Bristol Town Duties A Collection of Original and Interesting Documents [Etc.]. Originally published by [s.n.], Bristol, 1828.
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Chapter III. ORIGIN OF THE TOWN DUES.
In the first part of these Inquiries, the reader will observe, that it has been there stated, that on the 29th May, in the 17th year of Henry 6th, there were two distinct Tolls, granted by the King to the Corporation of Bristol. One of these, under the title of "Custom," has been there considered; and the other, which is entitled, Murage, Keyage, and Pavage, on Merchandize, Ships, and Boats coming to the Port, and which was to be expended in the repairs of the Walls, the Keys, and the Pavements, is now proposed for a similar investigation.
It is recorded in history, that the town of Bristol was, at a very early period, encompassed with walls; but it is uncertain to whom the first erection may be ascribed. A more regular and efficient line of defence is indeed attributed to Robert, Earl of Gloucester, natural son of Henry the first, but it is extremely probable that this was effected at his own expence; as the earliest document that is known to exist, for imposing a toll for that purpose, being a Grant on Ships and Merchandize, "in aid of enclosing the town for its security and preservation," is dated the 15th June, in the 16th year of Henry 3rd.
Preserved amongst the Records of the Court of Chancery, in the Tower of London, (to wit) on the Patent Roll for the 16th year of the reign of King Henry 3d, membrane 4, is contained as follows:—
But nevertheless, that by reason of this our Grant of these Premises, nothing shall be taken after the completion of the aforesaid two years; but immediately on the completion of that term, the same Custom shall cease and be entirely abolished, and therefore we command you, that in aid of inclosing the town aforesaid, you shall take the aforesaid Customs unto the end of the said term, so as is aforesaid. In witness whereof, we have caused these our Letters to be made Patent. Witness myself at Woodstock, the 15th day of June.
Similar Grants were afterwards made in the 39th, 41st, 45th, and 51st years of the same King, with this exception, that after the last mentioned Grant, the King directed that the Tolls so collected, should be paid over to his son Edward, towards repairing the Castle of Bristol, which is thus expressed, viz.
Preserved among the Records of the Court of Chancery, in the Tower of London (to wit) on the Patent Roll for the 51st year of the reign of King Henry the 3rd, membrane 19, is contained as follows:—
For inclosing the Town of Bristol: The King, to all, &c. greeting. Whereas, lately, at the instance of Edward, our first begotten, we have granted to the Bailiffs, and good men in Bristol, in aid of inclosing the same town, certain Customs, to be taken in the same town, for the term of eight years, as more fully is contained in our Letters Patent, which the same Bailiffs and honest men thereof have, also the Castle of our said son of Bristol, which requires great and immediate repair, on account of its present danger, we will to be done and repaired with all speed, which may be done with the assent of the same. We will and grant that the same, our Son, shall have and receive, by the hands of his Constables there, all monies arising from the Customs aforesaid, for the repair and emendation of the Castle aforesaid, during the term abovementioned. In witness, &c. Witness ourself, at Stafford, the 10th day of May.
For sometime there is no doubt that the whole of the Toll was required to improve the fortifications; but as soon as the town became secure from sudden attack, we find the inhabitants devoting their chief attention to commercial accommodation, by improving the Harbour. The course of the Avon was then as it still remains; but the River Froom, running from the Castle Mill, under Froom Gate, down Baldwin-street, (in the middle of which there was a Corn Mill) and then emptying itself into the Avon at St. Werburgh's Gate; the Avon was of course alone navigable, and the trade of Bristol was thereby confined to a place called the Bek or Back, extending from the Port of St. Mary to the Back Gate. The rocky bed of the river, however, becoming extremely dangerous and inconvenient, from vessels taking ground, the Commonalty at length pnrchased a piece of land in the Marsh, of William de Bradestone, the Abbott of St. Augustine's, for the purpose of cutting a new channel for the River Froom; the Conveyance of which is thus worded:—
Anno 1239: Convention made between the Abbot and Convent of Saint Augustine, and the Mayor and Commonalty of Bristol, concerning the land in the Marsh of St. Augustine, towards the water of the Frome.
This convention made between the Lord William of Bradestone, then Abbot of St. Augustine, Bristol, and the Convent of the same place, on the one part, and Richard Aylward, then Mayor of Bristol, and the whole Commonalty of Bristol, on the other part, (to wit) that the above-mentioned Abbot and Convent have yielded for themselves and their successors, for ever, to the Mayor and Commanalty of Bristol, and their heirs, the whole of that land in the Marsh of St. Augustine, of Bristol, which lies without the trench which surrounds the arable land of the aforesaid canons, straight towards the east, down to the bank of the haven of the Frome; which trench (or ditch) is extended from the grange of the aforesaid canons towards the Avon; there being preserved to the Abbot and Convent aforesaid, on the land next to the above-mentioned ditch towards the aforesaid grange, where the aforesaid Commonalty begins to dig, seven score and four feet of land in width, and in the middle of the aforesaid marsh four score and twelve feet of land in width, and in the outer part towards the Avon, sixty feet in width; over which land so measured, the Commonalty of Bristol and their heirs shall have a free course, ingress, and egress, and transit to their vessels, and to walk according to their will, night and day, far and near, quietly and without opposition for ever, as their heirs have always been accustomed. But the aforesaid Commonalty and their heirs shall preserve to the Abbot and Convent aforesaid, and their successors, the same land so measured, (to wit) that because the increase of water hath injured the land, the aforesaid Commonalty ought to restore it; but the rest of the land of the aforesaid marsh of St. Augustine of Bristol, on the eastern and western part of the aforesaid ditch, the aforesaid Commonalty and their heirs have a right to hold entire, and to possess, in order to make there one trench, port, and whatsoever shall better please the aforesaid Commonalty, without any impediment or opposition for ever. For this concession therefore, and for the good of peace, the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty of Bristol, have given to the aforesaid Abbot and Convent nine marks of Silver; whence that this concession may remain approved and firm, as well the seal of the aforesaid Convent as the seal of the Commonalty of Bristol, are mutually appended to this writing: these being witnesses, the Lord John, son of Galfrid, Thomas of Berkely, Rob. of Gourney, &c. The Convention was made on the eve of the Annunciation of the Blessed Mary, in the 24th year of the reign of our Lord the King, Henry, the son of John.
When a Writ of Mandamus was likewise served on the inhabitants of Redcliffe, to aid and assist in cutting the Trench in the Marsh of St. Augustine, in the following manner, viz.—
Henry, by the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy, Aquitain, and Earl of Anjou, to all my honest men dwelling in Redclive, in the suburb of Bristol, wisheth health. Since our beloved Burgesses of Bristol, for the common profit of the town of Bristol, as well as of your suburb, have begun a certain Trench in the Marsh of St. Augustine's, that ships coming to our port of Bristol may more freely, and without hindrance, come in and go out; which trench, indeed, they cannot perfect, without great charges;—We therefore command you, that since from the bettering the said port, no small advantage will accrue, not only to those Burgesses, but also to you who are partakers of the same liberties which our said Burgesses have in the said town, and are joined with them both in scot and lot, that you lend the same assistance as they do; as it will be also very profitable and useful to you to have the work of the trench happily compleated, according to what shall fall to our share, together with our Burgesses, and so effectually, that the aforesaid work, which we regard as our own, receive no delay through any defect in you. Witness myself, at Windsor, 29th April, 24th year of our reign.
No great length of time elapsed, (as may naturally be supposed) before the commencement of such a noble and useful undertaking; suffice it to say, that the River Froom was, by these means, not only rendered navigable, but by the same exertions a new Key was effected, which reached from near the Froom Bridge as far as the Marsh Gate, which, in a few years, was able to contain all the larger ships, whilst the boats and smaller vessels were confined to the Back. It will be observed under this Grant, that the Corporation claim their title to the Queen Square Estate, and that the banks of the Froom, on both sides, were dedicated to the public.
In the reigns of Edward the first, and in the 10th, 14th, 17th, and 19th of Edward the 2nd, further Grants were likewise issued in aid of repairing the Walls.
In 1331, 5th Edward the 3rd, was the first Grant from the Crown, imposing any tax on the trade of the port, towards repairing the Keys or Wharfs, when a Toll on Merchandize was granted for four years, in aid of repairing and amending the Keys; the following is a copy:
Kept amongst the Records of the Court of Chancery, in the Tower of London (to wit) on the Patent Roll of the 5th year of the reign of King Edward 3rd, after the conquest of England, part 1, membrane 40, thus is contained:—
Of Kayage granted to the men of Bristol.: The King, to his well beloved the Mayor, Bailiffs, and honest men of his town of Bristol, greeting. Know ye that we have granted to you, in aid of repairing and amending the Keys of the aforesaid town, that from the day of the making of these presents, until the end of four years next ensuing, and fully to be completed, you may take of things coming for sale to the same town, the Customs underwritten (to wit):—
And therefore we command you, that you take the said Customs till the end of the aforesaid four years fully shall be completed. So that notwithstanding of the things or merchandize, on which any Customs in aid of repairing the walls of the town aforesaid, according to our grant to you thereupon made, you shall nevertheless receive during (the continuance) of this grant of Keyage. And on the completion of the term of the aforesaid four years, the said Customs wholly shall cease and be abolished. In witness, &c. to continue during the aforesaid four years. Witness, the King, at Hertford, the twenty-eighth day of January. By the King himself and Counsel.
In the 13th of Edward the 3rd, we find an Information laid before the King, acquainting him, that the Tolls which had been granted in aid of enclosing the town, and of repairing the Keys, had not been altogether devoted to their original purposes, but that a considerable part of them had been retained by the Collectors, and converted to their own use, by which unlawful practices the town sustained a serious injury: which producing a determination in the King, to prevent such frauds in future, he appointed a Commission to be sent to Bristol for that purpose, with full power to examine the respective Collectors on such particulars. This valuable document sufficiently proves, that the object of the King in granting these Duties, was wholly confined to the improvement of the Walls and Wharfs, and that the Toll should be most rigidly applied.
Preserved amongst the Records of the Court of Chancery, in the Tower of London (to wit) in the Inquisitions ad quod dampnum, for the 13th year of the reign of King Edward the 3rd, after the Conquest, No. 8, thus is contained:—
Edward, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine, to his well beloved and faithful Henry de Stretford and Edward le Frensh, greeting.— Whereas, we are given to understand, that divers men of our town of Bristol, by pretext of certain letters granted to the honest men of the town aforesaid, in aid of inclosing the same town, and of repairing our Key there, so well by the Lord Edward, late King of England, our Father, as afterwards by us have received and collected no small sums of money from the goods and merchandizes coming to the same town, and the money so received and collected, which ought to have been applied for the amendment and repair of inclosing the town and Key aforesaid, for the greater part they have retained it in their possession, and converted it to their own use, and as yet do retain the same, to the no small loss of us, and of the men of the town aforesaid, and detriment of the town aforesaid, we, wishing to avoid the frauds of such collectors in this behalf, and to cause the sums of money so collected to be applied in repairing and constructing the inclosure and Key aforesaid, as is proper, we have assigned you to inquire, by the oaths of good and lawful men, of the county of Gloucester, by which the truth of the affair in these premises, better may be known of the names of all and singular the persons deputed to levy and collect the customs of the goods and merchandizes brought to the same town for the purpose aforesaid, in the same town, and for how long a time such deputies have collected and levied the like customs, as well in the time of our said Father, as in our own time, and what sums of mouey of the customs aforesaid, by whom so levied, they have applied in repairing and amending the inclosures and key aforesaid, and what sums thereof they have retained in their possession, and as yet do retain; also to hear and determine the accounts of the aforesaid collectors in this behalf, as shall be just, and to levy the sums of money so collected, from the said collectors, if there shall re main any in their possession after the rendering of their accounts, and shall cause the same to be applied in repairing and amending the inclosures and key aforesaid, as to you well it shall appear; and to do and fulfil all and singular other things in this behalf, which by auditors of the like accounts might, or is expedient, to be done; and, therefore, we command you that at a certain day and place, which you shall appoint in this behalf, you shall audit and determine the acconnts aforesaid, and do and fulfil all and singular the premises in the form aforesaid, as we have commanded our Sheriff of the connty aforesaid, that at a certain day and place, which he will make known to you, to cause to come before you such and so many of good and lawful men of his bailiwick, by whom the truth of the affair in these premises better you shall be able to know and inquire. In witness of which, these our letters, we have caused to be made patent. Witness Edward, Duke of Cornwall, and Earl of Chester, our dear son. At Westminster, the 10th day of February, in the 13th year of our reign.
An Inquisition taken at Bristol, by virtue of a writ of the Lord the King, to this Inquisition annexed, on Monday, on the morrow of —, in the 13th year of the reign of King Edward the 3rd from the Conquest, before Henry de Stratford and Edward le French, by the oaths of Thomas Launer, Roger Pluff, Richard le Marescall, Walter le Coupare, Roger de Hunderslow, Galfred le Lane, Robert Pelipas, David de Tymbresburgh, Adam Derby, Walter Atte Walle, Robert le Coteller, and Robert le Spicer, to inquire for the names of all and singular the deputies, to levy and collect the customs of the goods and merchandize brought to the same town of Bristol for the repair and amendment of the enclosure and key of the said town, and for how long a time such deputies have collected and levied the like customs, as well in the time of Lord King Edward, father of the present Lord the King, as in the time of him, the present Lord the King, and what sums of money, of the customs aforesaid, so levied, they have applied in repairing and amending the enclosures and Key aforesaid, and what sums of money thereof they have retained in their own possessions and as yet do retain.
Who say, upon their oaths, that Robert Otry and William Curteys were deputed by the Mayor and Commonalty of Bristol, to collect the customs of the goods and merchandizes for sale, coming and brought to the said town of Bristol, granted for repairing and amending the Key and Pavement of the same town, and for the sums of money which thereupon they had collected, faithfully they had expended about the amendment of the Key and Pavement aforesaid; and they say that the aforesaid Robert and William had collected the aforesaid customs from the 19th day of February, in the — year of the reign of Edward, father of the present Lord the King, to the end of three years next following, fully to be completed by the Letters patent of the aforesaid Lord King Edward, father of the present Lord the King; also, they say, upon their oaths, that the said Robert and William, all and singular the monies which therefore they received (to wit) 67lb. of silver, they did expend well and faithfully in amending and repairing the Key and Pavement aforesaid, and nothing thereof had they retained in their possession, for which they say that the said Robert and William faithfully have rendered an account thereof, before the Mayor and Commonalty of Bristol, of all and singular the receipts of the aforesaid customs for the whole time aforesaid; likewise for all costs and expences incurred about the amendment of the Key and Pavement aforesaid, and had obtained acquittances sealed with the common seal of the town of Bristol; likewise, they say, upon their oaths, that John Daxebrugge and Walter Prentiz, then were the collectors of the aforesaid Keyage and Paviage, from the 6th day of October, in the 14th year of the reign of King Edward, father of the present Lord the King, by his letters patent, unto the end of three years then next following, fully to be completed, and for that purpose they had collected 93li. which faithfully they had expended about the amendment and repair of the Key and Pavement aforesaid, and nothing thereof had they retained, and whereof the said John and Walter faithfully had rendered an account, before the Mayor and Commonalty of Bristol, and from the same Mayor and Commonalty have obtained their acquittance, sealed with the seal of the said Commonalty. After that they say that William Curties and Thomas de Chesilburgh then were the collectors of the custom aforesaid for Keyage and Murage, by letters patent of Lord King Edward, father of the present Lord the King, from the 7th day of October, in the 17th year of his reign, unto the end of three years then next following, fully to be completed, and for that purpose they had collected, for the whole of the said time, 73li. 7s. 2d. which sum of money faithfully they had expended about the strengthening the Keys and walls of the aforesaid town of Bristol, and nothing thereof had retained in their own possession, and for which the said Thomas and William had rendered a faithful account before the Mayor and Commonalty of the said town of Bristol, and have acquittance for the same, sealed with the seal of the Commonalty aforesaid. Moreover, they say, upon their oaths, that Richard le White and John Frances, Jun. were the collectors of the customs of Keyage and Murage granted in aid of the same town of Bristol, by letters patent of the present Lord King Edward, from the 20th day of October, in the 20th year of the reign of the same King, unto the end of four years then next following, fully to be completed, and that they had collected for that purpose for the same time 112li. 15s. 10d. which same sum of money the same Richard and John Frances faithfully had expended about the repair of the Key Walls and inclosure of the said town of Bristol, and had retained nothing thereof in their own possession, and for which they had rendered a faithful account in the form aforesaid, and had acquittance thereof sealed with the seal of the Commonalty of the town aforesaid; also they say that William de Cameleigh and Richard de Woodhull were the collectors of the custom of Keyage and Murage granted in aid of the said town of Bristol, by letters patent of Lord Edward, the present King of England, from the 20th day of January, in the 5th year of his reign, unto the end of four years next following, fully to be completed, and that for the same time, they had collected, for that purpose 96li. 6s. 3d. which same sum of silver, faithfully they had expendpended about the repairs, and amending the Key, and Walls for inclosing the said town, and had retained nothing thereof in their possession, and for which they had faithfully rendered an account in the form aforesaid, and thereof had acquittances, sealed with the common seal of the said town of Bristol; also, they say that Joyce de Reyne and John de Horncastle were collectors of the customs of Keyage and Murage granted in aid of the said town by the letters patent of the present Lord the King, from the 1st day of February, in the 9th year of his reign, unto the end of four years next following, fully to be completed, and that for the same time they had collected for that purpose, 73li. 16s. 2d. which sum of money faithfully they had expended about the amendment and repairs of the Key and walls of the said town, and had retained nothing thereof in their own possession, and had faithfully rendered an account for the same, in the like manner as aforesaid, and had, and as yet have, acquittances thereof, sealed with the seal of the Commonalty of the said town of Bristol. In witness whereof, all of whom have affixed their seals to this Inquisition. Dated at Bristol the day and year aforesaid.
It is observable, indeed, in the examination of Robert Otey and William Curteys, that a part of the money is admitted to have been applied to the repairs of the Pavements, though the immediate ground of its application is not stated. No doubt it originated in the complete state of repair of the Walls and Keys and consequently requiring no further expenditure. The King, however, if we may use the expression, certainly took the hint, as in every subsequent Grant, the repairing and amending the Pavements, as well as the Key and Walls, is expressly included.
A succession of these Grants is found in the reigns of Richard 2nd, Henry 4th and 5th, and on the 29th May, in the 17th year year of Henry 6th, the dues of Murage, Keyage, and Paviage, are included in the Grant of the Town.
In the 24th of Henry 6th, there was a further Grant for sixty years, and the first of Edward 4th, the Tolls were granted in fee to the Corporation, those on Goods coming by land being omitted.
Kept amongst the Records in the Court of Chancery, in the Tower of London (to wit) on the Charter Roll of the 1st year of the reign of King Edward 4th, after the Conquest, thus it is contained:—
For the Mayor and Commonalty of the Town of Bristol.: The King to his Archbishops, Bishops, &c. greeting.— Know, ye, that we, for the laudable services of the Burgesses of our town of Bristol, who heretofore have shewn themselves grateful and willing in all things, to the most noble and renowned of recorded memory, our ancestors, late Kings of England, especially our beloved the now Burgesses of the same town, for late services done at their own expence, costs, labour, charges, and risk (not a little to their merit), contemplating and hoping that by our grant, the same now Burgesses, their heirs, and successors, may enjoy more amply the liberties and privileges that have been granted to their Commonalty, by so much the more force and effect from us, and our heirs, for bettering and lessening the like expences hereafter, we being willing and desirous to exert ourselves for their assistance, of our especial grace, and of our certain knowledge and mere motion, have granted, and by these presents for us, and our heirs, we do grant to the Mayor and Commonalty of the town aforesaid, and to their successors, and to the aforesaid Burgesses, their heirs and successors, that the Mayor and Sheriffs of the town aforesaid, for the time being, shall hold all, and all manner of personal pleas in our Court, in the Guildhall of the same town, (to wit) of debt, covenant, distress, account, trespass, deceit, of trespass and contempt, taking and detaining of beasts and chattels, and of other personal contracts, causes, and matters whatsoever, which have before this time arisen, or hereafter to arise, within the town of Bristol, county and suburbs of the same, and liberty and precinct of the same, by bill and plaint before the same Mayor and Sheriff, in that court, to be levied and appointed — and to summon such persons against whom such bills and plaints in the said court shall happen to be prosecuted or issued, and to attach and distrain them by their lands, goods, and chattels, and where the case shall require it, by their bodies, and goods and chattels, within the town, suburbs, liberty, and precincts aforesaid, as by due process of law, it is lawful to arrest, attach, and commit their bodies to prison, and all such pleas to hear and determine, and judgment thereupon to give, and that they shall cause executions thereon to be made by their officers, for ever. And moreover we, at the humble request of the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty, and Burgesses of the town aforesaid, understanding that they have been accustomed (in the time of our renowned ancestors) all and singular, wool and woollen cloths, and other heavy merchandizes whatsoever, carried and brought to, and into the town aforesaid, by any person whomsoever, not being a Burgess of the same town (as well by land as by water) to sell the same, at a certain place within the town aforesaid, ordered and assigned by the Mayor and Common Council of the town for the time being, and not to be sold and weighed in any other place within the same town, whereby not only our tolls, and many other dues, but also the public advantage of our faithful subjects, as well of the town aforesaid, as of others resorting to the same, hath increased; and that from many causes it hath happened, that by omitting those salutary customs, and by the negligence and carelessness of certain officers heretofore being in the same town, for a short time now passed, the same are diminished and subtracted, not a little to our loss and disadvantage, and of our faithful subjects aforesaid, by certain deceptions and false practices, by reason of such wool, cloths, and merchandizes being sold in private places, little considering the losses, injuries, and expences manifest by these presents, we, desiring to strengthen and increase all and singular those things which may be done by us for the public advantage, by politic government within the same town, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion for us, our heirs and successors, as much as in us lies, we will, and by the tenor of these presents we do grant to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty, and their successors, and to the aforesaid Burgesses of said town of Bristol, their heirs and successors, that they shall order, assign, and appoint, and for ever shall have one certain place convenient for meeting together within the town aforesaid, in which all and singular the wool, and woollen cloths, and other heavy merchandizes, from henceforth to be carried and brought to the town aforesaid, in that place shall be sold and weighed; and that all persons not being Burgesses of the town aforesaid, any wool, woollen cloths or other heavy merchandizes whatsoever, within the same town, henceforth wishing to sell such wool and woollen cloths, and such like merchandizes, in the place ordered, assigned, and appointed by them, the Mayor and Commonalty, and Burgesses in that place, shall sell the same, and all other heavy merchandizes whatsoever may weigh under the inspection of the Chamberlain of the same town, for the time being, to be elected by the Mayor and Common Council of the same town, or of the officers of him, the Chamberlain, and not in any other place within the same town. Also we have granted, and by these presents for us, and our heirs, we do grant to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty, and their successors, and to the aforesaid Burgesses, their heirs and successors, that they, for ever, shall have one Fair within the town, liberty, and precinct aforesaid, where it shall appear most convenient to them, every year, to be holden on the day of the translation of Saint Edward, the King and Martyr, (to wit) on the 20th day of June, and the nine days then next and immediately following, with all liberties and free customs to such fair belonging, unless that fair may be to the hurt of the neighbouring fairs; wherefore we will and firmly command, that the said Mayor and Commonalty, and their successors, and the aforesaid Burgesses, their heirs and successors, for ever, shall have one fair within the said town, liberty, and precinct aforesaid, where it shall appear most fitting to them, every year, to be holden on the translation of Saint Edward, the King and Martyr, (to wit) on the 20th day of June, and the nine days next and immediately following, with all liberties and free customs to such fair belonging, unless that fair be to the hurt of any neighbouring fair. And, moreover, of our abundant grace, and in aid of the repairing and amending, as well the walls of the Key of our town aforesaid, as of other walls and Pavements of the same town, we have granted to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty, and their successors, and to the aforesaid Burgesses, their heirs and successors, that they, for ever, shall take of things, for sale, coming by water to the town aforesaid, by the hands of those whom they shall appoint for this purpose, and for which they shall be required to answer, the underwritten customs, (to wit):
For all kinds of merchandizes and things for sale, not here specified, coming by water to the aforesaid town for sale, (excepting wool, leather, and skins of wool) one penny for every pound (of money,) one halfpenny for ten shillings and one farthing for five shillings; so that the actual value or any other value being expressed, or by the certainty of these presents known, or of any other gift and grant to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty, or to their predecessors made, or to the aforesaid Burgesses, or their ancestors, by us or by our progenitors, or any one of them, before this time made, in no way mentioned in these presents, or by any statute, act, ordinance, use, custom, or provision to the contrary made, ordered, used, or provided, or by any other thing, cause, or matter whatsoever, notwithstanding. These (persons) being witnesses: our most dear cousin, Thomas, of Canterbury, Primate of all England, and Legate of the Apostolic See; William, Arch bishop of York, and Primate of England; our dear cousin, G—, Bishop of Exeter; our Chancellor, W. Bishop of Ely; George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, our most dearly beloved brothers; Richard Earl Warr, Steward of England; Henry, Earl of Essex, our Treasurer; and William, Earl of Kent, Steward of our Household; our dear cousins and our well beloved John de Montague, and William Hastynges, our Chamberlain, Knights; and our well beloved Clerk, Robert Styllyngton, Keeper of our Privy Seal, and others. Given by the hand of the King, at Westminster, the 18th day of December.
By Writ of Privy Seal, &c. and date, &c.
We have thus shown, by a series of Documents, the origin of the Murage, Keyage, and Pavage Tolls—their consolidation:— and the grant, in fee, to the Corporation; it only remains to inquire, by whom, and under what title, they are now received; and whether they are still applied, as first intended, to the repairs of the Pavements. (fn. 1) In reply to the first of these questions, we observe, that the Murage, Keyage, and Pavage Dues, on Ships and Goods, are at present received by the Corporation, under two distinct titles, called Mayor's Dues, in regard to the toll on Ships, and Town Dues, as respects the toll on Merchandize.
With regard to the toll on Ships, we shall have very little trouble in pointing out the exact agreement between the two descriptions of tolls. Of the Mayor's Dues and Murage, let them speak for themselves; the words of the Grant of Murage are these: "Every merchant vessel coming within the same port with merchandize, for every time which the same shall come, 6d."—and the Mayor's Dues, is described as a certain toll of 40s. for and in respect of "every vessel coming to the port of Bristol, payable every time she may arrive." A similarity, which, if words have any meaning, can never be overlooked for a moment, as, excepting the amount, there is not a shade of difference in the description. This view of the subject is further confirmed by an entry, which appears in Brice's Book, amongst the Bye-Laws and Ordinances for the regulation of the Corporation Officers, which will readily account for the difference between the sum now charged, and what they are entitled to. The following is a copy:—
"And if any shipp, barke, ballinger, or boate doe not make there entry, then the master or owner of ev'ie such shipp, barke, ballinger, or boate, to ffyne, with Mr. Sheriff, ffor a shipp with a topp, xls and ffor ev'ie barke, ballinger or boate, xxs."
Now this is the actual amount at present raised, under the title of Mayor's Dues, viz. 40s. on every ship. This Bye-Law, no doubt, originated in consequence of several omissions of the pay ment of the sixpenny Murage due on vessels; to remedy which, the Corporation resolved, that every master should pay the toll, by entering his vessel at some appointed place, and in default of so doing, should be subject to a fine of forty shillings; which, it seems, in the course of time, had dropped the nature of a fine, and had been converted into a permanent tax; nor can we omit another point of considerable importance, namely, that Burgesses were, from a very early period, exempt from the toll of Murage, which naturally implies, that the Corporation can have no right to levy any tax on ships belonging to the burgesses of Bristol, or on those other places which are legally exempted.— The following is a list of places.
All theis Boates be ffre:
Newport, in Wales.
All theis boates that be of the holdinge of the Dutchery of Lancaster be ffree, and all ther tennants.
The Trowes of theis townes be not ffree, butt pay:
Brokward on the one syde is in the Dutchery of Lancaster, and not of the other syde, ffor they be of the Lordshipp of Wolleston, and not ffree.
Gatcu' is in the Dutchery, and it is in the p'ish of Are, and Are is not ffree.
Minam is Dutchery.
Radly is in the p'ish of Westbury, and Westbury is not ffree, nor Blakmer — Minsterwood Dutchery and — p'ish, Mynsterwood is not ffree.
Ushlewort, beyond Glous, not ffree.
Ffranyford, in the p'ish of Sawle.
Theis townes of Barstable Water:
Branton not ffree.
Bickinton not ffree.
Fframinton not ffree.
Apledoore not ffree, and it is in the p'ish of Northam, and Northam is ffree.
Absune not ffree.
This Toll on Ships, with those on Goods, were granted in the 11th of Henry 8th, to the Sheriffs, under the head of Profits of the Key and Back, and we find were collected for them by the Keeper of the Key, as the following regulation will sufficiently prove.
"The Keep' of the Key must take heed, that no shipp, barke, ballenger, neither boate doe pass away ffrom the Key of Bristoll, but before she pass away to bring a token to the Keep' of the Key from Mr. Sheriffs, or ffrom there Attorney or Clark, ffrom the Tolzey, that they have made ther entry for the shipp, barke, ballinger or boate."
This toll continued in the hands of the Sheriffs until about the beginning of the eighteenth century, when it was transferred to the Mayor, and from this circumstance, assumed, in the course of time, the title of Mayor's Dues. There is one point, however, which, by way of confirmation of our general inference, must not be lost sight of, for upon making the inquiry, we find that no toll on Ships was ever paid to the King, as owner of the Town, nor was there any other toll imposed on Ships except the Murage. Thus we have found the cause of the increase is accounted for, as also the alteration of the name; and there can be no doubt, but that the whole of the Dues, thus collected, are legally applicable to the repairs of the Pavement, and to that purpose alone.
In the year 1737, these Dues were so far disputed, that an action was set down for trial at Guildhall, in London, wherein the Defendant not appearing, a verdict was found for the Corporation; and the following extract, from the Judgment, very clearly decides, that the Due was claimed under the title of Murage, Keyage, &c.
Copy of the Judgment, Lyde versus Hart.
"That the Mayor of the said city is obliged to be at a great expence and charge, in and about the support and execution of his said office of Mayor, for the time being; and that the port of Bristol is an ancient port; and that, as Conservators, the Corporation have been accustomed to have the care and preservation of the said rivers, and the navigation of the same rivers and port, and the well ruling, governing of all Pilots and Masters of all ships and other vessels coming into or going out of the said port; and that a certain Key, called the Key of Bristol, and also another Key, called the Back of Bristol, were ancient keys and places, for the anchoring, mooring, and stationing all ships and vessels; and that vessels have been used to be moored at Kingroad. And by reason thereof, from time whereof the contrary is not in the memory of man, there hath been, and still is, an ancient and laudable custom used and approved in the same town and city respectively (to wit) that the owner of every vessel above the burthen of sixty tons, navigated and brought from the high seas up the said river Avon above Kingroad, to the said keys, have been accustomed to pay to the said town and city, to the use of such Mayor for the time being, towards his bearing the expence and charge of the support and execution of his said office, a reasonable duty of forty shillings for every such ship or vessel so navigated, and brought into, or moored, or stationed at the said Keys, or either of them." The record then states, that Lionel Lyde was the Mayor of the said city, and that the defendants, the Harts, had become liable to the said duty of 40s. upon the ship Joanna, navigated by them up the said river to the Key at Bristol; and wherefore the said Mayor brought his suit, &c. And the defendants Hart defended the wrong and injury, &c. and said they were not liable. And the cause came on for trial, when, for default of the defendants' not appearing, the jury assessed the damages at 40s, and the costs of the Mayor at £280.
The following is an account of the receipts from 1745.
1776 to 1806, at £1,800. a-year, £55,800.
1807 to 1826, at £2,000. a-year, £40,000.
We shall now proceed to shew what the Mayor was indeed intitled to. By the Sheriffs' return, in the 10th of Henry 8th, we find the Mayor was allowed £20. (fn. 2) a-year by the Sheriff, that he had also 6s. 8d. for every Obit, a Custom on Fish, and the profits of his Seal. Now the Document from which this extract has been taken, was made out by the Sheriffs, with a view of having the various demands on their office reduced; from which we infer, that if the Mayor had been receiving any toll on Ships, the Sheriffs would not have failed to have inserted it, as a plea to have prevented any farther call upon them for £20. a-year. In the next year, however, we find the toll of 6s. 8d. upon Obits transferred to the Sheriffs; but the Custom on Fish was still continued to the Mayor, of which the following is a Table:
Heareafter followeth the dutyes due vnto Mr. Maior ffor his prize ffish, and all kynde of salt, that cometh to the Back or Kay of Bristoll.
P'mis. Of ev'ie boate of Milwell and Lingg, vj of them.
Of ev'ie boate of ffresh Camps, ij of them.
Of ev'ie boate of Thorbecks and Tynbies, iiij of them.
Of ev'ie boate of Soles and Places xij of them.
Of ev'ie boate of Breames, xij of them.
Of ev'ie boate of ffresh Hake, vj of them.
Of ev'ie boate of Haddocks, viij of them.
Of ev'ie boate of Shades, viij of them.
Of ev'ie boate of Mackrells, viij of them.
Of ev'ie boate of Cockles, a bushell of them.
Of ev'ie boate of Muskells, a bushell of them.
Of ev'ie boate of Oysters, ij c. of them.
If any of the said boates that dooth bring Oysters, Cockells, or Muskells doe bring Ffish, then take the Ffish and leave the Oysters, Cockles and Muskells.
Of Salt Fish.
Of ev'ie boate of Cungers, ij cople of them.
Of ev'ie boate of Milwells and Lings, ij copples.
Of ev'ie boate of wett or dry Hake, ij copples.
Of ev'ie boate of Read Herrings, ij c. of them.
Of ev'ie boate of White Herrings in the romage, called Corff Herrings, ij c. of them.
Of ev'ie shipp of Newland Ffish, iij copple.
Ofe 'ie tonn of White Salt that dooth come vnto the Key or Back of Bristoll, in any trow or by land in waynes, payeth halff a bushel of ev'ie tune or waynes.
This Table is further confirmed, as including all the Dues at that time payable to the Mayor, by the following Ordinance, for the regulation of the Keeper of the Key, who has been before mentioned as the general Collector of Tolls on the Key and Back:—
The Keep' of the Key must certiffy Mr. Maior when that any ship or boat, stranger, do come vnto the Key with salt, or elce with salt ffish, or a trow that come with salt, or that any boat do come with salt ffish or ffresh ffish, or read herrings, that his servant may ffetch his duty.
Allso the Keep' of the Key, vpon Micklmes day, must wayte vpon Mr. Maior, vnto the yeeld hall, and when that the new Maior is sworne, then must the Keep' of the Key wayte vpon him home, to his house, and serve him att his dynner, and after dinner is done, he shall goe, with the sergeants and the rest of the company, and help to take vpp old Mr. Maior's table.
We shall now close this part of the subject by quoting a fact, which must put the question entirely at rest; we mean, that in the year 1613, a resolution was passed by the Common Council, that the duty on fish should be altogether relinquished, which leaves the Mayor at that period without any existing toll whatever, and, of course, he could have had no title to, nor was in the receipt of the 40s. toll on ships, which is what we set out to prove.
"8th May, 1613,—At a meeting of Common Council, It was Resolved, that no Mayor hereafter do take any custom or duty during his Mayoralty, as Fish, Salt, Oysters, or other description; and in lieu thereof, his allowance be increased from £40. to £52. but only to such as never served that office; and where one should be chosen Mayor that served it before, £104."
Having thus inquired into the nature and history of the Toll on Ships, we now proceed to a similar examination, of the Toll on Goods. The first Document is dated 16th Henry 6th, which represents the King as having been defrauded of his Customs at the port of Bristol, by the shipping and landing of goods at different parts of the River, and thenceforth limits, not only the hours for business, but assigns certain places in the port for the exclusive landing and shipping of merchandize, which are called the Key and the Back. The Document alluded to is thus expressed:
Amongst the Records of the Court of Chancery, kept in the Tower of London (to wit) on the Patent Roll for the 16th year of King Henry 6th, part 1. m. 9, on the back, thus is contained:
The King, to his well beloved the Collectors of our Customs and Subsidies in the port of our town of Bristol, and in all ports and places to the same port adjacent, who now are, or who, for the time shall be, greeting.—Whereas, we have lately been given to understand that very many persons, residents of the town aforesaid, have put divers customable goods and merchandizes in ships and boats by night and by day, upon the water of Avon, running through the middle of the town, and do carry the same to foreign parts, we being subtilely defrauded of the customs thereof to us belonging, and we being willing to obviate and be indemnified from the like fraud, we have ordained for the future, in this behalf, that all customable merchandises and other goods to be carried out of the same town to foreign parts, under forfeiture of the same, shall be taken at the Key of the same town, upon the water of Frome, or in a certain place called the Backe, between Baldwin-street and the Bridge of the said town aforesaid, in the day time, between the rising and the setting of the sun, and not in the night time, nor at any time in a secret way, shall be carried away, and shall be put into ships paying the customs thereof, due at the said Key, or at the said place called the Backe, and from thence shall be carried away to foreign parts, and that the ordinance aforesaid may be strictly observed, we have caused the same ordinance in this behalf publicly to be proclaimed, strictly prohibiting that no one shall presume to load their ships with Wool, or other customable merchandises, but at the place aforesaid, between the rising and setting of the sun, as is aforesaid, under forfeiture of the same Wools and merchandise, we have assigned you to overlook the lading of all merchandise and other goods, laden in the town aforesaid, and to take into your hands, as forfeited to us, all customable goods and merchandises which shall happen to be loaded into ships elsewhere than at the said Key, or the said place called the Backe, or at any other time than between the rising and setting of the sun, contrary to the form of the ordinance aforesaid, and to keep in safe custody the same for our use, so that to us, for the forfeitures aforesaid, you may answer at our Exchequer.—In witness, &c. wituess the King at Westminster, the 9th day of February.
This Commission informs us, that from that period, all goods were to be landed at the Key and Back; and by a resolution of the Corporation, in the 11th year of Henry 8th, we find the toll and duties collected on the Key and Back, and which included the whole of the port, were granted to the Sheriffs for the time being, and not many years after this arrangement, a regular Table of the Dues was published, in consequence of an Act of Parliament passed in the 22d year of Henry 8th. But as we have already fully entered into the question of what this table of dues consisted, under the head of Town Dues, for our present purpose it will be sufficient to establish three particular points, viz.:—
1.—That in in the year 1541, the Sheriffs were in possession of the Toll of Murage on Goods.
2.—That Murage and Custom are the same in amount with the present Town Dues, and
3.—That the Town Duties were known by the name of Sheriff's Dues till a late period.
From the establishment of which we shall easily perceive that several important inferences may be drawn.
Upon the first of these remarks, it must be acknowledged that the authority of Barrett is worthy of every confidence, having had access, amongst other books and papers of the Corporation, to the Great Red Book, from which he made many extracts, of which the following will be found to throw a light on our immediate subject, viz.:—
"1541, Thomas White, by deed Jan. 14, gave lands in the Manor of Hinton Derham, Gloucestershire, to Feoffees and the Chamberlain, £11. per annnm, to exempt the Severn Trows from paying Toll, Custom, Murage, or Keyage, for goods carried from the Key of Bristol, payable to the Sheriff or other person."—Fol. 33, Great Red Book.
Again, upon the subject of our second remark, at the end of the tables in page 57, it is thus written, that "All other things not rated in this book, payeth, of every pound sterling, twopence." Now this is the exact sum the Corporation have been in the habit of collecting till the passing of the bill in 1826.
From the same table it will be seen, in the charge of twopence, the Corporation have lost sight of the Package Rate in nearly every article; and that by adopting the ad valorem duty, in all cases, they have settled the question, by making a general rule of that which before was only an exception, which may be supposed to have been easily accomplished, when it is remembered that the toll was wholly collected from strangers.
And lastly, that the Town Duties were known, &c.
If we examine the publication of the late trial, pages 40 and 43, the following entries, read from the Corporation Books, will be found in the evidence, viz. that in the year 1651, it was agreed upon by the Common Council, that "if Major Clarke paid to the Chamberlain £30. and satisfy the Sheriffs' Customs for goods imported (fn. 3) since Michaelmas, he should be made a free burgess of the city, and be restored his goods."
Again, "Received of Eusebius Brookes, for the Sheriffs' Customs for this year, ending 29th September."
And "Received of Mr. Eusebius Brookes and Mr. Crofts, for Town Customs —, formerly paid to the Sheriffs."
In addition to this, we will add, that in setting out their title in the proceedings in the Exchequer, against Cruger and others, in 1775, the Corporation observe upon the duties, that they are now usually called the Town Duties, or the Fee Farm Duties, or the Sheriffs' Duties, from all which nothing can be more evident than that the Town Dues were called and known by the name of Sheriffs' Dues; as also, that the Sheriffs' Dues were composed of Murage and Custom.—The receipt for the last twenty years may be estimated at one hundred thousand pounds at least.
It now appears that the tolls on Goods and Ships, which had been granted in fee by the 1st of Edward the 4th, continue to be received at the present time. The use that is made of them is the next question, and whether they are applied, as originally intended, to the repairs of the Pavements. In reply to which, let it be observed, that it is certain, by the accounts of the Paving Commissioners, that no money has ever been paid over to them, in aid of Pavements, since the year 1806; but as there was a Clause appearing in the Pitching and Paving Act, which was repealed by the Corporation in 1806, the object of which was to point out the liability of the Corporation to repair the streets, it seems probable, that the Corporation, before the repeal of the Act, might have contributed though, no doubt, in a small degree, to the repairs of the Pavements.
Before we enter more particularly into the proceedings of the year 1806, we will allude to an Ordinance of the Common Council, which was agreed to in the year 1615; wherein all carts are expressly prohibited from entering any further into the city than St. Peter's Pump, on that side of the city, to prevent their doing any injury to the pavement; which showed again, that every possible care was then taken to avoid expence, as it likewise accounts for the general use of Drays and Sledges in Bristol.
In 1615, at a Meeting of the Common Council, it was enacted, in consequence of the heavy expence in repairing the Pitching, that no cart, with iron-bound wheels, should ever enter further than St. Peter's Pump, on the east side of the city.
But reverting again to the Clause in the old Paving Act, and the conduct of the Corporation in repealing it, in the reign of Mr. Alderman Bengough, it is plain, by their employing Mr. G. W. Hall to have it repealed, they must have been sensible of the extent of their liability. The following is a copy of the Clause.
Jan. 22d, Geo. 2d. Provided always, and be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, that all and every person and persons, Bodies Politic and Corporate, who by any prescription, Custom, Usage, Tenure, or special agreement, is or are obliged, liable to repair any of the Streets, Lanes, or Ways within the said city, shall still remain liable to repair the same, any thing herein contained to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.
Upon the conduct alluded to then, we wish to observe, that blank copies of the Bill were sent by the Corporation, on the 21st March, to the several Vestries; in consequence of which a meeting was appointed on the 11th of April, at St. Peter's Hospital, when it was agreed to appoint a deputation to wait upon the Mayor, and to request that the Bill, of which they had just received a copy, with the blanks filled up, should be retarded until after the 24th of April, on which day there was to be a general meeting of all the parishes, to take the important affair into consideration. The Mayor, in his reply, declared, that he had received orders that the Bill should be proceeded upon, in a way that they might not lose the Sessions, but that he would lay their Resolutions before the Aldermen, who had a meeting on the Saturday. Now as the Bill, at this period, was in the Committee, there could be nothing to prevent its delay till after the 24th, had they wished for it; but instead of paying attention to those remonstrances, the Bill was driven on by the Corporation, with such rapidity, that on the 25th of April, the day after the general meeting, it had not only passed the Commons, but had gone through the House of Lords, and the only apology the inhabitants ever received for this precipitancy, was to be told by the Corporation, that they might rest assured, that in framing the Bill, the Corporation had taken particular care of the Rights, the Privileges, and the Interests of the Citizens, and they had no doubt, when the Bill came to be better understood, it would give general satisfaction; but the reader will peruse the following copy, and judge for himself.
Bristol, 1st May, 1806.
To the Deputies nominated by the several parishes, for the purpose of considering the Bill for Paving, Cleansing, and Lighting the streets of the city of Bristol.
The Report of Mr. Simon Oliver, the Rev. Samuel Seyer, Mr. Wm. Holder, Mr. Thomas Batchelor, and Mr. James Palmer, the Committee appointed at a General Meeting of the Deputies, held at St. Peter's Hospital, 24th April last.
Your Committee have deemed it necessary to lay before you a complete view of the proceedings relating to the passing of the Pitching and Paving Bill, in order that you may be enabled to form a correct judgment upon the whole of the subject.
They, therefore report, that on the 21st of March last, six copies of the bill, as it was first drawn in blank, were sent to each of the parishes, with the following letter:—
Council House, Bristol, 21st March, 1806.
Gentlemen,—I am desired by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council, assembled, to send you six copies of the bill now pending in Parliament, for Paving and Lighting the city of Bristol, for the perusal of yourselves and the inhabitants of your parish; and I'm further to inform you, the Corporation will be happy to receive any information you may offer in the proposed Act.
Signed, Samuel Worrall, Town Clerk, and addressed to the Ministers and Churchwardens of each parish.
That on Monday, the 14th of this month, a Meeting of the Ministers and Churchwardens of the several parishes, was held at St. Peter's Hospital (convened by notice sent to each of the parishes on the 11th) to consider the clauses of the said bill, at which Meeting the following Resolutions were entered into, and signed by the Chairman, Mr. John Gardiner, Churchwarden of St. Peter.
The Churchwardens of several of the parishes in which Meetings had been held, having stated that the principle of the Bill had been approved of; but that several objections to particular clauses had been made at such Meetings.
Resolved,—That it is expedient that the clauses of the bill should be considered by the inhabitants of the several parishes throughout the city, and that for that purpose the Churchwardens of the several parishes should be requested to call public Meetings as early as possible, both to consider the clauses of the said bill, and to name two Deputies, who should be empowered to meet and enter into a general consideration of the said bill.
Resolved,—That a Deputation from the Meeting, (viz.) Mr. Oliver and Mr. Palmer, be requested to wait upon the Right Worshipful the Mayor, and to represent to him that a bill of such importance as the present, requires more consideration than the several parishes appear, as yet, to have devoted to it. And that in fact, many parishes have not as yet been called together, for the purpose of considering the same, and to request that the bill may not be further proceeded in, until the sense of the inhabitants of the whole city can be taken.
Resolved,—That the recommendation of this Meeting to the several Churchwardens to call Meetings in their respective parishes, be signified to them; and that they be requested to call such Meetings, on or before Wednesday, the 23d instant, and to request the Deputies, who shall be then named, to meet at this place on Thursday next, the 24th instant, at five o'clock in the afternoon, to proceed to a general consideration of the bill.
Your Committee further report. That on Friday, the 15th of April, Mr. Simon Oliver and Mr. James Palmer, waited on the Right Worshipful the Mayor, at the Council-House, with a copy of the above resolutions, which they left with him. And agreeably to the second resolution, they requested that the bill might be retarded until the sense of the inhabitants of the whole city should be taken thereon, at the Meeting intended to be held on the 24th April, to which the Mayor answered, That nothing more could be done by him at present. 'That orders had been given, that the bill should be proceeded with in such a manner as not to lose the sessions; and that he could not do any thing in it himself, but he would lay it before the Aldermen at a meeting intended to be held on the Saturday following;' or to that effect.
At this period the bill was in the Commons, and if it had been the wish of the Mayor and Aldermen to collect the sentiments of the city, its progress might easily have been delayed to the 24th, without any danger of losing the present sessions of Parliament. Mr. Oliver and Mr. Palmer, therefore, relying implicitly on the frequent assurances which had been given by the promoters of the bill, that they had the interests of the citizens at heart, and wished to frame the bill so as to meet with general approbation, were under no apprehensions after the delivery of the foregoing resolutions to the Mayor, that the bill would be hurried through its last stages in Parliament, so as to defeat the object which the Mayor and Aldermen themselves professed to have in view, namely, that of previously taking the sense of the inhabitants thereon.
On 24th of April, a Meeting of the Deputies of the several parishes was held at St. Peter's Hospital, at five o'clock in the evening, at which Meeting the representatives for fifteen parishes attended, and having carefully and maturely considered the bill, many of the clauses were considered as being extremely improper, and such as would prove highly injurious to the interests of the citizens, by giving an undue power and influence to the Mayor and Aldermen. And several resolutions were entered into, in which the objections made to the clauses were stated.
Bristol, 24th April, 1826.
At a Meeting of the Deputies nominated by the several parishes to consider the bill now pending in Parliament, for paving, cleansing, and lighting the streets of Bristol, held this day at St. Peter's Hospital, Mr. Simon Oliver in the Chair—
The clauses of the bill being read, it was resolved unanimously— (fn. 4)
And that the Rev. Mr Seyer, Mr. Simon Oliver, William Holder, Mr. Thomas Bachelor, and Mr. James Palmer, be appointed a Committee, to wait on the Right Worshipful the Mayor with the foregoing resolutions.
Signed, Simon Oliver.
And your Committee further report, that having learnt at this meeting, that notwithstanding the resolutions of the Ministers and Churchwardens, delivered to the Mayor on the 15th of April, the bill had been read a first time in the House of Lords, on the 21st. the Deputies directed their Solicitor, by the next post, to send a copy of the resolutions, signed by the Chairman, to Mr. Osborne, in London, with instructions to use every endeavour to get the bill retarded in the Lords, till the Mayor and Aldermen had considered their objections, and given an answer to them.
Your Committee further report, that on the next day, viz. on Friday, the 25th of April, they waited on the Mayor, at the Council-House, with a copy of the resolutions. That it appeared to them, the Mayor did not, at first, attach that importance to their suggestions which they conceived they merited; he, however, informed them, that he could do nothing in the affair himself; that the Committee who had originally brought the bill into Parliament, had been long since dissolved, but that he would call a meeting of the Common Council, to consider the resolutions, if the Committee of Deputies wished it, and would give him a written request to that effect; which written request was accordingly immediately delivered to him. And your Committee have since heard, that upon further consideration, the Mayor thought it would be proper to stop the further progress of the bill for the present, and sent instructions, accordingly by that day's post, to Mr. Hall, in London.
And your Committee also report, that agreeably to the directions of the Meeting of the Deputies, a copy of the resolutions was on the 25th sent to Mr. Osborne, in London, with instructions to use every exertion to get the bill delayed.
Your Committee further report, that at five o'clock in the evening of the 26th, Mr. Jarman left at the house of Mr. Simon Oliver (one of your Committee) the following copy of a letter that day received by the Mayor from Mr. Hall, from whence it appears that such was the rapidity with which the bill was hurried through the Lords, that it was read a third time and passed on the 25th ult.
House of Commons, 25th April, 1806.
Sir,—The Paving Bill, with the Amendments which I have from time to time received from you and Mr. Alderman Bengough, has this moment been read a third time, and passed in the House of Lords, of which, I lose not a moment in acquainting you. (Signed) George Webb Hall.
Your Committee also report, that yesterday, the 30th April, Mr. Simon Oliver received from the Council-House, the following answer to the Resolutions of the Deputies, delivered on the 22nd ult. viz.:—
At a Meeting of the Common Council, on Wednesday, the 30th day of April, 1806, the resolutions of the Deputies of the several parishes in this city, respecting the bill lately before Parliament for better paving, cleansing, and lighting the city of Bristol, having been read at this assembly of the Common Council, it is resolved,—That the principle of the Paving Act of 46th Geo. 3rd, is to render the usage of this city conformable to the general law of the land, to which it has hitherto been an exception. That the powers which it gives to the Magistrates are, in all material instances, the same as are exercised by the county Magistrates, and that the mode of electing Commissioners under the present act, is the same as is directed for the election of the Surveyors of the Highways under the general Highway act.
That the Corporation, in framing the bill, has taken particular care of rights, privileges, and interests of the citizens of Bristol, and has no doubt but the operations of the act will give general satisfaction.
Ordered,—That a copy of this resolution be sent by Mr.
Town-Clerk, to Mr. Simon Oliver, Chairman of the Meeting
of the Deputies.
S. Worrall, Town Clerk.
Having thus submitted to your consideration a plain statement of facts, which they have endeavoured to relate with the utmost accuracy and impartiality, yonr Committee forbear making any comments thereon, convinced that after an attentive perusal of this narrative, and a careful consideration of the act, as compared with other acts of a similar nature, any observations from them, to enable you to draw proper conclusions, would be superfluous.
Bristol, 1st May, 1806.
At a Meeting of the Deputies, nominated by the several parishes, to consider the bill for paving, cleansing, and lighting the streets of the city of Bristol, held this day at St. Peter's Hospital, Mr. Simon Oliver in the chair, the Committee appointed at the last general meeting stated, that the said bill was read a third time, and passed in the House of Lords on the 25th ult. and that they had, in consequence thereof, drawn up a report of all the circumstances relating to the passing of the said act, which report was then made, and it was resolved, that the same should be printed in all the Bristol papers. And it appearing to this meeting that the act, as it passed, does not differ in any material points, from the bill read at their last meeting (so as respects the objections then made by them) resolved, that in the opinion of this meeting, the act is inimical to the rights, privileges, and interests of the citizens of Bristol, and that it will meet with general disapprobation.
And resolved, that it be recommended to the several parishes to consider of the propriety of petitioning Parliament in the next sessions, to bring in a bill to amend or repeal the said act.
(Signed) Simon Oliver.
The thanks of this meeting were voted to Mr. Oliver, for his able and impartial conduct in the chair.
Now we inquire what could have induced the Corporation to trouble themselves about a Paving Act at all? Or what could have excited their conduct in such a direct opposition to their fellow citizens in removing the Clause referred to, (fn. 5) but that it would have made it so conspicuously evident to the citizens of Bristol, from one generation to another, that the Corporation were in possession of funds, which were originally intended for the purpose of repairing the Streets? The inference, it is presumed, is too plain to be controverted.
In 1826, application was made to the Court of King's Bench, calling on the Mayor, &c. to shew cause why a Writ of Mandamus should not issue, directing the Corporation to pay over to the Commissioners for Paving, in aid of repairing the Pavements, such sums of money as the Corporation had received, under the title of Mayor's Dues and Town Dues. The Attorney General, on the part of the Corporation, did not deny, that the Corporation were liable; but took a preliminary objection, by stating that the Corporation must be asked to pay the money over, before parties can apply for a Mandamus. Thus the application was got rid of by the Corporation, not upon the merits, but because due notice had not been given. It will be seen, that the Attorney-General earnestly pressed for costs, but the reply of the Court was, "certainly not." On such objection, the following is a copy of the Short-Hand Writer's Notes;
The Attorney-General—"My Lords, in this case—"
Mr. Bompas—"Your Lordships will allow me to say, that in this case I am in the situation—"
The Attorney-General—"I have sent for Mr. Alderson, and he is here—it will be disposed of in a minute. My Lords, this is a Rule calling upon the Mayor, Burgesses, and Commonalty of the city of Bristol, to show cause why a Writ of Mandamus should not issue, directed to them, commanding them to pay over to the Commissioners for Paving, Pitching, Cleansing, and Lighting the city of Bristol, and the liberties thereof, or to their Treasurer, in aid of the money for the Pavements of the said city, such sum and sums of money, as they the said Mayor, Burgesses, and Commonalty have received as and for certain Dues, now called or known by the name of Town Dues and Mayor's Dues, and have not paid over to the said Commissioners, or their Treasurer, since their appointment by the statute or statutes in that case made and provided. Now, my Lords, as to this there is a preliminary objection, and I call upon my friends to answer that objection—they have not been asked to do it. It does not appear by the affidavit, that they are required to do any thing, until they are asked, and, therefore, it is really too much to come into Court for a Mandamus."
Mr. Alderson—"I have an answer to that, which is, that the persons to ask, and the persons to reply, are the same. The persons for whom my friend appears, and the party against whom the application is made, are both Commissioners."
The Lord Chief Justice—"It is against the Mayor and Cor poration of Bristol."
Mr. Alderson—"Who are part of the Commissioners."
Mr. Justice Bayley—"And no Commissioners have been asked."
The Lord Chief Justice—"If they are Commissioners, it is in a different character, and not in their Corporate character."
Mr. Alderson—"It does not appear that I have any other answer to the objection."
The Lord Chief Justice—"And which is no answer. The Rule must be discharged."
The Attorney-General—"And discharged with costs."
The Lord Chief Justice—"Not with costs."
Mr. Bompas—"The circumstances under which the application is made are these—it is an application against the Mayor and Commonalty, the Mayor and Aldermen, and they select all the Commissioners out of a certain number that are appointed; so that they have, in point of fact, the selection of every person who is individually received, and there is no person who can ask of them, individually—they are the only persons to whom to apply; and no power is given in case the Commissioners do not ask it. It is only they and the Commissioners who are to fix upon a certain sum, which they think fit to raise, and to levy that payment on the Mayor and Aldermen, which is only justice, because they, as your Lordships know, are the persons who have the sole management with the Common Council of the whole affairs of the city."
The Lord Chief Justice—"You now apply on behalf of the Commissioners?
Mr. Bompas—"We apply on behalf of individuals rated as inhabitants of Bristol as taxed by the Commissioners, because they wont ask and the Mayor will not pay over."
The Lord Chief Justice—"Then your application is a wrong application; it should have been an application to command them to apply to the Corporation."
Mr. Bompas—"I will just state, in answer to that conclusion, that under these circumstances, I think your Lordships, if an Act of Parliament, or a legislative authority, or a charter requiring certain persons to demand a duty of another, the only way is to come before your Lordships, and I apprehend your Lordships would state, that then we should apply for a Mandamus to these persons to demand. Now, I submit to your Lordships, that there is a great deal of difference, where the only Charter is one requiring certain persons to pay over certain sums for certain purposes, that although the requiring of the Act or of the Charter only refers to those persons who are ordered to pay over a rate, a question may possibly arise collaterally, and your Lordships might say, the Commissioners ought to get as much money as they could, but not without there was a requirement of a Charter, to order certain persons to do certain things; we are not to apply to your Lordships for a Mandamus against those persons."
The Lord Chief Justice—"You should have applied to them to do it. Has any application been made to the Mayor and Corporation?"
The Attorney-General—"None whatever."
Mr. Justice Bayley—"You apply for a Mandamus upon a rate on the inhabitants, when there might have been a demand made on the Mayor and Corporation, that they should pay the Town Dues over to the Commissioners."
Mr. Bompas—"The only answer I can give your Lordships is this; and I shall not keep it up one moment more than merely to submit it. Are we not to be put in the situation of other persons who have a right to claim an individual duty to themselves?"
The Lord Chief Justice—"In that way you have no right to apply here."
The Attorney-General—"It ought to be with costs, my Lord."
The Lord Chief Justice—"No, certainly not, after such an objection. They must apply to them, or apply to the Commissioners, or, perhaps, to both."
It will be observed, the question is by no means got rid of,— the Chief Justice stated, the Citizens of Bristol must give the Corporation Notice, or apply to the Commissioners to give Notice.