Memorials of London and London Life in the 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries. Originally published by Longmans, Green, London, 1868.
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Royal Mandate, enjoining the exclusion of Leprous persons from the City.
20 Edward III. A.D. 1346. Letter-Book F. fol. cxvi. (Latin.)
"Edward, by the grace of God, etc. Forasmuch as we have been given to understand, that many persons, as well of the city aforesaid, as others coming to the said city, being smitten with the blemish of leprosy, do publicly dwell among the other citizens and sound persons, and there continually abide; and do not hesitate to communicate with them, as well in public places as in private; and that some of them, endeavouring to contaminate others with that abominable blemish, (that so, to their own wretched solace, they may have the more fellows in suffering,) as well in the way of mutual communications, and by the contagion of their polluted breath, as by carnal intercourse with women in stews and other secret places, detestably frequenting the same, do so taint persons who are sound, both male and female, to the great injury of the people dwelling in the city aforesaid, and the manifest peril of other persons to the same city resorting;—We, wishing in every way to provide against the evils and perils which from the cause aforesaid may unto the said city, and the whole of our realm, arise, do command you, strictly enjoining, that, immediately on seeing these presents, you will cause it to be publicly proclaimed on our behalf in every Ward of the city aforesaid, and in the suburbs thereof, where you shall deem it expedient, that all persons who have such blemish, shall, within fifteen days from the date of these presents, quit the City and the suburbs aforesaid, on the peril which is thereunto attached, and betake themselves to places in the country, solitary, and notably distant from the said city and suburbs, and take up their dwelling there; seeking their victuals, through such sound persons as may think proper to attend thereto, wheresoever they may deem it expedient. And that no persons shall permit such leprous people to dwell within their houses and buildings in the City, and in the suburbs aforesaid, on pain of forfeiture of their said houses and buildings, and more grievous punishment on them by us to be inflicted, if they shall contravene the same. And further, taking with you certain discreet and lawful men who have the best knowledge of this disease, all those persons, as well citizens as others, of whatever sex or condition they may be, whom, upon diligent examination in this behalf to be made, within the city and suburbs aforesaid you shall find to be smitten with the aforesaid blemish of leprosy, you are to cause to be removed from the communion of sound citizens and persons without delay, and taken to solitary places in the country, there, as above stated, to abide. And this, as you shall wish to keep yourselves scatheless, and to avoid our heavy indignation, you are not to delay doing; and as to that which you shall have done herein, you are distinctly and openly to certify us in our Chancery under your seals, within the fifteen days next ensuing herefrom. Witness myself, at Westminster, the 15th day of March, in the 20th year of our reign in England, and of our reign in France the 7th."
Proclamation of this writ was made on the Wednesday next after the Feast of St. Gregory the Pope [12 March], in the 20th year aforesaid.
Ordinances of the Trade called "Whittawyers."
20 Edward III. A.D. 1346. Letter-Book F. fol. cxxvi. (Norman French.)
In honour of God, of Our Lady, and of all Saints, and for the nurture of tranquillity and peace among the good folks the Megucers, (fn. 1) called 'Whittawyers,' the folks of the same trade have, by assent of Richard Lacer, Mayor, and of the Aldermen, ordained the points under-written.—
In the first place,—they have ordained that they will find a wax candle, to burn before Our Lady in the Church of All Hallows, near London Wall.
Also,—that each person of the said trade shall put in the box such sum as he shall think fit, in aid of maintaining the said candle.
Also,—if by chance any one of the said trade shall fall into poverty, whether through old age, or because he cannot labour or work, and have nothing with which to help himself; he shall have every week from the said box 7d. for his support, if he be a man of good repute. And after his decease, if he have a wife, a woman of good repute, she shall have weekly for her support 7d. from the said box, so long as she shall behave herself well, and keep single.
And that no stranger shall work in the said trade, or keep house [for the same] in the City, if he be not an apprentice, or a man admitted to the franchise of the said city.
And that no one shall take the serving-man of another to work with him, during his term, unless it be with the permission of his master.
And if any one of the said trade shall have work in his house that he cannot complete, or if for want of assistance such work shall be in danger of being lost, those of the said trade shall aid him, that so the said work be not lost.
And if any one of the said trade shall depart this life, and have not wherewithal to be buried, he shall be buried at the expense of their common box; and when any one of the said trade shall die, all those of the said trade shall go to the Vigil, (fn. 2) and make offering on the morrow.
And if any serving-man shall conduct himself in any other manner than properly towards his master, and act rebelliously towards him, no one of the said trade shall set him to work, until he shall have made amends before the Mayor and Aldermen; and before them such misprision shall be redressed.
And that no one of the said trade shall behave himself the more thoughtlessly, in the way of speaking or acting amiss, by reason of the points aforesaid; and if any one shall do to the contrary thereof, he shall not follow the said trade until he shall have reasonably made amends.
And if any one of the said trade shall do to the contrary of any point of the Ordinances aforesaid, and be convicted thereof by good men of the said trade, he shall pay to the Chamber of the Guildhall of London, the first time 2s., the second time 40d., the third time half a mark, and the fourth time 10s., and shall forswear the trade.
(fn. 3) Also,—that the good folks of the same trade shall once in the year be assembled in a certain place, convenient thereto, there to choose two men of the most loyal and befitting of the said trade, to be overseers of work and all other things touching the trade, for that year; which persons shall be presented to the Mayor and Aldermen for the time being, and sworn before them diligently to enquire and make search, and loyally to present to the said Mayor and Aldermen such defaults as they shall find touching the said trade, without sparing any one for friendship or for hatred, or in any other manner. And if any one of the said trade shall be found rebellious against the said overseers, so as not to let them properly make their search and assay, as they ought to do; or if he shall absent himself from the meeting aforesaid, without reasonable cause, after due warning by the said overseers, he shall pay to the Chamber, upon the first default, 40d.; and on the second like default, half a mark; and on the third, one mark; and on the fourth, 20s., and shall forswear the trade for ever.
Also,—that if the overseers shall be found lax and negligent about their duty, or partial to any person, for gift or for friendship, maintaining him, or voluntarily permitting him [to continue] in his default, and shall not present him to the Mayor and Aldermen, as before stated, they are to incur the penalty aforesaid.
Also,—that each year, at such assemblies of the good folks of the said trade, there shall be chosen overseers, as before stated. And if it shall be found that through laxity or negligence of the said governors such assemblies are not held, each of the said overseers is to incur the said penalty.
Also,—that all skins falsely and deceitfully wrought in their trade, which the said overseers shall find on sale in the hands of any person, citizen or foreigner, within the franchise, shall be forfeited to the said Chamber, and the worker thereof amerced in manner aforesaid.
Also,—that no one who has not been an apprentice, and has not finished his term of apprenticeship in the said trade, shall be made free of the same trade; unless it be attested by the overseers for the time being, or by four persons of the said trade, that such person is able, and sufficiently skilled to be made free of the same.
Also,—that no one of the said trade shall induce the servant of another to work with him in the same trade, until he has made a proper fine with his first master, at the discretion of the said overseers, or of four reputable men of the said trade. And if any one shall do to the contrary thereof, or receive the serving workman of another to work with him during his term, without leave of the trade, he is to incur the said penalty.
Also,—that no one shall take for working in the said trade more than they were wont heretofore, on the pain aforesaid; that is to say, for the dyker (fn. 4) of Scottes stagges, half a mark; the dyker of Yrysshe, (fn. 5) half a mark; the dyker of Spanysshe stagges, 10s.; for the hundred of gotesfelles, (fn. 6) 20s.; the hundred of rolether, (fn. 7) 16s.; for the hundred skins of hyndescalves, (fn. 8) 8s.; and for the hundred of kiddefelles, 8s."