by water from Lincoln in 1360, (fn. 555) doubtless along the Foss Dike and the Trent; and merchants of Hull were among those concerned at the obstruction of the Foss Dike. (fn. 556) Lead from Derbyshire (fn. 557) was presumably also carried on the Trent, and victuals collected at Hull for the forces in France in 1351 no doubt came at least in part by river from the East, West, and North Ridings, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire. (fn. 558) For York the River Ouse was a vital link with Hull and the sea. (fn. 559)
For long journeys with bulky goods, rivers were the routes chiefly used, but roads were not entirely disregarded, especially for more local trade. The improvement of roads leading to the port was one of Edward I's first public works after taking it over in 1293, though the work does not seem to have been carried out until the early years of the 14th century. (fn. 560) Merchants who had experienced the rigours of the roads often made bequests for their repair. John Tutbury left £10 for the 'ruinous and dangerous' roads within thirty miles of Hull; John Gregg gave £19 for the roads to Anlaby, Bilton, and Beverley, and his widow Joan bequeathed £9 for the same purpose as well as £1 10s. to repair two bridges; (fn. 561) Robert Holme left £26-odd, and John Garton £25. (fn. 562)
If 'merchandising', at home and abroad, provided either directly or indirectly the livelihood of most of the inhabitants of Hull, it is nevertheless difficult to estimate how many people were involved. Though occupations are so infrequently stated in the register of freemen, the admissions do suggest that the mercantile trade group was easily the largest. Between 1370 and 1499 133 merchants and mercers, and 162 mariners and shipmen were admitted. (fn. 563)
Manufactures had only a small place in the town's economy. Some cloth was certainly made but there are no means of discovering how much. An aulnage account of 1378–9 records the sealing of 504½ cloths in the East Riding, and it includes the names of several merchants of Hull, such as Simon Grimsby, Walter Dymelton, William Terry, and William Bate. These men presumably paid the tax for the sealing of cloth which they had bought from weavers, and no doubt the cloth came from the countryside as well as from Hull itself. (fn. 564) Again, in the 1470s the accounts name Nicholas Elys, a prominent merchant, Thomas Bury, and William Wythornwyk, elsewhere described as a yeoman, (fn. 565) as having cloths sealed at Hull. (fn. 566) Much of the 'Hull' cloth recorded in these accounts may, in fact, have been made in Beverley. (fn. 567)
There are, however, occasional glimpses of the textile workers of the town, beyond the bare mention of their existence. Searchers for the weavers' craft were sworn in 1454–5 and 1459; (fn. 568) drapers weaving in Hull are referred to in 1459; (fn. 569) weavers and fullers were forbidden to make cloth in their houses in 1477–8; (fn. 570) and cloths were hung on the town walls to dry in 1481, by two fullers, and stretched there in 1482–4, by the shearmen. (fn. 571) Not until the end of the 15th century are there surviving ordinances of the textile crafts: those of the weavers, drawn up in 1490, and of the fullers and shearmen, in 1498. (fn. 572) At the same time, what appears to have been a sale hall for cloth makes its appearance: in 1498–9 £3 was received by the chamberlains for cloth lying in 'the new hall'. (fn. 573)
The admissions of new freemen might have given a clearer picture of the textile, and all other, trades were it not that so few occupations are stated. (fn. 574) Only 48 men admitted between 1370 and 1499 were described as weavers, dyers, fullers, or shearmen; and the small numbers admitted in the leather and metal trades give little hint of manufacturing on any scale. For the rest, the admissions suggest only the basic urban occupations: there are 48 tailors in the textile group over the whole period, 16 shoemakers in the leather, 39 bakers and butchers in the provision, 11 wrights and tilers in the building, and 17 barbers in the miscellaneous group.
Not all the tradesmen and craftsmen took the step of becoming burgesses. The alternative was apparently to pay a regular 'fine'. From 1394–5 the chamberlains accounted for fines made before the mayor, and from 1422–3 they are specified as 'of men not burgesses'. (fn. 575) The origin of this practice may lie in the ordinance of 1351 which perhaps also inaugurated the payment of local customs in the town. (fn. 576) After listing the 'assize' to be paid on a wide variety of goods, the ordinance went on to fix the assize for various occupations. Some, like the metal-workers, were to pay ½d. a week for their shops, others a 1d. a week or, like the masons, 1d. a month; the bakers were to pay according to the amount of corn they bought, the tailors and shoemakers according to the quantity of goods they made; shipmasters or owners were to pay for cargoes sent elsewhere in England or to Gascony and Flanders, and for coal fetched from Newcastle; keels and small boats going out of the haven were charged, and catchmen, or lightermen, and wool-porters were to pay on the goods they shifted; and a payment was to be made for brick-kilns. More than twenty collectors were named. Fines from non-burgesses continued to be taken throughout the 15th century, but in 1467 the rule was relaxed in favour of men who, though unfree, were tenants of property belonging to the community; (fn. 577) at a period of decline in the town's prosperity, this was apparently a gesture to those among the poorer inhabitants who already paid rent to the town.
Admissions to the Freedom, 1370–1499 (fn. 951)
There were also other ways in which non-burgesses were mulcted of fines. From 1451–2 the chamberlains received fines for the opening of new shops by unfree inhabitants, and from 1486–7 strangers, too, were allowed to pay for this privilege. (fn. 578) These fines suggest no startling innovations in the town's economy: the new shopkeepers were such as tailors, shoemakers, pursers, saddlers, shearmen, mercers, and coopers. (fn. 579) More unusual was John Thursby, fined 3s. 4d. in 1453 for the right to practise as a glazier. (fn. 580) After 1445–6 strangers were also licensed by fine to sell goods in the town, (fn. 581) presumably by retail. Both aliens and natives took advantage of this concession: in 1449–50 licences were given, among others, to a Danziger, three 'Dutchmen' who wanted to sell herrings, men of Newport (Flanders) and Dordrecht, and others from Cromer (Norf.) and Dunwich (Suff.). (fn. 582)
Infringements of the rule that strangers might not retail goods without a licence may not have been uncommon. In the 1470s, however, the corporation found it necessary to single out the men of Scarborough for special prohibition: in 1471 Scarborough merchants were ordered not to keep shops in Hull, and in 1473 it was also enacted that the prices of their goods should be fixed by the mayor and that they should buy goods only from burgesses. (fn. 583) One cause of trouble was apparently the practice by which Scarborough men, having become burgesses of Hull, offered favours to men from their home town. In 1480, for example, one such burgess broke both his burgess's oath and the town ordinances by taking herrings and other goods from Scarborough men to sell as if they were his own. (fn. 584)
Beyond the limits of the walls and the haven, some townsmen found employment and profit in the territory of Myton. Thus a few men were employed in brick-making. To the north of the town the Poles had a tilery in Trippett, (fn. 585) and on the west was the king's tilery, in operation by 1303. The royal tilery was then already let to the town, and it continued in the town's management throughout its existence. (fn. 586) Its output in 1303–4 was 54,350 bricks and in 1304–5 92,000. (fn. 587) The site was apparently extended in 1321–4, (fn. 588) and there is reference to a new tilery under construction in 1356. (fn. 589)
No more is known of the tilery until 1394–5; in that year 72,000 bricks were made and, together with 46,000 remaining from the previous year, all were being kept for town work. (fn. 590) The number of bricks made is known for eight other years: it was 93,200 in 1422–3, 100,000 in 1423–4, 70,000 in 1424–5, 103,000 in 1426–7, 98,000 in 1427–8, 140,000 in 1429–30, 105,000 in 1430–1, and 105,000 in 1432–3; all of these bricks were sold, at 5s. a thousand. The kiln was apparently not at work in either 1407–8 or 1409–10, and in both 1422–3 and 1424–5 it was operated at a loss. (fn. 591) When bricks for town work were bought from outside, the price was often lower than that charged at the town's tilery; some of these purchased bricks may have come from Beverley, whence a brick-maker was fetched to supervise the Hull tilery in 1424–5 after 10,000 bricks had been spoiled in the kiln. (fn. 592) It thus seems likely that the brickyard was proving uneconomical, and by 1424–5 part of it was already being used as a rubbish dump. (fn. 593) In the 1430s the tilery was used only for herbage, and by the 1450s it was the town's principal rubbish dump; (fn. 594) in 1452–3 2,000 bricks for repairs had to be bought at Beverley, and in 1455–6 some came from Beverley and others from a brickyard still in operation in Trippett. (fn. 595)
Other economic activity outside the town walls was centred on the lime-kiln and the mills. The kiln is mentioned in the 1430s when an earlier ordinance concerning the lime-burners' prices was also confirmed. (fn. 596) Several windmills stood around the town, and for a time there was a water-mill on the Old Hull, built on the king's instructions in 1304–5. (fn. 597) Finally, though agriculture was of only minor importance in the town's economy, a number of townsmen had interests in the meadows, pastures, and commons lying north and west of the walls, in Myton. The tenants of the Pole family's land there and the suitors in its manorial court were mainly men from the town, some of them prominent merchants, (fn. 598) and land in Myton was devised in the wills of several Hull men. (fn. 599) In many cases their interests took the form of common rights in Myton Carr, where horses, cows, and above all sheep were pastured; frequently they also had sheepcotes in association with their rights in the carr. (fn. 600)
The lack of manufacturing industry on any significant scale, and the almost complete dependence of the town's economy on foreign trade and commerce, may be responsible for the apparent absence of a highly-organized craft structure in Hull. There is no record of a craft guild in existence in the 14th century, only the possibility that several religious guilds may have provided a cloak under which craftsmen were meeting— the Holy Trinity guild (founded in 1369), for shipmen, (fn. 601) St. John the Baptist's guild, for tailors, (fn. 602) and the Corpus Christi guild (founded in 1358), for merchants. The rules of the latter provided for loans to be made to members but included the suggestive clause that no money belonging to the guild should be risked in trade overseas. (fn. 603) The guild of the Virgin Mary (founded in 1357) may also have had such a secular purpose, for it too allowed loans to its needy members to trade with (ad mercandisandum). (fn. 604) By the later 15th century many of its members, though not all, were merchants, and its stock was being lent to finance members' oversea trade: in 1463, for example, three men borrowed money for voyages to Iceland to buy stockfish and one to go to Zeeland for wine. (fn. 605)
Craft guilds as such seem to have existed by 1412–13 when it was ordered that searchers should be chosen for each craft. (fn. 606) In 1421 it was laid down that each should have two searchers, sworn before the mayor, and that no one might set up a business or open a shop before his competence had been tested by the master and searchers of the appropriate craft; the admission fee was fixed at 3s. 4d. for denizens and double that for aliens. (fn. 607) An individual guild is first mentioned in 1442, when the mayor and sheriff were assigned the fines and profits of the tipplers' guild, (fn. 608) and the actual appointment of searchers in 1454–5, when two were sworn for the weavers. (fn. 609) A tilers' guild was apparently either founded or refounded in 1476. Eleven years earlier Robert Gylliott was adjudged to have offended against the mayor by making an ordinance that only masons and not tilers should lay a trough in a church, and by breaking his promise not to set up a light before St. Gabriel in Holy Trinity Church. In 1476, at the special request of the tilers, it was agreed that the mayor should assign two searchers to each craft, perhaps because the appointment of searchers had lapsed. At the same time annual payments were fixed for master tilers, their servants, and foreign tilers to give to the 'Gabriel Light' in Holy Trinity, and half of the fines of the guild were to be used in the same way: the rest were to go to the town. (fn. 610)
These may be regarded as rudimentary craft ordinances for the tilers, and similar orders for the catchmen were made in 1499. Two of the six appointed catchmen were chosen to 'have rule of the ballast' in the haven; half of their fines were to go to a light to be set up by them, and again half to the town. (fn. 611) The 1490s also saw the establishment of detailed ordinances for four crafts—the weavers' in 1490, the fullers' and shearmen's in 1498, and the glovers' and the merchants', both in 1499. (fn. 612) The first three each had an alderman and two searchers, and each maintained a light in Holy Trinity—the weavers before St. Peter, the fullers before St. Christopher, and the glovers before Our Lady of Pity. Their ordinances were largely concerned with the apprenticeship and examination of masters, and the employment of apprentices and servants. Most of their fines were to be divided in the usual way. The weavers had a stock for the benefit of their officers and members. The powers of the fullers' aldermen and searchers in examining cloth were limited to the workmanship: they were not to be concerned with the assize, which was the responsibility of searchers appointed by the corporation.
The merchants had ordinances of a more special kind. They took the name of St. George's guild, and their officers were an alderman and two stewards. Members' contributions were to be used to pay a priest to celebrate each day at the altar of St. John the Baptist and St. George in Holy Trinity Church. The remaining four clauses were designed to maintain the exclusiveness of the merchants. Members of various crafts had apparently been buying and selling goods other than those proper to their own crafts: only merchants might have such wide interests. The restriction on merchant strangers' trade, always a feature of the town's regulations, (fn. 613) was confirmed: no Englishman was to sell goods on behalf of a stranger or to 'be as brogger' between stranger and stranger. Furthermore, merchant strangers were not to open shops or set up stalls, except on market days and in the market-place, unless they were inhabitants in the town. Finally, every merchant living in Hull was to be a brother of the guild.
These ordinances provided the first reference to an organization among the merchants to manage their trade. The town was never granted the right to have a guild merchant, and in its place it was the town council itself which conducted such affairs as the common purchase of goods. (fn. 614)
Foreign trade was the chief foundation of Hull's medieval economy, and its uncertain course dictated the fluctuating fortunes of the town throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. Some attempt must be made to trace its economic basis and its directions; to disentangle the many factors, local and national, on which it depended; and to identify the merchants by whom it was conducted and the ships which carried their goods. Hull's direct trading area in the Middle Ages stretched along the entire coast of Western Europe, from Norway in the north to Portugal, and across the northern sea to Iceland. Towards the end of the 15th century an occasional ship from Hull may have ventured through the Straits of Gibraltar but for the exotic goods of the Mediterranean countries and the East, Hull largely depended on the great entrepôt of the Low Countries. Within these horizons Hull carried on a trade of the greatest variety.
In the far north, it is likely that ships from Hull were among the English vessels which in the 14th century sought fish in Norway, some of it caught off Iceland. They were increasingly hampered, however, by the dues exacted at Bergen and by the exclusiveness of the Hanse which came towards the end of the century to control Bergen's trade. In the early 15th century English merchants and fishermen began to venture directly to Iceland. Already in 1415 Hull was among the east-coast ports from which they sailed, and the 'ship of Robert Holm' which was there in 1420 was most likely from Hull. It was not long before Hull surpassed even King's Lynn in the Iceland trade, though it was itself later to be overtaken by Bristol.
In 1425 a Danish official complained of misdemeanours in Iceland by Englishmen, many of whom were Hull mariners led by John Percy. The Iceland voyage was consequently forbidden and English merchants were ordered to resort once more to Bergen. (fn. 615) There, however, they were maltreated by the Danes, whose kings had come to rule both Norway and Iceland, and it was alleged in 1432 that the merchants of Hull and York alone had in a year been robbed of goods worth £5,000. (fn. 616) In 1430–1 Hull's M.P.s had sought advice in London on the Iceland affair, and in 1432–3 the town sent envoys to London to discuss the difficulties in Norway. (fn. 617) In the event, the Iceland prohibition was ignored, and Hull merchants, goods, and ships were among the many which were arrested and confiscated in the 1430s. In 1436, for example, when a Hull ship bound for Iceland was seized, eleven Hull men were among those with uncustomed goods aboard. (fn. 618)
By the 1440s the issue of trading licences by the kings of England and Denmark had resulted in a marked increase in the Iceland trade, and between 1442 and 1470 at least eleven Hull merchants were among those licensed. (fn. 619) Other ships, moreover, continued to make unauthorized voyages. (fn. 620) A wide variety of foodstuffs, raw materials, and manufactured goods made up the outward cargoes from Hull: corn, meal, honey, beer, malt, and butter; iron (osmund), tar, pitch, and soap; cloth, hats, yarn, kettles, horseshoes, knives, pins, and so forth. In return came whole cargoes of dried stockfish: in August and September 1453, for example, three ships so laden reached Hull, (fn. 621) and in the 1460s and 1470s at least one and sometimes three or four ships made the voyage each year, often bringing well over 100 lasts of fish all told. (fn. 622) The trade attracted many Hull as well as York men, the town's leading merchants among them. William Eland, the M.P., and three future mayors shared the stockfish in the Peter of Hull in 1465, for example, and the outward cargoes in all four ships leaving for Iceland that year went in the name of 'the Mayor and burgesses of Hull'. (fn. 623) London men used Hull, too: a London stockfish-monger, for instance, was one of the owners of goods in the Anthony of Hull when it attempted to sail, unlicensed, for Iceland in 1464. (fn. 624)
After the middle of the century the Iceland trade was increasingly hampered by worsening relations between England and Denmark, and by the growing competition in Iceland from Hanseatic merchants. The Valentine of Hull was one of the ships seized in the Sound in 1468 by the King of Denmark in retaliation for an English act of piracy in Iceland, and Hanse ships took part in the seizure. Licences were still granted—Robert Alcock of Hull received one in 1483, for example—but by the end of the century the trade had greatly declined. The experience of five Hull merchants in 1491 was typical of the frequent clashes between English and Hanse ships: they sailed for Iceland, in two ships, but on the way they were attacked by ships from Hamburg. (fn. 625)
Hull's interest in Scandinavia was not limited to the Iceland connexion, for Norway, Denmark, and Sweden contributed to the merchandise which English ships sought all around the Baltic. Hull was among the ports where the king was seeking falcons, presumably from Norway, in 1316; (fn. 626) a Hull merchant was trading in Norway in 1366; (fn. 627) and the Maryknight of Oslo brought timber, oil, iron, litmus, and various kinds of furs to Hull in 1399. (fn. 628) The iron, the high-quality osmund of Sweden, was distinctively Scandinavian; so were the white herrings of Scania. A Hull ship was wrecked on the Yorkshire coast while bringing a cargo of these herrings from Denmark in 1384, (fn. 629) and herrings have been estimated to comprise over one-third of Hull's imports by value (excluding wine) in the late 14th century. (fn. 630) In 1398–9, for example, herring made up the complete cargoes of eleven ships reaching Hull, and they were also among the goods in several mixed cargoes. Many Hull as well as York merchants took part in this trade; of the 43 men with herrings in the Philip of Hull in 1398, for example, at least ten were of Hull, such prominent merchants as John Birkyn and John Fitling among them. (fn. 631)
For the rest Hull's Baltic imports were of great variety and of less specific provenance. Most prominent were the forest products: timber, pitch, tar, and ashes. Foodstuffs included corn, beer, eels, and sturgeon. And among the raw materials and manufactured goods were wax, furs, candlewick, purses, fish- and seed-oil, thread, copper, gunpowder, 'land iron', grindstones, canvas, and linen cloth. (fn. 632) Timber, whether unworked or made up, was perhaps the most important and constant item in the Baltic cargoes, some of it coming indirectly in ships freighted in the Low Countries; in a full year in 1304–5 Hull imported over 25,000 boards and wainscots, about 600 empty barrels, over 4,200 troughs, bowls, and boxes, 660 lances, and 7,950 bowstaves; in three months in 1401 there arrived about 18,000 wainscots and various kinds of boards, 2,000 spars, 11 masts, 70 bowls, tables, and boxes, 2,000 arrow-shafts, and 7,680 bowstaves. (fn. 633) In monotonous contrast to these imports, Hull's exports to the Baltic were almost entirely textiles—cloths, coverlets, and 'beds'.
A dozen or more Baltic cargoes a year sometimes reached Hull during the 14th century, (fn. 634) and so long as the Hanse dominated the trade of Northern Europe they were no doubt shipped mainly by alien merchants in alien ships. The same was true of the outward cargoes of cloth. (fn. 635) Hanse merchants were sometimes ill-treated in Hull, like those of Hamburg who in 1310 were alleged to have been robbed there; (fn. 636) but the town welcomed their trade, and when in 1312 it was granted that nobody, alien or denizen, might be prosecuted in Hull for someone else's debts or trespasses, Hull asked for this to be made public in Stralsund and other Hanse towns. (fn. 637) Even at this period, however, some Englishmen entered the Baltic, like the Hull merchant whose ship was seized off Hamburg on a voyage from Eastland in 1308. (fn. 638) As the English challenge to the Hanse gathered strength in the late 14th century, moreover, Hull ships and merchants increasingly traded with the Baltic. Thus in 1364 six local men were licensed to export cloth to Prussia and Eastland; (fn. 639) and while only one local ship brought a Baltic cargo in 1398–9, as many as eight did so in three months of 1401. (fn. 640) The great rise in the number of cloths exported from Hull between 1360 and 1400 (fn. 641) was largely the result of this growing Baltic trade. Henceforth the privileges of English merchants in the Baltic and of the Hanse in England were continually in dispute. (fn. 642)
The first evidence of animosity towards the Hanse in Hull is the imposition of a custom called 'brocage' on German merchants' goods; the king ordered Hull to desist from this practice in 1374. (fn. 643) In the seventies and eighties, however, Hull and York played a prominent part in the piracy and reprisals which preceded the treaty of 1388. (fn. 644) At this time the Hanse merchants trading with Hull seem to have kept one of their number as a representative there, for in 1383 Johan Heket was described as the 'eldest merchant of Hull'. (fn. 645) Privateering made its appearance at Hull in 1387 when four local men, including William Terry and John Tutbury, were licensed for a year to equip ships to safeguard merchants at sea 'in the northern parts' and to destroy the king's French and Scottish enemies. (fn. 646) When friction with the Hanse was renewed in the nineties, Tutbury was one of the Hull men whose goods were seized, (fn. 647) and he and Terry returned to piracy, this time without license, in 1402. (fn. 648) They seized a Liibeck ship in 1406 and one from Hamburg in 1408. Lawrence Tutbury also engaged in piracy and with two other Hull men was ordered to be arrested in 1406 as the result of information laid in Prussia. (fn. 649)
Hanse exports of cloth from Hull, although falling off in the 1370s, continued during this troubled period, and after a new treaty was signed in 1408 they rose to over 1,000 cloths a year in 1414–16. Fresh troubles in the 1420s, worsening in the 1430s, led to a catastrophic drop; in several years a mere handful of cloths, or none at all, were sent out by Hanse merchants. (fn. 650) At the same time Hull and other English merchants had goods seized on their way from the Baltic; in the twenties both John Tutbury and John Bedford had their ships taken, for example. In their turn Prussian ships were pirated by Hull men, Hugh Cliderowe and John Tutbury among them. (fn. 651) For Hanse merchants in Hull a new treaty in 1437 brought recovery for that year alone. Hull and Danzig continued to seize each other's goods, and free conducts on both sides were given and sometimes violated. In 1438–9 a group of Hull merchants suffered losses in the Sound which they put at over £2,100. (fn. 652) Relations steadily worsened, to culminate in naval war in the sixties and seventies, and in 1468–9 it was the turn of Hanse merchants to submit a long list of alleged losses at Hull. (fn. 653) Both Hanse and English cloth exports from Hull were now subject to violent fluctuations. Eventually, in 1470–4, Hanse exports were cut off completely and English merchants, probably mainly confined to non-Hanseatic markets, exported in five years as much as they had frequently done in a single year in the first half of the century. (fn. 654) The number of Baltic cargoes reaching Hull similarly declined: four in six months in 1453, three in six months in 1465, none in two months in 1473; and as English ships were progressively excluded, so the remaining cargoes were carried in Danzig ships in the names of Hanse merchants. (fn. 655)
The peace treaty signed in 1474 almost completely restored the old Hanse privileges in England. Additional guarantees were given by the east-coast ports, including Hull, (fn. 656) and special allowances of customs seem to have been made to Hanse merchants at Hull and elsewhere. (fn. 657) Hanse cloth exports from Hull immediately jumped to the level reached in the early years of the century, and a steep increase in wax imports in the 1490s is further witness of Hanse activity in Hull. (fn. 658) The renewed Hanse trade was not maintained without fresh disputes. Ships and goods were seized at Hull in the eighties, and there was some retaliation by the Hanse. Hull's actions were based on new demands that Hanse merchants should not export from Hull beyond the value of their imports, and that they should conduct their business solely in the town. (fn. 659) Hull was also embittered by the loss of ships which were said to have been taken by the Danes with Hanse assistance. For a time after 1488 Hanse merchants were advised not to visit Hull, and the dispute dragged on through the nineties. (fn. 660) In 1491 the Hanse put forward a long list of damages suffered in England since 1474, many of them at Hull, and discussions took place in Antwerp between Hanse and English representatives. In 1497 the Hanse were making further complaints against Hull, where there were said to be each year new taxes on visiting merchants.
The occasional English merchant who reached the Baltic at this time was similarly treated; Roger Bushell, of Hull, was attacked at Danzig, and in 1499 he gave evidence of the restrictions placed on his trade by the Easterlings. (fn. 661) English privileges there had, in fact, been ill-defined by the treaty of 1474, and there had been only a partial and temporary recovery in English cloth exports. (fn. 662) The Baltic was practically closed to English merchants.
Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries another of the leading branches of Hull's trade was that with Gascony. Wine from the English province frequently made up complete cargoes, as in 9 of the 15 ships that brought it in 1391–2 and in 16 of the 21 in 1398–9. With wine in the mixed cargoes were oil, soap, wax, rosin, pitch, boxes, Spanish iron, salt, sturgeon, fruit, lampreys, canvas, and dyestuffs. Some of these, too, were Gascon products, but in part they were brought from Spain to be shipped at Bordeaux or, especially, Bayonne. Such was probably the provenance of the saffron, rosin, oil, and honey, as well as the Spanish iron, shipped for Hull in the Katherine of Bayonne in 1392. (fn. 663)
From the first the wine trade was shared by English and alien merchants—vintners of Aquitaine, for example, were authorized to visit Hull in 1310, merchants of Bazas had a cargo of wine pirated at the entrance to the Humber in 1316, and a Gascon merchant had goods stolen in Hull in 1328. (fn. 664) In return visiting merchants took, above all, corn: Aquitaine men were licensed to do so in 1333, for example, and in 1346 Spanish merchants shipped corn for Bordeaux. (fn. 665) For English merchants, too, corn was the largest single export to Gascony, some of it having been already imported from the Baltic.
During the 14th century, indeed, export licences were frequently granted, and so great was Gascony's need that unlicensed shipment was often pardoned even during periods of scarcity in England. A certain amount of cloth was also sent from Hull to Gascony, though this was never one of Hull's principal cloth markets. Other goods sometimes completed the outward cargoes: the Saintmaryship of Hull, for example, on its way to fetch wine in 1398, carried peas, cloth, flax, hides, herrings, and timber. (fn. 666) Licences for the export of corn and cloth, or for the carrying out of money with which to buy wine, show that some of the most substantial Hull merchants were using the Gascon trade, among them Adam Pund, Henry and Robert de Selby, Walter Frost, and John and Walter Hellward. (fn. 667) Again, at the end of the century, John Tutbury, John Birkyn, and John Leversege were among those with wine arriving in the Peter of Hull in 1398. (fn. 668)
During the second quarter of the 14th century, when figures for wine imports became available, Hull's trade was often the second or third largest in the kingdom, sometimes exceeding 2,000 tuns a year. (fn. 669) In the second half of the century the denizen trade cannot be regularly assessed and Hull apparently occupied a lower position judged on alien tunnage alone. (fn. 670) The outbreak of the Hundred Years War in 1337 struck at the whole trade, but after 1339 the alien imports into Hull were most seriously affected and the improved trade during the truce of 1340–5 was largely in English hands. In 1350–1 denizens imported 652 tuns out of a total of 797, and in 1371–2 all of the 464 tuns reaching Hull. When trade recovered towards the end of the century, with the approach of peace in 1396, aliens played little part in it: practically all the 2,985 tuns reaching Hull in 1389–90 were brought by denizens. (fn. 671) Truce did not always guarantee safe trade: the Margaret of Hull was captured in 1385 by French and Spanish ships while on its way from Hull to Bordeaux. (fn. 672) Neither, of course, did peace bring freedom from piracy: in 1415 a Hull ship, John Tutbury's Christopher, was abandoned by the rest of the English wine fleet when attacked by Spanish pirates. (fn. 673)
For the first half of the 15th century Hull's wine imports were often around 1,000 tuns a year, a figure exceeded only by London and sometimes Bristol and Southampton. (fn. 674) The trade fell away after the resumption of war in 1449 and the final English surrender of Bordeaux in 1453, and although it recovered in the last quarter of the century Hull never regained its pride of place. Hull's imports were now only about 500 tuns a year, and the Devon and Cornish ports usually pushed it into fifth place in the 1480s and 1490s. (fn. 675)
From elsewhere in France considerable quantities of both Toulouse woad and Bay salt were used in England, but it is impossible to determine how much of these commodities came directly to Hull: a great deal was shipped from the Low Countries, some of it from other sources. (fn. 676) In the later 15th century, however, Hull certainly shared to some extent in the growing trade between England and Normandy, probably exchanging lead for wine, salt, and onions as was the case in the early 16th century. Between 1460 and 1499 six ships sailed to Hull from Dieppe and one from Rouen. (fn. 677)
The produce of Spain found its way to Hull not only by way of Bayonne but also in ships freighted in the Low Countries; and, though it was not comparable with that of Bristol, a direct trade may also have existed with Spain and Portugal. (fn. 678) Fourteenthcentury references are no more than suggestive of a direct trading link. Spanish merchants were buying corn in Hull in 1346 to ship to Bordeaux; (fn. 679) Geoffrey de Hanby of Hull was in 1364 allowed to take to Flanders 30 tuns of Spanish wine which he had brought to Hull but could not sell there at a fair price; (fn. 680) in 1388 York merchants who had imported wine, oil, figs, and raisins from Portugal were authorized to carry them on from London to Hull or York; (fn. 681) Robert de Cross of Hull and two York merchants in 1395 carried figs and raisins from southern Portugal to Normandy, but after being unloaded there the goods were arrested. (fn. 682) The licence for a Breton merchant to export corn from Hull to Portugal in 1485, (fn. 683) however, is more definite evidence, and complete cargoes of Iberian products reaching Hull also seem likely to indicate direct trade. The George and the Jonet, both of Hull, brought cargoes of Spanish iron in 1392 and 1399 respectively, as did the Leonard of Hull in 1453. Earlier, a Leonard of Hull seems to have commonly made the voyage to Spain; she fetched Spanish and other iron and rosin in 1392, 55 tons of iron and other Spanish goods in 1399, and 66 tons of iron with other goods in 1401. (fn. 684) Finally, figs and raisins found their way to Hull by a circuitous route about 1460: John Hadlesay bought them at Flamborough from pirates who had seized a cargo on its way to London. (fn. 685)
Beyond Spain and Portugal an occasional Hull ship may have penetrated into the Mediterranean Sea in the 15th century. The only definite evidence, however, is a licence granted to John Taverner, of Hull, in 1449 to send goods to Italy through the Straits of Gibraltar. (fn. 686)
Perhaps the strongest branch of Hull's foreign trade was that directly across the North Sea. As the great entrepôt of Western Europe, the Low Countries provided Hull with imports of almost infinite variety; and they supplied a market for Hull's chief exports, wool and cloth. For the greater part of the 14th century only London and Boston exported more wool than did Hull, and in the closing years of the century and for the first three decades of the 15th London alone, and in certain years not even London, surpassed Hull. During the rest of the 15th century Hull took a progressively smaller share of England's declining wool exports as the trade became increasingly based on the southern ports. In the export of cloth Hull did not rank so highly, though it was often, especially in the late 14th and the first half of the 15th centuries, third among the provincial ports. (fn. 687) The Low Countries always took a large part of Hull's shipments of cloth, though not as much as the Baltic until after the closure of the latter in the late 15th century.
Most of the wool exported from Hull was destined for the cloth-making towns of Flanders, Brabant, and Artois. Until 1363 the staple for English wool, whenever the staple system was in force, was usually in the Low Countries, and ships from Hull are to be found carrying wool to Antwerp and Bruges, or simply 'to Flanders'. (fn. 688) Export licences and safe-conducts for ships were frequently granted in the 1330s and 1340s. The recipients included Hull men—Robert de Upsale, for example, had a licence for 300 sacks in 1339 (fn. 689) —and others of Beverley and York. (fn. 690) Merchants from the Low Countries and Germany received licences too, (fn. 691) and wool was shipped from Hull for the overland journey to Italy by way of Flanders: the Bardi and Peruzzi of Florence and merchants of Lombardy all made use of the port. (fn. 692) The alien share of wool exports was considerable in the early 14th century, but it gradually decreased until the trade was almost entirely in English hands in the 15th century. (fn. 693)
The wool trade no doubt attracted the foremost of Hull's merchants throughout the 14th century. In 1324–5 four future mayors shipped wool from Hull, (fn. 694) and Robert de Upsale, already mentioned, also filled the mayoralty. William de la Pole was outstanding. He exported 56 sacks in 1324–5, (fn. 695) but this was a modest quantity compared with his shipments in the thirties and forties. In 1337 he became one of the leaders of the wool company established to finance the war with France, and he personally contributed some 350 sacks to its export that year; all of his wool was sent out from Hull. In 1339 Pole exported 2,377 sacks of wool, which he had received in repayment of loans made to the king; much of it again was shipped from Hull. (fn. 696)
In 1363 the staple was moved to Calais and apart from the period from 1384 to 1392 there it normally remained, under the control of the Merchants of the Staple. (fn. 697) All 22 wool ships leaving Hull in 1378–9 were described as bound for Calais, and Robert de Selby and Walter Frost were among those with goods aboard. (fn. 698) The names of Hull men who traded as Merchants of the Staple during the 15th century continue the list of notables from the town's ruling oligarchy, among them Robert Holme, Robert Auncell, Edmund Copendale, Hugh Cliderowe, and John Swan; (fn. 699) in 1473 four past and future mayors, as well as the M.P. William Eland, had wool in the eight ships that left on 1 September. (fn. 700) Custom-free shipment of wool was occasionally allowed in repayment of loans by Hull and other Staplers, and the mayor and citizens of both Lincoln and Carlisle were afforded a similar privilege at Hull in the 1440s and 1450s. (fn. 701)
Cloth exported from Hull was destined above all for the Baltic and the Low Countries, though it is difficult to determine what proportion went to each. The loss of the Baltic market in the second half of the 15th century (fn. 702) led Hull to concentrate on the Low Countries, but here its merchants were in competition with the already firmlyentrenched Londoners. (fn. 703) Most of Hull's active merchants seem likely to have engaged in this branch of the export trade. In 1391–2, for example, they included William Rolleston, Robert Killingholme, John Birkyn, William Pund, William Terry, Walter Dymelton, John Leversege, and John Tutbury. Among the Hull shippers in 1464 were Edmund Copendale, William Brompton, John Whitfield, and John Hadlesay, and in 1471 William Eland, Roger Bushell and John Recard. (fn. 704)
Hull's other exports to the Low Countries included frequent shipments of corn and hides. In the 14th century licences to export corn, beans, peas, and ale to Holland, Zeeland, or Flanders were granted to several Hull merchants, especially those like Robert de Selby and Walter Frost who carried on a similar trade to Gascony. (fn. 705) The amounts of corn leaving Hull varied greatly from year to year, from as much as almost 8,000 quarters in 1304–5 to only 60 quarters in three months of 1401; and from 204 quarters in 1430–1 to over 1,000 in six months of 1465. (fn. 706) The numbers of hides exported were usually substantial. In 1304–5 there were about 1,400, in 1324–5 1,600, in 1378–9 2,900, in 1401 1,900 in three months, and in 1465 more than 1,100 in six months. (fn. 707) Other goods regularly sent to the Low Countries and elsewhere included coal, lead, thrums, feathers, tallow, and butter; occasional items included tables of alabaster. (fn. 708) So complex, moreover, was the pattern of North European trade that Hull sometimes re-exported to the Low Countries timber and other goods coming from the Baltic, and wine from Gascony. (fn. 709)
Exports of coal, which had probably come by coastal shipping from Newcastle, varied from as little as 10 chaldrons in three months of 1401 to over 100 chaldrons in 1430–1. (fn. 710) Exports of lead were often substantial. In 1304–5 as much as about 63 'carratas' was went out; in 1398–9 the total was only 4 fothers, but in three months in 1401 it was 12 fothers, in six months in 1465 27 fothers, and in two months in 1473 31 fothers. (fn. 711) Most of that shipped in 1473 went in the name of the Mayor and burgesses of Hull. Lead has been estimated to account for 74 per cent. of the value of Hull's exports (excluding wool, cloth, and hides) in 1471–2. (fn. 712) Some of it went to the Low Countries, (fn. 713) and Hanseatic merchants took a substantial share of the lead trade, at least in the late 15th century; in 1492–3, for example, when Hull's lead exports were valued at £1,342, Hansards handled £585-worth, and in 1496–7 they took all £825-worth. (fn. 714)
Ships from the Low Countries probably constituted the largest group of vessels arriving in Hull throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. Often one ship in every two or three brought a mixed cargo from Holland or Zeeland. (fn. 715) Imports included all those products of Iceland, Norway, the Baltic, France, Gascony, Spain, and Portugal which also found their way directly to Hull. To these were added many goods from the Low Countries themselves, or from Germany; others again had come from the Mediterranean or even farther afield. Foodstuffs included apples and salmon; Rhenish wine and vinegar; onions, garlic, and hops; almonds, walnuts, rice, and dates; and various kinds of spices. Among the textile materials and products were Flemish cloth and Cologne hats and thread; linen cloth, towels, and kerchieves; and feather beds and hair. Raw materials included woad, madder, alum, verdigris, and archil; and sulphur and cork. Manufactured goods were more varied still: plates, kettles, pots, and pans; shearmen's boards, shuttles, wool-combs, and teasels; swords and daggers; paper, glass, and copper wire; paving tiles and mustard querns; and at least one image of the Virgin Mary.
Among the more constant items of Hull's miscellaneous imports were salt, woad, and iron, all three coming in part from Low Countries ports. In the early 14th century, when home-produced salt was more than equal to the demand in England, Hull was among the leading exporting ports: over 2,400 quarters of salt, worth £236, left Hull in 1304–5, and £282-worth in 1305–6. Imports were small until late in the century, but in 1398–9 723 quarters of salt, worth £132, reached Hull, and in 1466–7 1,083 quarters. (fn. 716) Some may have been produced in the Low Countries; (fn. 717) some was from Gascony, reaching Hull together with wine, as in two ships in 1401; (fn. 718) but most was from the Bay of Bourgneuf, on the southern borders of Brittany, much of it trans-shipped in the Low Countries. (fn. 719) Though it usually appeared in mixed cargoes, whole shiploads of salt occasionally arrived at Hull: in 1401, for example, William Terry and John Tutbury each brought in a complete cargo. (fn. 720) Some of Hull's imports of woad also came, like salt, in the wine ships from Gascony: two ships were so laden in 1391–2, for example, and the Mary of Hull brought wine, woad, and rosin in 1461. (fn. 721) This was doubtless the woad grown around Toulouse which in the 14th century was replacing Picardy woad in the English market. Some still came from Picardy, however; in 1328, for example, an Amiens merchant shipped woad to Hull from a port in Flanders. (fn. 722) Much more was grown in the Low Countries themselves, appearing as woad of Brabant or 'Ripland'; this was no doubt the woad which Louvain merchants had in Hull in 1355. (fn. 723) About 400 tons were imported at Hull in 1383–4 and 1391–2, about one-quarter of them specifically Brabantine, (fn. 724) and in three months in 1401 81 tons arrived, almost all of Brabant or Ripland. (fn. 725) Complete cargoes of woad were not uncommon—as many as six reached Hull in 1304–5. (fn. 726) Iron was common in Low Countries' cargoes; in 1401, for example, 79 tons of Spanish iron and 60 cwt. of Baltic osmund reached Hull in this way, while 66 tons, in a single ship, probably came directly from Spain, and 59 lasts and 174 barrels of osmund and about 24 lasts of other iron came in ships from the Baltic. (fn. 727) The value of Hull's iron imports has been estimated at 7 per cent. of the value of imports paying poundage or petty custom in 1398–9, and 18 per cent. of that in 1471–2. (fn. 728)
Trade with the Low Countries, throughout the Middle Ages, was conducted against a complex political background. (fn. 729) The activities of both English and alien merchants were frequently interrupted, and there are occasional glimpses of the involvement of Hull men and ships. Thus a Hull merchant had money seized at the exchange in Bruges in 1309; (fn. 730) the Nicholas of Hull was captured by Flemings after leaving Sluys in 1319; (fn. 731) the goods of a Zeelander—mistaken for a Fleming—were arrested at Hull in 1371; (fn. 732) a Hull merchant seized, and took to Hull, a Brittany ship sailing from France to Flanders in 1400; (fn. 733) and Hull men took part in an attack upon a ship of Veere in 1433, (fn. 734) and the piracy of an Amsterdam ship in an Irish port in 1439. (fn. 735)
Among the ships which carried Hull's trade, those belonging to Hull itself formed a large contingent. In the late 14th century and throughout the 15th (fn. 736) nearly half the ships using the port were English, with the Low Countries providing the greater part of the alien vessels, though at times Hanseatic ports were prominent too. (fn. 737) Some twothirds of the English ships were of Hull, with an occasional vessel belonging to nearby places—Grimsby, Beverley, York, Bawtry, Ferriby, Barton on Humber, Hedon. In 1398–9, for example, 47 out of 138 sailings were of Hull ships, with other English vessels contributing 21 and aliens 60. (fn. 738) Most of Hull's ships were of less than 100 tons, but a few were very large—like John Taverner's Grace Dieu, 'as large as a carrack or larger', whose size prevented her from entering the harbour at Calais. Even the big ships had modest capacities: when the Anthony of Hull was seized at Bordeaux in 1456 only 151 tons of her 400 tons burden was occupied by cargo. (fn. 739) The large ships, however, were infrequently seen. When charges were imposed for the repair of the haven in 1464–5, four classes of ship were considered—10 to 20 tons, 20 to 60, 60 to 100, and over 100 tons; (fn. 740) for the larger vessels there was no need to be more precise.
The owners of Hull ships were largely local merchants, some of them having one or more ships but most owning only part shares. Of the more wealthy Hull merchants, John Tutbury, at his death in 1433, had at least four ships, (fn. 741) and William Eland at least three about 1460. (fn. 742) Robert Box, Robert Bysett, and John Rotenhering all had at least one, and Roger Swerd two. (fn. 743) Of the Pole family, William sent two ships on the king's business in 1336, Richard sold another in 1342, and one of Michael's, having been forfeited to the Crown, was sold to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, in 1388. (fn. 744)
Part ownership, however, was common, even among the more prominent merchants of the town. In 1449, for example, four ships were owned by 15 men—five future mayors among them. Again, John Rotenhering devised half and third shares in his Goodyear about 1330, Richard de Birkyn had part of a ship about 1340, and Joan Gregg left a thirty-second part of her George in 1438. (fn. 745) Even John Tutbury's fleet was split up at his death—he left the Gabriel to one owner, but the James and the Goganne each to two men, and two others shared a quarter of the Peter. (fn. 746) Many Hull merchants, however, did not have even a part share in the ownership of a ship; for them the usual practice was no doubt to hire vessels for particular voyages. (fn. 747) Not all of the Hullowned ships were locally built—a ship which had belonged to both Lübeck and Stettin, for example, was forfeited to the Crown and granted to two Hull merchants in 1388. (fn. 748) Hull ships might similarly find their way to other ports, as did the Christopher in 1472, given by a Brabantine man to three Londoners. (fn. 749)
The fluctuations in Hull's trade during the 14th and 15th centuries were influenced by many factors. Oversea markets were opened and closed by England's varying relations with, more especially, the Hansards and the French; the supplies of Hull's chief exports were dependent upon country-wide economic changes which unequally affected the various provincial ports; the growing influence of London towards the end of the Middle Ages reduced Hull's share both of exports and of the oversea markets to which they went; and throughout these centuries the fortunes of Hull were closely tied to those of the manufacturers and merchants of York.
Hull's eminence as a wool port continued right through the 14th century; during the second half of the century cloth, too, rapidly became a major export, much of it going to Hanseatic markets as the English broke into the Baltic trade; and the import of wine, though hampered by wartime conditions after 1337, remained considerable. (fn. 750) Much of this trading activity reflected the power of York, whose merchants came after 1340 to depend almost exclusively on the port facilities of Hull. Royal courts and armies were based there, York merchants dominated the Yorkshire wool trade, and a flourishing export cloth industry developed in the city. (fn. 751) By the last quarter of the century English merchants had substantially wrested the wool trade from alien hands, and York men controlled nearly two-thirds of the trade at Hull; about half of Hull's cloth trade was in the hands of York merchants, and about one-third of her wine imports. In 1398–9 perhaps a half of the total value of Hull's trade was handled by York men. (fn. 752)
The early 15th century brought post-war stability to the Gascon wine trade and saw one notable addition to the voyages made from Hull—the 'Iceland venture'. But the Iceland trade, like that with the Baltic, was a troubled one and it did not see the century out; violence between English and Hanse seamen and merchants eventually culminated in open war in the 1460s and 1470s; and war returned, too, to Gascony in 1449, bringing final defeat for the English at Bordeaux. Towards the end of the century Hull's trade was increasingly funnelled into the Low Countries. The rise and expansion of the English cloth industry, moreover, had not been entirely favourable to Hull: cloth exports did not completely compensate for the failing wool trade, and they were seriously affected by the loss of the Baltic market. When Hull turned to the Low Countries it found the merchants of London already well-entrenched in the cloth trade there; and at home, London was probably beginning to attract northern exporters away from Hull. The decline of Hull's trade also went hand-in-hand with that of York, where the cloth manufacture was further discomfited by the expansion of the West Riding industry. (fn. 753) The overall value of Hull's trade may have fallen over the course of the century by at least three-quarters. (fn. 754)
At the very end of the 15th century there were signs of recovery—in the cloth, wine, and even the wool trades, and in the general trade reflected in the petty custom and poundage figures. (fn. 755) Old markets were reopening and to them was added a relatively new one, Normandy. It was, however, to be only a short-lived revival. (fn. 756)
Edward I's plans for the physical growth of the town and for increased profits from its rents were slow to be realized after 1300. In 1304 he ordered the keeper to let out vacant plots and waste land, (fn. 757) and in 1305–7 Richard Oysel made lettings of nearly 30 plots, as well as land outside the town in Milncroft and Suthwik, with a total rental of some £29. (fn. 758) Of these newly-let plots, six were in the Hales, the waste ground on the south and west sides of Holy Trinity Church. (fn. 759) In 1307–10 the keeper accounted for as much as £94 14s. 7d. in rents from the town each year. With some small rents from Myton, still £5 from the water-mill, and £13 15s. from courts and stallage, the total receipts averaged £114 in two full years at this time. (fn. 760)
The king again called for vacant plots to be let in 1313, (fn. 761) and as a result many of the plots in the town were re-let in 1317. (fn. 762) The original rents of 1293, however, were not now always achieved. In 49 cases the new rent may be compared with the old, and in only nineteen was it unaltered: the remaining rents, all told, were only a little over a quarter of the original figure. (fn. 763) Moreover, many of the plots in the more westerly streets of the town, though let, were still not built upon: a comprehensive rental made in 1320 (fn. 764) shows that only 21 plots had been built-up since 1293. The total valuation of the town in 1320 was £63 4s. 2½d., excluding stallage and court profits, a reduction of £4 8s. 1½d. since 1293; stallage and the courts were still worth £5 13s. 4d.
The 'decay' of rents continued after 1320. An undated rental (fn. 765) shows a total, for Hull and Myton together, of £91—but £30 of this was in decay, about half of the vacant plots lying in Monkgate. Another rental amounted to £95 in 1329–30, but 30 out of 130 plots and 11 out of 24 acres of land outside the town were in decay—a loss of £25 of the total rents. (fn. 766) The responsibility for collecting these rents in Hull itself was in 1331 transferred to the newly-constituted mayor and bailiffs: the king granted them the town at farm for £70, reckoning the value to have shown an increment of £1 2s. 5½d. since 1320. (fn. 767) When another detailed rental was drawn up in 1347, however, the total—again excluding stallage and court profits—was still only £63 15s. 0¾d. (fn. 768) There is no indication of what the decay of rents, if any, was at this time, or of the extent to which the plots were built upon. The rental describes 166 holdings as tenements and 23 as plots; (fn. 769) there were in addition 18 plots, and others unspecified, outside the walls, and these were doubtless largely in agricultural use.
By the middle of the century the physical improvement of the town may have begun to reflect the growth of Hull's foreign trade. In the later 14th and early 15th centuries the transformation becomes plain in the constant acquisition and exchange of property among the wealthier inhabitants, (fn. 770) and in the many signs of building activity. Houses were being extended into their garden ground, or built out above the streets and lanes; more and more houses were being squeezed into the old plots; and several shops might occupy the street front of a single messuage. (fn. 771) The most noteworthy instance of shopbuilding was that carried out by the mayor and bailiffs, probably shortly after 1331; 28 shops were built in Marketgate, lining both sides of the street from the new motehall southwards. (fn. 772) The subdivision of old plots and the multiplication of houses is perhaps best illustrated by a comparison between the rental of 1347 and the poll-tax assessment made thirty years later: streets like Marketgate and Hull Street were becoming increasingly built-up, and Bishop, Salthouse, and Chapel Lanes, which had only single plots along their entire length in 1347, were also lined with houses (see Table 3).
With the decline of Hull's foreign trade in the course of the 15th century, the physical condition of the town seems to have markedly deteriorated. If the 'decay' of the corporation's property rents is any guide, the deterioration became most marked after about 1460. (fn. 773) Whether it was accompanied by a fall in population is uncertain, and indeed it is rarely possible to make any estimate of Hull's population during these two centuries. Uncertainty as to the number of houses and families occupying each plot or messuage makes the rentals of little value for this purpose. One indication of the population is in the poll-tax return of 1377, which records 1,557 adult taxpayers. (fn. 774)
The street plan of the town showed few changes after 1300. (fn. 775) The names of the already existing streets are mostly revealed in the rental of 1320, though School Street and Humber Street are first recorded a little later. The rental of 1347 includes in addition Aton Lane, Bedford Lane, Pole Street, and School Lane, but all four had existed for some years before. Names which appear after 1347 include those of Grimsby Lane, of the lanes leading to staiths on the haven, and of the street south of the Guildhall—alternatively Fleshewergate, Fleshmarketgate, or Butchery (and now part of Queen Street). Other new names are the unidentified Barton Lane, Horse-mill Lane, Pavement, (fn. 776) Listergate, and Walker Lane, the last two suggesting a concentration of textile craftsmen.
The main east-west streets of the town extended further west than the line of the town defences, built in the 1320s, and although they were never built-up outside the walls, these streets long retained their names. They were crossed by Milk Street, running roughly parallel with the walls. On the north side of the town Hull Street also extended beyond the walls, and in the 15th century Pole Street (a name earlier applied to a street within the town) ran from the postern at the end of Lowgate to the Charterhouse. North Pole Street connected Pole Street with the river, probably in the neighbourhood of the Charterhouse, and a common way also ran along the outside of the town walls. (fn. 777)
During the later 14th and early 15th centuries, most of the streets came to have alternative names which eventually supplanted the older ones (see Table 2). New associations led, for example, to the replacement of 'Aldgate': the site of the Carmelite Friary lay in one part of it, and the Skaill family owned property in another. (fn. 778) As the Aton Fee lost its significance, so a lane running through it came to be known from St. Mary's Chapel, probably built in the 1320s. In other cases topographical associations replaced the memory of Peter de Champagne, of Roger de Lisle, and even of William de la Pole.
Changes in Street Names, c. 1350–1500 (fn. 952)
|Names in 1320 and/or 1347||New Names|
|Aldgate||Scale Lane (part)|
|Whitefriargate (part) (now also Silver St. in part)|
|Aton Lane||Chapel Lane|
|Bedford Lane||Vicar Lane|
|Beverley Street (or Old Beverley St.; Beverley Gate)||None (now Fish St., King St., Land of Green Ginger, Sewer Lane, Trinity House Lane)|
|Bishop Gate||Denton Lane (part) (now Bowlalley Lane)|
|Bishop Lane (part)|
|Champagne Street||Daggard Lane (now Dagger Lane)|
|Hale Street||Finkle Street|
|Hull Street||High Street (or High Gate; King Street)|
|Kirk Lane (or Aldkirk Lane)||None (now Church Lane, North Church Side, Posterngate)|
|Lisle Street||Mytongate (or Harper Lane)|
|Marketgate||Butchery (part) (now Queen St.)|
|Lowgate (part) (now also Market Place in part)|
|Milk Street||None (now lost)|
|Monkgate||Blackfriargate (or Oldfre Lane; Aldfreregate) (now also Blanket Row in part)|
|Pole Street||Salthouse Lane|
|School Lane||None (now lost) (fn. 953)|
|School Street||None (now Robinson Row)|
The distribution of population among the streets (see Table 3) suggests a high density in Hull Street and Marketgate, even allowing for their great length. (fn. 779) By the late 14th century the smaller streets running between them were becoming densely populated, too. In the westerly part of the town, away from the main streets, there was still probably a considerable amount of open ground. The more wealthy inhabitants were mostly congregated in Hull Street, where some merchants had plots running down to staiths on the haven. The majority of the leading merchants named in the poll-tax assessment of 1377 lived there; and when an assessment was made in 1382, to meet the cost of a new charter, as many as half of the contributors were from Hull Street.
The holding of markets and the annual fair not only in Marketgate but in adjoining thoroughfares (fn. 780) aggravated the congested and insanitary condition of the streets. (fn. 781) In the mid-15th century the sheriffs' court was preoccupied above all with the town's sanitation, and offences were numerous and varied. Dung was dumped at the sides of the open sewers, on the staiths, and in the haven; gutters were obstructed, latrines made in the town ditch, and hides steeped in Butcroft Dike; pigsties were kept on the bank of the haven, sheepskins were thrown down in the shambles, and the cleaning of streets and market-place was neglected. (fn. 782) The regularity of expenditure suggests that the town nevertheless gave much attention to the sewers, streets, and fresh-water ditches, and it also attempted to enforce the responsibility of householders for cleansing. (fn. 783) When, moreover, permission was given for new building, steps were taken to safeguard sanitary facilities: thus when in 1413 the town let to Richard Hornse a lane running from Salthouse Lane towards a common sewer and gave him permission to build houses extending above it, a condition was made that he should maintain a watercourse down the middle of the lane to take water into the sewer. (fn. 784) The supply of fresh water presented perhaps an even greater problem than sewerage. In the absence of fresh water beneath the town, the wells and ponds that are occasionally mentioned (fn. 785) were of little use and water had to be brought some three miles in an open dike from Anlaby. For twelve years in the mid-15th century the water was conveyed in an underground lead pipe, and pipes were even laid into the town itself. There is no indication of the efficiency of this improved system, and it was ostensibly to meet debts incurred during the Wars of the Roses that the lead was taken up. (fn. 786) Its removal necessitated the repaving of Whitefriargate, costing as much as £28 in 1466–7. (fn. 787)
|Streets (fn. 954)||1347 (fn. 955) Tenements and plots||1377 (fn. 956)||1382 (fn. 957) Families assessed|
|Bedford Lane||5||6 (fn. 958)||10|
|Outside walls (fn. 959)||15|
The sheriff's court dealt with other nuisances in its attempts to control the familiar problem of common scolds and bawds. In 1450, for example, the keeper of a bawdyhouse in Whitefriargate was fined, along with one of its occupants. (fn. 788) Hull's attitude to prostitution was, however, ambivalent. The corporation was prepared in the 1490s to let out the town walls and towers and the foreland to the whores (meretrices), receiving from £3 to £8 a year in rent. This practice may, indeed, have been of long standing. In the earlier 15th century a small rent was sometimes received for the foreland, and in 1394–5, when it is first recorded, it is said to have been paid by the 'women' (mulieres). (fn. 789) The 'common women' for whom hoods were provided in 1444–5 (fn. 790) may have been whores, but the town also employed 'women porters', carrying, for example, building materials from the staiths. (fn. 791)
The maintenance of the haven and its staiths was closely connected with the nuisance of rubbish disposal. From High Street a number of narrow lanes led to common staiths, the lanes themselves often taking their names from the staiths. Along with the common staiths were the private quays of merchants whose High Street properties ran down to the river. The line of staiths was still not continuous in the late 14th century, but in 1375 the town council acknowledged that new staiths might be built provided that they did not project further into the haven than those already existing; the existing staiths mentioned were—from south to north—William de Snaynton's, John de Birkyn's, King's Staith, Thomas Barbour's, Weigh-house Staith, Richard de Anlaby's, and Walter Frost's. (fn. 792) There were already others in existence before this: Aldburgh Staith, at the end of Aldgate (later Scale Lane), by 1350, (fn. 793) for example, and probably also some which are not mentioned by name until later. Bishop Staith is recorded in 1392, and Foreland Staith, at the South End, a staith near the Mamhole, and Chapel and North Ferry Staiths all in 1394–5. (fn. 794) In the 15th century there were also Daniel, Horse, Hury, Rotenhering, Hornse, Bower, and Grimsby Staiths, (fn. 795) most of them presumably originally built by individual merchants.
The upkeep of the staiths was a constant concern of the town council. The common staiths were frequently repaired or rebuilt, and provided with latrines; (fn. 796) the town was responsible for their cleansing, and in 1452 this duty at Hornse Staith was assigned to the salt-meters, at King's Staith to the wine-porters, at Chapel Staith to the woolporters, and at Daniel Staith to the turf-porters. (fn. 797) Control continued to be exercised, too, over the maintenance of private staiths: in 1456, for example, John Haynson was instructed to rebuild his staith up to the line of the old stakes in the river which marked the boundary of the tenement. (fn. 798) Obstruction of the haven by projecting staiths was only one of the nuisances which the town had to combat. As early as 1321 the king ordered the bailiffs to prevent the throwing of stones into the water, and in 1393 he had enquiry made into the obstruction of the river by staiths and buildings, as well as by stones and rubbish. (fn. 799) It was sometimes necessary to drag the haven (fn. 800) to remove rubbish, and offenders were frequently before the town courts. (fn. 801) The problem seems to have become particularly serious by the later 15th century: in the 1460s a town ordinance forbade the throwing-in of rubbish from ships, staiths, or lane-ends; the owners of old ships 'which be past sailing' were ordered to put them in dock; and any timber, wrecks, anchors, or cobbles left below low-water mark were declared to be the property of anyone who might find them. (fn. 802) Finally, in 1474, the catchmen were ordered, for the benefit of the haven, to take ballast there—especially at the nesses 'where it is most necessary to be taken'; all ships bringing coal were to be ballasted in this way. (fn. 803) These sand or mud banks had been mentioned in 1452, when ships lying at the South End jetty were ordered to drop an anchor on both the east and west nesses. (fn. 804)
Encroachment by sand and mud and erosion of the river banks made further heavy demands on the town's purse. The banks had constantly to be protected with piling: in 1430–1, for example, £13 was spent on timber for work around the haven mouth and along the Humber shore. (fn. 805) The most extensive work was carried out in the two years 1443–5, when as much as £95 was spent on a weir on the Drypool side of the haven. (fn. 806) The building of jetties in the haven may well have exacerbated the problem of silting. There were jetties on both sides of the river mouth and at least one other jetty in the haven on the Drypool side; they, too, were expensive to maintain: £37 was spent on one of them in 1465–6, for example. (fn. 807) It may have been as a result of the deposition of sand and mud against it that 'the great jetty' on the east bank was ordered to be removed in 1470, every townsman having to provide labourers or contribute towards the cost of the work. (fn. 808)
The outstanding achievement in ecclesiastical building in medieval Hull was, of course, Holy Trinity Church. Its erection was in progress throughout the 14th and into the early 15th centuries, and the completion of the tower began in the late 15th century. The early church of St. Mary's, built probably about 1320 to serve the Aton Fee in the northern part of the town, was also being rebuilt during the course of the 15th century. (fn. 809) Both friaries were probably substantially complete early in the 14th century, the Carmelites having been given a large site in Aldgate (later Whitefriargate) by the king. (fn. 810) There were few noteworthy public buildings. The gaol may have been built about 1310, and the Guildhall was perhaps erected after the town obtained the important charter of 1331: as the motehall, it is first mentioned in 1333. (fn. 811) The only other substantial building belonging to the town council was the weigh-house, erected about the middle of the 14th century. (fn. 812) Buildings of a semi-public nature included the Grammar School, established in the early 14th century, and several maisons dieu, one of them dating from the 1340s but most founded in the 15th century. (fn. 813) Until Holy Trinity guild erected its hall, chapel, and almshouse in the 1460s, (fn. 814) the only recorded guild meeting-place, if such it was, is the 'Guild House' of Corpus Christi guild in Beverley Street, first mentioned in 1364. (fn. 815)
Outstanding among the domestic houses of the town was the Pole family 'manorhouse' in Marketgate (later Lowgate). It was probably the house built at Myton for Edward I's keeper of Hull, (fn. 816) which had been kept in repair in the early 14th century, (fn. 817) and it presumably passed to the Poles when they acquired the manor of Myton about 1330. (fn. 818) The house and grounds occupied a large, roughly triangular, area bounded by Marketgate, Bishopgate (now Bowlalley Lane), Beverley Street (a now-lost section of the street), and a common way running alongside the town wall. In 1347 the house (mansum) had a hall (aula) and chapel, and in the grounds was a 'gardenerhous'. (fn. 819) The manor-house is said to have been rebuilt by Sir Michael de la Pole in the 1380s, (fn. 820) and at about this time it became known as Courthall. (fn. 821) An inventory of goods in the house in 1388 mentions the hall, the 'somerhalle', the chapel, a tower, and more than 20 chambers. (fn. 822)
No other houses could rival Courthall, but several were distinguished by having towers. Leland stated that three such houses had been built by Sir Michael de la Pole, two 'in the heart of the town' and one next to the river, (fn. 823) but this has not been confirmed. One of them may have been 'the tower called the White House', an inn which the town council rented from William de la Pole in 1438 (fn. 824) and which stood midway along Market Place. (fn. 825) A house called 'the Tower' and a tower called 'the Stonehouse', both at the Foreland, (fn. 826) were probably one and the same. The names Harper Tower, Ingilby Tower, and Burdux Tower (fn. 827) may all refer to dwelling-houses. Otherwise the larger houses of merchant families can be singled out only by their names—Snaynton Place, Hellward Place, Bilton Place, Somerset Hall, and so forth. (fn. 828) A house called 'the Lion' or 'Leyons', in High Street, (fn. 829) is said to have belonged to John Tutbury, (fn. 830) one of the corporation's houses was known as 'the Florence', (fn. 831) and Maud Stut devised a tenement in Monkgate called Abbotgarth. (fn. 832)
House-building in Hull may have been characterized by a relatively free use of bricks, in view of their abundant manufacture in the neighbourhood. No medieval secular buildings now survive to illustrate the materials used. Certainly little stone was employed; when the town council did use Brough or Ellerker stone, a limestone quarried ten miles away, it went into the staiths and around the Mamhole, and chalk from Hessle was occasionally used for street paving. (fn. 833) Bricks were commonly used during housebuilding and repair, as well as in such public buildings as the weigh-house and gaol. But the quantities suggest that they were used only for the lower courses of walls, for chimneys, or for infilling between a timber framework. Only 4,900 bricks went into one new house in 1439–40, for example, and 13,000 bricks and 16,500 roof-tiles into another in 1454–5, but in both cases large amounts of timber and plaster were used. (fn. 834) Building regulations were no doubt rudimentary, and the rights of property-owners seem to have been maintained by private agreement, often retrospectively. The corporation, for example, reduced a tenant's rent in 1467 after he had complained that 'his light in his kitchen' was stopped by a neighbour. (fn. 835) And in 1449 two merchants, John Forest and William Riplingham, reached an agreement over various easements on their property in Vicar Lane. Riplingham had put up two buildings overhanging Forest's garden, thus causing rain-water to fall into it: Forest agreed to suffer this on condition that, if he subsequently wanted to build there, Riplingham's projecting eaves should be removed and a joint gutter erected. On his part Forest was guilty of taking 'light of the south' from Riplingham's house, and rain from his roof fell into a gutter on Riplingham's counting-house; Riplingham agreed to suffer the loss of light and to keep the gutter repaired. (fn. 836)
Away from the haven, there were few significant topographical features connected with trade or with specific occupations. Most noteworthy perhaps was the ropery, the ground alongside the town wall against the Humber, which the town council regularly let out to a roper. (fn. 837) The town also let a salt-house, (fn. 838) which gave its name to the lane. There were one or two mills, including a windmill in Hull Street, near North Gate, at least in the earlier 14th century, (fn. 839) and a horse-mill in Beverley Street. (fn. 840)
Outside the town gates there seems to have been little suburban development during the Middle Ages, though a few houses stood in Trippett (see Table 3). For the most part the area within the liberty of the town consisted of open ground—the crofts, fields, and meadows of Myton, and beyond the course of the Old Hull Myton Carr. There were several windmills and also a water-mill against the Humber, (fn. 841) but few other scattered buildings with the noteworthy exception of the Charterhouse, founded in 1378, and the adjacent hospital. (fn. 842) The low-lying nature of all the extra-mural ground made flooding a constant problem; the 'overflow of the Humber' was frequently given as one reason for the town's impoverishment, (fn. 843) and expenditure on the sea-dikes and banks was a continual necessity. (fn. 844) The better to ensure safety from flooding, the council decided in 1356 that all plots near the Humber belonging to the community should be let with no other charge on the tenants than the maintenance of the banks. (fn. 845)
Situations outside the walls were found for the gallows, (fn. 846) for archery butts, both north of the town and to the west in Butcroft, (fn. 847) and for a dock ('dok'), next to the river in Trippett, which the town let to such prominent merchants as John Tutbury and John Bedford. (fn. 848) The town brickyard was close outside the walls on the west, (fn. 849) and the dike bringing Hull's water supplies from Anlaby reached the town near Beverley Gate. (fn. 850) The water was carried into the town by the 'bussemen', who apparently filled their containers at a stone trough. (fn. 851) Women were forbidden to wash clothes in the freshwater ditches, (fn. 852) and animals were not allowed to drink there. A horse-pond (le weyour) was maintained nearby: as much as £17 was spent on it in 1353–5, and it was constantly kept in repair thereafter. (fn. 853) The fresh-water dike flowed into the town ditch, and it was therefore necessary to prevent salt water entering from the Humber or the River Hull. Sluices, or 'clows', at North and Hessle Gates were another object of continual town expenditure, (fn. 854) and men holding adjoining land were prevented from making drainage ditches which might admit salt water to the town ditch. (fn. 855)
Most of the land outside the walls comprised the manor of Myton. After Edward I's acquisition of the former grange in 1293, (fn. 856) Myton remained under the custody of the keeper of Hull until about the time of the town's enfranchisement in 1331. It then passed to the Pole family. William and Richard de la Pole were in 1330 granted the reversion of the manor, then held by the keeper, Robert de Hastang, and by 1332 Hastang had released it to them. (fn. 857) The Poles' rent was fixed at £10 3s. but the king acquitted them and their heirs of its payment. (fn. 858) In 1334 the brothers divided the manor between them, William taking the site of the manor-house and the services and rents of the tenants; each took part of the meadows, pastures, and agistments, and the ten bovates of arable land were divided equally between them; Richard also got a mill by the Humber. (fn. 859) In addition to the King's Fee the Poles also acquired that part of Myton known as the Aton Fee with its seven bovates, and this too seems to have been apportioned between the brothers. In 1345 Richard's share was three bovates of land, £5 rent from tenants, and a decayed windmill. (fn. 860)
The manor-house which fell to William de la Pole at the partition of 1334 was almost certainly the keeper's house in Marketgate. (fn. 861) Richard seems to have either built or taken over a house at a place called Tupcoates to serve as the focus of his share of Myton. His 'manor of Tupcoates in Myton' is referred to as early as 1339, (fn. 862) and his son William de la Pole, the younger, held part of a close called Tupcoates, with its buildings, in 1346. (fn. 863)
At Richard's death in 1345 his half of Myton was divided again, one-third passing to his widow in dower and two-thirds to his son William de la Pole, the younger. (fn. 864) By 1366, however, Richard's moiety had been re-united with his brother's, (fn. 865) and the whole of Myton, including all seventeen bovates of arable land, descended in the Pole family until Edmund's attainder in 1504. The manor was not always kept in hand by the Poles: in 1388, for example, it was farmed by John de Dymelton, (fn. 866) a Hull merchant. 'Tupcoates with Myton' became its usual name.
Land in Myton was amongst the endowments of the Charterhouse, (fn. 867) and the priory thus acquired the area which subsequently became known as Trippett. (fn. 868) Later, claims to various rights in Trippett were made by the town and in 1450 an attempt was made to resolve the dispute between town and priory. (fn. 869) Arbitrators found that the town was entitled to take rent from the priory for one parcel of land; to occupy as common highways Pole Street (running from the town ditch to the Charterhouse hospital) and North Pole Street (from Pole Street to the river); and to enjoy a small piece of waste ground against the river outside North Gate. (fn. 870) A piece of common ground there, belonging to the town, is first mentioned in 1387–8. (fn. 871) The prior formally acknowledged these town rights in 1451, (fn. 872) and a few years later the town 'bailiffs' are first recorded whose responsibility extended to Trippett. (fn. 873) By 1449 one of the town wards was already named after Trippett, and in 1459, it was expressly said to include 'all the Trippett to the gate of the Charterhouse'. (fn. 874) Some increase in the number of inhabitants in Trippett at about this time is suggested by the Archbishop's permission in 1454 for them to hear mass in a chapel built by the prior. (fn. 875) The differences between town and Charterhouse seem to have continued after 1451, eventually to be resolved in 1519 by the prior leasing the whole of Trippett to the corporation. (fn. 876)
In the later Middle Ages, as in the 13th century, many of the inhabitants of the town were incomers, attracted most strongly perhaps during Hull's high prosperity in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. Topographical surnames, suggesting immigration by the owners or their ancestors, remain plentiful. Almost one-third of the adult inhabitants in 1377 have such names. (fn. 877) A high proportion came from relatively close at hand: most of the villages in Holderness seem to have contributed at least one family; and many came from Wolds or Vale of York villages, or from Lincolnshire. There was a fair number from the West Riding, including a group naturally drawn down the Humber from the villages lining its banks. A sprinkling was contributed by the rest of the country, and a few were from overseas—from such ports as Dordrecht and La Rochelle.
Some of the leading townsmen seem to have had such a rural origin, and their names need not be laboured. Eventually the prefix disappears from their names, but it was as John 'de' Tutbury that another wealthy merchant appeared in the poll-tax return, together with Thomas, Adam, and Roger; they may have come from the Staffordshire village of that name. Explicit evidence of family origins is rare, but the merchant and mayor John Swan is said to have been born at Felton, in Northumberland, Ralph Langton, three times mayor, to have also come from Northumberland, and the recorder Robert Constable to have originated at North Cliffe. (fn. 878) Rural origins, as well as marriage into rural families, may be indicated by the concern that Hull men showed for village churches in the East Riding and beyond. Thus William Baron (d. 1485) left money to the church work of Welton; John Garton (d. 1456) gave £30 to Burstwick, Welwick, and Thorngumbald; and John Gregg made bequests to Ellerker and Brantingham. (fn. 879)
Trading contacts with York are likely to have drawn occasional migrants to Hull, like the scrivener alias brewer recorded in 1467. (fn. 880) One York merchant, if not resident in Hull, had tenements, lands, and a sheepcote there in 1445. (fn. 881) Property ownership may have preceded family residence in the case of the Bromptons: John Brompton, then of Beverley, owned a house in Hull in 1444, (fn. 882) and a Brompton was mayor in 1473–4. Other men may have been 'foreign' burgesses of Hull before they or later members of their families became resident: in 1382 there were five such burgesses, one of them Adam Copendale (fn. 883) of Beverley; it was almost certainly this family which, through Edmund Copendale, filled the mayoralty of Hull in 1459–60. (fn. 884)
The distribution of wealth among the townsmen suggests that there was a marked preponderance of poor families and that, at least in the 14th century, even the merchant class enjoyed only modest resources. When the tax of 1332 was assessed, on 58 people, (fn. 885) perhaps a half of the householders were too poor to be taxed at all. Of those taxed 33 per cent. were assessed on goods valued at less than £1 and 58 per cent. on goods worth between £1 and £4. Only 9 per cent., a mere 5 men and women, had goods valued at £5 or more; outstanding among these was William de la Pole, with £24-worth. This pattern was very similar to that in York at about the same time. (fn. 886) The names of the taxpayers are the familiar ones of merchants and shipowners, with men like Walter Hellward, John de Barton, Robert de Upsale, and Robert de Lichfield among those making the largest payments. There are few other opportunities to examine relative wealth in this manner, but an assessment made to meet the cost of the charter of 1382 shows a similar situation. Of 256 contributors, as many as 158 were assessed at less than 5s.; 68 paid 5s. and over, and only 30 £1 and over. Robert de Selby and Robert de Cross led the way with £4 each. (fn. 887) Again, when money was raised in the town, presumably by assessment, in 1447, nearly a half (88) of the 209 denizen contributors gave less than 6s. 8d.; 73 gave 6s. 8d. and over, and 48 £1 and more. The largest contribution was John Bedford's £3. (fn. 888)
Neither the poll-tax return of 1377 nor that of 1381 (fn. 889) shows individual wealth, but the former does reveal that nearly one-sixth of the 693 families was sufficiently prosperous to keep servants. In 55 households there was a single servant, in 22 there were two, in 16 there were three or four. Another 10 families each had five or more: leading merchant families like those of Robert de Cross, with seven servants, William de Snaynton, with eight, and Walter Frost, with ten in his house and another living out. Finally there was the Pole household, where seventeen servants attended upon William's widow Katherine. In the 15th century servants were frequently remembered in their masters' wills, receiving not only small gifts of money but occasionally rent, a house, or a boat. (fn. 890)
The poorest inhabitants of the town have left little to reveal their circumstances, but for the small craftsmen and tradesmen there are their wills, with typically humble belongings and modest bequests. One man, desiring to be buried next to his former master, bequeathed no money, only small amounts of honey, iron, and lead; a mariner left a mere 3s. 4d. to the fabric of St. Mary's; another mariner left 1s. 4d. for a guild in Holy Trinity. (fn. 891) Even these men sometimes had valuable possessions: a roper in 1448, for example, left a belt decorated with silver heads of angels and a red bed adorned with swans' and leopards' heads. (fn. 892) A more prosperous class of tradesmen is represented by a shipwright who in 1425 had similar personal possessions, left his house to his wife and a bovate of land to a mariner of the town, and could afford to remember the friaries as well as his church. Again, in 1503, the beer-brewer Brand Adryanson made provision for four old men in his almshouse, and devised property outside the town. (fn. 893)
Among the merchant class Hull's most wealthy and influential townsman in the 14th century was William de la Pole, remembered subsequently by a chronicler as 'second to no English merchant'. (fn. 894) The brothers Richard and William de la Pole are first recorded in Hull in 1316, already as merchants, and it is possible that they had been for some time under the tutelage of John Rotenhering. (fn. 895) A third brother, John, was apparently in partnership with them at Hull in 1319, (fn. 896) but he subsequently removed to London. Richard, too, moved to London in 1327, after figuring prominently as a royal official at Hull, (fn. 897) and serving, like William, as an officer and representative of the town. (fn. 898) In the twenties both flourished as bankers, as well as merchants. After Richard's departure William continued to pursue an active trade from Hull, and served the town as mayor and M.P. (fn. 899) He frequently acted on the king's behalf in Hull and was much concerned in the port's role as a military base for the Scottish wars. (fn. 900) Increasingly in the 1330s, however, William de la Pole was becoming a national figure, as merchant, banker, and royal ambassador, (fn. 901) and he was richly rewarded for his services. (fn. 902) But disgrace was near at hand: his part in the work of Edward's wool company led to charges of mismanagement and he was imprisoned for well over a year in 1340–2. He was then restored to favour and played an important part in the king's financial affairs in 1343–5, but after more evidence of fraud had come to light the Exchequer again began prosecutions against him in 1350. In 1354 he was once more imprisoned and his pardon later in the year was granted only after his renunciation of the king's debts due to him and of his rights to property given him by the Crown. (fn. 903)
William de la Pole remained active in business in the following years, and he was probably resident at Hull until his death in 1366. His widow Katherine was given his Hull property for her lifetime, and she was head of the Marketgate manor household in 1377. (fn. 904) His son and heir Michael completed his father's plans to found the Charterhouse at Hull, (fn. 905) and became Chancellor of England in 1383 and Earl of Suffolk in 1385. He is said to have rebuilt the manor-house in Hull, the so-called 'Suffolk Palace'. Though subsequent members of the family lived on their estates in the south, they retained their property in Hull and occasionally visited the town. (fn. 906) The connexion finally ended with Edmund, Earl of Suffolk's attainder in 1504.
Though less illustrious than the Poles the merchants of the 15th century could dispose of considerable wealth, and their bequests of money and clothes, gold rings and plate, and ornamental fabrics all bespeak a high degree of personal comfort. (fn. 907) Sometimes, too, there were books, mostly primers; less usual were the two books of 'fesik called Nicholesse' belonging to Laurence Swattock, mayor and apothecary, in 1492. (fn. 908) They left money to many beneficiaries: the friaries of Hull and Beverley and the monasteries of the East Riding; churches in Hull and in country villages; the roads and bridges around the town; prisoners in the gaols of Hull and York; the poor of Hull, both within and without the maisons dieu; and religious guilds in the Hull churches. To their own families and their friends they left also their houses and lands, and their ships; and frequently they endowed obits and chantries for their souls. (fn. 909)
A few of the leading townspeople must speak for them all. One of the most prominent merchants of the late 14th and early 15th centuries was John Tutbury, who died in 1433, (fn. 910) a man active in all the town's affairs. His bequests were numerous, including £25 to church fabrics, £14 to religious houses, £10 to road-making, £12 to prisoners, lepers, and the poor, £20 to men who suffered loss at sea, £5 for marriage portions, and money to the maisons dieu and to children at baptism. His relatives and servants received over £50, and he left four ships, four houses, and land to them and his friends. Finally, two houses were devised to endow an obit and a chantry in Holy Trinity Church. On a par with Tutbury was his contemporary John Gregg (d. 1437), (fn. 911) whose will exhibits further variations on the same charitable theme. He left £1 each to nine guilds in Holy Trinity and one in St. Bride's, London, £19 to various church fabrics, £17 to religious houses, £19 for roads, £43 to be distributed among the poor of Hull over a period of ten years, and £22 for the poor of Beverley. Other bequests accounted for £49, and his funeral expenses were to take £24. He devised three houses and some land, and, if part of this property should revert to the mayor and burgesses, he required them to maintain a chantry in Holy Trinity. Gregg's widow Joan died in the following year and her will (fn. 912) rivalled his own. Bequests totalled over £200, and she provided for the maintenance of a chantry, an obit, and five candles in the church. Other property, furthermore, was devised to maintain the almshouse that she had founded. (fn. 913)
Other outstanding examples of public work and charity are the benefactions of Robert Holme (d. 1450). (fn. 914) He bequeathed £27 for making roads around Hull, £10 for the church tower of St. Mary's, and £100 for the new conduit to bring water from Anlaby. The poor were to have £67, a like sum went to his daughter, and £320 was bequeathed to members of two other merchant families, the Cliderowes and Copendales. He also left £3 to make a window in the church of the Blessed Virgin at Calais, and he provided for obits in the Charterhouse and at Hedon. Holme was not the only merchant whose will reveals his oversea connexions. Among others was Thomas Dalton (d. 1503), who asked for 'tables of oversea-work' to be bought at Calais for altars in Holy Trinity. (fn. 915)
The foundation of chantries and obits was frequently provided for in the wills of well-to-do townspeople. (fn. 916) Most were in the two town churches, but occasionally a religious house was chosen; John Colthorpe, for instance, provided for a cell to be assigned in the Charterhouse, the monk to celebrate for him and his wife. (fn. 917) In the cases of the Greggs, John Bedford, John Tutbury, and John Aldwick, the town was made responsible for the provision and payment of the chaplains, (fn. 918) and in the later 15th century the chamberlains regularly expended nearly £21 on the four chantries and obits. (fn. 919) Occasionally endowments for masses were made to the 'priests of the table' at Holy Trinity, rather than for the support of a distinct chaplain: Thomas Dalton did this in 1503, asking for services to be sung by the whole table, accompanied by the ringing of the great bell, and after his wife's death 'the bellman to go about the town after the custom' as well. (fn. 920) The provision of services was the most usual expression of a townsman's piety. On rare occasions a man may have himself entered a local monastery, as the merchant Thomas de Fishlake did in 1353: he bought food and lodging for the rest of his life in two rooms which he had himself had built in Meaux Abbey. (fn. 921) There were, however, two other forms of religious bequest of special significance. Joan Gregg was not alone in founding a maison dieu: other founders included John Aldwick and probably John Bedford, too. (fn. 922) And, like the Greggs, other people often left money to one or more of the religious guilds in the churches. (fn. 923)
The religious guilds may have assumed a greater importance in Hull in view of the apparent absence of strongly-organized craft guilds. Though some craft guilds appear during the 15th century, there is little indication of the social and religious aspects of their work, apart from the maintenance of lights in the churches. Altogether there were more than a dozen religious guilds in Holy Trinity and St. Mary's. (fn. 924) The 14th-century rules of four of them show the usual objects of such fraternities—providing masses, attending members' funerals, making loans, and paying doles to needy members, all in return for an annual subscription from their brethren. (fn. 925) The possibility that several of these guilds were serving as a cloak under which craftsmen could meet has already been noticed. (fn. 926) Their membership was doubtless wide, and it included the leading men of the town: in the 1460s for example, the guild of St. Mary the Virgin, in Holy Trinity Church, enjoyed the services of at least five mayors as its guild alderman. By this time St. Mary's guild had apparently dropped both the members' subscription and the payment of doles. Its income derived from rents and from 'increments' gained by lending its stock to members. Its expenditure, as typified in its accounts for 1463, included a chaplain's salary, payments for exequies and masses for members, the bellman's fee, the cost of wax and candles, payments to minstrels and to men carrying the rood on Cross Days, and the cost of an angel, garlands, and wine for ullage. (fn. 927) One service which none of the guilds seems to have provided was the maintenance of an almshouse, until the Trinity guild did so after 1457. Nor did they entertain the townsmen with plays, again with the exception of the Trinity guild which performed its Noah play. (fn. 928) The town council provided the only other entertainments of this kind, keeping its own waits—whom the guilds could hire—and paying for players to come from Cottingham or Hessle, though these may have been only for the benefit of the council and its guests. (fn. 929)
The generosity which merchants showed towards one another, already noted in the case of Robert Holme, is one illustration of the personal links that existed between the families of influential townsmen. Many were closely linked by marriage and kinship. John Bedford's wife Agnes (d. 1459) had previously married two other merchants, Richard Dalton of Hull and John Strother, probably of Newcastle. The daughter of Robert Alcock (d. 1484) successively married the merchants John Dalton and Robert Harrison. And the apothecary Laurence Swattock (d. 1492) asked to be buried next to his sister's former husband, the merchant Robert Fisher. (fn. 930) Similar ties connected the mercantile families of Hull with those of York. The Daltons of both places were related. John Whitfield's (d. 1479) widow left Hull to marry Richard York. And in 1485 William Todd of York took as his third wife Elizabeth Eland. (fn. 931)
Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries the investment of wealth in property in the town was a characteristic of the wealthy townsmen. (fn. 932) Many men had only one, at the most two or three houses. But as early as 1317–18 Thorstan le Tayllour was accumulating a messuage and six shops in High Street next to his house, as well as a plot of land stretching down to the river with a staith next to the one he already owned. (fn. 933) In 1327 William Skaill devised a messuage and four plots, all built-upon; (fn. 934) and in 1328 Richard de Gretford left not only a messuage and £1 14s. rent to maintain a chantry priest, but also to his family three houses, the reversion of a fourth, rent from three more, and two plots of land. Richard's son Arnald also owned a windmill, two selions of land, and an acre of pasture outside the walls, in Myton. (fn. 935)
In the 15th century, the property of John Tutbury and John Gregg has already been noticed. Among the more substantial town estates were the eight houses of John Fitling in 1434; the two messuages, six tenements, nine gardens, dovecote, and pond belonging to John Scales in 1467; and the five houses, garden, and dovecote of John Day (d. 1472). (fn. 936) As a result of their pious endowments a good deal of the property of such men came into the hands of chaplains and priests, and their relatives and fellows were frequently left property burdened with rent-charges for the maintenance of chantries. The town property was considerably augmented by the endowments of the four chantries for which the council was responsible: nine houses supported Bedford's chantry, for instance; (fn. 937) but the repairs of 'Bedford Rent' and the other estates, as well as the payment of the fee-farm for them, were a constant drain on the town's finances. (fn. 938)
Wealth was also invested in rural property, and some of the incomers to Hull no doubt continued to hold land in the districts from which they came. Gilbert de Bedford in 1325 devised houses and land in Appleby and Risby (Lincs.), and Richard de Gretford in 1328 left property at Carlby, near Greatford (Lincs.). (fn. 939) More frequently landed estates lay closer to the town. Gilbert de Birkyn acquired meadow-land in Cottingham in 1349, for example, and in 1381 Richard Ferriby had property in Swanland, Paull, and Howden, in Reedness and Rawcliffe (W. R. Yorks.), and in 'Wythestede'. (fn. 940) Two leading merchants acquiring rural property about this time were Walter Box, buying the manor of Ackton (W. R. Yorks.) in 1366, and Walter Frost, who bought half the manor of Little Smeaton (W. R. Yorks.) and property in seven nearby villages in 1374. (fn. 941) In the 15th century Robert Holme and Robert Fisher had property at Hedon, and John Tutbury had land at Walkington. (fn. 942) Other merchants acquired houses in York, sometimes no doubt through business connexions: thus John Day (d. 1472), besides his estate in Hull, had York property received from a former mercer of the city. (fn. 943)
The chief property-owning family in medieval Hull, however, was that of the Poles. At the height of his power and influence, in the 1330s and 1340s, William de la Pole acquired many properties in the East Riding and beyond. (fn. 944) Outstanding among them was the lordship of Holderness, comprising the manor of Burstwick and its numerous members, which Pole obtained from the king in 1338–40 and held until his fall from grace in the 1350s. (fn. 945) No doubt at this same time Pole was building up an estate in Hull itself, both within the walls and in Myton; the manor of Myton fell to William and his brother Richard about 1330. (fn. 946) By 1347 Sir William de la Pole, the elder, had ten tenements and plots in the streets, as well as the manor-house in Marketgate and half-adozen plots outside the walls; Sir William, the younger, had seven tenements and plots within the walls. (fn. 947) By the late 14th century the Poles' town rents were considerable. In 1381–2 Katherine de la Pole received £67 from Hull and £8 from Myton. (fn. 948) An undated rental made late in the 15th century shows property in twelve streets worth £102; the pasture outside the walls was valued at another £3 and the manor of Myton at £73. (fn. 949) By 1505–6 the total value of these properties had risen to £203. (fn. 950)