East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, King John's charter

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

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Citation:

Francis Blomefield, 'East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, King John's charter', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) pp. 299-321. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp299-321 [accessed 20 May 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, King John's charter", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) 299-321. British History Online, accessed May 20, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp299-321.

Blomefield, Francis. "East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, King John's charter", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810). 299-321. British History Online. Web. 20 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp299-321.

King John's Charter.

"John, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitain, and Earl of Anjou, to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, provosts, and to all bailiffs, and other his faithful subjects, greeting. Know ye that we (fn. 1) have granted, and by our present charter confirmed, to our burgesses of Yarmouth, that they hold the burgh of Yarmouth in fee-farm for ever, and that the burgh be a free burgh for ever; and have soc and sac, (fn. 2) tol and theam, and infangenthief and outfangenthief. And that the same burgesses through our whole land, and through all the sea-ports, be quit of toll, lastage, passage, paage, pontage, and of leve, and of Danegeld, and every other custom, saving the liberty of the city of London; and that they do no suit of counties or hundreds for tenures, within the burgh of Yarmouth.

"We have also granted to the same burgesses, and by this our charter have confirmed, that none of them plead out of the burgh of Yarmouth, in any plea, except the pleas of outward tenures. (fn. 3) We have also granted to them acquittance of murder (fn. 4) within the burgh of Yarmouth; and that none of them shall fight the combat. And that they may try the pleas of the crown amongst themselves, according to the law and custom of Oxford. And that within the burgh aforesaid, none shall take quarters by force, (fn. 5) or by assign men of the marshals. And that in that burgh there shall be no plea of miskenning; and that be holden but once a week. We have also granted to them a merchant guild; and that they shall justly have their lands and tenures, their securities, and all their debts which any one shall owe them. And concerning their lands and tenures, which are within the burgh aforesaid, according to the law and custom of the burgh of Oxford: and concerning all their debts, which shall be contracted at Yarmouth, and securities made there, the pleas shall be held at Yarmouth. And if any one in all England, shall take tolls or custom from the burgesses of Yarmouth, except, as above, the said city of London, and afterwards that person shall fail to assert his right, the provost of Yarmouth shall take out the writ of Naam at Yarmouth.

"Moreover, for the amendment of the said burgh of Yarmouth, we have granted, that whatever merchants shall come to the burgh of Yarmouth with their wares, of whatever place they shall be, whether foreigners, or others, (fn. 6) who are at peace with us, or by our permission shall come into our land, they may come, stay, and depart in our safe peace, on paying the right customs of that burgh. We also prohibit that no one injure, or damage, or molest the aforesaid burgesses, upon forfeiture of ten pounds.

"Wherefore we will and strictly command, that the aforesaid burgesses of Yarmouth, and their heirs, have and hold for ever all the franchises aforesaid, hereditarily, truly, and peaceably, freely, quietly, and wholly, fully and honorably, on paying thereout annually fifty and five pounds by tale, by the hand of the provost of Yarmouth, into our Exchequer, at the term of St. Michael's.

"And the burgesses of Yarmouth shall yearly chuse such provosts out of themselves as shall be agreeable to us and them. (fn. 7)

"Witness, Lord Peter of Winchester, Lord John of Norwich, Lord S. of Salisbury, bishops; J. Fitz Peter; William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke; William, our brother, Earl of Salisbury; William Earl of Ferrars: Peter Fitz-Herbert, W. Brewer, Hugh de Nevill, Adam de Port, Garin Fitz Gerald, William de Cantilupe, John de Bassing, Jeffrey Lutterell, Thomas Fitz-Adam. Dated by the hand of H. de Wells, archdeacon of Wells, at Marleborough, the 18th day of March, in the ninth year of our reign."

By this charter it is observable that the town was still to be governed by a provost, and so probably continued till the reign of Henry III. in whose 56th year we find the burgesses laid before that King, under their common seal, a set of articles, or bye laws, by which they solicited to be governed, and which he confirmed, by his letters patent, dated the 26th day of October, in the said year.

By these articles they were to elect for their first magistrates, four wise men of the town; or, in other words, four bailiffs, as appears by the 6th article; though it is certain they had been governed by four bailiffs, before the said year, as will be seen in the list of bailiffs.

"It is ordained, that all the merchants of the town shall well and truly pay for the merchandizes, according to their bargain and covenant made in the buying, if the merchandizes be found true and good; and if they be found otherwise, that then it be ruled and warded by four wise men of the town, chosen by the town, that can skill of the merchandizes, and if the buyer will not so, and complaint thereof be made unto the bailiffs, then wise men of the town, they shall justify and compel him, by his goods and chattels, to do that thing; and if he agree not within three days next after, that then his aforesaid goods be sold, by sight of the wise men, to content the party; and if his goods will not suffice to content the party, that then his lands, rents, and housings shall be delivered into the hand of the merchant, by estimation of good folk, untill the time that the remnant of the debt be fully contented and paid, saving unto the chief lords of the fee, the rents thereof due and accustomed, and saving also the reparation of the said houses."

These four wise men, or bailiffs, were to be assisted by twenty four jurats, (called afterwards aldermen) as is set forth in the 8th of the said articles.

"To inforce and strengthen our bailiffs to sustain and perform the articles aforesaid, whe have purveyed twenty four wise men of the town, so that being chosen and sworn, in this form, that none of the twenty four do surcease the summons of the bailiffs, or of other that be assigned by the twenty four to make their appearance, under pain to pay for every default half a mark, to the common profit of the town, and that money shall be levied on the next morrow following, without any delay, or without any manner of pardon. And if the bailiffs of the town fail therein, or be negligent to perform the said things, they shall pay to the common profit of the town four pounds sterling, and if the said twenty-four do not maintain strictly the peace, according to their power, or do not lawfully perform the said articles, and thereof they be attainted, they shall give unto the King forty marks. And if there be any evil-doer, or sustainer of them that have done, that will not be justified by the said jurats, and thereof be attainted, he shall give to the King forty marks, if he have thereof, and if he have not, he shall lie in prison a year and a day."

Hence we may form some idea of the origin of these officers, the nature of their office, and the fines for neglect of their duty.

The jurats, or aldermen, were annually chosen by the commonalty, and the bailiffs were elected by the jurats. The 6th article, above quoted, says "chosen by the town," which means no other than the jurats, who were indeed the town, by delegation and representation, which is also confirmed by an ordinance of the corporation, made in the 10th year of Richard II. in which it is said, "wee have chosen 24 men, - - - - sworne to susteyne, doo, and performe all the seid articles, and all thyngs conteined in the seid charter, (of Henry III. abovementioned) and for to ordeigne and make all other things touching the seid comonns, that may turn to profyght and amendment of the seid comonalte, and salvacion of the fraunchise; and wee wull and graunte, for us and oure successours to holde ferme and stabill all that ever the seid 24 shall, in these premisses, doo. And if any of the 24 die within the terme aboveseid, or for a cause be removed, that thanne the other that abyden shall chose other in their stede. And that the seid 24 shall chose the officers belongying to the said comonalte, &c."

These officers were the bailiffs, chamberlains, churchwardens, &c. as appears by the following oath, that was administered to the jurats, previous to the election.

"Thus here, yee bailies, and all good men, that I A. B. shall weell and indifferently, and according to the ordenances of this town, make trewe election of the best and most discrete men of this town of Grett Yermouth, to exercise and occupy the office of bailies of this town for the yeer next comyng. And also I shall chose and make trewe and indifferent elecion, according to the same ordenances, of all other officers; that is to say, ii chamberleyns, ii chirche-wardeyns, ii muragers, viii wardours of heryng, ii collectors for the half dolys, and iiii auditours. And I shall not fail thus to doo, not levying for fer, fraude, collusion, affeccion, or favour of any persone. So God me helpe at the holy dome and by this book."

In consequence of repeated confirmations of the abovementioned articles, under the great seal of England, the 24 jurats, in the reign of King Edward I. compiled a code of laws and customs of Yarmouth, the original of which is now lost, but a translation is still extant, entitled, "The Copy of the olde boke of the lawes and customes of Yermouth, translated out of Frenssh and Englissh, by Thomas Banyard, Styward ther, the year of our Lord God MCCCCLXXXXI. in the time of Christofer Moy and John Beaingham, bailies."

In the same year (1491) the burgesses first made an ordinance to prohibit the re-election of the same bailiffs, without an intermediate space of time from their last serving the office, to their being again eligible; as the electors had frequently, before this, chosen the same gentlemen for two, and sometimes three successive years. But by the 3d article of this, "it is ordeynyd and establyshyd, that from hens forward he that is balye one yere shal not be balye tyl V yer aftyr be fully ronne and complete."

The election of four bailiffs ceased in the 4th of Henry VI. when Robert Elys and Wm. Oxneye were elected the two bailiffs for the year ensuing, and the town continued under the government of two bailiffs, 24 aldermen, and 48 common-council-men till the 36th year of Charles II. as will afterwards appear.

In the 2d year of Charles I. a formal complaint was made, at a corporation assembly, holden the 17th of July, that several of their society had projected a scheme for altering the mode of government, from the choosing of two bailiffs to that of a mayor, &c. But on a motion being made, the majority appeared against the intended alteration, and a resolution was accordingly agreed to, "that if any one of that society should for the future presume to present any such project, or have any hand therein, he should be immmediatly dismissed out of the said society, as one adjudged to be an unworthy member thereof."

This occasioned a division in the corporation, and a dismission of several of their members. Amongst these was Mr. Jeffrey Neve, alderman, who was expelled at a full assembly, holden the 22d of September, in the same year, and Tho. Green chosen in his stead. Which being represented to the King, he addressed his letter "to the bailiffs and aldermen," dated the 19th of July, in his 3d year, informing them that, "Our will and pleasure is that forthwith, upon the receipt of these our letters, you restore the said Neve unto his former place, and remove that person so irregularly chosen in his room, and suffer the said Neve to exercise and perform the duties appertaining to the place of alderman, as formerly he hath done. And of the performance of this our commandment, we require you to send an account unto one of our principal secretaries of state, to acquaint us therewith, &c." The party, therefore, that espoused the proposed alterations, dismissed Green and replaced Neve; but being only a smaller part of the body, this was not esteemed a corporation act, and the opposite party strongly remonstrated against it; producing, in their answer to the King, many allegations to prove the rectitude of their conduct, in Neve's dismission, and representing him as a designing, unprincipled, litigious person, and so profligate a spendthrift, that he had brought many persons to poverty and ruin, who had been credulous enough to trust him; soliciting, at the same time, that the King would grant a re-examination before "some gentlemen of trust;" for that the case of Neve had been much misrepresented to him, through the partiality of those employed in laying it before his Majesty, who had only examined such witnesses as favoured the cause they had embarked in.

Thus the matter was laid before the lords of the privy-council, who referred it to a committee, the result of whose enquiry, and re-examination of the premises, was an order of privy-council, in which it is said that "Since the said bailiffs petitioning his Majesty, and alledging divers misdemeanors of the said Neve, his Majesty was pleased to refer the same to the lords of his privy-council, who thereupon thought good to refer the same to some gentleman of that county, to examine again the said business, and certify their opinions therein; as by an order of the board, bearing date the 7th of November last, may appear. Now forasmuch as their lordships are well satisfied, by the certificate returned by the said gentlemen, concerning the dismission of the said Neve, and his unfittingness for that place of alderman, have thought fit that the said bailiffs and aldermen be no further troubled for the receiving in of the said Neve, but do leave the business to be ordered by them, according to the orders and constitutions of the place." Upon which the dismission of Neve, after some opposition from his party, was confirmed, at an assembly holden on the 29th of February 1628, and Green, of consequence, was declared duly elected.

The whole of this business, and Mr. Neve's expulsion, appears to have originated rather on account of his being one of the projectors of the new mode of government, than from any demerit of his, in his official capacity, though that was a pretext urged with much plausibility.

The scheme of choosing a mayor, &c. instead of two bailiffs, had been some time in agitation, but the party that favoured it had not had an opportunity of bringing it to maturity, till some time after it had been formally complained of in a corporation assembly, as before mentioned; and it is very probable that the rigorous methods pursued by the majorityof the corporation against Mr. Neve, and others of that party, did not a little contribute to spirit them on in their favourite project, which had succeeded, but for the violent opposition of the other party.

In the 4th of the said King, therefore (1628), at an assembly holden the 30th of December, it was "Ordered, That Mr. John Dasset (being a free burgess of this burgh, and sworn to maintain the franchises, the good customs, usages, and ordinances thereof) shall within five days now next ensuing, bring and deliver unto Mr. Bailiff Buttolph, a true and full copy of the petition which is reported he exhibited unto his Majesty, against or concerning the town, without the consent of this house; which if he shall refuse to do accordingly, (having notice given thereof) it is thought fit that all such as be of this society, and have subscribed their names to the certificate, which is said to be only for the alteration of the manner now, and time out of mind, used, in the choosing of bailiffs for this burgh, should disclaim what they had so done and subscribed unto." Instead of a compliance with this order, Mr. Dasset, and others, on the 27th of January following, preferred a complaint to the King of the disorderly and factious government of the town, which his Majesty referred to the lords of his council, who sent a letter to Mr. Bailiff Cooper, requiring that the assembly books, and the chamberlain's books should be sent up to them; which letter, together with a copy of the petition and complaint, was laid before a public assembly, holden the 2d of February, when Mr. Bailiff Cooper demanding the delivery of the said books, agreeable to the request of the lords, they were accordingly delivered to him, and by him and Mr. Hardware, were taken to London, they having previously procured a certificate from under the hands of many of the corporation, by means of which they artfully intended to promote their main purpose, though they had insinuated that their intention was only to procure an established succession of the senior aldermen to be bailiffs, when in fact they made it the foundation of their petition to the King in favour of their grand scheme.

The corporation having information of this, at an assembly holden the 18th of March following, ordered that "Henry Davy, Thomas Johnson, and Robert Norgate, or any of them, should be appointed and authorized to exhibit a petition, in the name of this house, to the Right Honourable the lord keeper of the great seal of England, or any other, shewing that the said Mr. Cooper and Mr. Hardware had not any authority or consent from this house to do any thing wherein they have intermeddled, and that the town do utterly disapprove and condemn all their proceedings. And also to petition his Majesty, if need require, that the truth to his Majesty may more fully appear; and also to signify to the lord keeper, that whereas Mr. Cooper did send up a certificate under the town seal of admiralty, which was shewed in chancery against the town, that it was altogether without the consent, knowledge, or approbation of this house, (he having the sole custody of that seal, and only used in maritime causes, and not otherwise) and so abused that honourable court, and also this town, &c."

Upon this dispute the bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses, and commonalty were subpæna'd, in the penalty of £100. each, by a writ of Quo Warranto brought against the town, to appear in the court of King's Bench or in the crown office, to make answer before Sir Robert Heathe, Attorney General, upon such matters as he should object against them on his Majesty's behalf.

Hence an order was made, to depute Mr. bailiff Buttolph, Sir John Wentworth, Miles Corbett, Esq. and alderman Johnson, or either of them, to appear and defend the town, by every eligible means. And on the 25th of May following Mr. Buttolph made his report concerning the obstacles that had been thrown in his way, on his appearance to answer the said writ. The substance of which was, that Mr. Cooper and Mr. Dasset having made a formal acknowledgment of the forfeiture of the town's charters, and submitting, in the name of the town, to the king's mercy, the king's attorney had demanded the seizure of the charters, and for want of authority under the town's seal, no attorney of the crown office dared appear for the town; but that on consulting council, it was found that a warrant under the passport seal was sufficient authority, and that the delivering up of the charters had been refused, and a day fixed on for the town to give in their answer.

A subscription was now set on foot, in the town, for the support of the cause, and the defence of their charters. And on the 11th of June, Mr. George Hardware, alderman, was disfranchised and deprived of his office, for supporting the new form of government, as an enemy to "the public good of the town, and tending to the seizure of all the rights, privileges, customs, liberties, and charters of the town," and Mr. Thomas Crane was elected in his stead.

As this dispute was still depending, and the time of electing new bailiffs drew near, the king, by his letter dated the 10th of July, in his fifth year, interfered in their choice: "insomuch as our good intentions for the rectifying of the government there, and for the establishing and confirming of their former liberties, customs, and franchises, (which is all we aim at) cannot take place so soon as we desired, and the necessity of the good and prosperity of that town required. We, therefore, for the present and speedy reformation of those abuses, and for the continuance of peaceable government there, in the mean time, do straightly will and require you that there be no proceeding to election of new bailiffs for the year to come, until we be at first made acquainted therewith. And that you send unto us the names of all your aldermen, and out of those, that you make choice of eight of those aldermen, who by order, and course, and otherwise are fittest for the place of bailiffs (of which eight we will that the present bailiffs be two) out of which we propose to recommend unto you two of them to be your bailiffs for this present year ensuing, or untill, for the better government of the town, we shall otherwise order the same."

At an assembly holden the 29th of August following, this letter was read with another, dated the 23rd of August, in which reference was made to an order of council, dated 29th of July, touching the dismission of Mr. Hardware, and in which the opposite party were much reprehended; "Their lordships having heard at large that which he (Mr. Buttolph, the town's agent) could say, both by him self and his council, and that which was alleged by the other party, of whom some also were present, did finally order, that whereas the said George Hardware had by his means been disfranchised, he shall be forthwith restored, and redintegrated, and be every way, in regard of his place, statu quo prius. And likewise that he, the said William Buttolph, and his associates, and also those of the other party, and generally all other of the aforesaid town, shall from henceforth forbear all traducing, reproaching, and factious proceedings, and live together quietly and peaceably, attending the issue of that course which his majesty hath been graciously pleased to appoint for the redress of the aforesaid disorders."

His Majesty's letter, also, in which this order is mentioned, points out the two aldermen to be elected bailiffs. "Mean while, to remove such disputes and differences as may arise betwixt you, about nomination of persons in the election of new bailiffs, we allow you the wonted day of election, because we will not cross or contrary the custom of your corporation, do recommend unto you, for this year, two aldermen which are eligible for bailiffs, Thomas Medowe and Robert Norgate, of whose ability we are well informed," &c.

In consequence of these letters, the corporation thought proper to restore Mr. Hardware, and to elect the two aldermen for bailiffs recommended by his majesty, though one of them (Mr. Norgate) was then ineligible, on account of his having served the office in 1625, when there had been a standing order of the corporation, for many years past, that there should be eight years between any person's going out of that office and the time of his being again eligible. This order, however, as well as the privilege of choice in the election of balliffs, the corporation ordered to be suspended for one year, not daring to contend with so powerful an adversary as the king. They nevertheless petitioned the privy council, on the behalf of Mr. Crane, (elected alderman on Mr. Hardware's dismission, and displaced on his restoration) who, on considering the matter, permitted the corporation "that the said Thomas Crane (notwithstanding his dismission from the place of alderman) may continue and sit in his seat in the church, and be restored to the next place of alderman when it shall become vacant."

Thus the matter rested till the corporation elected (the 30th of November 1629) the Earl of Dorset, then one of the lords of the privy council, to be High Steward of Yarmouth, who being much pleased with the office, and wishing to ingratiate himself with the leading people, did all in his power to set this affair of the projected change of government in a clear light, which had hitherto been artfully conducted by its abettors, and which, by his means, was afterwards laid open to the town.

It appears that Mr. Cooper and his associates had so far succeeded in their plan, that in the beginning of the next year, 1630, the charter was drawn up and lay ready for passing the great seal, which occasioned Mr. Buttolph, in the town's name, to prefer a petition to Lord Dorset, another to the keeper of the great seal, and another to the king, praying to postpone the passing of the said charter, which they obtain ed, and the king referred the matter to the enquiry of the lord keeper, the lord treasurer, Lord Dorset, Viscount Dorchester, and the bishop of London, to shew the reasons for the proposed alteration, and their authority for soliciting it. The result of this enquiry was, that the attorney general had drawn up the charter, (fn. 8) at the instance of Mr. Cooper, but it appearing contrary to the sentiments of the majority of the body corporate, it was set aside: and the corporation, to punish Mr. Cooper for his opposition, dismissed him from their body; but on his representation of it to the privy council, they were commanded to restore him, and received a severe reprimand for their conduct. "We find, say the council, that you have presumed (pendente lite, whilst the cause was in agitation before us undetermined) to displace Benjamin Cooper, whom you well know to solicit and prosecute that cause, from being an alderman of that town and choosing another in his room, without acquainting us at all with the causes thereof, which in discretion and duty you ought to have done. We let you to know that this misdemeanor, however, (in that the honor of the board is therein not a little concerned) hath deserved a more severe proceeding against such as were chief actors thereof, yet for the present we have been contented to forbear the same; but do nevertheless require and charge you forthwith upon the receipt of these our letters, to restore the said Benjamin Cooper to his place of alderman, and to remove John Lucas, or any other so unduly put in his room."

This the town endeavoured to evade, but to no purpose, and they were at length obliged to restore him.

Thus ended this contest, in which the town was then, and had been for some time, torn to pieces by the violence of the two parties; and though the prosecution of the Quo Warranto and the new charter continued some years after this, the opposing party at last got the better, and preserved their ancient form of government.

This, however, did not continue above fifty years; for King Charles II. in his 36th year, 1684, granted them a new charter, and incorporated them by the name of the mayor, aldermen, burgesses, and commonalty of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, being modelled nearly upon the plan of that contended for, in the reign of Charles I. and was to consist of a mayor, eighteen aldermen, and thirty-six common-council-men; but this mode continued a very short time, the ancient form of government being restored, four years after, by a general proclamation of king James II. in his 4th year.

But as soon as Queen Anne came to the crown, the corporation was as anxious to change their bailiffs, for a mayor, &c. as they had been before violent in opposing it. A committee of nine persons was, therefore, appointed, "To consider of methods to be used for petitioning the queen's majesty for a new charter to be granted by her majesty, to create and erect this corporation a body politique and corporate, by the name of mayor, aldermen, burgesses, and commonalty, in lieu of the present name of incorporation, with a grant of all the ancient and present customs, prescriptions, rights and privileges, to this burgh and corporation pertaining, and to propose such matters to be inserted in the new charter, as to them shall seem meet."

After several meetings of this committee, they came to a resolution to present a petition to the queen; which being prepared, and agreed to, was accordingly presented, and was as follows:

"To the Queen's most Excellent Majesty.

"The humble petition of your Majesty's loyal and dutiful subjects' the bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses, and commonalty of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk, comprizing therein the said town of Great Yarmouth, and the town of Southstone, alias Little Yarmouth, in the county of Suffolk,

"Most humbly sheweth,

"That the government of the said corporation hath always been subject to several inconveniences, through defect in their charters, and that there are not resident in the said burgh, persons of sufficient ability, qualified by law, to support their present constitution, consisting of two bailiffs, two and twenty other aldermen, and eight and forty common-council-men; and that by reason of the great charges of the government, and the avocations thereby from their private affairs, not only considerable persons, intituled to freedom in the said burgh, refuse to be admitted thereto, but also divers late aldermen, and common-council-men, (otherwise well affected to your Majesty by your government) have designedly incapacitated themselves for holding their said offices, whose places cannot be supplied by persons of ability and legal qualifications, to the prejudice and interruption of the government of the said burgh. Your petitioners, therefore, most humbly beseech, that your sacred Majesty will graciously vouchsafe to create the said towns, by your Majesty's charter, a body politique and corporate, by the name of Mayor, aldermen, burgesses, and commonalty of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk, in lieu of our present name of incorporation; and to consist of eighteen aldermen, and six and thirty common-council-men, with a confirmation of our present and ancient rights, and privileges, as to your Majesty in your great wisdom, shall seem meet."

Upon the reception of this petition, the queen referred the matter, by an order of council, dated at St. James's the 3rd of December 1702, to Mr. Attorney General, and Mr. Solicitor General, to examine the matter of the said petition, and to report to the council the result of their examination, together with their opinion thereon.

Accordingly the committee attended the attorney and solicitor general, who, on a due representation of the matter, agreed that a new charter should be made out, upon certain heads, the propriety of which being admitted by the said committee, they were formally settled, and produced the following charter, which, as it established the form of government at this time existing, we shall give the reader at large.

The Charter for creating the Burgh of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, and the Town of Little Yarmouth, in Suffolk, a body politic and corporate, by the name of Mayor, Aldermen, Burgesses, and Commonalty of the Burgh of Great Yarmouth.

Anne, by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France and "Ireland, Queen, defender of the faith, &c. To all to whom these our present letters shall come greeting.

"Whereas our late most dearly beloved uncle, King Charles II. by his letters patent made under his great seal of England, bearing date at Westminster the 8th day of January, in the fifteenth year of his reign, for himself, his heirs, and executors, ordained constituted, and confirmed, that his burgh of Great Yarmouth, in his county of Norfolk, should be, and remain from thence for ever, a free burgh of itself, and that the bailiffs, burgesses, and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors from thenceforth for ever, should be and remain, by force of the aforesaid letters patent, one body corporate, and politic, in matter, fact, and name, by the name of bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses, and commonalty of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk; and them and their successors by the name of bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses, and commonalty of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk, one body corporate and politic, in matter, fact, and name, really and perfectly, for himself, his heirs and successors, erected, made, ordained, constituted, declared, and confirmed, by the letters patent aforesaid, and that by the same name they should have perpetual succession,

"And further did grant to the aforesaid bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses, and commonality of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that from thenceforth for ever afterwards, there should be and remain in the burgh aforesaid twenty four good and discreet men who should be and should be called aldermen of the said burgh, and should be of the common-council of the same burgh.

"And further did nominate and confirm two men, in the aforesaid letters patent nominated, to be and remain bailiffs of the same burgh; and did also nominate and confirm forty eight men, in the same letters patent nominated, to be and remain of the common council of the same burgh, as by the aforesaid letters patent, and by divers others letters patent (amongst several liberties, grants, privileges, powers, and authorities) in the same letters patent respectively granted and mentioned is more fully manifest, and doth appear.

"And whereas the aforesaid late king Charles II. by his letters patent, under his great seal of England made, bearing date at Westminster the 10th day of February, in the twentieth year of his reign, for himself, his heirs, and successors, united and incorporated, the men and inhabitants of Little Yarmouth, being near Great Yarmouth aforesaid, to and with the aforesaid bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses, and commonalty of the same burgh of Great Yarmouth aforesaid, to and with the aforesaid incorporation of that burgh; and willed, and by the same letters patent, for himself, his heirs, and successors, granted and ordained, that the men and inhabitants of Little Yarmouth aforesaid, then, and for the time being, to and with the bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh of Great Yarmouth aforesaid, then and for the time being; and the same bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the same burgh, then, and for the time being, to and with the said men and inhabitants of Little Yarmouth, then, and for the time being, should be firmly united, and from thenceforth afterwards should be and remain one body corporate and politic, according to the true intention of an act of parliament in the same letters patent mentioned, and of the provision in the same act mentioned.

"And further, for himself, his heirs, and successors, willed, ordained, constituted, granted and confirmed, that the bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses, and commonalty, of the burgh of Great Yarmouth aforesaid, und the men and inhabitants of Little Yarmouth aforesaid, in form aforesaid, united, and their successors, from thenceforth afterwards for ever, should be and remain, by force of the aforesaid letters patent, one body corporate and politic, in matter fact, and name, by the name of bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty, of the burgh of Great Yarmouth in the county of Norfolk; and them and their successors by the name of bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty, of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk, one body corporate and politic, in matter, fact, and name, really and fully, for himself, his heirs, and successors, erected, made, ordained, constituted, declared and confirmed, by the same letters patent, as by the aforesaid letters patent last recited, amongst other things in the same contained, is more fully evident and doth appear.

"And whereas the said bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty, of the burgh of Great Yarmouth in the county of Norfolk, have most humbly represented to us, that it will be to the profit and benefit and for the better government of the inhabitants of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, and the town of Little Yarmouth, if we should grant that there might hereafter be in the burgh aforesaid, one man who shall be, and shall be called the Mayor of the burgh aforesaid in lien of the said two bailiffs of the burgh aforesaid: and further, that the inhabitants of the town and burgh aforesaid, might be by us incorporated by the name of mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk; also that the aforesaid number of twenty four aldermen, of the burgh aforesaid, may be reduced to the number of eighteen only, as soon as by death, or the removal of any of the present aldermen of the same burgh, eighteen only of the same shall be surviving, or remaining in the office of aldermen of the burgh aforesaid; and further, that in the very like manner, the aforesaid number of forty eight of the common-council of the same burgh, be reduced to the number of thirty six only, as soon as any twelve of them shall die, or be removed from the office of common-council aforesaid; and also, that all other alterations, additions, powers and authorities, might be as are afterward in these presents granted, made, and declared.

"Now know ye, that we, graciously affecting the better of our burgh of Great Jernemouth, otherwise Jernemutha, otherwise Yarmouth, in our county of Norfolk, and the town or burgh of Little Jernemouth, otherwise Jernemutha, otherwise Yarmouth, otherwise South-town, in our county of Suffolk, and willing that from henceforth for ever, there may be had one certain and undoubted manner in that burgh, of and for the keeping of our peace, and the good rule of government of the burgh aforesaid, and our people there dwelling, and others thither resorting, and the said burgh and town, in all times to come, may be and remain a burgh of peace and tranquillity, to the fear and terror of the evil, and the reward of the good; and that our peace, and other acts of justice and good government, may be there better kept and done; and hoping, that if the said inhabitants of the burgh aforesaid, can enjoy more ample liberties and privileges by our grant, then they may think themselves more speedily and strongly obliged to perform and exhibit to us, our heirs and successors, what services they can, of our special grace, and of our certain knowledge, and mere notion have ordained, constituted, granted and declared, and by these presents, for us, our heirs, and successors, do ordain, constitute, grant and declare, that our said burgh of Great Jernemouth, otherwise Jernemutha, otherwise Yarmouth, in our county of Norfolk aforesaid; also the town or burgh of Little Jernemouth, otherwise Jernemutha, otherwise Yarmouth, otherwise South-town, in our county of Suffolk aforesaid, may be and remain, hereafter for ever, a free burgh of itself, and that the inhabitants of the burgh of Great Jernemouth, otherwise Jernemutha, otherwise Yarmouth, and of the town or burgh of Little Jernemouth, otherwise Jernemutha, otherwise Yarmouth, otherwise South-town aforesaid, hereafter for ever may and shall be, by force of these presents, one body corporate and politic, in matter, fact, and name, by the name of the mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk; and them, and their successors, by the name of mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty, of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk, one body corporate and politic, in matter, fact, and name, really and fully, for us, our heirs and successors, we do erect, make, ordain, constitute and declare, by these presents, and that by the same name, they have perpetual succession, and that they and their successors by the name of the mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty, of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk, may and shall be, at all times hereafter, persons able and capable in law, to have, purchase, receive and possess manors, messuages, lands, tenements, liberties, privileges, rights, jurisdictions and hereditaments whatsoever, to them and their successors in fee and perpetuity, for term of life, lives, or years, or otherwise, in what lawful manner soever; and also goods and chattels, and all other things, of what kind, nature, species, or quality soever they shall be; also to give, grant, demise, and assign, the same manors, messuages, lands, tenements, hereditaments, goods and chattels, and to do and execute all other acts and things by the name aforesaid.

"And that by the name of mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh of Great Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk, they may and can plead, and be impleaded, answer and be answered, defend and be defended, in what courts or places soever, and before what judges and justices, and other persons and officers soever, of us, our heirs, or successors, in all and singular actions, pleas, suits, plaints, causes, matters and demands whatsoever, of what kind, nature or species soever they may be, in the same manner and form as any, our liege people of this our kingdom of England, persons able and capable in law, or any other body corporate and politic, within this our kingdom of England, may and can have, purchase, receive, possess, give, grant and demise, and plead and be impleaded, answer and be answered, defend and be defended; and that the mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, may have for ever a common seal, to serve for the causes and business whatsoever of them and their successors to be done, and that it may and shall well be lawful for the mayor, aldermen, burgessess, and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, the said seal at their pleasure, from time to time, to break, change and new make, as to them it shall seem best to be done and to be.

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs, and successors, do grant and ordain, that from henceforth for ever, there may and shall be in the burgh aforesaid, one of the best and most discreet aldermen of the said burgh, for the time being, to be elected and constituted, in form hereafter in these presents mentioned, in place of the bailiffs of the burgh aforesaid, who shall be, and shall be nominated, the mayor of the burgh aforesaid; and for the better execution of our will in this behalf, we have assigned, nominated, constituted and made, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do assign, nominate, constitute and make, our beloved Benjamin Engle, Esq. to be and remain the first, and modern mayor of the burgh aforesaid, willing that the same Benjamin Engle shall continue in the office of mayor of the burgh aforesaid, from the date of these presents, until the feast of St. Michael the archangel next ensuing, and from thenceforth until one other of the aldermen of the burgh aforesaid, shall in due manner be elected, preferred, and sworn to that office, according to the ordinances and constitutions hereafter in these presents declared, if the same Benjamin Engle shall so long live.

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the aforesaid mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that every mayor of the burgh aforesaid, hereafter to be elected, nominated, or constituted, from time to time, and at all times hereafter, shall be annually elected and nominated out of the aldermen of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, by such persons, at such days and times, and in such manner, as the bailiffs of the same burgh, before this, were elected, nominated and constituted; and that the aforesaid Benjamin Engle, and every mayor of the said burgh, for the time being, from henceforth for ever, may have, hold, enjoy and exercise, and may and can have, hold, enjoy and exercise, so many, so great, such, the same, such like, and the very like courts, powers, privileges, authorities, fees, rights, jurisdictions, perquisites and profits, to all intents and purposes whatsoever, as, and which the bailiffs of the said burgh jointly and severally heretofore, in any manner, have had, holden, enjoyed or exercised, or could or ought to have, hold, enjoy or exercise.

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, of our special grace and of our certain knowledge and mere motion, do grant to the mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty, of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that as soon as the aforesaid number of twenty four aldermen of the burgh aforesaid shall be reduced to the number of eighteen only, by death, resignation, removal, or otherwise, there may and shall be, from thenceforth for ever afterwards, within the burgh aforesaid, eighteen good and discreet men only, who shall be, and shall be called aldermen of the burgh aforesaid, and no more, and who shall be of the common-council of the said burgh.

Moreover we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty, of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that as soon as the aforesaid number of forty and eight common council men of the burgh aforesaid, shall be reduced to the number of thirty-six only, by death, resignation, removal or otherwise, there may and shall be, from thenceforth afterwards, for ever, within the burgh aforesaid, thirty six only, of the better and more discreet burgesses of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, and no more, who shall be, and shall be called the common council men, of that burgh, and shall be of the common-council of that burgh, besides the said mayor and aldermen of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being.

"We will also, and by these presents for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that henceforth for ever, there may and shall be, within the burgh aforesaid, one good and discreet man, learned in the laws of England, and who hath been a barrister by the space of five years, who shall be, and shall be called the sub-steward of the burgh aforesaid, and for the better execution of our will in this behalf, we have assigned, nominated, constituted and made, our beloved and faithful subject Francis Long, Esq. to be and remain the first and modern sub-steward of the burgh aforesaid, and in the same office to be continued as long as he shall behave himself well in the execution thereof.

"We will also, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that if it shall happen that the aforesaid Benjamin Engle, above by these presents, nominated to be the mayor of the burgh aforesaid, or any other future mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, die or be removed from that office, during the time of his mayoralty, or if it should happen that any election of the mayor of the burgh aforesaid hereafter be frustrated, for the incapacity or renunciation of him who shall be elected to the office of mayor of the burgh aforesaid, or for any other cause whatsoever, that then, and so often as the case shall so happen, it may and shall be lawful for the senior alderman of the burgh aforesaid, or in his absence or refusal, for any other of the aldermen of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, who at that time shall be a justice for the peace of the burgh aforesaid, and therefore capable immediately to call a common-council of the burgh aforesaid, notice thereof, by the space of three days, being first given to all the common council within the same burgh then resident, and to proceed to the election of one of the aldermen of the same burgh, into the office of mayor of the burgh aforesaid, as is aforesaid.

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the mayor, aldermen, burgesses, and commonalty, of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that so often as, and whensoever it shall happen, that any high steward, recorder, or sub-steward, of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, die, or from his or their office or offices be removed, or relinquish, that then, and in every such case, other fit person or persons, from time to time, to and in that office respectively shall in due manner be elected by the mayor, aldermen and common-council men of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, in common-council assembled, or by the greater part of the same so assembled; and shall respectively exercise and enjoy their offices, to which they have been so respectively elected, so long as they shall well behave themselves respectively in the execution thereof.

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty, of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that the constitution, election and nomination of all other officers and ministers whomsoever, in the burgh aforesaid, eligible to be nominated and elected, from time to time, and at all times hereafter, may be, shall be, and shall be made, in the same manner and form, and by such persons, as it heretofore has been used and accustomed within the burgh aforesaid.

"And further, that the mayor, by these presents nominated, and constituted, and every future mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, may have, hold and enjoy, in all elections of officers, justices of peace, and ministers of the burgh aforesaid, hereafter to be elected and nominated, and in all courts within the burgh aforesaid so many, such, and all, and such like suffrages, powers, authorities and privileges, as and which the late bailiffs of the burgh aforesaid, ever lawfully have had, exercised or enjoyed, or ought or could have, exercise, or enjoy.

"And whereas, the late King Henry VII. by his letters patent, under his great seal of England made, bearing date at Westminster, the 16th day of May, in the ninth year of his reign, among other things, granted for him and his heirs, to the bailiffs and burgesses of the burgh aforesaid and town of Great Yarmouth, and their successors, that the bailiffs of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, might elect to themselves every year, in the feast of St. Michael the archangel, for ever, two learned in the law, and four burgesses of the same burgh, and that the said bailiffs for the time being, the aforesaid learned in the law, and the aforesaid four burgesses, so by the same bailiffs, for the time being, to be elected hereafter, for the year from thence next ensuing, should be for ever, jointly and severally, keepers of the peace of the same late king, and his heirs; and that they six, five, four, three, or two of them (of whom a learned in the law should be one) shall execute all things which belong to a justice of peace, arising, to be enquired, heard, and determined, within the precinct of the burgh, or town aforesaid, in as ample manner and form as other justices of the peace, in any county in the Kingdom of England, had power, or have been ac customed to do, or had, or have been their duty to do, as by the same letters patent, amongst other things, it does more fully appear.

"And whereas the late Queen Elizabeth, by her letters patent, under her great seal of England, bearing date at Westminster, the 26th day of May, in the first year of her reign, willed, and for her, her heirs and successors, as much as in her was, granted to the aforesaid bailiffs, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh and town of Great Yarmouth aforesaid, and their successors, that as often as and whensoever it should happen, at any time from thence afterwards, that either of the aforesaid learned in the law, who shall be elected a justice of the peace of the same Queen, her heirs, and successors, within the burgh and town aforesaid, and the liberties and precincts of the same, die, during the time wherein he should be a justice of the peace, that then and so often it should be well and lawful for the bailiffs of the same town for the time being, from hence, from time to time for ever, as and when it should please and seem expedient to them, immediately after such casualty of death, to nominate and elect to themselves, another learned in the law, to be and remain a justice of the peace of the said Queen, her heirs and successors, in the place of him so dying.

"And further willed, and by the same letters patent, for herself, her heirs and successors, granted to the aforesaid bailiffs, burgesses and commonalty of the town aforesaid, that as often as, and whenever it should happen, at any time from thence, that any of the aforesaid four burgesses, by the aforesaid bailiffs, to be elected a justice of the peace, of her, her heirs and successors, within the burgh and town aforesaid, die, during the time wherein he should be a justice of the peace, that then and so often as it should well be lawful for the bailiffs of the same burgh, for the time being, from thence, from time to time for ever, as, and when it should please and seem expedient to them to nominate and elect to themselves one and more of the burgesses then inhabitants of the same burgh, and then being burgesses of that burgh, or town, to be and remain a justice or justices of the peace within the burgh and town aforesaid.

"And further willed, and, by the same letters patent, granted to the aforesaid bailiffs, burgesses and commonalty, and their successors, that every person, so as is aforesaid to be elected, and nominated for a justice of the peace, within the burgh and town aforesaid, by the aforesaid bailiffs, from thence may and shall be a justice of the peace, within the aforesaid burgh and town and the liberties and precincts of the same, until the feast of St. Michael the Archangel then next ensuing, in manner and form above expressed and mentioned, as by the same letters patent, amongst other things in the same contained, is more fully manifest and doth appear.

"Know ye now, that we, for the better government of the inhabitants of the burgh and town aforesaid, by these presents incorporated, and that our peace and other acts of justice, within the burgh and town aforesaid, may be the better kept and done, of our more abundant special grace, and of our certain knowledge and mere motion have granted, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the aforesaid mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that in the places of the aforesaid justices, the aforesaid Benjamin Engle, and every mayor of the burgh aforesaid, at his entrance into that office, and during his mayoralty, and from thence during the time wherein he afterwards shall be alderman of the burgh aforesaid, also the high steward, recorder, sub-steward of the burgh aforesaid, now, and for the time being, during their continuance in their aforesaid respective offices, also Benjamin England, Peter Caulier, Samuel Fuller, Nathaniel Symonds, Thomas Godfrey, Anthony Ellys Senior, and Gabriel Ward, Esqrs. (now the seven senior aldermen of the burgh aforesaid) as long as they shall continue respectively in the said office of aldermen of the burgh aforesaid, hereafter for ever, may and shall be, and every of them, may and shall be a justice and justices of us, our heirs and successors, to conserve and keep and caused to be conserved and kept, the peace of us, our heirs and successors, within the burgh and town aforesaid, incorporated as is aforesaid, and the limits and precincts thereof, and to keep and cause to be kept, all the statutes, ordinances, and institutes made for the good of our peace, and the government of the people of us, our heirs and successors, in all their articles, in the burgh aforesaid, the liberties and precincts thereof, by the justices of the peace of us, our heirs and successors, to be done according to the force, form, and effect of the same, and to chastise and punish all those whom, against the form of the said ordinances and statutes, or any of them, in the burgh aforesaid, the liberties and precincts thereof, they shall find offending as according to the form of the said ordinances and statutes, shall be to be done: and to cause all them to come before them, who shall threaten any of the people of us, our heirs and successors concerning their bodies, or the burning of their houses, or find sufficient security of the peace, and their good behaviour towards us, and the people of us, our heirs and successors; and if such security they shall refuse, then to cause them to be safely kept in the prison of us, our heirs and successors, within the burgh aforesaid, until such security they shall find.

"And besides, that the aforesaid justices, by these presents nominated and constituted, or any three or more of them (of whom we will that any two, the mayor, recorder, sub-steward and deputy of the mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, be two: and of those two we will that the said mayor, or deputy mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, be one) from henceforth hereafter for ever, shall be justices of us, our heirs and successors, to enquire, by the oath of good and lawful men of the burgh aforesaid, the liberties and precincts thereof, by whom the truth of the matter may be better known, of all, and all manner of felonies, trespasses, forestallings, regratings, extortions, and other misdeeds, within the burgh and town aforesaid, the limits and precincts thereof, as well upon the haven and waters, as upon the land, within the burgh, town, and liberties and precincts aforesaid, by whomsoever, and in what manner soever done or perpetrated, and which there from this time shall happen to be done: and also of all and singular other deeds and things within the burgh and town aforesaid, the liberties and precincts thereof, after what manner soever done, attempted or perpetrated, or which shall hereafter happen there to be done, attempted, or perpetrated; and also to enquire, hear, and determine, all and all manner of felonies, trespasses and misdeeds whatsoever, and all matters, plaints, defaults, causes and other things whatsoever, within the burgh aforesaid, the liberties and precincts thereof, heretofore or hereafter done, attempted, committed, arising or happening, as fully freely and wholly, as the keepers of the peace of us, our heirs and successors, to conserve the peace in any county of our kingdom of England; and also to hear and determine diverse felonies, trespasses and other misdeeds, in any county of England perpetrated: of such felonies, trespasses, and misdeeds, and other the premises, in any county of the kingdom of England of us, our heirs and successors, by virtue of the ordinances and statutes before these times made, or assigned, or to be made or assigned, according to the force, form and effect of the letters patent of us, or our predecessors, to them thereof made and to be made, it ought, useth, and shall be due to enquire, and to discuss and determine, all and singular other the premises whatsoever, within the burgh, town, limits and precincts aforesaid, done, attempted, or perpetrated, or from henceforth to be done, attempted, or perpetrated, which, by such keepers of the peace of us, our heirs and successors, assigned or to be assigned; to hear and determine such felonies, trespasses, and misdeeds, in any county aforesaid, by virtue of the ordinances, and statutes aforesaid, and our letters patent aforesaid, ought and use, and shall be due to be discussed, and determined, by the said justices by these presents constituted, and the justices of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, or any two of them, as is aforesaid, shall be heard and determined, according to the law and custom of our kingdom of England, and the form of the ordinances and statutes aforesaid.

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty, of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that the aforesaid justices of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, or any two or more of them (of whom we will that the mayor, or recorder, or sub-steward, or deputy mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being be one) may and shall have full power and authority to convoke, hold, and adjourn from time to time, sessions of the peace within the burgh aforesaid.

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and succesors, do charge and command, that all writs, precepts, and other warrants, for the premises aforesaid, and every of them, to be made, shall be directed to the ministers of the burgh aforesaid, and by them may be executed without any writ, precept, or warrant from the sheriff, coroner of our county of Norfolk, or our county of Suffolk, or either of them therefore in any wise to be directed.

"And also we will and command, that the keepers of the peace of us, our heirs and successors, and such justices of us, our heirs and successors, assigned, or to be assigned to hear, and determine such felonies, trespasses, and misdeeds, in the county of Norfolk, or Suffolk aforesaid, done or perpetrated, to be done, or to be perpetrated, within the town or burgh of Little Jernemouth, otherwise Yarmouth, the liberties and precincts thereof, to do any thing, which to the keepers of the peace, or such justices there doth belong, shall not enter, nor any of them shall enter, nor in any wise intermeddle, nor any of them intermeddle.

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do confirm and constitute, all and singular the modern officers, and ministers of the burgh aforesaid, in their respective offices (the aforesaid late bailiffs and justices of our peace excepted) to be continued in the same offices, according to the use and custom of the burgh aforesaid, and in as ample manner and form, as if they in these presents, by their respective proper names, had been nominated, constituted and confirmed,

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the aforesaid mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that it shall and may be lawful for the mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, or in case of absence, or sickness of the said mayor, it may and shall be lawful for the deputy mayor of the burgh aforesaid, to summon and call together, the aldermen and commoncouncil men of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, in the Guild-hall, or the Tollhouse-hall, or other place convenient within the burgh aforesaid, as in times past, within the said burgh it has been used; which said mayor, or the deputy mayor, aldermen and common-council men of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, or the major part of them so assembled and gathered together (of whom we will, that the mayor, or deputy mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, be one) may and shall be for ever, the common-council of the burgh aforesaid, and may and shall have so many, so great, such, all, and the very like liberties, rights, jurisdictions, powers, authorities and privileges, as the commoncouncil of the burgh aforesaid heretofore ever, in any manner, lawfully have had, exercised, or enjoyed, or could or ought to have, enjoy, or exercise, as well as to constitute, ordain, make, and establish laws, statutes, constitutions and ordinances, as otherwise, or in any manner whatsoever.

"We will also, that the aforesaid Benjamin Engle, above in these presents nominated to be the first and modern mayor of the burgh aforesaid, before he be admitted to execute the office of mayor, and trust of a justice of the peace of the burgh aforesaid, shall take a corporal oath, to execute that office, in and by all things well and faithfully; also the oath by the laws and statutes of this our Kingdom of England, by justices of the peace required to be taken before the aforesaid Benjamin England, Peter Caulier, Samuel Fuller, Nathaniel Symonds, Thomas Godfrey, Anthony Ellys senior, and Gabriel Ward, or any two or more of them, to which said persons, or any two or more of them, we do give and grant full power and authority, by these presents, of giving and administering, such oaths to the aforesaid Benjamin Engle, without any other warrant, from us, our heirs or successors, in that behalf to be procured or obtained

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the aforesaid mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that it may and shall be lawful for the mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, at his pleasure to elect, make and constitute, from time to time, one of the aldermen, then being a justice for the peace within the burgh aforesaid, to be and remain a deputy of the said mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, which deputy may and shall have full power and authority, to summon a common-council of the burgh aforesaid, from time to time, also to do and execute all and singular other things, which to the office of the mayor of the burgh aforesaid, do, or ought to belong, during the absence or sickness of the mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, as fully, freely, and wholly, as the mayor of the burgh aforesaid, if he were present, may and can do and execute.

"Provided always, and we will that the said deputy mayor of the burgh aforesaid, shall take a corporal oath before the mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, well and faithfully to execute the office aforesaid, before he intermeddle in the office of deputy mayor of the burgh aforesaid, and so often as the case shall so happen; to which said mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, we do, by these presents, give and grant full power and authority of giving and administering such oaths.

"We will also, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do command and ordain to all and singular the persons aforesaid, who before in these presents, are nominated and constituted justices of the peace of the burgh aforesaid, before they, or any of them be admitted to execute the trust of a justice of the peace within the burgh aforesaid, shall take and every of them shall take their corporal oaths in that behalf by the laws of the statutes of this our Kingdom of England provided, required to be taken by justices of the peace, before the aforesaid Benjamin Engle, by these presents constituted mayor of the burgh aforesaid, or his deputy mayor; to which said Benjamin Engle, or his deputy mayor, for the time being, we do give and grant, by these presents, full power and authority of requiring, giving, and administering such oaths to the justices aforesaid.

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do command and ordain, that the aforesaid Francis Long, above in these presents nominated and constituted substeward in the burgh aforesaid, also every sub steward of the burgh aforesaid hereafter to be elected, also every mayor of the burgh aforesaid hereafter to be elected, before they, or either of them be admitted to the execution of their offices respectively, shall respectively take their corporal oaths upon the holy Evangelists of God, respectively to execute their offices aforesaid, before the justices of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, or any two or more of them, (of whom we will that the mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, if he shall be living, and present in the burgh aforesaid, be one) to which said justices, or any two of them, as is aforesaid, we do, for us, our heirs, and successors, give and grant, by these presents, full power and authority of giving and administering such oaths.

"And furthermore, that all and singular other officers and ministers of the burgh aforesaid, hereafter to be elected, before they, or any of them be respectively admitted to the execution of their offices, shall take, and every of them shall take their corporal oaths, upon the holy Evangelists of God, well and faithfully to execute their offices respectively, before the mayor and justices of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, or any two of them, to which mayor and justices, or any two of them, as is aforesaid, we do, for us, our heirs and successors, give and grant, by these presents, full power and authority of giving and administering such oaths to all future officers and ministers of the burgh aforesaid, as is aforesaid.

"And further we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant that it may and shall be lawful for every mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being, to elect and take to himself, from time to time, one officer, who shall be, and shall be called Ensifer, in English, the Sword-bearer, of the burgh aforesaid, which said office called the sword-bearer, one sword in a scabbard every where within the burgh aforesaid, the liberties and precincts thereof, before the mayor of the burgh aforesaid, or his deputy for the time being, shall carry and bear, and may and can carry and bear, and shall continue in his office, aforesaid, during the good pleasure of the mayor of the burgh aforesaid, for the time being.

"Moreover, we have given and granted, confirmed and ratified, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do give, grant, confirm and ratify, to the aforesaid mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, all and singular so many, so great, such, the same, such like, and the very like courts of record, and other courts, jurisdictions, lands, tenements, messuages, escheats, goods and chattels, deodands, treasure-trove, wrecks of the sea, flotson, jetson, legan, liberties privileges, franchises, quittances, powers, authorities, immunities, customs, constitutions, court-leets, views of frank pledge, fines, issues, amerciaments, recognizances, customs, murage, tronage, measurage, groundage, saccage, anchorage, pierage, keyage, pilotage, driage, ballastage, profits, commodities, emoluments, forfeitures, fairs, markets, exemptions, rights and liberties, by land, sea, ports, and fresh rivers, approvements, goods, chattels, things, hereditaments, reversions, remainders, interests, and demands, whatsoever, as and which the bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, lately lawfully had, held, used, and enjoyed, or which any of them, or their predecessors, by whatsoever name or names, or by whatsoever incorporation, or by the pretext of what incorporation soever, before this time, have lawfully had, used, or enjoyed, or ought to have, hold, use, or enjoy, by reason or pretext of any charters, or letters patent, by any of our progenitors or ancestors, late Kings or Queens of England, by what lawful means soever, before this time granted, made, or confirmed, or by what other lawful means, right, title, use, custom, or prescription soever, heretofore used, had, or accustomed, and which, in or by these presents, are not altered or changed, to have, hold and enjoy, to the aforesaid mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors for ever.

"Wherefore we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, firmly enjoining, do command that the mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, may have, hold, use, and enjoy, and may and can be able to have, hold, use, and enjoy, for ever, all the liberties, authorities, jurisdictions, franchises, exemptions, and quittances aforesaid, and all and singular the premises, by these presents, as is aforesaid, granted or confirmed, or mentioned, to be granted or confirmed, according to the tenor and effect of these our letters patent, without occasion or impediment of us, our heirs and successors, the justices, sheriffs, escheators, or other the bailiffs or ministers of us, our heirs, or successors, whomsoever, willing that the same mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, or any of them, by reason of the premises or any of them, by us, our heirs and successors, the justices, sheriffs, or other the bailiffs or ministers of us, our heirs or successors, whomsoever, may not be thereof occasioned, molested, grieved, or in any wise disturbed.

"Lastly we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the aforesaid mayor, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, that these our letters patent, and all and singular things in the same contained, from time to time, may and shall be good, sufficient valid, and effectual in law, according, to the true intent of the same in all things, and shall be most beneficially and liberally expounded and construed by all things, for the greatest commodity, profit, and advantage of the said mayar, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, and their successors, notwithstanding in the not nominating, or not certainly or rightly nominating the aforesaid premises, or any parcel thereof, in their proper natures, kinds, species, quantities, or qualities, and notwithstanding, in the not reciting, or not rightly fully, or certeinly reciting the charters and letters patent aforementioned, of our ancestors or progenitors, late kings or queens of England, or in the not nominating, or not truly or badly nominating the several dates of the same several charters and letters patent, or the several articles or clauses in the same, or in any of them, contained; and notwithstanding, in the not nominating or not reciting any other charters or letters patent of our ancestors, late kings or queens of England, granted to the aforesaid late bailiffs, aldermen, burgesses and commonalty of the burgh aforesaid, or in the not nominating, or not truly or certainly nominating the name or names of the body politic, and incorporation of the town and burgh aforesaid, or either of them; and notwithstanding, in the not nominating, or not confirming the modern officers, or ministers of the burgh aforesaid, or any of them, by their respective proper names or sirnames; or by any other defect, incertitude, or other imperfection, in these presents, or any other thing, cause, or matter whatsoever, notwithstanding.

"In witness whereof, we have caused these our letters to be made patent. Witness Myself, at Westminster, the eleventh day of March, in the second year of our reign.

"By writ of privy seal.

"COCKS"

"The fine of our Lady the queen, in her hanaper to be paid, is taxed at ten marks sterling.

"N. WRIGHT, C. S,"

By this charter, as we have before observed, the town received its present form of government, the expenses in procuring which, amounted to four hundred and twelve pounds nine shillings and ten-pence.

We shall conclude this chapter with an authentic list of the bailiffs and mayors of Yarmouth, from the 53d of Henry III. (1269) to the present year, 1775.

Footnotes

  • 1. It is observable that King John was the first of our Kings that used the plural number in his grants, for the singular, which has continued ever since.
  • 2. For an explanation of these, and some other antique terms to be met with in this history, see the Glossary.
  • 3. That is, no burgess should be forced to answer to any action concerning lands or tenements holden by him in Yarmouth or to any personal action arising in the said burgh, but in the court of Yarmouth only; except in outward tenures; i. e. tenures holden by any burgess out of the precincts of Yarmouth; in which case he was to answer to them in the county or place where such tenures were situated.
  • 4. That is, they should be quit of the pecumary consequences of escaping after murder; such as fines and amerciaments.
  • 5. That is, no purveyor of the King should forcibly take any thing for his use out of this burgh, a custom frequently practised in other places.
  • 6. It appears, by some ancient statutes, that foreign merchants were only suffered to come into this kingdom during the time of a public fair, and then the time of their remaining here was limited to 40 days.
  • 7. Though the burgesses are hereby permitted to chuse their own magistrate, the principal advantage to them seems to be the power of electing one of their own body, (which was not always the case when they were appointed by the King) for there appears to be a reservation in idonei nobis, "agreeable to us," which is somewhat equivocal.
  • 8. By this new charter it was intended that there should be a mayor, a recorder, twelve aldermen, and twenty four common-council men; a sword-bearer and two serjeants at mace, to go before the mayor, and other officers as before.