East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, havens

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1810.

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Francis Blomefield, 'East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, havens', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) pp. 260-275. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp260-275 [accessed 20 May 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, havens", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) 260-275. British History Online, accessed May 20, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp260-275.

Blomefield, Francis. "East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, havens", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810). 260-275. British History Online. Web. 20 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp260-275.

Of The Havens of Yarmouth.

Though we meet with no records prior to the reign of Edward III. that can lead us to ascertain the many and great difficulties and expenses attending the haven of Yarmouth, yet, from the nature of the thing itself, as it has since appeared, it is a very reasonable conjecture that the burgesses had frequently to encounter with them, even from the first foundation of the town.

In the 20th of that King, however, we find the bailiffs, burgesses, and other inhabitants of Yarmouth, presenting a petition to the King, for liberty to cut a haven nearer to the town than their then channel, on a supposition that it would be more advantageous to the navigation in and out, and less liable to many inconveniences they had so lately experienced. For it appears that the north channel, called Grub's haven, between Yarmouth and Castor, had been so filled up, that it was rendered unnavigable, and the rivers, for want of sufficient passage for their disemboguement into the sea, by this channel, had necessarily diverted their course to the south; an event, however, of no small importance to the landed interest, which, by this diversion of the channel, had gained many thousand acres of meadow and marshland, which had before been constantly overflowed by the sea, but which, in a short time after this, became good pasturage for cattle, and are of very great value to the proprietors, at this day. A very different consequence was felt by the navigation; for the channel kept still shifting to the south, till it had got nearly four miles to the southward of the present haven, between Corton and Lowestoft, and having, by the united obstructions of wind and sea, formed in itself many shelves and sand-banks, navigation was in danger of being at a stand, as few ships of burden could enter in, or go out with safety.

This appears to be the state of the haven, when the inhabitants presented their petition to the King, who immediately granted their request. "To the charge whereof, says Mr. Manship, the King himself was very beneficial, in regard that in the 14th year of his reign, at Sluys in Flanders, commonly called the battle of Swine, the townsmen of Yarmouth did him most worthy service." This worthy service was, indeed, considerable; there being not less than 52 ships that year in the King's service.

The new haven, thus obtained, was at best but a temporary relief; for notwithstanding the very great expense it was to the inhabitants, to keep it in order, we find that in the 46th of Edward III. a term of only twenty-six years, it was so blocked up with sand and gravel, that no ships could enter it, so that they were under the necessity of unlading their goods in the road adjoining, called Kirkley Road, or very near the mouth of the haven, which being represented to the King, he was pleased to unite Kirkley Road to the town and port of Yarmouth, (after a suit of six years continuance, and great opposition to the contrary) on paying him and his successors 100s. per ann. and to grant to the burgesses full power to receive the like duties there, as at the port of Yarmouth, for ever.

The cause of this opposition to the union of Kirkley Road, was on account of the great advantages that attended the unlading the ships there, to Lowestoft and other neighbouring towns; the owners of the ships refusing to pay the ancient customs due to the town of Yarmouth, which occasioned the burgesses to apply to the King, who thereupon granted a writ of ad quod dampnum, in his 44th year, directed to the escheator of Norfolk and Suffolk, and two inquisitions were accordingly taken, and in his 46th year a charter was granted for uniting Kirkley road to the liberties of Yarmouth; which power the burgesses have continued to enjoy ever since, notwithstanding the many efforts made by Lowestoft to wrest it from them.

The Charter for this union, which is in Latin, runs thus:

"Edward by the Grace of God, King of England, and France, and Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitain, &c. knowe ye that we, willing, for the aid and relief of the town of Great Yarmouth, to shew more abundant grace to the burgesses and good men of the same town, have given and granted, for us and our heirs, to the same burgesses and good men, for an aid and relief of the same town, and for 100s. which they and their successors, at the terms of St. Michael and Easter, by equal portions (for an increment and augmentation of the farm of 55l. which the same burgesses and good men are holden annually to pay to us and our heirs, into our exchequer, at the terms aforesaid, for the town aforesaid) should pay every year to us and our heirs, into the same exchequer, a certain place in the high sea, near the entrance of the haven of the town aforesaid, called Kirkley Road; and have annexed and united that place to the said town and haven, to have and to hold unto the same burgesses and good men and their successors, of us and our heirs, (that place) annexed to the said town and haven for ever. Willing and granting, for us and our heirs, to the same burgesses and good men, that they and their successors for ever may have in the said place of Kirkley Road, all and every the liberties and quittances by the charters of our progenitors, and confirmation of us to them formerly granted, as they the same liberties and quittances in the said town, by virtue of the charters and confirmation aforesaid, ought to have, and may have and receive, of all ships and boats which shall happen to come to the said place of Kirkley Road, and there in part or wholly unlade the same customs which they, according to the liberties aforesaid, have, if they at the said town should arrive, and there in part or wholly, in like manner, unlade. We have also granted for us and our heirs to the said burgesses and good men, and for ever confirmed to the same and their successors, that no ship nor any boat should be laden or unladen at any town or place upon the sea coast, within seven leucas distant from the said town of Great Yarmouth, by any person whomsoever, of herrings or any other merchandizes, unless the ship, boat, or herrings, and also the merchandizes were that person's proper goods only, and not any others, except at the said town of Great Yarmouth, or in the haven of the same, or at the place of Kirkley Road abovesaid. And also that in time of the fishing and fair of herrings no fair should be holden, nor any selling or buying, on account of merchandizing, be made in any place within the space of seven leucas about the town aforesaid, but only at the same town of Great Yarmouth, and the haven of the same town, of herrings or any other merchandizes whatsoever. And we strictly prohibit, for us and our heirs, that no one within the space aforesaid of seven leucas, presume to lade or unlade any other ship or boat than his proper own, and of his own proper herrings, and other merchandizes any where but only at the same town of Great Yarmouth, or in the haven of the same, or at the place of Kirkley Road; or in the time aforesaid to hold any fair, or to sell or buy any herrings or other wares, on account of merchandizing, but only at the said town of Great Yarmouth, or in the haven of the same, upon forfeiture of the ships and boats so to be laded or unladed, and the herrings and other merchandizes, which shall so happen to be laden or unladen, or from that time to be put up to sale in such fairs or else where, by way of merchandizing, contrary to the said prohibition, to be applied to the uses of us and our heirs. Of which forfeitures aforesaid we will, and have granted for us and our heirs, that the bailiffs of the said town of Great Yarmouth, for the time being, may and shall enquire, from time to time, and take them into our custody, and cause them to be safely kept for our use, and answer to us, and our heirs thereupon, into the exchequer aforesaid, every year, at the terms of St. Michael and Easter."

"And all our letters whatsoever to the town of Lowestoft, or the men of the same, contrary to any of these premises, made by us, as to such contrariety, we do revoke."

"Witness myself at Westminster the 22d day of August in the 46th year of our reign of England."

The recompense made to Yarmouth by this charter, does not appear to have been long thought adequate to the loss of the navigation in their silted haven; for not more than 20 years after, in the 16th of Richard II. the burgesses again petitioned the King for permission to make a second haven, still nearer to Yarmouth, opposite the Horse Ferry; which, by the old trench, appears to have been in a line from the north end of Gorleston, or South Town, over the Danes, the place where the foot ferry now is.

This petition was likewise granted them, as appears by the subsequent charter of that King, which is also in Latin.

"Richard by the grace of God, King of England and France, and Lord of Ireland, to all to whom these present letters shall come greeting. Know ye, that whereas Lord John, formerly King of England, our progenitor, by his letters patent, had granted to the bailiffs and commonalty of our town of Great Yarmouth, the same town with the haven thereof, to be holden to them and their successors, in fee farm, paying thence to the same our progenitor and his successors fifty and five pounds by the year; and afterwards, because the said town was so straitened, by the casting out of the gravel and soil of the sea, that ships and boats could not arrive at the town aforesaid, as formerly they used, very many of the commons of the town aforesaid had withdrawn their abiding out of the same, whereby the same town was on the point of destruction. By reason of which, Lord Edward, formerly King of England, our grandfather, by advice of his council, considering the loss aforesaid, granted to the same bailiffs and commonalty, for an aid of the town aforesaid, and the haven of the same, also of the great charges which, they, in the service of him our grandfather and his heirs, have sustained, a certain place called Kirkley Road annexed to the said haven, paying thence to the same our grandfather and his heirs 100s. over and above the farm aforesaid. And so it is that hitherto from day to day that haven has become so narrow and much worse and dangerous than it was formerly, so that ships and boats cannot have their course and application to the town aforesaid, as they have been wont, nay more frequently have been in danger, whereby many of the commons aforesaid have pulled down and sold their houses, and withdrawn themselves out of the said town, whence the same town is at the point of ruin. And the aforesaid commonalty cannot support, as they say, the charges of our farm aforesaid, and the repairs of the wall of the same town, and the tenths and fifteenths, when they shall happen, which amount to 100l. at every grant of a whole tenth and a fifteenth."

"We the premises considering, of our special grace, by the assent of our council, have granted and given license, for us and our heirs, as much as in us is, to our beloved liege burgesses and commonalty of our town aforesaid, that they may make a certain new haven, near the said town, within their liberty there, in a certain place called the Horse-Ferry, containing 100 perches in length, and 10 perches in breadth, for an aid of the same town, and the whole country adjacent, to have to them and their successors for ever, saving alway to the aforesaid commonalty the old haven and the ground of the same, with all the liberties and franchises belonging to the said haven, as they have had them before these times. In witness whereof we have caused these our letters to be made patents."

"Witness myself at Westminster, the 14th day of May, in the 16th year of our reign.

"By writ of the privy seal."

Towards defraying the expenses, and to contribute to the support, of this new haven, the burgesses obtained a grant of that king, dated the following day, "to levy and receive, for every last of fresh herring to be sold in the haven aforesaid, and liberty of the same, of the sellers of the said herring, twelve pence, during five years immediately following the date of these presents." And as a further provision for the completion and maintenance of the haven, the corporation, in their Orders pour le Nouvelle Havene, (written in old French) commission "John Elys, the younger, Hugh Atte-Fenne, John Hughson, and William Yue, our well-beloved fellow burgesses, with the assistance of the bailiffs, to levy and receive jointly and severally of every denison or burgess of the said town, for every last of herrings that he shall have bought and received of his hosts in the haven, from the feast of St. Peter, which is called Lammas, next before the date of these letters (i. e. Sunday next before the feast of St. Edmund the King) to the feast of St. Michael the archangel, next following the date hereof, 40d. and for every last of herrings that he shall receive of his hosts, not coming into the haven in the vessel of the same host, and for every last of herrings that he shall have bought of others, as of his hosts, be it in the haven, or Kirkley Road, or in St. Nicholas's Road, between the feasts aforesaid, 20d. and in like manner to collect, levy, and receive of every denison or burgess in the said town for every last of herrings, stones, or of whatever other merchandize which he shall have brought for sale, or any other for him, in any place whatever, between the feast of St. Michael, the archangel last past before the date hereof, till the same feast of St. Michael next following, 2d.— Giving full power to the said John, Hugh, John and William jointly and severally to levy all the said sums of all the said burgesses of the said town, to wit, of their lands and chattels, and to arrest their bodies and commit them to gaol in the said town, in case they be rebellious, or refuse to pay, or agree it be not done as is aforesaid, &c. &c. &c."

Notwithstanding this encouragement given to the burgesses, and the troubles and expenses they met with in the making this second haven, it was not more than sixteen years after, that they found it in the same predicament with the former, and navigation was again at a stand. In the 10th of Henry IV. therefore, we find the burgesses petitioning a third time, for liberty to make a third haven, near Newton Cross. That King not only granted their request, but, in consideration of the many and formidable difficulties they had to struggle with, very liberally contributed towards the expense of it, out of his customs at Yarmouth, 100l. per ann. for the space of five successive years. But this grant, which was to be paid out of the moneys "to be received out of the subsidy of 3s. for a tun of wine, and of 12d. for a pound, in the same port, by the hands of the collectors of the subsidy aforesaid there, for the time being," met with some difficulty in the execution. For the treasurers and Barons of the Exchequer refused to discount with the collectors the first 164l. paid to the burgesses in the 12th and 13th of that King, on pretence that the subsidy out of which it was paid, continued no longer than the feast of St. Michael in his 11th year. The king, therefore, by his letters patents, dated 27th May, in his 13th year, says, "We, willing that our grant aforesaid be duly executed, of our special grace, have granted to the same burgesses the said hundred sixty and four pounds, paid by the said collectors in form aforesaid, to be had, of our gift, in relief of the making of the haven aforesaid."

This third haven, with increasing trouble and expenses, served the burgesses for near a hundred years, when the charges became so intolerable that they were obliged to apply to Henry VI. in his 31st year, for further relief and assistance; when they obtained a remittance of fifty marks, parcel of their fee-farm, for the term of six years, for the use of the haven.

At this time, indeed, the town appears to be in a declining state. The great expenses levied upon the inhabitants, for the suppport of the haven, occasioned the loss of a considerable part of the herring trade, which had been upon the decline ever since the reign of Henry V.

To these heavy contributions was principally owing the emigration of many of the inhabitants, who retired to other less expensive places; so that those who remained in the town were so few, and so over-burthened with poor, that they were exempted, by act of parliament, in the 24th, 27th, and 31st years of the reign of Henry VI. from the common subsidies of government, fifteenths and tenths, which were granted to the king in those years, not being able to raise them.

This appears likewise to have been the case in the 4th and 8th years of Edward IV. the 3d, 5th, 7th, and 12th, of Henry VII. and in the 3d, 5th, 7th, 26th, 32d, and 37th, of Henry VIII. in which latter year that king acquitted them of all the fifteenths and tenths which should be granted to him during his reign.

Some of these remittances were made by acts of parliament, others by letters patents.

King Edward IV. by two differents grants, of ten years each, continued Henry VI's release of 50 marks of their fee farm, for twenty years, and added an exemption of fifteenths and tenths, when granted, as above observed. In the 10th year of his reign also, he granted them two thousand marks, with an additional release of their feefarm, of 17l. 10s. 10d. during the space of ten years, for the reparation and support of their haven; and in his 22d year, he granted them a further release of the fifty marks, for 20 succeeding years.

In the 1st of Richard III. by an act of assembly, it was unanimously agreed, "for the c'oe weel and the reparacion of the haven, that every shipp shall paie to the same reparacion, for every viage goyng oute and comyng into the haven, or comyng in and goyng out IIIId.

"Item. That every shipp goyng for heryng in the fyshyng time comyng into the haven, for the time of fyshyng, shall paie to the seid reparacion ons in the fyshyng time IIIId."

"Item. That every shipp that shall departe oute of the haven in fyshing of any manes fyshyng that be of the same town, shall paie to the forseid reparacion half a dole, that is to say, half the profyte and advauntage that any fysherman shall have goyng in any fysher shipp for the profyte of hymsilff and his nettys for heryng, and lynes for any other fyshes. Purveied alwey that if the owner of the shipp, or other personne or personnes bye such heryng as merchantes, shail paie to the seid reparacion for every last of heryng so bought, IIIId. half a last or quarter after the same rate.

"Item. All folk that shall doo make any heryng within the town of Yermouth forseid, except the fyshers of heryng that shall be fyshed with the fyshers of the same town that beren the charge of the seid half dolys, shall paie to the forseid reparacion for every last heryng red and whight, made marchaunt within the seid town, IIIId. and for every half last and quarter of a last after the same rate, as is above specified. Moreover it is ordeined by the seid co'e counseill that zeerly in the feste of Seynte John Baptist decollacion, by the bailiffs and co'es of the town, shall be chosen 11 men of the same town, to be collectours to gader and levy the forseid money and half doyls, that to be dispended duly upon the said reparacion, by their advice and ovirsight, as them seemeth necessary thereon to do, &c. &c."

And King Henry VII. in his first year, granted the burgesses a confirmation of the release of Edward IV. for twenty years, the grant of that King expiring in the eighteenth of his reign. He also, by several letters patent, which were triennially renewed, continued the additional abatement of the 17l. 10s. 10d till the 15th year of his reign, which reduced their payment into the Exchequer to 9l. 2s. 6d.

In the 17th of Henry VII. on a petition of the burgesses to the King at Richmond, he was pleased to make a further remittance, in their favor, of fifty marks, for the term of five years.

About the 24th of that King, however, all these aids, grants, and releases still appear to be insufficient for the purposes of preserving the haven navigable, and the burgesses again petitioned the King for leave to cut a fourth haven, much nearer to the town than the former. This being granted, with the remittance of their 50 marks for 20 years longer, they did accomplish its preservation, with their own united labour and expenses, for the 20 following years; when it became so decayed, and the inhabitants so overburthened with almost unremitting costs and charges, that they were obliged to become petitioners for the fifth time, for permission to make a fifth haven, in or near the place where it is at present.

This King Henry again granted, with a further release of the fifty marks fee-farm, for 20 years more. And about the 36th year of his reign, on their further complaint, he continued the release for ten years longer, for the support of the haven, besides acquitting them of all the fifteenths and tenths which should be granted to him during his reign, as we have before observed.

This haven, according to Mr. Manship, cost the inhabitants 1500l. sterling, and was executed under the direction of the master of Mettingham college, "a man in those days in water works holden very "expert."

"But the stormy wind and sea prevailing, the mouth of that haven also, which had cost great sums of money, was thereby choaked and stopped up; by means whereof they were so impoverished in their particular estates, that they were utterly unable to continue any longer so unsupportable a charge."

In order, therefore, to effect a sixth haven, it was agreed, in the 2d of Edward VI. (1548) that the money, plate, ornaments, robes, vestments, tunicles, albs, amesses, &c. belonging to St Nicholas's chapel in Yarmouth, should be disposed of, in order to contribute to this necessary purpose. These, with the rents of houses belonging to the church, the disposal of the bells in the steeple, voluntary contributions of the inhabitantts of Yarmouth, those of Norwich, and the reverend fathers of Christ's Church, raised a supply of 1816l. 9s. 7d. besides some weekly contributions, of which the four and twenties agreed to pay two shillings, and the eight and forties, one shilling a week each, for the space of 10 weeks following.

The particulars of the aggregate sums, which amounted to the above 1816l. 9s. 7d. are as follows:

£ s. d.
Of the coined gold and silver, and other utensils belonging to St. Nicholas's church 782 8
Of the plate sold 58 19 11¼
Of the bell metal 71 1 10
Of the copes, &c. 40 8 5
Of another parcel of copes, &c. 24 14 0
Of the contributions of the four and twenties 138 6 8
Of ditto—of the eight and forties 82 16 8
Of the houses, rents, &c. of the chantry or charnel at the entrance of St. Nicholas' church-yard 192 11 5
Of the commons in the four south wards 33 18 4
Of the commons in the four north wards 31 8 0
Of the city of Norwich, as by indenture dated the 5th of July 1550, in the 4th of Edward VI. appeareth 133 16 0
Of the dean and chapter of Norwich 20 0 0
Of strangers, and goods of the hospital 206 0 0
£. 1816 9 7

This sum was partly collected in 1549, the 3d of Edward VI. the same year in which Kett and his rebel party, made an insurrection in Norfolk.

Having obtained that King's permission, the burgesses then began to cut their sixth haven, over the Denes, about a quarter of a mile from the south gate of the town, the trench of which is still visible, and known by the appellation of the old haven.

For the more effectual carrying on this work, King Edward by his letters patents, dated the 9th of January, in the 2d year of his reign, released to the burgesses, as his father and grandfather had done, all fifteenths and tenths, and gave them, a commission to take up carts, carriages, labourers, workmen, and all other things necessary for the execution of it.

The principal director, on this occasion, was one Mr. Thompson chief engineer of Dover; who, Manship says, was master or governor of the Alms house, or God's house, in Dover. He was brought hither about three years before this, by the duke of Norfolk, by whom, as well as by some others of the privy council, he was principally recommended. He was in high favor with Edward VI. by whom he had been well rewarded for his skill and services at the pier at Dover. He was very conversant in things of this kind, and had therefore been much recommended by the portsmen resorting hither.

On the 16th of January, 1549, after a solemn procession of the townsmen, and a sermon preached before them, by Sir John Bland, minister of St. Nicholas's church, on a subject adapted to the occasion, Mr. Thompson took upon him the charge of the work, which was then begun, and in which were employed a hundred men every day.

Nature had hitherto been the greatest enemy of the town, but now the brutal fury of rebellious ignorance contributed to their distress; for the work had not long been continued ere a party of Kett's adherents advanced to the town, who, finding the inhabitants not at all inclined to favor their infamous designs, destroyed all the materials provided for the haven, and in the night villainously laid all that had been done in ruins. This obliged the workmen to take up arms instead of tools, and, with the magistrates, to keep watch and ward, as well to defend the town against the rioters without, as to curb their adherents within, who, though less numerous, were not less dangerous. Hence the work was discontinued for that year.

The next year, however, they pursued it again with resolution and vigor; but though they were prepared with ships and expensive engines for casting out the water, the work went on but slowly, the water springing up so fast that they could not get clear enough of it, to procure a good foundation.

These extraordinary expenses exhausted their stock before they had finished their work, which obliged them to depute Mr. Betts, one of their bailiffs, and Mr. William Harborne, to solicit an aid of the city of London; but it does not appear whether their deputation was attended with success.

Another fatality, to which they chiefly attribute the miscarriage of their work, was the loss of their engineer Mr. Thompson, who died about this time.

To supply his place, by an act of assembly, in the 7th of Edward VI. one Mr. Candish was sent for, who inspected the work and gave directions for its continuance.

Upon which one hundred dozen baskets, two hundred shovels unshod, and one hundred and ten dozen shod, were immediately sent for to London, on the 8th of June, in the same year, two days after the death of Edward VI. for the carrying on the work, which was now continued with such vigor, that on St. Peter's eve, in the next year, 1554, it was agreed in common council, that every one of the four and twenties, (aldermen) should find two men, and every one of the eight and forties (common councilmen) should find one man, till the haven should run forth into the sea, or else to pay tenpence a day for each man; but on the eve of St. Paul following, on the discussion of a motion, at a full assembly, Whether it were better to proceed or not, it passed in the negative, and was resolved that the work should cease for that year; that the crane newly built for that purpose, should be taken down, and laid up safely till further occasion; and that the succeeding bailiffs the next year should proceed in the work, under the penalty of 100l.

Accordingly, in 1555, many workmen were employed, two overseers appointed, a ship was sunk at the mouth of the haven, to stem the tide, and after all, the work was relinquished for that time. The next year they began again, and so on for eight successive years, from the beginning; when, finding every trial unsuccessful, and above six thousand pounds of their own cash sunk, besides their annual fifty marks, and all the fifteenths and tenths released during the life of Queen Mary, they gave it up in despair, having, from dear bought experience, justly concluded, that Nature so powerfully opposed them, as to render any lasting relief from Art utterly impracticable.

From some extraordinary act of loyalty to this princess, the inhabitants of Yarmouth were emboldened to solicit a release of their fifty marks fee-farm for ever, as appears by their petition; and though she did not think proper to grant their request, she extended the term to a greater number of years than had been done before.

These aids still proved ineffectual, as their schemes were abortive, so that we find them, agreeable to the advice of skilful workmen, on the 17th day of November, 1557, stopping up the haven with furze, bound together in bundles called kybes. "But yet, says Mr. Manship, within fourteen days following, upon a great rage then happening, the wind, being at west, brought down the back waters out of the marshes so vehemently, that it ran over the keys into the dwelling houses, insomuch that men might row up and down the streets, to the no little damage and heart sorrow of all the inhabitants." It appears, too, on this occasion, that some ships were obliged to be drawn over the Denes with capstans and windlasses, others lost their voyages; labourers and artificers were almost reduced to poverty, for want of employment; every person wore the appearance of distress, and every thing bore evident marks of confusion.

In this deplorable situation things remained till the 8th of January, in the 2d of Queen Elizabeth, when it was agreed to tempt their fate again, and cut a seventh haven, in the place where it had been thirty years before, and where it now is.

This was done at another considerable expense, as appears by a memorial, dated 1559, which says, "The inhabitants of the towne of Greate Yermouth, * * * * * right over against the parsonage of Gorlestone eastwarde, did cut a new haven into the sea, and there with greate costes did stoppe uppe the old haven, by reason whereof the whole level of the marshes from Yermouth unto Norwich was all over flowen, and keles and boats passed over them. And there uppon some of the countrie came downe to help to digge the haven, and yet the charges of this newe cutte and the stoppe, not reckonenge the continuall labours of the inhabitants, which were dailie bestowed aboute the same, nor yet the charge of the countrye, which wrought two or three days, did amount, as per the perticulus appeareth thereof, the some of 2503l. 2s. 1d."

This seventh haven, however, met with some opposition, with resspect to the place in which it was to be cut; some being for the old haven, by the town, others for the place where it is at present. Whereupon a committee of eight persons was appointed, January 8, in the 2d of Elizabeth, as abovementioned, "To go downe to vewe and appoynte where the havyne shall be cutte owght at thys tyme, and then there to come ageyn to sertefy unto Mr. Balys and the howse where it shal be cutte and stoppyd." At the same time, also, a deputation of four gentlemen was appointed to wait upon Sir Thomas Wodehouse, "to request Mr. Mayor of Norwich, and his brethren, and the worshipful of the shire, to have their benevolence toward the mending of the haven, &c.

The above committtee having taken a survey of the place, came to an agreement, and made their report, "That the most proper place for constructing or making another haven, would be at or near the place where it had been in the year 1529, against the east-end of the parsonage house of Gorleston." At an assembly, therefore, holden the 2d day of March, in the 2d of Elizabeth, it was agreed, "That all the inhabitants of the town, and handicrafts men, (except shypwryghtes) be at the haven, Sunday, Monday and Tewesday, and there to helpe to convey the manure there, and to make the haven dyppe, to the intent yt may by Godes help rune." In consequence of this order, so anxious were the people to forward so useful an undertaking, that there appears to have been near a thousand persons, including women and children, employed about the work; so that on the fourth of March following, the haven seems completed, the water had passage to the sea, and there was ten feet at low water, to the infinite satisfaction of Yarmouth and the neighbouring country.

The next day, March 5th, it was ordered, "That the carpenters should be employed to make a defence, or stop, to keep the current from running to the southward, in the old channel, where formerly it used to run;" and on the twelfth of the same month, by another order, it was to be more strongly fortified; for the more ready dispatch of which, it was agreed, on Friday next after the Annunciation of St. Mary, "That the rubbish and stones belonging to the church, commonly called Our Lady's church, in South town, on the westside of the road leading to Gorleston, should be conveyed to the haven's mouth, for the use of the said stop," which was accordingly done; but the expenses proving too great for the inhabitants to bear, of themselves, they drew up a petition to the Queen and her Privy Council, in order to obtain a commission for the support of the said haven. Upon which Mr. Adrian Harrison was sent down to make an estimate of the charges of building a new haven, which he calculated would cost 5510l. to be made where it then was, and 4273l. 6s. 8d. to be made where it was at first dug. Either of these sums appeared too considerable for the privy council, and Mr. Adrian's estimates were of no effect.

The city of Norwich, on application made by the burgesses, granted them 200 marks; and Sir William Wodehouse sent them an experienced person from Emden to conduct the work, but nothing appears to have been done by him. To their own industry was principally owing the temporary successes of their tedious and expensive enterprize; and though they did for some time confine the current to the limits they had prescribed for it, their want of proper assistance sometimes distressed them very much; so that at a common assembly, on the 21st of April, in the 5th of Elizabeth, they were obliged to order, "That one quarter of the towne shall be callyd owte by the constables, every day, to go to the haven, &c." notwithstanding which, in 1567, after sinking 2603l. 2s. 3d. the water broke through all their works, and made for its old channel towards Newton Cross.

In March following they began again to work on the north side of the haven, under the direction of Joyse Johnson, an experienced Dutchman, brought over for that purpose, who, by driving down piles on either side of the channel, and bracing them together with large planks, kept in the current and forced it to pursue a north-east direction. But having, in the first seven months, expended 561l. 6s. 8d. they found themselves no longer able to support the expense; and, therefore, on the 8th day of October, in the 9th of Elizabeth, the corporation on agreed on the most visionary scheme for raising money, that ever entered the head of adventurers; which was nothing less than a solicitation of Fortune's favour, in the Virginia state lottery, that year, 1567. Nay, so flushed was the whole town with the hopes of success, that they were elevated to the enthusiasm of poetry, and a distich was accordingly tacked to the several subscriptions, as follows:

To the fifteen pounds of the town's money, "Yermouth haven, God send thee spede, The Lord he knoweth thy great nede."

To the fifteen pounds collected amongst the four and twenties, and eight and forties.

" Yf Yermouth great in Fortune's favor be, The greteste lott may chanse to fall to me."

To the seventeen pounds ten shillings collected by the commons.

The Gentlemen's Posy.

"The fyrste, ne second lott I crave, The thyrde yt ys that I wolde have."

The Ladies' Posy.

"A small stocke with good successe, May shortly growe to good incresse."

Notwithstanding these sanguine hopes, it does not appear that the fickle goddess was so much inclined to favor them, as the maids of Helicon, for no prize is recorded with their poetry; and we find them again petitioning Queen Elizabeth, the next year, for further assistance; who granted them a license to export eighteen thousand quarters of corn, the profits of which amounted to 1407l. 8s. 2d. which being expended, they applied to the privy council, and under their sanction collected in Norfolk and Suffolk, in 1573, and 1574, the sum of 503l. 9s. 5d. In 1575 they obtained further license "to buy within our countye of Norfolk onelye the quantitie of six thowsand quarters of maulte and barley, and four thowsand quarters of wheat, &c. duringe the space of three yeres," the profit of which amounted to 1073l 9s. 6d. But as they were under some restrictions with regard to the price of the corn, they were in want of fresh supplies before the terms of their license were fulfilled; which obliged them again to apply to the privy council, in 1576, who prevailed on the city of London to lend them 1000l. without interest, to be repaid at the rate of 200l. a year; this they received in the 20th of Elizabeth, and accordingly repaid. The Cinque-Ports also made a small contribution towards the haven; and in the 22d of Elizabeth a third exportation license was granted them, of 30000 quarters of corn and malt, which brought them a further sum of 2720l. 5s. 8d. This proving insufficient, the burgesses, in the 26th of that queen, obtained a fourth license for the exportation of 40000 quarters of corn and malt, by which they gained about 2000l. and in her 36th year, on farther application, she granted them 1000l. out of her customs at Yarmouth, to be paid in eight equal annual payments; besides a release of fifty marks of their fee farm, for forty years, to commence on the expiration of the release granted by Queen Mary, and a remittance of all the tenths and fifteenths that had been granted her, and which were then in arrears.

About this time, also, they obtained of the privy council license to export, in foreign bottoms, a quantity of herrings every year, the profits of which (about 5s. a last) were applied to the repairs of the haven. These generally amounted to about 150l. a year, and was continued to them till 1611, when, on the establishment of a company to trade to France, they met with some difficulties and limitations on account of this company's exclusive trade thither, which however they seem to have soon got over, as they again obtained leave to export 600 lasts of herrings, in foreign bottoms, in 1612, 1613, 1614, and 1615, notwithstanding the opposition of several English shipowners and merchants.

In 1614 the town was again infected with the rage of adventuring in the Virginia lottery, when they bemotto'd their adventure of twenty five pounds with,

"Great Yarmouth haven, now in great distresse, Expects by lotterye some good successe."

But we are apprehensive their successe did not answer their expectation, nothing to the contrary being upon record.

In 1615, the privy council informed them that they should not renew their exportation license, for herrings in foreign bottoms, any more than that time; and in consequence of their adherence to this resolution, about fifty sail of Yarmouth fishers laid up their vessels in 1616, which occasioned the town once more to renew their petition to the council, in 1617, when they were again permitted to export 600 lasts, as usual, which license was annually renewed till 1624.

In the 19th of James I. that King directed his commission to the bishop of Norwich and others, to enquire into the state of the haven and piers; and in the next year issued his letters patents for a general collection throughout the kingdom, for their support; which however, did not raise above 500l. whereupon the king directed his letter again to the Bishop of Norwich for further contributions, and to assess the adjacent low grounds, marshes, &c. in obedience to which the city of Norwich contributed 100 marks.

In the same year the king permitted them to export 4000 tons of beer, duty free, which at 9s. per ton, raised them 1800l. and was wholly employed in the reparation of the haven and piers.

In the 2d of Charles I. (1626) a similar patent was granted them for 1000 tons, which brought them 450l.

The same year they renewed their solicitations for their herring exportation, which at the instance of the Trinity-House, some merchants and fishmongers of London, and the Turkey Company, was refused, except in English bottoms. The next year, however, they procured an order, that unless the Turkey Company would purchase all their herrings, at a reasonable price, before the last day of October, they should then be at liberty to sell the 600 lasts to strangers; yet they were not to be laden in foreign bottoms before the 12th of November," to the end the English may have the priority of the market, in places whither they use to carry them."

In 1628, and 1629, they obtained leave to export 1000 lasts, on the same terms, notwithstanding the Trinity-House had previously pre vailed on the privy council to issue their orders to the contrary. This was occasioned by the Turkey Company's refusing to take the principal part of their herrings. The annual licenses were continued to 1637, when one was granted for 10 years, on payment of 50l. per ann. by which there was an annual saving to the burgesses of 100l. and this was the last aid of the kind; for at its exipration in 1647, though frequent application was made, they could not get the license renewed.

In 1637, four years after the expiration of their fee-farm release, the town petitioned King Charles I. for a renewal of it, which was granted them for 40 succeeding years.

During the contest between Charles II. and his parliament, the town petitioned the parliament (in 1650) for some of the lead upon Norwich cathedral, to build a work-house, and repair the haven; and purchased of them, the same year, the perpetuity of their whole feefarm rent for 306l. 13s. 4d. In 1656 they petitioned Oliver for money, but he had too much need of it himself, to grant them any. They therefore sold the town's gunpowder that year, for 100l. and the year following sold the island of Cobham for 530l. and the houses and lands called the Gray Friars for 2600l. all of which went to the support of the haven and piers.

In 1660, the town addressed King Charles, and made him a formal return of the fee-farm, purchased of the parliament, with the arrears due; and the more certainly to ingratiate themselves with the king. they presented him with 500l. as a mark of their loyalty.

We cannot help remarking here, how much the pliant and politic disposition of the good people of Yarmouth resembled that of the Vicar of Bray. The parliament they address thus; " We cannot but in all humility acknowledge, the great and unspeakable goodness of God, in raising his honourable house to repair the breaches of many generations, and to recover our almost lost liberties and religion out of the hands of those that studied nothing more, than to enslave both souls and bodies of the whole nation: but our God hath broken the snare, and we are delivered, &c." To the king, with a most easy effrontery, they "observe the great mercy of God, not only in preserving your sacred Majesty in so continued and eminent dangers, but in restoring you to the possession of your rights and dominions, and us thereby to the enjoyment of our birth-rights, laws, and liberties, (so long trampled upon by a treasonable usurpation) do accompt it our greatest duty to return all possible praise and thanks unto our gracious God, &c." But to return:

The charges of making new havens and repairing old ones, were so considerable, that in the space of 64 years (from 1549, to 1613) there appears to have been disbursed 38652l. 18s. 4d. an enormous sum, for so early a period.

In 1667, notwithstanding the town had sold houses and lands to the amount of 400l. a year, obtained various supplies from government besides private aids, it appears then to have been in debt 9400l. on this distressing account. At an assembly, therefore, holden on the 4th of July, they appointed a committee "To consider of a way to raise money, for the maintenance and repair of the haven and piers;" in consequence of which, application was made to parliament, and a bill brought in, to provide for their support. This bill met with some opposition from the city of Norwich, but on the town's producing an estimate of the necessary charges for the immediate reparation of them, which amounted to 13580l. and the sub-committee, appointed by the committee of the house of commons, finding the allegations of the town to be true, they reported the same to the grand committee, and recommended the relief required by the town. This was again opposed by the gentlemen concerned, who advised a commission of eight persons, i. e. two for Norfolk, two for Suffolk, two for Yarmouth, and two for Norwich, to enquire upon oath, into the present state of the piers and haven, and the revenues for their maintenance. The house agreed to this, and ordered the commission to be at the charge of the corporation, to be first opened at Yarmouth, and then adjourned and finished at the discretion of the commissioners, who were to return the commission before the ensuing 10th of August.

The parliament being prorogued soon after that time, the bill was not reported, though it had already been committed. Whereupon the burgesses petitioned the parliament, at their first meeting again, for leave to have the bill passed; which, after various difficulties and much opposition from the city of Norwich, was effected in the beginning of 1670; but not without a private eontract, made at its passing the house of peers, for Yarmouth to pay to Norwich 50l. per ann. so long as the act continued in force. In the latter end of the same year, the commissioners appointed by this act, granted the corporation 12000l. for the repairs of the haven and piers, to be raised by virtue of the said act; under which the work was conducted with expedition and success till 1677, when the town petitioned for a renewal of the act, which then expired. A bill was accordingly brought into the house, in April, and a committee being appointed, it passed into an act, to commence the 25th of March 1678, and to continue in force seven years; but on the expiration of that term, the duties raised by the act appearing still insufficient, the town was about to petition King Charles II. for his assistance, in 1685, when his death put a period to their design. In the first of James II. however, they obtained a third act, to continue in force for 14 years; but the style of the corporation being altered, by royal proclamation, a fourth act was made, in the first of William and Mary, principally to explain so much of the former act, as might be controvertible from that alteration.

On the expiration of that act, in 1699, the town made application for a fifth act, which was opposed by the city of Norwich on account of three years arrears being due to them from Yarmouth, of the 50l. annuity, secured to them on passing the first act; but these being paid, and further security given by the corporation, this bill, again passed into an act, which was to continue for 21 years, so that they were secured by parliament now, for a much longer term than they had ever been before.

The style of the corporation being again altered, another explanatory act was passed in the first of Queen Anne.

In the 9th of George I. a seventh act was passed, to continue for 21 years, as the former had done; and in the 20th of George II. it was only revived, and continued for the term of two years, and to the end of the then next session of parliament.

But in the 23d of George II. 1750, the duties payable by virtue of that act were to cease, and a ninth act was passed, by which other duties were to be paid in lieu of them. The term of this act was also twenty one years.