Memorials of London and London Life in the 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries. Originally published by Longmans, Green, London, 1868.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The manner of the safe-keeping of the City, in the King's behalf.
14 Edward II. A.D. 1321. Letter-Book E. fol. cxix. (Latin and Norman French.)
Hamon De Chigewelle, (fn. 1) the Mayor, and the Aldermen, were summoned to appear before our Lord the King at Westminster, on the Wednesday next before the Feast of the Translation of St. Thomas [7 July], at the close of the 14th year. Upon which day, the said Mayor and Aldermen appeared before the King and his Council, sitting in the Green Chamber at Westminster, in council upon certain arduous matters touching the welfare of the realm. Of whom it was asked by the same our Lord the King, whether, by reason that certain dissensions had arisen between him, the King, and certain nobles of the realm, (fn. 2) they would be willing to preserve his city of London to the use of him and his heirs, as being the heritage of them, the Mayor and citizens, and at their peril.
And our Lord the King and his Council were answered by the said Mayor and Aldermen, that they were unwilling to refuse the safe-keeping of the City; but that they would keep the same in behalf of him, our Lord the King, and his heirs, as being the heritage of them, the Mayor and citizens. And order was thereupon given to the Mayor and Aldermen, to have the manner of safekeeping of the same,—in what way they would be willing to guard the said City,—on the Saturday following, set down in writing, before him and his Council at Westminster; that they might hold counsel thereupon.
On which day the said Mayor and Aldermen came to Westminister, and reported the manner of safe-keeping of the City to the same our Lord the King, and his Council, in these words.—
"The (fn. 3) manner in which the safe-keeping of the City ought to be performed.—
"That is to say:—that the Mayor and Aldermen shall be properly armed, in manner as pertains to them and all their household. And that every Alderman shall cause to assemble in his Ward, in such place as he shall think best, the most proved and most wise men of his Ward: and that they, to prevent perils that may arise to the City—the which may God forbid—shall survey all the hostels of the Ward, in which they understand any strangers or suspected persons to be lodged; and that they shall enjoin such manner of (fn. 4) hostelers and herbergeours, (fn. 5) that they shall not harbour or receive any persons whomsoever, if they will not be answerable for their deeds and their trespasses, if in any way they offend.
"And that every Alderman, in his own Ward, shall cause all those of the Ward to be assessed to arms; that so they may be armed according as their condition demands, for maintaining the peace of our Lord the King, and saving and preserving the same in the said city.
"And that all the Gates of the City shall be well guarded by day and by night; that is to say, every gate by day, by 12 men, strong and vigorous, and well instructed, and well armed; so as to overlook those entering and going forth, if perchance any one be suspected of coming to do mischief to the City; and by night, by 24 men: so that those who keep ward by day, come at sunrise, and remain until sunset; and those who keep watch at night, come at sunset, and remain until sunrise. And that the bedels of the Wards of those who are summoned to keep ward, shall be there ready with the names of those upon whom they have made summons, before the Aldermen of their Wards.
"And that every Alderman shall come there at the hour aforesaid, to see that those who are summoned to keep ward, are strong and powerful men, and well and sufficiently armed.
"And that every night all the great gates shall be closed at sunset by the Warders thereunto assigned; that is to say, by two of the loyal and most powerful men of all the Ward, and sworn thereunto; and that the wickets of the gates shall be kept open until curfew rung out at St. Martin's le Grand; and that then, all the wickets shall be closed, for all the night through, that so no one enter until Prime rung (fn. 6) at St. Thomas of Acon: and then all the wickets shall be opened until sunrise, at which time the great gates shall be first opened.
"And that above the gates, and upon the walls between the gates of the City, there shall be placed sufficient people for watch and ward, that so no men-at-arms or other persons approach the walls or the gates, for doing mischief to the City. And if any one shall approach there in manner aforesaid, then the horn is to be sounded, that the nearest guards may be warned to come to such spot in defence of the City.
"And that those who are asigned to a certain guard, shall not, for any noise, for any cry, or for any affray, elsewhere in the City, in any manner depart from their guard; unless by the Mayor or by the Aldermen they be commanded so to do.
"And that every night there shall be ordained 200 men, well armed, or more, according as need demands, to go throughout the City to keep the peace, and to aid those who keep watch at the gates, if need be.
"And that no ship or boat shall moor or lie to at night, elsewhere than in the hythes of Billyngesgate and Queen Hythe, from sunset, namely, to sunrise. And that two good and strong boats shall be provided on the Thames at night, with armed men, on the one side of London Bridge, towards the West, and two boats on the other side, towards the East; so as to guard the water by night, and watch that no one may enter this part of the City to do mischief; and, if they see peril, to warn the people of those Wards which are keeping guard upon the water.
"And whereas, my Lord, by far the greater part of the people of your city live by their merchandize and by the workmanship of their hands, their intent is, that the people and others of your land, summoned to your Parliament, and others who come peaceably, like men of peace, as well to trade and bring victuals, as for other purposes, may safely enter and go forth from the City, in such manner as men of peace ought to do."