The Common Paper: Mandate of Robert Braybrooke, 28 June 1391

Scriveners' Company Common Paper 1357-1628 With A Continuation To 1678. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1968.

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'The Common Paper: Mandate of Robert Braybrooke, 28 June 1391', in Scriveners' Company Common Paper 1357-1628 With A Continuation To 1678, (London, 1968) pp. 4-5. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

Mandate of Robert Braybrooke, 28 June 1391

[p. 5] Also remember that in the aforesaid time when the said foreign men were holding open shop through lack of Wardens and of good rule, as has been said before, the majority of the said craft were holding open shop and writing openly, in public view, as well on festivals and Sundays as on holidays to the very great resulting harm of the said craft, so that the Bishop of London, (fn. 1) who then was, issued a mandate, in part concerning the said craft, of which the following is a copy.

Robert, by Divine permission Bishop of London, sends greetings, gramercy [gram'] and blessings to all his rectors, vicars and curates whosoever, wherever established within our jurisdiction through our City of London. We declare that it has been laid down by the sacred canons that it is proper for all loyal Christians to be held and effectively constrained to keep holy Sundays and the principal festivals of our Christ Jesus and his most glorious mother the chaste virgin, the apostles and sacred martyrs whose vigils are observed as fasts according to the instruction and advice of the church of England, and to abstain from their tasks and duties and to hear mass and the divine offices in their parish churches and to serve God constantly. With information from very many honest men and with reports being brought back, it has recently come to our ears that several of your parishioners in our jurisdiction of this said City, and particularly the barbers and scriveners, have made very little effort and make little effort [now] to observe Sundays and the principal feasts of this kind, as is lawfully sanctioned and to apply themselves to holy duties on festivals and the said days, but they continue to set about their craft and hold open shop with everyone attending on the said days just as on other days which are not holidays, by collecting their fees for their craft and service to the great danger of their own souls, as a wicked example to other crafts of the said City, and in open contempt of the life-giving mother church. We, wishing to prevent these matters as we are bound by the duty of our pastoral office, therefore instruct and command you, firmly enjoining you, together and individually, in the virtue of obedience, that you should caution and effectively persuade all those barbers and scriveners whosoever, throughout your parishes in our jurisdiction, and all their apprentices, attendants and servants whom we are advising by the meaning of these presents, and we wish those who have been carrying out these practices (fn. 2) and have done it under the penalty of a greater excommunication than if they had disobeyed your warnings—in fact they have scorned to obey ours—and are excelling in sloth, guile and guilt, to undergo the canon law with its warning prescribed in this matter and, afterwards, that on Sundays and festivals of this kind they may devoutly listen to mass and the divine offices in their parish churches just as other good Christians of other crafts of this said City have been accustomed to do, and do now, and that they should serve God and completely abstain on the said days from their craft and work (unless in some emergency) and with their shops closed they should completely desist and refrain from financial matters through which they are more readily trapped by the blindness of greed. If you should find any people at all refusing or contradicting or not effectively obeying your warnings in this matter, you should summon them immediately so they may appear before us, or our commissioners for this purpose, in the chapel of our manor of Stebenheth' [Stepney] on a certain convenient day chosen by you or one of yours, by chastising them with a view to the chaste correction of their souls, to make them answer to us dutifully and, further, to do and to accept what will be ordained and in accordance with reason. And [we wish] that you should inform us what you have done in these matters about the time of the next feast of the translation of St. [p. 6] Thomas by means of your letters patent containing a report of these affairs and subscribed with your own seal, or that one of you should inform us who has first considered our instruction to be carried out. Given under our seal in our manor of Stebbenheth' the 28th day of June 1391 and in the 10th year of our consecration.


  • 1. Robert Braybrooke.
  • 2. In the text, this clause is repeated in another way.