Memorials: 1380

Pages 438-447

Memorials of London and London Life in the 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries. Originally published by Longmans, Green, London, 1868.

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Ordinances of the Cutlers.

3 Richard II. A.D. 1380. Letter-Book H. fol. cxviii. (Norman French.)

"To the honourable Lords, the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London, shew and pray in common all the reputable men of the trade of Cutlers of the same city, that forasmuch as, as well to the honour of God as to the common profit both of all the realm and of the said city, in amendment and correction of many defaults which have been customary in the same trade, they have by common accord, and with mature deliberation among them, caused to be written certain Articles touching their said trade; may it therefore please you, of your good discretion and wise consideration, to hear the Articles which follow; that so, they may afterwards be enrolled, entered, and written, in a book of the Chamber, to the end that they may be the better observed in time to come.—

"I. In the first place,—be it ordained, that no one shall cause to be made, or shall sell, knives with handles, or gaynes, (fn. 1) harnessed with silver, if the silver be not of as fine alloy as sterling silver; on pain of paying to the Chamberlain 6d. or 8d. to the use of the City, or more, according as it shall seem reasonable to the said Mayor and Aldermen, according to the extent of the offence.

"II. Also,—in order to avoid deceit of the people in this behalf, be it ordained, that no handle of wood, except digeon, (fn. 2) shall be coloured; but let the handles be sold only according as their right nature demands. And that if any such shall be found for sale, the vendor shall incur the penalty aforesaid.

"III. Also,—to provide against the excessive wages of the journeymen of the said trade, be it ordained, that no journeyman working in the same, who is not free, or who has not been apprenticed in the trade, and has not completed his term in the said city, or otherwise served seven years within the City in such trade, shall be admitted to work in the same, if such journeyman have not first been tried by the overseers sworn in the trade as to his knowledge therein, to ascertain how much he is deserving to take by the day, by the week, or for a whole term; and as they shall find, according to their consciences, that such journeyman can well serve, let them award him what he is to take: and that he who shall give to such journeyman in excess of the valuation so made by the said overseers, shall incur the penalty. And after that the said overseers shall have so reasonably set such journeyman at his value, as is before stated, that for no reason the wage of such journeyman shall be other than the sum so assessed, either higher or lower, on the pain aforesaid, until he shall have learned to deserve more.

"IV. Also,—that no one of the said trade, himself, or by any other intermediate person, shall cause cutlery made in the City to be carried out of the City for sale, until the sworn oversecure of the said trade shall have viewed it, to see if it is allowable or not, on the pain aforesaid: the which Masters shall be sworn readily to come to such view, when required thereto. And if any one of the said Masters will not come to make such inspection, then he who carries such cutlery out of the City shall be held as excused.

"V. Also,—that no one shall be permitted to follow the said trade, himself or by his people, within the City, if he will nor stand by the rule of the overseers, sworn and chosen by the said trade; and also, hold all the Ordinances approved of the said trade, as much as any man of the said trade may, to the best of his power; on the pain aforesaid. And that no one of the said trade shall work by night at any manner of cutlery, or shall offer to sell it openly on Sundays, on the pain aforesaid.

"VI. Also,—that no one of the said trade shall carry, or send to be sold, any cutlery to Evechepynges or to hostelries; but he is to sell it in his own house or shop, on the pain aforesaid, and forfeiture of such cutlery as shall be so found for sale: save and except however, where some great lord or other reputable man shall send after such cutlery, for his own use, to be brought to his place or to his hostel, to see whether it pleases him or not.

"VII. Also,—when anything touching the said trade shall be presented before the Mayor or Chamberlain by the said sworn overseers, as being false and forfeitable, and the defendant shall wish to contradict them, saying that it is allowable; then the Mayor and Chamberlain shall send for four reputable men of the said trade, who shall be sworn to say the truth as to the same, and if such thing shall be found on their oath to be not allowable, the same shall be forfeited, and the defendant shall incur the penalty aforesaid. And if it shall be found to be allowable, then the Masters who so have wrongfully presented it, shall incur the penalty aforesaid, and further, shall pay reasonable damages to the defendant for their false plaint.

"VIII. Also,—be it ordained and assented to by all the reputable men of the said trade, for their good and honest governance, that each year the overseers chosen and sworn of the trade, shall warn all the good folks of the trade to be assembled in some befitting place in the City, to choose their overseers for the following year; and that when they are chosen, the former overseers shall make suit to the Chamberlain and Common Serjeant, to summon the new overseers to the Guildhall, to take their charge there,—And this, within 15 days after the Feast of the Holy Trinity,—on the pain aforesaid.

"IX. Also,—if any man of the said trade will not come, by reason of his own waywardness, at the warning of the said overseers for the time being, to such assemblies, befitting and necessary, as well for the common profit of the City, as for the good rule of the said trade; or if he will not submit to the reasonable award of the said overseers, or the greater part of the good and substantial persons of the said trade, such person shall incur the penalty.

"X. Also,—it is ordained and assented to, that every time that any person of the said trade shall be found in default as regards any one of the Articles aforesaid, he shall pay to the Chamberlain the following penalty, namely,—6s. 8d. And this, as well the sworn overseers, as others, if they be found in default, or lax, or negligent, in doing that which unto their office pertains; in which case they are to incur the penalty aforesaid.

"XI. Also,—may it please your very honourable Lordships, to grant that the overseers of the said trade, for the time being, for their trouble and diligence in searching for and presenting defaults found in the same, shall have the third part of the fines levied for the defaults so by them presented.

"XII. Also,—that no man shall be enfranchised by redemption in the said trade, except on the testimony as to his ability of six reputable men of the trade; that is to say, the four Wardens, and other two reputable men of the trade.

"XIII. That in case it shall happen that the Wardens of the said trade have not the power to enforce and put in execution the Articles aforesaid, then may it please your very honourable Lordships, the Mayor and Aldermen, to assign such serjeant of the Chamber as it may please you, in aid of them.—Saving always unto the Mayor and Aldermen, for the time being, power to amend and change, to curtail and adjust, the Articles aforesaid, at any time that unto them it may seem requisite, for the common profit, for them so to do; and also, to make due and rightful correction in behalf of those who shall complain that under colour of any of the said Articles they have been wrongfully aggrieved."

Be it remembered, (fn. 3) that the above petition was assented to in full congregation of John Hadle, Mayor, and the Aldermen, at the Husting of Common Pleas, in London, on the Monday next after the Feast of St. Hilary [13 January], in the 3rd year of King Richard the Second.

Punishment of the Pillory, for forging a Letter.

4 Richard II. A.D. 1380. Letter-Book H. fol. cxxv. (Latin.)

On the 9th day of August in the 4th year etc., William Lawtone, of Lawtone under the Lyn, (fn. 4) in the County of Chester, was brought here into the Guildhall of London, before John Haddele, Mayor, Adam Stable, and other Aldermen, and John Heylesdone, Sheriff, at the suit of William Savage, who prosecuted etc.; for that he came to the same William Savage on the Monday next before the Feast of Pentecost, (fn. 5) in the 3rd year of the King aforesaid, in Fletestret, in the Parish of St. Brigid, (fn. 6) in the suburb of London, and delivered to him a certain letter, which he said had been given to himself by John Sadyngtone, of York, on the Wednesday before the Feast of Pentecost aforesaid, to carry to the said William Savage; directing such William, by virtue and authority of the letter aforesaid, to give to him, the same William Lawtone, 20 shillings sterling, for a certain bargain between the said John and William de Lawtone made; he knowing that the same letter was false and forged, there being no such bargain between the said John and himself, as before stated, and the said William Savage being in no way indebted to the said John Sadyngtone, as unto the aforesaid William Savage by him imputed.

And being asked how he would acquit himself thereof, he acknowledged the deceit and falsehood aforesaid, and that he was consenting and aiding falsely and deceitfully to forge the said letter; and he put himself upon the favour of the Court as to the same. And it was adjudged by the Court that the same William Lawtone should be put upon the pillory, there to remain for one hour of the day, the said letter being tied about his neck. And precept was given to the Sheriffs, to cause the reason for the same publicly to be proclaimed.

Execution whereof being so done, the Court having been given to understand that the aforesaid William Lawtone threatened the said William Savage, and other reputable men of the City, as to life and limb, the Sheriffs were instructed to take him back to the Prison of Neugate; there to remain until he should find sufficient surety for his keeping the peace towards the people of our Lord the King.

Deposit of royal jewels with the City, as security for a loan of two thousand Pounds.

4 Richard II. A.D. 1380. Letter-Book H. fol. cxxix. (Norman French.)

"This indenture witnesseth, that John Bacoun, Clerk, keeper of certain jewels and plate of gold and silver, belonging to the King, has, by virtue of a warrant to him hereupon directed under the King's Privy Seal, delivered unto the honourable man, the Mayor of the City of London, and to the Commonalty of the said city, the things underwritten, that is to say;—one coronet, of five large and five small flowrets, (fn. 7) set with balasses, emeralds, sapphires, diamonds, and large pearls, weighing, by goldsmiths' weight, 4l. 13s. 4d.; one sword for Parliament, set with gold, with diamonds, balasses, balesets, (fn. 8) small sapphires, and pearls; and 24 nouches of various kinds, set with divers stones; of which, there are one great nouche and three smaller nouches, each with a griffin in the middle; five nouches in the form of white dogs, studded with rubies on the shoulders; one great nouche with four wild boars azure; four nouches in the form of eagles; three nouches in the form of white harts, studded with rubies; and six nouches in the form of keys. Of the which coronet, sword, and nouches, the particulars are contained in a roll sealed with the said Privy Seal, and delivered unto the said John. All which things the said Mayor and Commonalty have received from the said John, in a coffyn of wood and two cases of leather, sealed with the signets of the very Reverend Fathers in God, Simon, Archbishop of Canterbury, Chancellor, and Thomas, Bishop of Excestre, Treasurer of England, and with the seal of Sir John Fordham, Keeper of the King's Privy Seal:—to hold in pledge, according to the purport of the Letters Patent unto the said Mayor and Commonalty thereon made, under the King's Great Seal, for 2000l., unto him by them lent. In witness whereof, to the one part of this indenture the said Mayor and Commonalty have caused their Common Seal of the said city to be set, and to the other part thereof the said John Bacoun has set his seal. Given at London, the 6th day of September, in the 4th year of the reign of King Richard the Second."

[In the next folio (cxxx.) there is a Letter (in French) of King Richard, dated the Ist of January in the 5th year of his reign (A.D. 1382), requesting that the Mayor and Commonalty will lend him back the above jewels, as he requires them for his intended marriage. By way of providing security, he adds—"And receive from this same John by indenture, in place of the jewels aforesaid, in pledge until you shall be paid what is due unto you of the said sum of 2000l., a coffyn sealed with the seal of the said John Bacoun, containing one palet of gold, (fn. 9) called the 'Palet of 'Spain,' garnished with divers pearls and precious stones, weighing 100 nobles and 80 pounds, (fn. 10) and valued in all at 1708 pounds." Which request, as stated by an indenture dated the day following, was duly complied with.]

Proposal to build a Tower on either side of the Thames, for the pro tection of the shipping; John Phelippot paying the expenses of one of them.

4 Richard II. A.D. 1380. Letter-Book H. fol. cxxv. (Latin.)

Be it remembered, that on Tuesday, the 2nd day of October, in the 4th year etc., in full congregation of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commoners, as well by each Trade as by Wards chosen from the more reputable and more substantial men of the said city, as a Common Council for the same, it was granted in general that upon every pound of clear rental, over and above reprises, within the liberty of the said city, there should be levied 6 pence, so soon as conveniently might be; for the building of a stone tower, that was to be made on one side of the water of Thames, opposite to another like stone tower, which John Phelippot, (fn. 11) by reason of the grant aforesaid, and on condition that the same should be carried out, had promised and granted that he himself would build on the other side of the Thames; 60 king's feet in height, and 20 feet wide within the walls of the tower, and that, at his own costs and charges.

For which undertaking on his part, the whole congregation, as well for themselves as for the whole of the City, acknowledged that they were bound to return to the said John Phelippot boundless thanks. It was also agreed on the same day, that by counsel and supervision of skilful men the said towers (fn. 12) should be so placed and situated in the water of Thames, that within an iron chain extended from the one to the other, the whole fleet of the English shipping, lying on this side of it, as well as the said city, would be secure from hostile attacks, and protected, without any ground for alarm.

To receive the said six pence in the pound on rental, and to supervise the expenditure of the same, and the building of the tower which the City was to build, there were chosen William Walworthe, John Norhamptone, Nicholas Twyford, and Henry Yevele. (fn. 13)

Punishment by the Pillory of Impostors, for pretending to be dumb.

4 Richard II. A.D. 1380. Letter-Book H. fol. cxxv. (Latin.)

On the 24th day of October, in the 4th year etc., John Warde, of the County of York, and Richard Lynham, of the County of Somerset, two impostors, were brought to the Hall of the Guildhall of London, before John Hadlee, Mayor, the Aldermen, and the Sheriffs, and questioned for that, whereas they were stout enough to work for their food and raiment, and had their tongues to talk with, they, the same John Warde and Richard Lynham, did there pretend that they were mutes, and had been deprived of their tongues; and went about in divers places of the city aforesaid, carrying in their hands two ell measures, an iron hook and pincers, and a piece of leather, in shape like part of a tongue, edged with silver, and with writing around it, to this effect,—"This is the tongue of John "Warde;" with which instruments, and by means of divers signs, they gave many persons to understand that they were traders, in token whereof they carried the said ell measures; and that they had been plundered by robbers of their goods; and that their tongues had also been drawn out with the said hook, and then cut off with the pincers; they making a horrible noise, like unto a roaring, and opening their mouths; where it seemed to all who examined the same, that their tongues had been cut off: to the defrauding of other poor and infirm persons, and in manifest deceit of the whole of the people, etc.

Wherefore, they were asked how they would acquit themselves thereof; upon which, they acknowledged that they had done all the things above imputed to them. And as it appeared to the Court that of their evil intent and falsity they had done the things aforesaid, and in deceit of all the people; and to the end that other persons might beware of such and the like evil intent, falsity, and deceit, it was awarded that they should be put upon the pillory on three different days, each time for one hour in the day; namely, on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, before the Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude [28 October]; the said instruments being hung about their necks each day. And precept was given to the Sheriffs to do execution of the judgment aforesaid, and to have proclamation there made each day, as to the cause thereof; which punishment being completed, they were instructed to have them taken back to the Gaol of Neugate, there to remain until orders should be given for their release.

Punishment of the Pillory, for selling sacks of charcoal of short mea sure; and leniency shown for old age.

4 Richard II. A.D. 1380. Letter-Book H. fol. cxxvi. (Latin.)

On the 6th day of November, in the 4th year etc., John Bernard, of Bishop's Hatfeld, in the County of Hertford, was brought before William Walworthe, Mayor, and the Aldermen, and questioned for that, whereas every sack with charcoal, brought to the City for sale, ought to contain 8 bushels as one quarter, the same John on that day had brought to London, upon four horses, eight sacks with charcoal, which he acknowledged to be his own, for sale of each such sack as being one quarter; whereas each one of those sacks was deficient by one bushel; in deceit of the people, and to their great damage etc.

Therefore he was sentenced to have the punishment of the pillory, and the said sacks were ordered to be burnt beneath him. And precept was given to the Sheriffs to do execution of the judgment aforesaid, and then and there to cause the reason for the same to be proclaimed. And seeing that the same John was so far advanced in years, that there was some doubt as to doing execution of the judgment aforesaid, the Sheriffs were instructed that he was only to remain upon the pillory until the said sacks should be consumed.

Account of moneys expended by a Guardian upon his Ward.

4 Richard II. A.D. 1380. Letter-Book H. fol. xxxvii. (Latin.)

Account of John Bryan, citizen and fishmonger, delivered on the first day of December, in the 4th year etc., in the Chamber of the Guildhall of London, before the auditors by William Walworthe, the then Mayor, assigned; for the time that he was guardian of the body and chattels of Alice, daughter of John Reigner, blader, (fn. 14) an orphan of the said city; at the instance of Richard Fraunceys, fishmonger, her husband, then present.—

He charges himself with 100 marks received to the use of the said Alice; and with profit thereupon for five years, at 4 shillings in the pound yearly, according to the custom of the said city, amounting to 100 marks.—Sum total, 200 marks.

He claims allowance of one half of such increase, namely 2 shillings in the pound yearly for five years, for his trouble as to the same, according to the custom of the City, making 50 marks. For the board of the said Alice, at 8 pence per week, making 34s. 8d. yearly, in the whole, 8l. 13s. 4d. For her clothes, linen and woollen, and bed, 13s. 4d. yearly, making in the whole, 3l. 6s. 8d. For dressing (fn. 15) and doctoring the head of the same Alice, and for her teaching, shoes, and other small necessaries, 13s. 4d. yearly, making in the whole, 3l. 6s. 8d. For his expenses upon a plea in the Courts of the Bishop of London and of the Archbishop, for the marriage contract of the said Alice, 4l. 13s. 4d.—Sum total, 53l. 6. 8d.


  • 1. This old term, used apparently for the handles of knives, does not appear in the dictionaries. It is perhaps allied to the old adjective geyne, meaning "handy."
  • 2. Probably boxwood is meant.
  • 3. In Latin.
  • 4. Now Church Lawton, on the borders of Staffordshire; whence the title "under the Lyme," or Boundary, (not "Lyn," as above) is said to be derived.
  • 5. Or Whitsuntide.
  • 6. Or Bride.
  • 7. florouns; flowers on the margin of the coronet.
  • 8. Probably smaller balass rubies.
  • 9. This same gorgeous palet, or headpiece, is mentioned (from the Exchequer Records) in Way's Prompt. Parv. p. 379. From its weight, however, it may be queried whether this palet was not really a coat of mail, rather than a head-piece. See page 429 ante.
  • 10. Or 4 ounces.
  • 11. Mayor in 1378; the earliest of our great financiers, and probably the most truly patriotic man of his time. For the protection of English commerce, he equipped fleets at his own expense. Many particulars relating to him will be found in Thomas Walsingham's Hist. Anglicana., to the compiler of which he is known to have given materials relative to the reign of Richard II. He died in 1384.
  • 12. The tower on the London side was probably intended to stand within the hamlet of Redeclyve, now Ratcliffe, in the Parish of Stepney; the shipping not seeming to be moored beyond that point in those days. See pages 345, 410, ante.
  • 13. This curious entry is run through with a pen, as having been cancelled. The scheme was probably never carried out.
  • 14. Or corndealer.
  • 15. ornatu et medicamine.