East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, Kirkley Road

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

Citation:

Francis Blomefield, 'East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, Kirkley Road', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) pp. 275-279. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp275-279 [accessed 21 May 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, Kirkley Road", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) 275-279. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp275-279.

Blomefield, Francis. "East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, Kirkley Road", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810). 275-279. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp275-279.

OF KIRKELEY ROAD, ITS UNION WITH YARMOUTH, &c.

Having had occasion to mention, before the causes of Kirkely Road's being united to the port of Yarmouth, we shall here say something more on that subject.

In consequence of the charter of King Edward III. in his 46th year, which we have before mentioned, several people of Lowestoft and the neighbourhood, were indicted at Yarmouth, in the following year, for refusing to pay the customs of that port, for ships lading or unlading in Kirkeley Road, agreeable to the injunctions of the said grant. But the Lowestoft men, not choosing to trust to the impartiality of a Yarmouth court, in a Yarmouth cause, brought their writ of Certiorari, and removed the suit into the court of Chancery, where they had the mortification to find the matter determined wholly in favor of the burgessess.

But in the 50th of that king, the commons of England, in the then parliament, as well as the people of Lowestoft, petitioned the king for a repeal of the said charter, as contrary to the common profit of the kingdom, and it was accordingly, in the same parliament, entirely repealed.

King Edward dying soon after this repeal, the burgesses sued out a commission of Ad quod dampnum, in the first of Richard II. dated April 12th, by virtue of which, an inquisition was taken at Yarmouth, on Friday next after St. Faith's in the 2d of that king; and another at Lowestoft the day following; by which it was found, that though the uniting of Kirkeley Road to the port of Yarmouth, was to the damage of the people of Lowestoft, yet it was more commodious than discommodious to the king and his people.

These inquisitions were laid before the parliament, with a survey of Yarmouth and Lowestoft, taken by the commissioners; upon which their former grants were now restored, as well by a private ordinance of the parliament, as by a charter of Richard II. dated the 24th of November, in his 2d year; which so irritated the inhabitants of Lowestoft that upon the proclamation of the charter there, by the undersheriff of the county, (as was the custom before printing was invented) they caused a riot, and would not suffer him to proceed, threatening his life, if he ever dared to come there again on any such business, and "for fear of death, he durst not execute the writ aforesaid. And they drove him then and there, with a multitude of rioters, with hue and cry, out of the town, casting stones at the heads of his men and servants, to the pernicious example and contempt of the lord the king, and against his peace."

This victory did not continue long to the town without interruption; for in 4th of the aforesaid king, the commons in parliament, at the instigation of those of Norfolk and Suffolk, petioned against the charter; alleging that a statute had been formerly made, and confirmed in the last parliament at Gloucester, "that every subject of the realm might buy and sell without disturbance, in city, burgh, sea-port, and else where, throughout all the kingdom, and if any charters or patents were granted to the contrary, they should be holden void, notwithstanding which, a charter in the same parliament had been granted to the people of Yarmouth, that none should buy or sell within seven leucas of the town, &c. &c." This occasioned a fresh parliamentary enquiry, in which the impartiality and veracity of the inquisitions taken in the 1st and 2d of Richard II. were called in question, and an order was given for a new commission, in which a more rigid observance of justice was expected; for the better conducting of which, the burgesses in the mean time were commanded, on pain of the house's displeasure, to make no distorbance, nor offer molestation to those concerned in the execution of the commission.

The next year, therefore, on Monday next after St. Matthew the Apostle, the said commission was opened in Suffolk, and held by adjournment, the Thursday after in Norfolk, by the lord chief justice of England, and other great commissioners, who surveyed the place, and took the depositions of certain knights and gentlemen of the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk; which being certified in chancery, and laid before the parliament, an act was made to repeal those new grants for ever, not to be granted again; the charter was recalled and cancelled, the causes of so doing being written on it, and so remains in the Tower.

The year following King Richard came himself to Yarmouth, and viewed the premises, which emboldened the burgesses again to renew their petitions for the regranting of their late charter. Accordingly they once more were favored with a new grant, dated the 20th of February in his 8th year, to hold till the meeting of the next parliament, which was the year after, when by an ordinance of the same, dated the 8th of December, that grant was annulled, and the repeal in the 5th of that king confirmed; notwithstanding which, the parliament held at Westminster, the very next year, in consequence of another petition, restored all their former grants, which were confirmed by a charter under the great seal of England; which having never yet been repealed, remains in full force at this time.

The charter, which is in Latin, runs thus:

"Richard by the grace of God, king of England and lord of Ireland to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, dukes, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, provosts, and to all his bailiffs and faithful subjects greeting.

"We have seen the charter which Lord Edward, late King of England, our father, made to our burgesses of Yarmouth, in these words: Edward by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitain, to the bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, provosts, ministers, and to all his bailiffs, and faithful subjects greeting. We have seen the charter of confirmation which Lord John, of famous memory, late King of England, our grandfather, made to our burgesses of Yarmouth, in these words; John, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitain, and Earl of Anjou, to the arch-bishops, bishops, &c. &c." [Here King John's charter, and all the other charters, confirmations, &c. to the 5th of this King, are recited at large; but as we shall have occasion to mention the principal of these hereafter, they are purposely omitted, the following being all that properly belongs to this charter, exclusive of the said recitals.]

"And how the commonalty of our kingdom of England, by their petition in our present Parliament exhibited, among other things have requested us, that whereas the said town of Great Yarmouth levies, and supports greater charges, as in payment of the farm of the town aforesaid, and tenth, when by the commons of our kingdom it has been granted; also in fortification and support of the same town against the enemies, than any other city or burgh within six counties in circuit next adjoining. And the said town of Great Yarmouth is become so reduced, impoverished and wasted, and the people of the same town of Great Yarmouth have so greatly withdrawn themselves from the same town, that the other burgesses and commons who remain dwelling in the same town of Great Yarmouth cannot further conveniently support such charges, unless a remedy in the present parliament be thence speedily applied. We are willing graciously to grant and restore to those burgesses and good men, the liberties and privileges aforesaid. We, having had fuller deliberation concerning the premises, with the prelates, dukes, earls, barons, and other nobles and great men of our kingdom in our present parliament, by the assent of the said prelates, dukes, earls, barons, and great men, at the petition of the said commonalty, as is aforesaid, and for an hundred shillings which the said burgesses and good men, and their heirs, and successors aforesaid, shall every year pay to us and our heirs, at the term of Easter and St. Michael, by even portions, for an increase and augmentation of the said annual farm of fifty and five pounds into our exchequer, have given and granted, and by this our charter confirmed, for us and our heirs, to the aforesaid burgesses and good men of the said town of Great Yarmouth, and their heirs, successors, and burgesses of the same town, for an aid, relief, and support of the town aforesaid, the aforesaid place of Kirkley-Road; and that place to the town aforesaid, and the port of the same, we do annex and unite, to have and to hold to the same burgesses and good men, and to their heirs and successors, burgesses of the town aforesaid, of us and our heirs, to the said town and ports annexed for ever. Willing and granting for us and our heirs, to the same burgesses and good men, that they and their heirs and successors aforesaid may for ever have in the said place of Kirkley-Road, all and singular the liberties and quittances above written in the charters aforesaid expressed, as they ought to have the same liberties and quittances, in the said town, by virtue of the charters and confirmation aforesaid; and of all ships and boats which shall happen to come to the same place of Kirkley-Road, and there in part or wholly unlade, may have and receive the same customs, which they, according to the liberties aforesaid, of the same ships and boats might have, if they at the said town should arrive, and there in part or in the whole, 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 to their heirs and successors aforesaid, that no ship nor any boat be hereafter laden or unladen, at any town or place upon the sea-coast, from the said town of Great Yarmouth, within seven leucas distance, by any person whomsoever, of herrings, or of any other merchandizes, except the ship or boat, and the herrings and other merchandizes, be the same person's proper goods only and not any others, but at the said town of Great Yarmouth, or in the port of the same, or at the place of Kirkley-Road aforesaid. And also, that in the time of the said fishings and fair of herrings, no fair be holden, nor any selling or buying, for the sake of merchandizing, be transacted any where within the space of seven leucas about the town aforesaid, but only at the same town of Great Yarmouth, or in the port of the same town, of herrings or other merchandizes whatever. And we do strictly prohibit, for us and our heirs, that no one hereafter, within the space aforesaid, of seven leucas, any ship or boat otherthan his own proper ship or boat, and with his own proper herrings and other merchandizes, in any place but only at the said town of Great Yarmouth, or in the port of the same, or at the said place of Kirkley-Road, do presume to lade or unlade, or in the time aforesaid hold any fair, or make buying or selling, on pretence of merchandizing of herrings, or any other merchandizes, but only at the said town of Great Yarmouth, or in the port of the same, upon forfeiture of the ships and boats to be so laden or unladen; and of the herrings or other merchandizes which shall happen to be so laden or unladen; or in such fairs or else where, by way of merchandizing, to be put to sale, contrary to our said prohibition, to be hereafter applied to the use of us or our heirs, of which said forfeitures we do will and grant, for us and our heirs, that the bailiffs of the said town of Great Yarmouth, who for the time shall be, from time to time can and may enquire, and the same into our hand take and safely for our use cause to be kept, and to us and our heirs thereof, and of the said hundred shillings, over and above the said old farm of fifty and five pounds, at the exchequer aforesaid, yearly, at the terms of Easter and St. Michael shall make answer, according to the force, form, and effect of the gifts, grants, and confirmations of our said grandfather and us aforesaid, so to the aforesaid burgesses and good men made, the repeals and annullings aforesaid notwithstanding. And we, of our abundant grace, whatever letters patent of us and our said grandfather, made to the town of Lowestoft, or the men of the same town, to the contrary of the gifts, grant, and confirmations aforesaid, by the tenor of these presents, do utterly repeal. So always that whosoever, as well strangers as all other our liege people, who to the said town of Great Yarmouth, or the port of the same, shall come to buy or sell herrings there, such herrings, within the said town of Great Yarmouth, and port of the same, during the fair there, may freely and peaceably buy and sell, and from thence at their pleasure carry, without molestation or impediment whatsoever. Wherefore we do will and firmly command, for us and our heirs, that the abovesaid burgesses and good men of the said town of Great Yarmouth, may have and hold to them, and their heirs and successors aforesaid, of us and our heirs aforesaid, the said place called Kirkley-Road, to the said town of Great Yarmouth, and the port of the same, annexed and united for ever; and all and singular the liberties, quittances, and privileges above written, according to the form and tenor of the donations, grants, and confirmations aforesaid for ever. So always that whoever, as well strangers as all other our liege people, who to the aforesaid town of Great Yarmouth, or the port of the same, shall come to buy or sell herrings there, such herrings within the said town of Great Yarmouth, and the port of the same, during the fair there, may freely and peaceably buy and sell, and from thence carry, without molestation or impediment of any person soever, as is aforesaid. These being witnesses: the reverend fathers, William, Archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England; R. of London, W. of Winchester, Thomas of Ely, our chancellor, Thomas of Exeter, R. of Salisbury, John of Hereford, our treasurer, and Thomas of Cirencester, bishops; Edmund Duke of York, and Thomas Duke of Gloucester, our most dear uncles; Richard Arundell, William de Montacute, of Salisbury, Edward de Courtney, of Devonshire, Thomas Mowbray, of Nottingham, Marshal of England, and Henry de Percy, of Northumberland, Earls; Nicholas Abbot, of Waltham, Roger de Clifford, Reginald de Grey, of Ruthyn, Ralph Basset, of Drayton, John de Cobham, of Kent, John Lovell, Richard Lestrope, John Devereux, John de Waltham, keeper of our privy seal, John de Montacute, steward of our household, and others: dated by our hand, at Westminster, the twenty eighth day of November, in the 10th year of our reign."

This formal confirmation of the liberties of Yarmouth, seems to have given the decisive blow in this contest; for the burgesses after this collected their customs in Kirkley Road as peaceably as in their own haven; and the Lowestoft people for some years after, farmed them of the burgesses. But about the beginning of the reign of Henry IV. several officers and others belonging to Yarmouth were indicted by the inhabitants of Lowestoft, on some occasion of collecting the customs, the suit was carried into chancery, and the difference at last settled by that King and his council, in the 2d year of his reign; after which, peace being again restored, the burgesses collected their customs there, as usual, without interruption.