Memorials: 1396

Pages 541-544

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

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Proposed Ordinance of the Coopers.

19 Richard II. A.D. 1396. Letter-Book H. fol. cccii. (Latin and Norman French.)

(fn. 1) On the 6th day of April, in the 19th year etc., the good men of the trade of Coupers of London presented to the Mayor and Aldermen a certain petition, containing words to the following effect:—

(fn. 2) "To the very honourable Lords, and wise, the Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen, of the City of London, pray very humbly the good folks of the trade of Coupers of London, that whereas divers persons of the said trade do buy tuns that have held oil [and] sope, and barrels and tuns for woad, from the wood of which they make barrels for ale, and other liquors; the wood whereof is of such a savour that the ale or liquor put therein is spoilt and corrupted, to the great damage as well of the brewers as of other commoners of the said city, and to the very great scandal of the good folks of the said trade: and do also make tuns, vates, kemelynes, (fn. 3) and other vessels pertaining to brewing, of wood that is false and deceitful; by reason whereof the brewers are oftentimes deceived, and have great loss and damage, and have oftentimes made plaint thereon in the Sheriffs' Courts against the folks of the said trade, to the great scandal of the trade; and some therein, when they are found in default, will not submit to justice, but do continue to make vessels of such false wood, from one day to another, in great deceit, and to the damage, of the common people.—May it please your very honourable Lordships, and very wise, to grant unto the Wardens of the said trade, and their successors, that they may visit the shops and houses of the folks of the said trade, and inspect their wood and vessels, to see that they are good and befitting; and those which are false and deceitfully made, may bring to the Guildhall, for the profit of the Chamber, to be there condemned; and that he who shall be found in default, shall pay, for the first default 6s. 8d.; that is to say, one half to the Chamber, and the other half to the said trade; and on a second default, 13s. 4d., in form aforesaid; and on a third default, 20s. in form aforesaid, his body being also punished by imprisonment for a certain number of days, as at your honourable discretion you shall ordain; for the avoiding of such deceits, for the love of God, and as a work of charity; and that the rebellious of the said trade may be punished, like other rebellious in other trades of the said city, according to the Ordinance thereon made, and enrolled in Book G. fol. [cxxxv.] (fn. 4) "

The Serving-men of the trade of Saddlers forbidden to form Fraternities.

20 Richard II. A.D. 1396. Letter-Book H. fol. cccix. (Latin and Norman French.)

(fn. 5) Whereas there had arisen no small dissension and strife between the masters of the trade of Saddlers, of London, and the servingmen, called yomen, (fn. 6) in that trade; because that the serving-men aforesaid, against the consent, and without leave, of their masters, were wont to array themselves all in a new and like suit once in the year, and oftentimes held divers meetings, at Stratford and elsewhere without the liberty of the said city, as well as in divers places within the City; whereby many inconveniences and perils ensued to the trade aforesaid; and also, very many losses might happen thereto in future times, unless some quick and speedy remedy should by the rulers of the said city be found for the same:—therefore the masters of the said trade, on the 10th day of the month of July, in the 20th year etc., made grievous complaint thereon to the excellent men, William More, Mayor, and the Aldermen of the City aforesaid, urgently entreating that, for the reasons before mentioned, they would deign to send for Gilbert Dustone, William Gylowe, John Clay, John Hiltone, William Berigge, and Nicholas Mason, the then governors of the servingmen aforesaid; to appear before them on the 12th day of July then next ensuing.

And thereupon, on the same 10th day of July, precept was given to John Parker, serjeant of the Chamber, to give notice to the same persons to be here on the said 12th day of July etc. Which governors of the serving-men appeared, and, being interrogated as to the matters aforesaid, they said that time out of mind the serving-men of the said trade had had a certain Fraternity among themselves, and had been wont to array themselves all in like suit once in the year, and, after meeting together at Stratford, on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary [15 August], to come from thence to the Church (fn. 7) of St. Vedast, in London, there to hear Mass on the same day, in honour of the said glorious Virgin.

But the said masters of the trade asserted to the contrary of all this, and said that the fraternity, and the being so arrayed in like suit, among the serving-men, dated from only thirteen years back, and even then had been discontinued of late years; and that under a certain feigned colour of sanctity, many of the serving-men in the trade had influenced the journeymen among them, and had formed covins thereon, with the object of raising their wages greatly in excess; to such an extent, namely, that whereas a master in the said trade could before have had a serving-man or journeyman for 40 shillings or 5 marks yearly, and his board, now such a man would not agree with his master for less than 10 or 12 marks, or even 10 pounds, yearly; to the great deterioration of the trade.

And further, that the serving-men aforesaid, according to an ordinance made among themselves, would oftentimes cause the journeymen of the said masters to be summoned by a bedel, thereunto appointed, to attend at Vigils of the dead, who were members of the said fraternity, and at making offering for them on the morrow, under a certain penalty to be levied; whereby the said masters were very greatly aggrieved, and were injured through such absenting of themselves by the journeymen, so leaving their labours and duties, against their wish.

For amending and allaying the which grievances and dissensions, the Mayor and Aldermen commanded that six of the said servingmen should attend in the name of the whole of the alleged Fraternity, and communicate with six or eight of the master saddlers aforesaid etc.; both parties to be here, before the said Mayor and Aldermen, on the 19th day of July then next ensuing, to make report to the Court as to such agreement between them as aforesaid. And further, the Mayor and Aldermen strictly forbade the said serving-men in any manner to hold any meeting thereafter at Stratford aforesaid, or elsewhere without the liberty of the said city, on pain of forfeiture of all that unto our Lord the King, and to the said city, they might forfeit.

On which 19th day of July, came here as well the masters aforesaid as the governors of the serving-men; and presented to the Mayor and Aldermen a certain petition, in these words;—

(fn. 8) "Gilbert Dustone, William Gylowe, John Clay, John Hiltone, William Berigge, and Nicholas Mason, do speak on behalf of all their Fraternity, and do beg of the Wardens of the Saddlers, that they may have and use all the points which heretofore they have used."

(fn. 9) Which petition having been read and heard, and divers reasons by the said masters unto the Mayor and Aldermen shown, it was determined that the serving-men in the trade aforesaid should in future be under the governance and rule of the masters of such trade; the same as the serving-men in other trades in the same city are wont, and of right are bound, to be; and that in future they should have no fraternity, meetings, or covins, or other unlawful things, under a penalty etc. And that the said masters must properly treat and govern their serving-men in the trade, in such manner as the serving-men in like trades in the City have been wont to be properly treated and governed. And that if any serving-men should in future wish to make complaint to the Mayor and Aldermen, for the time being, as to any grievance unduly inflicted upon him by the masters aforesaid, such Mayor and Aldermen would give to him his due and speedy meed of justice as to the same.


  • 1. In Latin.
  • 2. In French.
  • 3. Or cumelins. See page 74 ante, Note 9.
  • 4. The reference is omitted. In the context which follows, extending to several lines, we are informed that the prayer of this Petition was granted.
  • 5. In Latin.
  • 6. This title, yoman, first appears in the City Books about this period. It seems somewhat doubtful whether it is the same word as our present word "yeoman," denoting a certain rank; and it possibly may have been intended as an abbreviation of the words "yong man," equivalent to garcio, and valettus.
  • 7. Saddlers' Hall seems from time immemorial to have been adjoining to this Church, in Foster Lane, Cheapside.
  • 8. In French.
  • 9. In Latin.