Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs: 1257-8

Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London 1188-1274. Originally published by Trübner, London, 1863.

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'Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs: 1257-8', in Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London 1188-1274, (London, 1863) pp. 31-42. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]


(fn. 1) A.D. 1257. Sheriffs.: Thomas Fitz-Thomas,; Robert de Catelonie,

The said Robert dying however, on the morrow of Saint Lucy [13 December] Matthew Bukerel, was made Sheriff; but on the Ides [13] of February was removed, and William Grapefige was made Sheriff in his place.

In this year, the King issued a new coinage, of golden pennies, each two (fn. 2) Sterlings in weight, and of the purest gold; and it was his will that such gold coin should pass current in value for twenty sterlings.

This year, on the Sunday next after the Feast of All Saints [1 November] the Mayor and citizens appearing before his lordship the King at the Exchequer in obedience to his precept, he put them to the question, conjuring them by the fealty in which they were bound to him, that they would certify him, according to their consciences, whether the aforesaid coinage would be beneficial and for the common weal of his kingdom, or not. Accordingly, holding counsel and conference thereon among themselves, they appeared before the King and said, that through that coinage the greatest detriment might accrue to his realm, and more especially to the poor of his realm, the chattels of very many of whom are not worth in value a single gold coin. And further, they said that through that coinage gold would be held of much lower value, when that money should come to be dispersed in so many hands; a thing that was already evident, seeing that sheet gold, which always used to be worth (fn. 3) ten marks, was then worth nine marks only, or even eight. Whereupon, after they had set forth many reasons why that coinage would prove otherwise than beneficial, his lordship the King replied :—" It is my will that this coinage shall pass current, the penny for twenty sterlings, but that no one shall be compelled to take it; and whosoever shall take it, shall be at liberty to exchange it wherever he may please, without hindrance therein; and if he shall think proper, he may come to our Exchange, and shall have for every such golden penny nineteen (fn. 4) pence and one half-penny.

This year, on the Monday next after the Feast of Saint Hilary [13 January], it was provided that, whereas the Sheriffs at their own option had taken money of the merchants of Normandy who bring woad into the City, for leave to harbour the same; by reason whereof they were excessively oppressed; in future, the merchants should be at liberty to import their woad, and should give to the Sheriffs seven shillings for such leave on every (fn. 5) frail, besides one half-penny on every quarter for custom.

This year, shortly before the Feast of the (fn. 6) Purification of the Blessed Mary [2 February], a certain roll was found in the Wardrobe of his lordship the King at Wyndlesore, sealed with green wax, and placed there by some person unknown, in which were set forth many articles against the Mayor; to the effect that the City had been aggrieved by him and his abettors, beyond measure, as well in respect of tallage as of other injuries that had been committed by them. Wherefore, his lordship the King, wishing to know the truth thereof, sent John Maunsel to London on the Conversion of Saint Paul [25 January], and had the Folkmote summoned on the Sunday following. Upon which day, he had the said roll read before all the people,—there being there present the (fn. 7) Earl of Gloucester, Henry de (fn. 8) Ba, and others of the Council of his lordship the King,—saying that the King would not allow his city to be aggrieved, but desired to be certified as to what rich men had been favoured in the tallages, and what poor men aggrieved, and whether the Mayor and his advisers had appropriated anything out of the tallages to their own use; and further, commanded all the Aldermen, early in the morning of the morrow, to summon their Wardmotes; and also, commanded that the men of each Ward should there, in the absence of the Alderman, choose from their number six-and-thirty men who before had been tallaged ; all of whom were on the same day, about the (fn. 9) first hour, to appear at Saint Paul's, before him and others of the King's Council, who should be sent thither. And accordingly so it was done, and these six-and-thirty men appearing on the morrow in the hall of the Bishop of London, in the presence of John Maunsel [and] Henry de Ba, Justiciars, Henry de Wengham, Chancellor, Philip Lovel, Treasurer, and others of the King's Council, the aforesaid John spoke and gave orders on behalf of his lordship the King, that the persons should certify them upon the said articles on oath. But they said that, according to the laws of the City, they ought not to make oath upon any inquest, except where it was a question of life and limb, or where land was to be lost or gained; but that they ought only to be adjured by the oath which they had made unto the King, and in virtue of the fealty in which they are bound unto God and the King; and so, much altercation taking place between the Justiciars and the citizens, nothing was done on that day.

A day therefore was named for the citizens, being the morrow, at the Guildhall; upon which day, the before-named John Maunsel coming into the Guildhall, together with the King's Council, the citizens again refused to agree to make oath in the inquisition aforesaid. But on the morrow, on the Wednesday, that is to say, before the Purification of the Blessed Mary [2 February], upon the King approaching Westminster, the Mayor and citizens went forth to salute him, as the usage is, as far as (fn. 10) Kniwtebrigge : the King however sent thither a certain esquire, commanding them not to appear in his presence. Wherefore the citizens, perceiving that the King was moved to anger, returned home forthwith, without addressing the King. Afterwards, on the Vigil of the Purification, the Mayor and a countless multitude meeting in the Guildhall, Michael Tovy and Adam de Basing were sent thither by his lordship the King, to say that the King was willing to preserve all their franchises unimpaired; but that, for the benefit of the City, he was wishful that inquisition should be made, and that too upon oath, by what persons his commons had been so aggrieved in reference to tallages and other instances of transgression; as also, that no one should be punished unless he had offended, and that too, without detriment to the community. In the same words John Maunsel and the others, sent by the King, made affirmation; and so, by reason of such words and pleasant promises, the populace gave assent, crying aloud, (fn. 11) " Ya, ya," to taking the oath, in disparagement of their own franchises; which in fact these same most wretched creatures had not been the persons to secure.

Upon the same day, the said John forthwith seized the City into the hand of his lordship the King, the Mayor, Sheriffs, and King's (fn. 12) Chamberlain being removed, though no one of them had been in any way convicted ; and then delivered it into the custody of the Constable of the Tower, and substituted Michael Tovy and John Addrien in place of the Sheriffs. On the same day, there were delivered to the said John Maunsel all the rolls of the tallages that had theretofore been made; all which he caused to be sealed, and then returned them to the Chamberlain of the City. After this, on the morrow of the Purification, and so from day to day, there appeared before the said John in the Chamber of the Guildhall, or else before the (fn. 13) Constable and others who had been sent thither by the King, six-and-thirty men of every Ward; the same six-and-thirty making answer together, but by themselves only, and unaccompanied by any others of the Wards, and being sworn as to the articles aforesaid and many other points on which they had been questioned. And this lasted until the first Sunday in Lent, which then fell on the Feast of Saint Scholastica the Virgin and Austberta [10 February] ; so that the said inquisition was made throughout twelve Wards, and this so secretly, that nothing was revealed unto any one, either of the interrogatories put by the Justiciars, or of the answers made by the citizens thereto, until the day before-mentioned.

Upon which day, the King summoned before him at Westminster the Mayor and Sheriffs, and all the Aldermen of the City, as well as the six-and-thirty men of each of the twelve Wards aforesaid, through whom that inquisition had been made. These being assembled, all the Aldermen were called by name, and four men of each Ward; who accordingly came into the Exchequer before the Barons of the Exchequer, and the Earl of Gloucester, and the (fn. 14) Earl of Warwyk, and John Maunsel, and Henry de Ba, and the Constable of the Tower, and others of the King's Council. The Mayor also being summoned, together with Nicholas Bat and Nicholas Fitz-Joce, Matthew Bukerel, John Tuleshan, and John le Minur, John Maunsel said, in presence of all the other Aldermen and other persons, that the King sued them for grievances and injuries committed against the men of his city. After which, he caused to be read one portion of the inquisition aforesaid, and said that through them and their counsels the City had been aggrieved and ruined, and through this more especially, that by them the mode of making tallage had been changed ; the roll of the last tallage not having been read in the Guildhall before all the people summoned therefor, in manner as was formerly wont to be done; but the moment the tallage was made, all the tallagers received their license, the said roll not even being sealed. And thus had the Mayor and others changed the roll at their own will, for the advantage of some persons and to the loss of others.

To this answer was made, that for some time the tallage-roll used to be read in the Guildhall before all the people, but that this practice had been then left off for ten years and more. At length, after many objections had been made by the Justiciars and answers given by the others thereto, they made denial of force and injury, and [averred] that no one had by them been aggrieved in the tallage or had been favoured therein; as also, that the last tallage had been made by men by the whole community elected, and sworn thereto. Also, that the amount of this tallage was reduced to writing by the tallagers; which writings were still in the possession of William FitzRichard, one of such tallagers; and this, according to the laws of the City of London they made offer to prove. To this however Henry de Baluster objected, asking whether they were ready to place themselves, so far as this matter was concerned, for good and for evil, upon those other Wards of the City, by which no inquisition had before been made. Whereupon they said that, as to all trespasses imputed to them, they were ready to defend themselves by the laws and customs of the City of London. Enquiry was then made by John Maunsel of the Aldermen and other citizens, what the custom of London was in such a case; to which they made answer, that for homicide the citizens of London ought to defend themselves by the oaths of six-and-thirty men, and for trespass against the King by twelve men, and for trespass against any other person by six compurgators, the accused himself making oath the (fn. 15) seventh. John Maunsel however, not content with this, and wishing to aggrieve the persons before-mentioned, named the morrow for them to appear before his lordship the King.

On the morrow the citizens appeared at Westminster; on which day John Maunsel caused to be read before the King, seated at the Exchequer, the aforesaid inquisition that had been made in the City, all those of the King's Council being then present, who had been there on the preceding day, with many others beside. After this, the Aldermen and citizens, on being summoned, appeared before the King. The Mayor, however, and the men before-mentioned were called separately by name; and in like manner Arnulf Fitz-Thedmar and Henry Walemound, who had not before been in any way accused. As to the Mayor and Nicholas Bat, who, when at Windlesore, had opposed the inquisition before the King, they were without answer; wherefore they threw themselves upon the mercy of his lordship the King, saving always their liberty and that of the City of London.

As to the other six men, the King caused them to be impleaded, for that through counsel given by them to the Mayor, his city had been aggrieved beyond measure, as well through tallages unjustly made as other injuries inflicted upon the commons of London; in addition to which, the King's beams and weights had been changed, a thing that was not lawful to be done without the King's permission. To this last, answer was made, that the beam and weights had not been changed, but the form only and manner of weighing; and this, for the purpose of securing great advantage and greater accuracy, had been done through the agency of more than two hundred trustworthy men of the City. For whereas before, the draught of the beam used to incline towards the wares, and by reason of such draught the weigher was in the habit of giving greater weight to one man than to another, either through favour, or through fear, or on receiving a bribe, a thing that had been covertly done; it had since been provided, that all wares which are sold by the King's balance, should be weighed just like gold and silver, and without any draught being allowed whatsoever; the vendor, in lieu of such draught, giving the buyer four pounds in every hundred. But that through them or through their counsel the City had been aggrieved in tallages or in other matters, they made denial, and were ready to disprove the same, as well as all misdeeds to them imputed, according to the laws and customs of the City.

Enquiry was also made of the other Aldermen, what was their custom in such a case ; whereupon, after holding counsel, they appeared before the King, and said the same as had been said the day before, namely, that the citizens of London ought to defend themselves on charge of trespass as against the King, by oath of twelve men of the City; and that such was their custom. But the King, not content with this, gave orders to the Sheriffs, to convene the Folkmote on the morrow at Saint Paul's Cross, whither John Maunsel would be sent by him, as well as some others of his Council, to make enquiry of the commons whether such was their custom. Upon which day, on a Tuesday, namely, all the Aldermen and citizens came to Saint Paul's Cross. But when the six men beforenamed, who had been questioned by the King, understood from the murmurs of the populace that they would not support the Aldermen in the answer that had been made by them in presence of the King, they went to the persons who had been sent by the King, and who were then in the house of a certain Canon of Saint Paul's, and said that they declined to plead against his lordship the King; and that they threw themselves upon the mercy of his lordship the King, and prayed that the King would cause inquisition to be made by such persons as he might think proper, whether they were in any way guilty of any crime, saving however their liberties unto them and the other citizens. But the others declined to grant them any inquisition; and so, they being at the King's mercy, John Maunsel and the others who had been sent by his lordship the King, came to Saint Paul's Cross; and one of them, using bland words, and, as it were, preaching unto the populace, while promising them that all their rights and liberties should be preserved unimpaired by his lordship the King, further said,—" supposing that any bailiff or bailiffs of theirs should have treated them unjustly, and have inflicted many evils and hardships upon them and upon the City, supposing such a case, ought they, according to the law of the City, to defend themselves as against the King, upon his making suit, by the oaths of twelve men, and as against their fellow-citizens by the oaths of six, and so be acquitted of all the consequences of such an offence?" To which enquiry (no conference being first held among the discreet men of the City, as is usually the practice), answer was made by some of the populace, sons of divers mothers, many of them born without the City, and many of servile condition, with loud shouts of "Nay, nay, nay," in contravention of the privilege of the franchises that had been granted unto the City of old, and by their predecessors, citizens of blessed memory, obtained, and, until that time, strictly observed. And thus and in such manner, without any shape of reason, were all the Aldermen of the City disavowed.

Then, on the King's behalf, the said John commanded that all the Aldermen, the Sheriffs, and the King's Chamberlain, should appear before the King on the morrow at Westminster. Accordingly on the morrow, on a Wednesday, namely, all the parties aforesaid appeared in the Great Hall at Westminster; where, after some little stay, his lordship the King, having first taken counsel with his advisers in Saint Stephen's Chapel, came to them, and he having taken his seat on the tribunal, Henry de Ba, the Justiciar, gave judgment; to the effect that all the persons aforesaid were degraded, and removed from their bailiwicks, and were at the King's mercy, and held under arrest; it being declared that, without the King's leave, no one of them should in future return to his bailiwick. After this, the King at once giving his permission, they were bailed, and returned home.

After all these things, at the suggestion of John Maunsel, the King granted that, except the men before-named who had been questioned, each of the others should have his bailiwick restored, if elected by the commons of the City to any such. Whereupon, all the Aldermen, save and except the persons before-mentioned, were restored to their bailiwicks, Richard de Hadestok only excepted. Also, Thomas Fitz-Thomas was restored to his Sheriffwick, but William Grapefige was made Sheriff in place of Matthew Bukerel. William Fitz-Richard also was made Mayor of London.

Afterwards, from day to day, the Chamberlain of the City, before John Maunsel and his people, gave in the account of the tallages made in the days of the Mayoralty of John Tulesan and Ralph Hardel, there being present many men of the City who had been elected thereto, of very discordant and diverse sentiments thereon. In reference to which account, no one of the eight men before-mentioned was convicted of having done wrong in any respect. At this time, new Aldermen were chosen by the Wards, and placed in each of the Wards of those who had been deposed, in manner already stated; except indeed that the Ward which belonged to the before-named Arnald Fitz-Thedmar remained in the hand of the Mayor. It should also be known, that the said Arnald Fitz-Thedmar was not in any way accused, except in reference to the beam; the mode of weighing by which was rectified by him and by the others, in manner already mentioned in this record. Still however, it was rather through the influence of hatred than because his deserts in any way merited it, that he was classed among the others, as may be seen from the following facts. For afterwards, on the day before the Feast of Saint Leonard [6 November] in the (fn. 16) 44th year of his lordship the King, John Maunsel testifying in full Folkmote at Saint Paul's Cross, in presence of his lordship the King and of his Council, that the King had been certified that the said Arnald was unjustly degraded, he was recalled to the favour of his lordship the King, and restored to his position.

In this year, there was a failure of the crops; upon which failure, a famine ensued, to such a degree that the people from the villages resorted to the City for food; and there, upon the famine waxing still greater, many thousand persons perished; many thousands more too would have died of hunger, had not corn just then arrived from (fn. 17) Almaine.

In this year was held that (fn. 18) Mad Parliament at Oxford, about the Feast of Saint Barnabas [11 June]; in which Parliament it was provided and ordained by certain Earls and Barons of England, that those bad customs should be abolished, through which the realm, in- the time of this King, had been so long and so immoderately oppressed and aggrieved, and that, by this same King and others among the most powerful men in the realm. To which ordinances the King, though reluctantly, gave his assent, and made oath to that effect. And to carry out this matter, there were chosen the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Bishop of Worcester, Sir Roger Bigot, Marshal, [and] Earl of Norfolk, Sir Richard de Clare Earl of Gloucester, Sir Simon de Montfort Earl of Leicester, Sir Humphrey de Bohun Earl of Hereford, the Earl of Warewyk, the Earl of Albemarle, Hugh de Bigot, (fn. 19) Peter de Saveye, Peter de Montfort, Roger de Mortimer, James de Audeleye, [and] John Maunsel.

At the same time also, the brothers of his lordship the King, on the mother's side, namely, Sir Eymer [de Valence], Bishop Elect of Winchester, Sir William de Valence, who had married the daughter of Warin de Munchenesey, Sir Geoffrey de Liseny, and Sir Guy de Liseny, would not give their assent to such oath; but without leave withdrew from the said Parliament, and set out for the sea-coast with their arms and harness, and, if they only had had ships, would have embarked. Afterwards however, in a Parliament held at Winchester, they received leave from the Barons to depart from the realm of England, and a day was given them to be at Dover and set sail, the Sunday namely after the Feast of Saint Silas the Apostle [13 July]; but they were not allowed to take with them any of their treasures, save only as much as might suffice for their expenses. In the same manner, William de Saint Ermin and many other foreigners had leave; all of whom set sail on the Sunday before-mentioned, or on the morrow.

Be it observed, that by reason of the aforesaid provision and statute, so made by the said Parliament at Oxford, not being observed, the realm of England was beyond measure disturbed, and many thousands of men perished, as in this book is set forth hereafter. It should also be known, that in the aforesaid Parliament at Oxford, a Justiciar over the whole of England was elected by the Barons, in the person of Hugh Bygot, brother of the Marshal, and the Tower of London was delivered into his hands.

The same year, on the morrow of Saint Mary Magdalen [22 July] his lordship the King being at Westminster, there came certain of the twelve Barons before-mentioned to the Guildhall of London, namely, the Earl Marshal, Sir Simon de Montfort, John Fitz-Geoffrey, and others, bringing with them a certain Charter, to which were appended the seals of many Barons, as also the seal of his lordship the King and of his son Edward; who thereby gave their assent, and made oath, that they would hold and observe whatever the aforesaid Barons should provide for the advantage and amendment of the realm; the persons so sent putting the Mayor and Aldermen, and others of the City, to the question whether they would assent to the provision so made by them. The Mayor accordingly, and other citizens, who could not obtain leave to speak thereon with his lordship the King, at once holding conference among themselves, consented to observe the said provision, and made oath so to do, and set the common seal of the City to the charter before-mentioned, saving however unto them all their liberties and customs. Afterwards, the Barons before-mentioned from day to day held conference, sometimes at the New Temple, sometimes elsewhere, as to reforming for the better the usages and customs of the realm. After this, on the Nones [5th] of August, an edict was published in the City, that no one of the King's household, nor any other person, should take anything in the City, except at the will of the vendors; saving however unto his lordship the King his rightful prisage of wine, that is to say, from every ship that owes full custom, two tuns of wine at the price of forty shillings. And further, that if any one should presume to contravene the same, and be convicted thereof, he should immediately be imprisoned. After this, no one of the King's officers, nor yet any of their people, took anything, without soon after paying the vendor for the same: this, however, lasted for a short time only.


  • 1. " In this year Ralph was continued Mayor."—Marginal Note.
  • 2. A sterling was a silver penny.
  • 3. By the ounce.
  • 4. I. e. sterlings, or silver pennies.
  • 5. Large packages made of wicker or osier.
  • 6. Or, Candlemas.
  • 7. Richard de Clare.
  • 8. Or, Bath.
  • 9. From six to seven in the morning.
  • 10. Knightsbridge.
  • 11. The early form of "Yea, Yea."
  • 12. In early times, the City Chamberlain was an officer whose duty it was to collect prisage and other revenues for the King.
  • 13. Of the Tower.
  • 14. John de Pleseets, Earl of Warwick, jure uxoris.
  • 15. Or, "swearing with the seventh hand," as it was generally called.
  • 16. A.D. 1259.
  • 17. Germany.
  • 18. This remark gives proof of the adverse tendency of the writer's opinions to the cause of the Barons.
  • 19. Peter of Savoy, the Queen's uncle.