East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, suits and contests

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, suits and contests', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) pp. 279-296. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp279-296 [accessed 19 May 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, suits and contests", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) 279-296. British History Online, accessed May 19, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp279-296.

Blomefield, Francis. "East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, suits and contests", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810). 279-296. British History Online. Web. 19 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp279-296.


Prior to the charter granted by King John, we do not find that Yarmouth was of importance enough to be engaged in many suits about customs or revenues. It was then in the King's hand, as well as Lothingland; but, as soon as that charter had invested the burgesses with its numerous privileges, the town began to rear its head, and acquired a more respectable aspect; their trade and commerce wore a more flourishing appearance, and began to assume an importance which soon excited the jealousy of their neighbours. Little Yarmouth, consisting then of West-town and North-town, must have contained many inhabitants: and those joined to the people of Gorleston, equally envious of the good fortune of Great Yarmouth, and apprehensive of its future power and superiority, soon discoverd themselves to be no less formidable rivals than implacable enemies, and accordingly omitted no opportunity of attacking their privileges, and of endeavouring to turn some of their customs and franchises to their own account. We do not, however, find any material opposition till the 12th of Henry III. where Roger Fitzlobert, warden of Lothingland manor, took certain customs in the port of Yarmouth against the express liberties of the burgesses, which being represented to the King, he commissioned Martin de Pateshall and others, to enquire into, and ascertain what customs belonged to the burgesses, and what to his said manor of Lothingland. Whereupon an inquisition was taken at Yarmouth, the same year, upon the oaths of 22 knights and others of Norfolk, and 26 of Suffolk, when a verdict was found, that all wares ought to be sold and unladen at Great Yarmouth, and that all the haven belonged to the burgesses of that town; but that the lesser wares and victuals might be unladen at Lothingland, on the Yarmouth side, at the option of the owners or the importers thereof.

This determination, though much in favour of Yarmouth, did not prevent the burgesses from considering themselves as losers in the contest; since by that, ships might unlade with victuals on the Lothingland side, and as their chief trade was fishing, they found themselves considerably hurt in an article whence arose their greatest profits. In the 40th of that King, therefore, they petitioned for and obtained of him a new charter, "that all merchandizes and wares, as well of fish as of other commodities, should be sold at Yarmouth, by the hands of the importers of them into the haven, whether found in ships or without; and that henceforth there be no brokers in the aforesaid town of Yarmouth, by whom the buyers and sellers may be impeded, to the detriment of the said town."

In the same year the burgesses obtained of that King a Non arrestentur nisi, or charter of debtor and creditor, by which it was ordained, "that they and their heirs, burgesses of the same town, through our whole land and dominion, as well by sea as by land, shall have this liberty; to wit, that they and their goods, in what place soever found in our dominion, be not arrested for any debt, whereof they have not been sureties, or principal debtors, except it happens the very debtors be of their commonalty and government, having whereof they may satisfy their debts wholly or in part, and the said burgesses have in justice made default to the creditors of the same debtors, and of this reasonable evidence shall appear."

Besides these contests, the burgesses were subject to many others; and in particular, on account of King Henry's exchanging the fee-farm of Yarmouth and Lothingland, with John de Baliol of Bernard castle, for certain lands in Cheshire.

The said John de Baliol dying in 1269, the fee-farm of Yarmouth and Lothingland became the possessions of John de Baliol, his son, King of the Scots; who, as well as his father, had for many years taken tolls and customs in the port of Yarmouth, contrary to the charter and injurious to the interest of the burgesses, who had suffered these invasions of their rights with impunity, from an apprehension of their inability to contend with such powerful adversaries. But after the said King of the Scots had renounced his homage to Edward I. King of England, and in consequence had forfeited all his English estates, this fee-farm of Yarmouth and hundred of Lothingland reverted to the Crown.

Hence, in the 34th of the said King Edward, the year in which that King gave all Baliols English possession to John de Britainy, his nephew, the burgesses thought this the most eligible time to apply to that King for an explanation of Henry the Third's charter, which they alleged was couched in too vague and obscure terms, and solicited one that might be more explicit, by which their right and title to all customs in the port of Yarmouth might be rendered clear and indisputable. This the King, with the advice of his privy council, granted, in Trinity term, the same year, notwithstanding all the opposition made to it by the inhabitants of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston; by which it was secured to them, "that whatsoever merchandizes and wares, whether they consist of fishes or other goods whatsoever, which within the port of the town aforesaid, or to the same town, by land or by sea, on account of negociating the same there, shall happen to be brought or carried, shall be, by the hands of the merchants bringing those merchandizes and wares, and willing to sell there, or of their servants, freely and openly exposed to sale at the same town of Great Yarmouth, and there sold and bought without any forestalling or brokerage, or other impediment whatsoever; so that no forestaller, broker, or other whatsoever, shall meet the merchants with fishes or other merchandizes, or other saleable goods coming towards the said town, by land or water, to buy any thereof, or to make forestallings, or brokerages thereof, under forfeiture of the commodity bought, whereby the said burgesses or any merchants, bringing thither such merchandizes and wares, may be in any manner hindered at their buyings and sellings, to the detriment of the town aforesaid."

These privileges, ever since the making of that charter, the burgesses have enjoyed; and all ships bringing goods to the port of Yarmouth, whether they have belonged to the inhabitants of Little Yarmouth, or Gorleston, or elsewhere, have by virtue of the said charter, been unladen, and their cargoes exposed to sale and sold, in the said town of Great Yarmouth.

Notwithstanding which, there were afterwards frequent controversies between the burgesses and the inhabitants of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, who on many occasions continued their claim to, and did absolutely take some of those customs exclusively granted to Great Yarmouth. Moreover we find an inquisition taken in the 8th of Edw. II. about the rights of John de Baliol, in his hundred at Lothingland, and the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, he having taken for every foreign ship 18d.—for every English ship 4d. per annum:- -for every loaded cart or horse ½d.—for every last of herrings, by a foreign merchant, 4d. the payage belonging to him was valued at 4d.—he used to take attachments of every ship anchoring on the Lothingland side, as far as the file of the water.

Another dispute happened in the 19th of the aforesaid King, between the burgesses of Yarmouth, and the inhabitants of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, about certain liberties and privileges granted by that King's progenitors, when it was finally determined in favour of Great Yarmouth. But in the 2d of Edward III. John de Britainy Earl of Richmond, (to whom, we have before observed, King Edward I. gave the hundred of Lothingland) and his tenants of little Yarmouth and Gorleston, presented a petition to that King, claiming half the haven of great Yarmouth, as being an arm of the sea, and belonging to him and his predecessors, lords of Lothingland; alleging also, "that he ought to have, and his ancestors to have had, the arriving discharging, and lading of ships, goods and merchandizes, coming in and going out of the haven, and also a certain custom, as well of the said ships, as of the goods and merchandizes so being laden or discharged, together with a fair and market, and a free buying and selling by the said men and tenants of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, with all the merchants and ships there arriving; and further, that the said earl and his ancestors, and the said tenants and their ancestors have had the continual possession of these things until a charter thereof was made and granted by King Henry III. unto the aforesaid burgesses and commonalty of Great Yarmouth; and that the said charter was not rightly granted, because the king was not then informed of the damage and hurt that might grow, by reason of the granting of the said charter."

To this the burgesses pleaded their charter of the 34th of Edward I. which we have before mentioned, and exhibited another record of the 19th of Edward II. which is also mentioned above, by which it appeared, that a new controversy had arisen between the said burgesses and the inhabitants of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, before, the lord chancellor, and the king's justices and council, at Norwich, because of the men of Little Yarmouth, and Gorleston, having hindered and interrupted the said burgesses in their liberties granted to them by the aforesaid charter, and in such questions as were adjudged and decreed against them in the exchequer in the 34th of Edward I. but particularly on account of forestalling, as well of fish, as of other merchandizes coming within the said haven.

In answer, the men of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston alleged, that they might lawfully do such things by ancient prescription; that the said half hundred (of Lothingland) is ancient domain of the crown, and that such things were done by the men of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston in the time of Canute and Harold, and in other kings' days after them, being owners of the said half hundred; and also in the time of Devergale, of Baliol, and of John of Baliol, (king of Scots) also owners thereof; with many other reasons, to prove what they did to be legal, by prescription and possession, though in the very face of grant after grant, confirmed by different kings. The result was, therefore, an established decree in favor of the burgesses, that they should hold and enjoy the liberties granted to them by their said charters.

The burgesses also produced another record of the 34th of Edward I. wherein that king, by his letters patents, appoints five of his justices to make a special enquiry into, and determination upon such forestallments and abrochments made by the men of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, to the prejudice and hurt of the aforesaid burgesses, contrary to the tenors of their said charters; and the said men of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, being called before the commissioners and having produced their reasons and allegations, the said commissioners adjusted that the said burgesses should recover their damages, against the said men of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, for the foretallments and abrochments made as aforesaid.

To which the Earl of Richmond and his said tenants made answer, that these things, if any such were done, were not prejudicial to them, but that they ought to have and enjoy their ancient liberties and customs by prescription used; upon which the Monday in the second week of Lent, was fixed on anew for both parties to appear before the king and his council; and the burgesses had further orders to produce there, the said three records.

Accordingly all parties appeared, on that day, before the king and his council at Leicester, when, after long pleadings and process, the burgesses produced their charters, together with the aforesaid records, under the seal of the exchequer, and prayed a confirmation of their charters and liberties as therein set forth. But the said earl and his tenants alleged that they were then ready to inform the king of the damages and prejudices which have happened, especially to the king, since the grant of the said charter; and solicited that, notwithstanding the proceedings and matters of the aforesaid record, they might be permitted to set forth their reasons, and allegations for the revoking of the aforesaid charters; because they had petitioned against them to the king's parliament, from which their petition had been sent hither, for justice to be done.

The burgesses to this replied, that it was not in the power of the earl and his tenants, to cause the king to revoke the said charters and liberties, nor could they make themselves parties concerned; and therefore they demanded judgment to confirm their said charters and liberties, and that they might have justice impartially administered to them.

Hereupon the king sent his writ, containing all the circumstances of the controversy between the said parties, to the justices of the king's pleas, commanding them to hear the causes and determine upon them in right and justice; or if any extraordinary difficulty should arise, to send the whole process of the said controversy again before the king and his council to his parliament. At the same time also, the king issued his writ to the barons of the exchequer, to search amongst the records there, for any thing that could be found to set the matter of these controversies in a true light. The said barons, therefore, in return, certified to the king, that a record was found by which it appeared that the king's commission had been issued to Solomon of Rolf, Walter of Hopton, Richard of Boyland, Robert Fuke, Thomas of Suddington, and Walter of Sturthesly, the king's justices in Eyre, and that it was presented and found before the said commissioners, that Gilbert Foderingay, sometime bailiff of Deverguld of Baliol, did levy certain customs of ships at Little Yarmouth and Gorleston wrongfully, and that there ought to be neither fair nor market there; accordingly the said record was laid before the abovesaid justices of the king's pleas, before whom appeared the aforesaid earl and his tenants, as also the burgesses of Great Yarmouth, when the said causes were heard, but a final determination was not then put to them, on account of certain important matters, which the said justices deemed undeterminable at that time.

In the Easter term following, the king sent another writ from Northampton, to the said justices, containing again the whole processes, and commanding them again to hear and examine them, and to give judgment therein according to right; by virtue of which the said justices summoned before them, the said parties, and the matter was again heard without a determination; the said justices adjourning it to the Midsummer term, at York, when it was again heard and again left undecided. Whereupon the king issued out another writ to the said justices, commanding them to send all the whole matters and proceedings in the said controversies, to be laid before the king and his council at York, because the justices could not determine them; which being done, a day was fixed on which all parties were to appear before the king and his council; and the king issued out his proclamation for both parties to remain peaceable till matters could be legally determined; which however, had not the desired effect, as will afterwards appear.

At the day appointed, all parties met, but as another important circumstance was then brought to light, the king was forced to issue a new writ to adjourn the hearing of these causes to Salisbury, before the king and his parliament, and a day was again fixed for that purpose. New difficulties arising at Salisbury, the king was again obliged to adjourn the hearing to the next parliament.

The next parliament, which was at Winchester, in the 4th of king Edward III. met with new difficulties, and it was once more adjourned to the ensuing parliament, which was held at Westminster, the same year. Here all parties again appeared, when, amongst other things, the burgesses exhibited a certain record under the seal of the exchequer, whereby it appeared, that in the 12th of king Henry III. the king issued out his commission to Martin of Pateshall and others, (as before mentioned) by which a verdict was given, on the oaths of 48 of the principal gentlemen of Norfolk and Suffolk, that the haven did wholly belong to the burgesses of Great Yarmouth, and for other matters there agitated, did determine in favor of the said burgesses; to this the burgesses added all their charters and other records granted by the different kings, all which tended to confirm the said liberties and privileges.

All these did not appear conclusive to the earl of Richmond and his tenants, who solicited the king to order another commission, to enquire into the use of the said liberties, grants, rights, and privileges, in order to come to an investigation of the truth of these matters.

This the king granted, and assigned the bishop of Winchester, then lord chancellor of England, to go to Norwich, and there to make enquiry, upon the oaths of the best men of Norfolk and Suffolk, of the use of the said grants, and in whom these rights and privileges should be. At the same time, the king directed his writ to the sheriff of the said counties, requiring the bodies of 24 of the county of Norfolk, and 24 of the county of Suffolk, as well knights, as other good and able men, to enquire into the said matters, and to give their verdict before the said lord chancellor. This respectable jury being summoned, impannelled and sworn, upon hearing of the said matters, gave their verdict in favor of the burgesses, against the said earl of Richmond and his tenants, the men of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, as appears by the record, dated 23d of June, in the 5th of Edward III.

A new day was then fixed on for the said parties to appear in chancery, to hear judgment in the premises, and they meeting accordingly, the King moved the said parties to put all the said controversies to be heard and determined by such as he should appoint; which being agreed to, the King appointed the aforesaid Bishop of Winchester, lord chancellor of England, the Lord John Stoneherd, and John of Cambridge, his justices, Robert of Ufford and Oliver of Yngham, and Ralph Nevel, steward of the King's household, to be arbitrators in the said controversies, and appointed them also to come to Yarmouth, to view the premises, whence arose these controversies, and to settle peace and good understanding between the said parties. Accordingly they came down, viewed the places, and heard the said causes and controversies, with the charters, records, and allegations of both parties; the result of which was, a final order and decree in behalf of the burgesses of Great Yarmouth, agreeable to their ancient grants and charters; which decree being certified to the King, he immediately granted the said burgesses a new charter, in full confirmation of their former rights and privileges; which is as follows;

"Edward, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Acquitain, to all unto whom the present letters shall, come, greeting. Know ye, that whereas Lord Edward, of famous memory, late King, our grandfather, by his charter, which Lord Edward, late King of England, our father, by his charter, and likewise we, by our charter, have confirmed to our burgesses of our town of Great Yarmouth, that all merchandizes and wares, whatsoever they be, either of fish, or of other things whatsoever, which within our haven of our said town of Great Yarmouth, shall happen to be brought or carried in ships or boats, or other manner, that the same may be there negociated, shall be lawfully and openly, at the same town of Great Yarmouth, and not elsewhere within the haven aforesaid, exposed to sale by the hands of the persons bringing or carrying those merchandizes and wares, and willing to sell them there, or by the hands of their servants, and there shall be freely sold and bought to whomsoever they will, without any forestalling, abrochment, or other impediment whatsoever; so that no forestaller, broker, or other whosoever, shall meet the merchants with fish, or other merchandizes, and goods saleable, coming towards our aforesaid town, to buy any thereof, or to make forestallings or abrochments thereof, in or without the said town, under forfeiture of the thing bought, whereby the said burgesses, or any merchants bringing thither such merchandizes and wares, shall be in any wise obstructed in their buyings and sellings, to be transacted in our said town of Great Yarmouth, to the detriment of the said town, as is more fully contained in our charter aforesaid.

And a plea has been exhibited in diverse courts of ours, as well parliaments as other, between John de Bretagne, Earl of Richmond, and the men and his tenants of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, of the one part, and the commonalty of the said town of Great Yarmouth, on the other, by reason of certain impediments made by the aforesaid burgesses, under pretence of the charter of our said grandfather, as was alleged to the same men and tenants of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, about taking the profits of lading and unlading of ships, willing to come to the same towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, and about selling and buying of commodities set to sale there; that in that plea between the same parties, it has been considered by us and our council, that the same Earl and his heirs, also the men and tenants of the said towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, their heirs and successors, may lade and unlade their own proper ships, with things and merchandizes laden in the same ships, either of herring, or of other fishes, things and merchandizes whatsoever, at the same towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, and put to sale their own goods and merchandizes there, and otherwise make their own advantage thereof, at their free will, paying thence there to them whom we or our heirs shall depute to this office, the customs due and usual: a certain submission of some men and tenants of the said towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, and also of some burgesses of the said town of Great Yarmouth, to some of our council deputed finally to determine the said business, between the aforesaid parties; also a certain ordinance made thereupon by those of the same council between the same parties, or the aforesaid charter of our grandfather himself notwithstanding. In such manner, nevertheless, that their ships, with their wool, hides, and wool-felts, of which great customs ought to be given, shall be laden in the same port, in the place where our trone and our seal, which is called the cocket, are, and no where else. And that it was our will, and the intention, of us and our council, that the said charter of our said grandfather, made to the aforesaid burgesses of the town of Great Yarmouth, as is aforesaid, be in no wise restricted by this consideration in respect to others, but that it have its place and effect in all things, and towards all, both natives and aliens, except the same Earl, the men and tenants of the said towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, their heirs and successors, in form abovesaid; saving the right of the citizens of London, Norwich, the Barons of the Cinque-Ports, and of others whomsoever, if that they have any thing by charters of a former date to the charter of our said grandfather, or in other manner, in this behalf. And that it was decreed and inhibited by us and our said council, to the aforenamed Earl, the men and tenants of the said towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, that they attract not, in what manner soever, the ships of others to the same towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, under our grievous forfeiture, nor exercise any merchandizes in the water of the port aforesaid, with any persons by the aforesaid charter of our said grandfather restrained, nor cause any impediment whereby the same burgesses cannot use and exercise the said charter of him our grandfather towards others, as is aforesaid, in all its articles, according to the force and efficacy of the same. And that it was ordered and inhibited, as well to the aforenamed commonalty, as to the aforenamed men and tenants of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, not to presume to attempt anything contrary to the said consideration and aforesaid inhibition, under the forfeiture abovesaid, as in the record and process thence had, and in our chancery remaining, it is more fully contained. We, lest the premises, which, for the tranquillity and quiet of the parties aforesaid, and maintaining justice, have been so considered by us, and our aforenamed council in times to come, should be called in doubt, have thought prop to testify them by the tenor of these precepts.

"In witness whereof, we have caused these our letters to be made patent. Witness Myself at Woodstock, the 10th day of Jul in the 6th year of our reign."

It was with much propriety this charter recommended, and endeavoured to enforce, tranquillity and quiet; for the inhabitants of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, in defiance of the King's proclamation, and other means used to restrain them, were guilty of the most daring insults to the burgesses of Great Yarmouth, raised mobs, and committed riot after riot; the consequence of which was, not only a deprivation of the rights and properties of the burgesses, but life itself, as appears by authentic records; and though they did find means to escape justice for several years, the greatest part of them were at last taken; some of whom were tried for murther, some committed to the Marshalsea prison, and some were submitted to the King's determination.

In the 3d of Edward III. six men of Gorleston were tried for taking away by force herrings, and other goods, to the amount of 20l. the property of Richard Rose, of Great Yarmouth; and the next year, the said Richard Rose again prosecuted five other men of Gorleston, for carrying away his vessel, by force and arms, value 10l.

In the same year, also, Henry Randolph impleaded 14 men of Gorleston, for taking away 30l. of his cash, and beating, wounding, imprisoning, and otherwise cruelly treating, John Whynhowe, his servant, so that he was deprived of his services for a long time.

In the 5th of that king, amongst other cases, John Elys impleaded 11 men of Gorleston, for a similar offence. And in the same year, many men of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston were judged, for murdering a man, in one of these riotous conflicts.

However, by the above charter, the rights of the burgesses being more clearly determined, and more solemnly raitfied, these daring assaults and contests in proportion subsided. And in that king's 7th year, he granted the burgesses an aid towards the payment of their fee-farm rent, by another charter, in which several liberties and privileges are confirmed to them and their successors, especially that they "shall ever have in their town aforesaid, the tronage, and shall receive and have the profits thence arising, towards payment of their farm of the town aforesaid; * * * * and that they shall be for ever quit of toll, anchorage, pannage, passage, picage, murage, kayage, carriage, and rivage, through our whole kingdom and dominion, &c."

Thus matters continued, without any material interruption, till the 12th of Queen Elizabeth, when the Earl of Richmond, and his tenants of South-Town, or Little Yarmouth, raised a contest about the ground on the south side of the haven's mouth.

In the 13th of that Queen, by an order of Assembly, certain persons were appointed "To take all such horses as shall be ferried over at Gorleston, upon Yarmouth common, and impound the same horses; and to cause the owners thereof to replevy the same." This was in consequence of some disputes about the ferries, the bridge being then rebuilding.

Other differences arising from these, the whole matters in dispute were referred to the arbitration of Sir Christopher Heydon and Sir Wm. Butts, as appears by the following record:

In camera stellata, coram dom' regina, &c. i. e. "In the Star-Chamber, before our Lady the Queen and her council there, on Friday the 1st day of February, in the 14th year of the reign of our Lady Queen Elizabeth.

"This day being appointed for the hearing of the matters of riot betwixt the inhabitants of the towns of Yarmouth and Gorleston, there was information given, before the court should enter to the hearing thereof, of the whole state of the causes on both sides, and the occasions shewed whereupon the riots grew; and so an humble request was made to this honorable court, in respect of those great and good considerations which thus were shewn, that the hearing of these causes might be spared, and that it might please the court rather to authorise some of worship beneath in the country, for quietness sake, and for the avoiding of further expences, to have the hearing of all causes in controversy betwixt them, and so to make a final end of the same.

The court being well advised of this information and request, and having regard to the special points thereof, which appeared very reasonable, together with the conformity of the parties on either side, allowed together of the same, and so ordered by consent of both sides, that all causes now in question betwixt them be compromitted to Sir Henry Heydon and Sir William Butts, knights, whom this court doth earnestly require, calling the parties before them, at their convenient leisure, to take some pains herein, and to use all such good ways and means as they can, to make a perfect end and agreement betwixt them, so as either side may not hereafter any more molest and trouble other their doings; whereas this honorable court will well like and allow of. But if this be not done by the second sitting of the next term, whereof this court would not willingly hear, then the court meaneth that very day to proceed to the hearing of the causes depending here, as they now intended; upon which day the parties on both sides are then to give their attendance, as the order is."

The Order and Decree, made and set down by commission from the lords and others of her Majesty's council, directed out of the StarChamber, upon sundry controversies moved between the bailiffs, burgesses, and commonalty of the town of Great Yarmouth, on the one part, and Sir Henry Jerningham, Knight, and his tenants and men of Gorleston, of the other part, exemplified under her Majesty's broad seal, as follows:

"Elizabeth, by the grace of God, of England and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the faith, &c. to all unto whom these present letters shall come, greeting. We have perused a certain writ of certiorari of ours, together with the return upon the said writ made unto our well beloved and trusty Thomas Marsh, Esq. clerk of our council in our Star-Chamber, directed, and in files of our Chancery remaining of record, in these words: Elizabeth, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the faith, &c. to her well beloved and trusty Thomas Marsh, Esq. clerk of our council in the star chamber, greeting. We willing, for certain causes to be certified of, and upon a certain order and decree by us and our council, in our court of Star-Chamber aforesaid, the 7th day of May, in the 14th year of our reign, made to record or register a certain arbitrement, or final determination, by Sir Christopher Heydon, Knight, and Sir Wm. Butts, Knight, made the 16th day of April in the 14th year of our reign, of, for, and concerning certain suits, quarrels, and controversies, between the inhabitants of the town of Great Yarmouth, and the inhabitants of the town of Gorleston, by virtue of our commission unto the said Sir Christopher and William, to hear, and finally determine the causes, quarrels, and controversies, between the parties afosesaid being directed. And we, willing to be certified of and upon the tenor of the same arbitrement, or final order or determination, by the aforesaid Sir Christopher and Sir William, made and set down by virtue of our commission aforesaid to them, as is aforesaid directed; which order or decree, before us and our council in our court aforesaid, together with the arbitrement and final order and determination aforesaid, do remain of record, and be registered as aforesaid, do command, that the tenors of the order or decree, and also of the arbitrement and final order and determination aforesaid, unto us into our chancery, under our seal, distinctly and openly you do send, together with this our writ. Witness ourself at Westminster, the 12th day of May, in the 14th year of our reign."

"The execution of this writ doth appear in a certain schedule unto the same annexed. MARSH."

"We have also seen and perused the certification of the aforesaid Thomas Marsh, and also the aforesaid order or decree, by us and by our council, in the court of Star-Chamber aforesaid, to record or register the aforesaid arbitrement, or final order and determination, by the aforesaid Sir Christopher Heydon and Sir William Butts, Knights, by virtue of our commission aforesaid to them directed, made, and unto us into our Chancery aforesaid, by virtue of our writ aforesaid, sent, and in the files of our Chancery likewise remaining of record, in these words: By virtue of the writ of our sovereign Lady, the Queen's Majesty, of Certiorari, unto we Thomas Marsh, from your majesty's council of your Highness's Star-Chamber, directed: I the said Thomas Marsh do certify unto your Majesty's honorable court of Chancery, that in searching the rolls and records of the aforesaid court of Star Chamber; amongst other things there, I found the tenor of a certain order or decree, by your Majesty and your council, in your said court of Star-Chamber, the 7th day of May, in the 14th year of your Majesty's reign, made to record and register a certain arbitrement, or final order and determination of Sir Christ. Heydon and Sir Wm. Butts, Knights, the 16th day of April in the 14th year of your Majesty's reign, of, for, and concerning suits, quarrels, and controversies, between the inhabitants of the town of Great Yarmouth, and the inhabitants of the town of Gorleston, by virtue of your Majesty's commission unto the said Sir Christopher and Sir William directed, to hear, and finally determine the causes, quarrels, and controversies aforesaid, between the said parties being made: And also the tenor of the same arbitrement, or final order and determination, by the aforesaid Sir Christopher and Sir William, by virtue of your Highness's commission aforesaid, to them directed, made, and ordered, the which tenors aforesaid, with all and singular the things touching or concerning the same, as I am commanded, together with your Majesty's writ of Certiorari, to those precincts being annexed, into your Majesty's court of Chancery aforesaid, in obedient manner. I do send, in manner and form hereafter following; that is to say:

"Whereas, upon humble request made unto this honorable court, the 1st day of February last, the Queen's Majesty's commission was directed unto Sir Christopher Heydon and Sir William Butts, Knights, whereby they were authorized to hear, and to end all matters then in controversy betwixt the inhabitants of the towns of Yarmouth and Gorleston, this day the court was informed, that the said commissioners had done accordingly, by the mutual consents of both sides; and the end and award which they had so made, was therewith shewed forth in writing, under their hands and seals, which award, for that it might bear the better credit at all times hereafter, humble request was also made, to have entered and registered of record here; unto which request, as unto a thing seeming very reasonable the court then immediately consented, and ordered that it should so be, the tenor whereof followeth in these words; that is to say. Whereas lately a controversy was depending in the high court of Star-Chamber, between diverse of the inhabitants of Great Yarmouth, and diverse of the inhabitants of Gorleston, upon several riots growing upon diverse liberties and preheminences challenged and claimed by the corporation of the said town of Great Yarmouth, as well as touching or concerning the free fair holden at Great Yarmouth aforesaid, as also touching a parcel of waste ground lying next to the town of Gorleston, and some time between the old course of the haven, leading under the great sea-bank of Gorleston and the main sea, which waste ground is now, by reason that the haven hath a shorter neck or passage into the sea, left between the main sea and the said great bank, and directly south from the place where now the haven entereth into the main sea, made at the great costs and charges of the said town of Great Yarmouth. And for that Sir Henry Jernegan, Knight, is the owner not only of the said town of Gorleston, but also of the greatest part of Lothingland, within which the said town of Gorleston is standing, the said controversies on the behalf of Gorleston, do chiefly concern the inheritance of the said Sir Henry. All which controversies being considered by the said high court, were, as it thought fit, upon some indifferent view to be made of the places of the controversies, together with the sight of the evidences, and charters, and writings on each part, and upon hearing of the witnesses, at the places in controversy, to be decided and ended. And thereupon the said court of the Star-Chamber, have made choice of us, Sir Christopher Heydon and Sir William Butts, Knights, being both inhabitants within the county of Norfolk, wherein the said town of Great Yarmouth standeth, to take the charge of this business upon us; and accordingly have authorized us, by virtue of the Queen's Majesty's honorable commission, bearing date the 11th day of February, in this present 14th year of her highness's reign at a day certain, personally to be at the said places of controversy, giving notice of the day and time to all and singular the said parties, and then and there, by all ways and means convenient to travel, to the best of our power, to compound not only the said controversies before remembered in part, but all other depending between the said parties. By virtue whereof, we, the said Sir Christ. Heydon and Sir William Butts, the 9th day of April last past, did meet at Great Yarmouth aforesaid, where and when, as well the said Sir Henry Jernegam, in proper person, as also the bailiffs and commonalty of the said town of Great Yarmouth, together with the chiefest of the said town of Gorleston, with their council learned on each part, and as many witnesses as they thought meet, on either side, came before us, where, as well by view of the places needfull, as also by examination of their witnesses, on both parties, and sight of their ancient charters, evidences, and writings, with long debate with their learned council, we spent two whole days, and in the end, we, by the free and willing consent of every of the said parties, arbitrated, and determined, all their controversies then offered before us, according to the plain intent hereafter in certain articles set down, and hereafter written, wherein, if any ambiguity or doubt shall hereafter arise, during our lives, or the longer liver of us, the said parties are well contented and pleased, that we, or the survivor of us, shall have the construction and explanation thereof; whereunto the said parties, for their heirs and successors, have promised perpetually to abide and obey.

Article I.

"Imprimis, We the said Sir Christopher Heydon and Sir William Butts, agreed to have certain stakes or dooles set, which we did see set accordingly, in the place in controversy, nigh the haven of Great Yarmouth, as it now is, and ordered, from henceforth, that the south part thereof shall be to Sir Henry Jernegam, Knight, and to his heirs for ever; and the north part unto the town of Great Yarmouth in perpetuity Provided always, that if the haven shall win, or run in its former passage, and leave the same waste soil between the haven and the sea, then this article to bind no longer any of the parties.


"Item, That Gorleston, and the inhabitants thereof, by whatsoever name they are, and shall be called, whensoever they fish, shall and may as lawfully sell and discharge their fish, out of their own bottoms, at their pleasure, and where they will, as heretofore they have used, so as their order extend not to any stranger not inhabiting there.


"Item, That whensoever there shall happen any boat to be fastened on Gorleston side, so that the same do not float to the nuisance of the haven, or else drawn upon land on that side, that no bailiff or other officer of Yarmouth, shall from henceforth any ways arrest, attach, or take the same boat, during the time that the same remain so fastened or drawn up. Provided that this article, or any part thereof, shall not extend to the imbarring of the admiral-jurisdiction, or any parcel of the same.


"Item, That all manner of suits now depending between the town of Great Yarmouth and Sir Henry Jernegam, or between the same town and the town of Gorleston, shall cease utterly.


"Item, That during such time as the bridge, called Yarmouth bridge, shall happen to be in decay, whereby it shall be needful to use ferriage for people over the water, that then, and so long until the bridge be renewed, it shall be lawful for Sir Henry Jernegam, and his heirs, to use and take the profit of the ferriage for all persons coming towards Yarmouth, and likewise the town of Great Yar. mouth to have like commodity of ferriage for all that shall pass over the water at Yarmouth. And that for the want of boats, on either part, the one to supply, in the want or absence of the other, on either side.


"Item, Sir Henry, and his heirs, shall enjoy their foot-ferry over against Gorleston, for ever, as hath been used, and now is. [N. B. This has continued to the present time.]


"Item, At our request, Sir Henry is agreed that the town of Yarmouth shall from henceforth maintain their gate at the foot of the bridge, as is also now.


"Item, We further require at the hands of the township of Yarmouth, in the time of the fishing, or sea-fare, to demean all strangers and their boats, with such reasonable consideration and curtesy, as neither they, nor yet the country that require to be served, shall have any further just cause to complain.


"If any question shall hereafter arise, touching any articles or things contained in this our order, that, then, and so often we, during our lives, shall have the construction thereof, because the meaning of our own order is to us best known.


"Also the inhabitants of Yarmouth desire that this our order shall not be expounded to forbid them freely, and without impeachment, to take their own boats and vessels, which hereafter shall happen, by rage of weather and tides, to be driven on land on the other side of the haven, which request we think meet to be ordered, according to their motion, as heretofore it hath been used.


"Item, it is ordered that the inhabitants of Yarmouth, shall put no cattle upon the ground now doled out, unless it be severed and made fenceable; neither shall they interrupt the cattle of Sir Henry, or of his tenants, coming thereupon, before severance and fence be made.


"Item, that all the tenants of Sir Henry and his heirs, in Lothingland, shall be free from all charge to the town of Yarmouth, if their boats or vessels happen to ground within the haven, and within the lands doled, and set out for the town of Great Yarmouth; and likewise all Yarmouth boats and vessels to be as free, if they happen to ground without the liberties of the town and without the ground doled for them, between the town and Newton-Cross.

"In witness whereof, we, the said Sir Christopher Heydon, and Sir William Butts, have hereunto set our hands and seals, the 16th day of the said month of April, in the said 14th year of the reign of our sovereign Lady Elizabeth, by the grace of God, of England, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, &c. Queen."

"We, therefore, the tenors of all and singular the premises, in form aforesaid expressed and specified, at the request of the bailiffs and commonalty of the town of Great Yarmouth, have thought good to cause to be exemplified by these presents. In witness whereof, these our letters we have caused to be made patent. Witness ourself at Westminster, the 19th day of May, in the 14th year of our reign."

Thus this controversy, which might have been carried through all the tedious processes of their disputes with the Earl of Richmond and his tenants, was judiciously referred to two worthy knights, whose award, in a few plain articles, was more conclusive and satisfactory to both parties, than perhaps all the determinations of all the courts of justice they might have appealed to.

Notwithstanding this, about 6 years after, in the 21st of Elizabeth, when that Queen was at Norwich, upon a tour, an old dispute having been revived concerning the sale of "fish and other merchandizes at the town of Gorleston," the burgesses obtained a letter addressed to the sheriff and justices of Suffolk, from her Majesty's privy council, some of whom had viewed the premises, forbidding "such fair, mar"ket, buying, selling, &c." Upon which the' men of Gorleston, Lowestoft, Alborough, &c. petitioned for a repeal of that prohibition, which occasioned the burgesses again to produce their charters, &c. in their justification: and a decree was made by the lords of the privy council, "that the saide towne of Greate Yermouthe, and the bailiffs, burgesses, and cominaltye thereof, shall stande possessed of, and quietlie holde, and enjoye the said libertye by them cleymed, &c." dated the 24th of February, in the 21st of Elizabeth, 1578.

In 1616 the bailiffs petitioned for an extension of their privileges to the west side of the haven, but we do not meet with any instance of their power there, till the 20th of Charles II. when South-Town was incorporated with Great Yarmouth. This was in consequence of a bill brought into the house of commons by Sir Robert Paston, Knight, on behalf of himself and the men of South-Town, or Little Yarmouth, in the 16th of that King, but from the opposition of Great Yarmouth, the incorporation act did not take place till the 20th of that King, when the burgesses thought proper to make a virtue of necessity, as the bill had been already passed three years, and settled the terms of their incorporation, with Sir Robert Paston, when the two towns were accordingly incorporated. And in the 36th of that King a new charter, confirming the said incorporation, with an addition of privilege, was granted to Great Yarmouth; which being further strengthened by a charter afterwards from Queen Anne, the said town remains incorporated to this day.

But this union, had Sir Robert's scheme succeeded, would have proved the heaviest stroke the town ever received from any competitor; for as soon as Little Yarmouth, or South-Town, was entitled to the same privileges with Great Yarmouth, Sir Robert had printed proposals dispersed through the kingdom, for building a new town on the west side of the haven, and had caused maps and plans of the intended town to be made, with models of the houses intended to be built. In these proposals, Sir Robert expatiated largely on the conveniences of the situation, the advantages that were likely to be gained by the inhabitants, superior to those of Yarmouth, having the same privileges, without the inconveniences of that town.

Yet all this display of probable emolument, and apparent convenience, does not seem to have had any other effect than the disappoint ment of Sir Robert's hopes, and the disconcerting of his plan; for, whether the public had entertained an unfavourable idea of the situation, from the frequent quarrels of the two towns, or whether the advantages set forth in Sir Robert's proposals were viewed in a visionary light, it does not appear that any houses were built; so that Little Yarmouth is in much the same situation at present as it was at that time.

In the same year, (the 36th of Charles II.) the burgesses, at an assembly held the 21st of March, came to a resolution of formally surrendering to that King, all their charters, freedoms, liberties, and franchises, as a ratification of their professions of loyalty to him, and to wipe off the stain of their attachment to the parliament, which we have before had occasion to mention. This, however, was not done, without "the tender of their most humble duty to his Majesty, and assurance of their stedfast resolution to serve his Majesty with their lives and fortunes, humbly praying his Majesty, that he would vouchsafe to regrant them such liberties, privileges, and franchises, as to him in his princely goodness should seem most fit."

This surrender had the desired effect; and a new charter, again incorporating Great and Little Yarmouth, confirming their old privileges, and investing them with new ones, was accordingly granted; by which the style of the corporation was changed from bailiffs, &c. to that of the mayor, aldermen, burgesses, and commonalty of the burgh of Great Yarmouth.

The obtaining of this charter was looked upon (as very well it might) in so important a light, that the day on which it was to be brought into the town, a grand cavalcade of three or four hundred horsemen, besides a number of coaches, and people on foot, met it on the road, and accompanied it into town, where it was delivered to the mayor elect, George Ward, Esq. amidst the acclamations of the inhabitants; when, after duly swearing in all the officers, &c of the corporation, the whole company partook of a magnificent entertainment provided by the new mayor, where many loyal healths were drunk, accompanied by the ringing of bells, firing of guns, bonfires, music, &c. the whole of which was conducted and concluded with becoming decency and decorum.

This form of government, however, did not remain long to them; for King James II. in his 4th year, revoked their new charter, and put them, with all other towns in England, upon the same footing they were on in the reign of Charles II. before their surrender; but the incorporation of Great and Little Yarmouth still remained, which being confirmed by another charter from Queen Anne, and the title of mayor, aldermen, &c. being again restored, the same has continued ever since.

Hence a period was put to their numerous disputes and contentions; for as these chiefly originated from a desire of superiority, and a jealousy of each other's privileges and prerogatives, their liberties and franchises no sooner became common, than quarrels and controversies gave place to peace and unanimity.

But these contests we have been treating of, were not the only ones the town was engaged in; Castor, in Flegg hundred was frequently an object of their contention, and embroiled them in litigious disputes.

The origin of these seems to have been Grub's Haven, or CockleWater, which had been a haven in Edward the Confessor's time, and was then esteemed the boundary between armonth and Castor; but afterwards it was choaked up with sand and gravel, rendered unnavigable, and became at last pasture land. In process of time, scarce any vestiges of this haven being left, many disputes arose, in either town, concerning the ascertaining their true boundaries.

In the 28th of Edward I. many inhabitants of Yarmouth were attached to shew cause, why they had taken away goods and chattels, found at Castor, to the value of 40l. belonging to Hugh Bardolf, then lord of one of the manors of Castor, and others at Castor; and though the issue of this suit does nor appear, yet it is presumed, from several circumstances, that Yarmouth obtained a verdict, and that this determination reconciled, for a time, all similar disputes.

But in the time of Richard II. we find several amercements of the men of Castor, for driving off Yarmouth common, and impounding at Castor, several beasts, &c. And in the 12th of that King, it appears that "Godfrey Harvy and John Berd, of Castor, have found a piece of wax, worth ten marks, within the liberty, cast ashore by the sea, as wreck, and carried it with them out of the liberty, to the town of Castor, and not delivered it to the bailiffs, &c." Upon which the finders were held to bail, and a suit commenced; but how it was determined does not appear.

Several similar contests happened in the reigns of Henry IV. and Henry VIII. on which Mr. Manship says, "Many suits, and troubles, were moved by either party in the vehementest manner that might be, each chasing and impounding the other's cattle, as extremities of law would permit them; Yarmouth not sparing the very bailiffs themselves, if at any time, they were remiss in maintaining their liberties." And indeed we find the bailiffs have been amerced, for not making their annual perambulations, in order to commemorate, by marks, &c. the true limits of the town, by land and water. This necessary memento, however, had been so long neglected, that in the 15th of Henry VIII. the inhabitants of Castor (at the instance of Sir Wm. Paston, then lord of both the manors) were emboldened to enter and take possession of this disputable piece of ground containing about 400 acres, situated between Grub's Haven on the north side, and the stone cross on the south. This they did on the 20th of January; and on the 27th of the next month thirty or forty people came and carried off from the same ground, several pieces of ordnance, which were wrecked at sea; a privilege which Yarmouth had before claimed and enjoyed. Other instances of this nature occur, the determinations of which disputes do not appear, both parties continuing equally firm in the support of their separate claims, till the 36th of that king, when the burgesses made application to the duke of Norfolk, then on a commission to survey the fortifications of Yarmouth, who promised his intercession with the King, that this point might be settled. Accordingly, a commission was ordered, the next year, the result of which was, a tripartite indenture, dated the 30th of April, in the 38th year of the said king, by which it was concluded, That the boundaries of the two towns should be ascertained by rails and a ditch, to be made twelve feet wide, in the middle between the cross and Grub's Haven; for which purpose, two men of Yarmouth, and two of Castor were to extend a line from one to the other; and that Yarmouth should maintain the east, and Castor the west part, for ever. This work the burgesses began on the 12th of May in the same year, and completed it in eight days, when a cross was dug on the common, on either side of the fence, which crosses were to be kept open as marks of their separate boundaries, and actually continued till the making the present road between Yarmouth and Castor, in 1712.

Thus this disagreeable controversy was decided equitably, and to the mutual satisfaction of both parties, who were now no longer liable to violent outrages and vexatious ligitations, in order to determine what was and was not their property, their limits being now fixed beyond dispute; and that they might not find a bone of contention in the boundary itself, the decree ordains the ditch to be kept in repair by Sir William Paston, the rails by the burgesses.

Besides these disputes we have been treating of, it appears that in the 12th of Henry VI. the burgesses were engaged in a contest with the citizens of Norwich, concerning a demand of cranage from the said citizens, on the exporting and importing their goods, which they refused to pay, and thereupon brought a writ out of Chancery alledging the illegality of the demand; upon which a return was made to the disadvantage of the citizens. But though they failed in their principal object, they obtained a verdict against the burgesses with respect to a new crane they had then erected, and obliged them to remove it to a more convenient place.

It may not be improper to close this chapter with an observation on the cause and origin of many of these controversies, which seem to have owed their rise to the many grants and indulgencies claimed by individuals and communities on several accounts. The tenants of lands held in demean of the crown, claimed a general exemption, and of course refused to pay the tolls demanded here for their goods, exported or imported. Another cause of contention arose from privileges and franchises granted to different communities, by charters of later date than that of king John, with which they very frequently clashed, as it often happened that the liberties granted by one charter, to one community, were incompatable with, and contradicted those of another charter, claimed by another community. And here priority of date does not always seem to have been regarded by the parties concerned, who were generally so attached to the letter of their grants, that there appeared no other probable means of settling their disputes, than by referring them to others, and deciding them by arbitration.