The city of Norwich, chapter 20: Of the city in the time of Edward IV

Pages 165-171

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part I. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1806.

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King Edward having settled himself on the throne, calls his first parliament upon the 4th of November, in which, to ingratiate himself with his people, he confirmed all manner of charters, liberties, &c. (fn. 1) made by King Henry IV. V. and VI.; and afterwards at the request of the city, which he thought fit to oblige, knowing the good will they had for Henry VI. though they dared not show it, he confirmed all their former charters by inspeximus, in which they are recited at large; it is dated at Westm. Feb. 10, 1461, and is now in the Gild-hall, with the broad seal of green wax hanging on a label affixed thereto. (fn. 2)

In 1463, King Henry was taken by King Edward and confined prisoner in the Tower; (fn. 3) and the statute that no wool should be carried out of the kingdom was made; (fn. 4) and so great plenty there was of corn, that, as Stow saith, wheat was sold at 2s. a quarter in London, barley for 22d. peas for 3s. 4d. and oats for 14d. and in Norfolk a quarter of wheat was sold for 20d. malt for 20d. and barley and oats for 12d.

On the 1st day of March the cathedral was much damaged by fire. (fn. 5)

In 1465, was a statute made to ascertain the length and breadth of cloths, all which were to be sealed with lead seals, and the keepers of such seals, or aulnagers, to be ordained by the Treasurer of England, &c. (fn. 6) and the statute against long piked shoes was made, namely, that they should not be above 2 inches long; (fn. 7) for before this time, and since 1382, the pikes of shoes and boots were made of such length, that they were forced to be tied up to their knees with chains of silver gilt, or silk laces.

In 1467, was an act made for the true making of worsteds in Norwich and Norfolk, (fn. 8) by which the men of the craft, that is, the worsted weavers, were authorised every Whitsun-Monday to choose four wardens of the same craft living in the city, and the artificers of the same craft in the county of Norfolk; the same day to choose four wardens of the craft in the county; all which wardens shall come on the Monday next after Corpus Christi, and be sworn before the mayor of the city, and the steward of the dutchy of Lancaster, if he be in the county and present, else before the mayor only; and all the said wardens, or else the greatest part of them, as well within the city as without, shall have full power, for a year next following, to survey all the worsteds made, and make such rules and ordinances as they shall think meet, for the good of the craft. The wardens have full power to search all worsteds in Norwich, Suffolk, and Cambridge, as well in the looms as out, and to convene any persons that are faulty or disobedient to their ordinances, before the mayor or steward, who shall punish them at their discretions; and every man shall put his proper mark on every piece, under pain of forfeiture. The wardens shall assign a certain place or two in the city, and others in the county, and certain days every week, when every piece shall be brought and searched by them, and if approved, they shall fix their token or seal thereto, without fee or reward; and all mayors, sheriffs, and bailiffs, when the wardens require them, shall be attending, aiding, and supporting them in their search. And in 1468, this statute was extended to Essex.

In 1469, the King was taken prisoner by King Henry's friends, but soon escaped from them. (fn. 9) And this year he was at Norwich, and was grandly received.

In 1470, King Henry was fetched out of the Tower, and restored to his Kingly government, and reigned in full power after his re-adeption, nearly six months, in which time King Edward was forced to flee the realm, but being aided and assisted by the French King and the Duke of Burgoine, on Monday the 11th of March, (fn. 10)

1471, he set sail for England, and went directly for the Norfolk coast, and on Tuesday the 12th of March, towards evening, they came before Cromere, where the King sent to land Sir Rob. Chamberlain, and Sir Gilbert Debenham, Knts. the first being a Norfolk, and the second a Suffolk man born, and divers others with them, to the end they might discover how the people of these parts were affected to him; but at their return, he found there was no surety for him to land here, by reason of the good order which the Earl of Warwick and the Earl of Oxford had taken in this country to resist him; for not only the Duke of Norfolk, but all the other gentlemen whom the Earl suspected to favour King Edward, were sent for to Lomdon, by letters of privy seal, and either committed to safe keeping in or about London, or else forced to find sureties for their loyalty to King Henry; and as for the common people, and the city and chief towns, they well knew that they were, and had always been, great favourers of him, but yet the knights and others that went ashore were cheerfully received, and handsomely treated by their friends. After the King perceived by their report how things stood hereabouts, he turned off for the north parts, and landed at Ravenspurgh by the Humber, and thence went to Notingham, where he was informed, that in the town of Newark the Duke of Exeter, the Earl of Oxford, the Lord Bardolf, and others, were lodged with above 4000 men, which they had raised out of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridge, and Lincolnshire; but upon their thinking King Edward's whole army was coming against them, they dislodged, and the King went for London, and being received there, King Henry was again deposed and made his prisoner, whom he carried with him to Barnet, where the Duke of Exeter, the Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Oxford, and other gentlemen of Henry's party, were overcome after a well fought battle, which lasted above three hours, in which, as some write, there were about 3000 slain, among them, on Henry's side, were the noble Earl of Warwick, the Marquis Montacute, Sir Will. Tirrell, Knt.; and on King Edward's side, the Lord Crumwell, Sir Humphry Bourchier, Knt. son to the Lord Berners, and others. After this battle King Edward returned to London, leading with him King Henry as his prisoner: soon after this, Queen Margaret and Prince Edward, only son to King Henry, landed at Weymouth, and were joined by Edmund Duke of Somerset, Tho. Courtney Earl of Devonshire, and others, who went about to raise what power they could, as did King Edward to oppose them; their two armies met at Tewkesbury, and fought the last battle that King Edward fought, on Saturday, May 4, 1471, which was the last also in behalf of King Henry; King Edward being victor, published a proclamation, that whoever brought Prince Edward alive or dead, should have an annuity of 100l. during life, and the Prince's life to be saved, if he was alive: Sir Ric. Crofts, not mistrusting the King's promise, brought forth his prisoner, Prince Edward, being a fair and well proportioned young gentleman; whom when King Edward had earnestly looked upon, he asked him how he dared enter the realm so presumptuously with banner displayed? to whom the Prince boldly answered, saying, to recover my father's kingdom and heritage, from his father and grandfather to him, and from him, after him, to me lineally descended. At which words King Edward said nothing, but with his hand thrust him from him, (or as some say,) struck him with his gantlet, (fn. 11) and immediately George Duke of Clarence, Richard Duke of Gloucester, Tho. Grey Marquis Dorset, and William Lord Hastyng, who stood by, murdered him: for which cruelty, the most of them drank of the same cup, by the righteous justice, and due punishment of God.

Queen Margaret, his mother, was also taken, and kept prisoner till ransomed by her father with a great sum. And soon after, Richard Duke of Gloucester, to settle his brother Edward firmly on the throne, murdered good King Henry in the Tower, he being then 52 years of age; (fn. 12) a prince, as all historians agree, of great virtue, immense charity, and exemplary life, reputed so holy, that miracles were said to be wrought by him; King Henry VII. would have had him canonised or made a saint, and his holiday inserted in the Calendar, but the Pope insisting on too large a sum for it, it was not done.

This year died John Mowbray Duke of Norfolk, a great favourite of King Edward's; and Edward, son to the King, was created Prince of Wales.

And now the commons of the city granted 30l. yearly to the sheriffs, to enable them the better to pay the fee farm rent of the city.

In 1472, it is said that the day of the choice of the mayor was changed from March the 1st to May the 1st, and hath continued so to this time: and this year, Edw. Sealye, one of the sheriffs, lived and kept his sheriffalty at Trowse Milgate, which is in the county of the city of Norwich; the city also received 30l. given by John Gilbert, late mayor deceased, to repair Bishop-gates, bridge, and tower, and the river banks from the common-stath to the Dominican friars.

At this time the statute was made, granting the power of searching and surveying of victuals, to all mayors, &c. and excluding all others, upon which, John Russell was elected the common serjeant (or clerk of the market) to search all victuals in the market, (fn. 13) and afterwards one was chosen every year.

In 1474, the King got together great forces to invade France, and to raise money asked a benevolence, as he called it, of the wealthier sort, and went from place to place to encourage it what he could, and among others visited this city, but how well he succeeded I do not find; (fn. 14) only, that he had a benevolence here, notwithstanding which, the next year Edmund Bohun, his commissioner here, received of the city collectors 80l. 6s. 11d. for a whole tenth and fifteenth, granted towards the payment of 13000 archers, at 6d. a day each, for a whole year; these were employed in France, where the King had then above 20,000 forces, but yet ere long there was peace made, with the approbation of the English lords, who considered that "all our warres with France, had rather purchaste fame than treasure to our kingdome, and when our souldiers returned home, their scarres were greater than their spoiles. And howsoever we had got possession of the largest territories in France, yet still wee retired back againe: as if the devine providence had decreed to have our empire bounded with seas. Moreover they who affected the happinesse of their own kingdom and loved their owne country, desired rather France under a forraigne governour, least if in possession of our King, England being the lesse both in extent and fertility, might be reduc'd to the condition of a province, and live in obedience to a deputie, enriching the greater kingdom with her tribute," (fn. 15) which all the English, as well as they, have ever since cautiously guarded against, and ought to continue so doing.

In 1477, a statute was made, limiting the power of pie-powder courts, by which it was enacted, that every plaintiff that enters his action, shall be first sworn by the steward of the court, under forfeiture of 5l. that the contract or bargain was made, during the time, and in the jurisdiction of the fair; and it was made continual by stat, 1 Richard III. (fn. 16)

Holingshed tells us, (fn. 17) that this year the plague raged so in England, that the 15 years war past did not consume one-third part of the people, that 4 months only brought to their graves; and in

1478, another violent pestilence brake out in the latter end of September, and continued till November, (fn. 18)

1479, in which time, Nevile says, there died an incredible number in this city. (fn. 19)

And the next year, on the 28th of December, was a very great earthquake in Norwich and Norfolk, and almost all over England, by which many buildings were shaken down, and much damage done in many places, as the same author informs us.

In 1481, the ancient assessment of this city towards repairing the walls, was renewed; (fn. 20) by which it appears, that

South Conesford repaired the tower in the meadow, the tower by the river side over against it, and all the walls, and Conesford-gates, and the next tower to the mid space of the walls towards the BlackTower.

N. Conesford repaired the walls from thence to the Black-Tower, and that tower, and all to the corner of Berstrete-gates.

Berstreet repaired from that corner, Berstreet-gates, and the walls and towers to the Iron Door, now called Brazen Doors.

St. Stephen's repaired the Iron Door, and all the towers and walls to Nedham, now St. Stephen's-gates, and those gates.

St. Peter's of Mancroft repaired all the walls from those gates, with four towers, and the wall to the fifth tower.

St. Giles's repaired all the walls, towers, and St. Giles's-gates, to the tower on the north side of the gates, and that tower.

West-Wimer repaired from that tower, all the walls and towers to Westwick, or St. Bennet's-gates, and those gates.

Midle-Wimer repaired all from thence to the river, and Bishop. gates, and Rushlyng's stathe.

Coslany repaired the tower on the north side of the river, with the walls, to Coslany or St. Martin's-gates, and the walls and towers to St. Ausin's-gates, and both those gates.

Colgate repaired all the walls and towers from St. Austin's-gates to Fibrigge or Magdalen-gates.

Fibrigge repaired Fibrigge-gates, and all the walls and towers to the next tower to Bar or Pockthorp-gates, on the N. side.

East-Wimer repaired that tower and the walls to Bar-gates, and those gates, and all to the river, and the tower with the Dungeon, by the Hospital meadows.

This King, in 1482, granted to the mayor, sheriffs, and commonalty, two free-marts or fairs, to be held yearly within the city and county of the same, the first to be kept 10 days before the third Sunday in Lent, and ten days after; the second upon the Commemoration of St. Paul the Apostle, (fn. 21) and twenty days after the same feast, for which liberty the city is to pay no fee to any one, and all persons coming and going are to have the King's protection, for them and their merchandise, and the city to have all the liberties and customs belonging to such marts and fairs. (fn. 22)

The grant was exemplified under the broad seal, (fn. 23) at the request of the recorder, &c. These marts and fairs were at first considerable, but are now reduced to one-day fairs only. (fn. 24)

This year was the statute of qualification for swan-marks made, by which it was enacted, that no person whatever, except the King's son, should have any swan-mark or game of swans of his own, or any other to his use, except he hath free-hold lands and tenements to the clear yearly value of five marks, and all persons not so qualified shall, before Michaelmass next, sell or give away such marks and game of swans, to such people as are qualified, and after that time, any person qualified, may seize such game undisposed of, and he shall have half, and the King the other half; upon which statute, an account of all the swan-marks in this county was taken and entered in a roll, which was renewed in the year 1598, when the order for swans was printed; the city being then seized, according to the swan rolls of three swanmarks belonging to the late dissolved hospital of St. Giles. (fn. 25)

In 1483, on the ninth day of April, died King Edward IV. at Westminster, and was afterwards buried at Windsor.

Mayors And Sheriffs.

1461, Will. Norwich.

1462, John Butt.

Will. Northall, John Cock. (fn. 26)

John Burton, Ric. Hoste.

1463, Ric. Brasier 2. Hen. Spencer, Will. Wyllis or Wills.
1464, John Gilbert 2. Will. Swain, Rob. Portland.
1465, Tho. Ellis 2. Walt. Thornfield, (fn. 27) Ric. Daniel.
1466, John Chytock 2. John Roose or Rose, John Beccles.
1467, Rog. (fn. 28) Best or Beast. John Lawes, Rob. Hickling.
1468, Walt. Thornfield. Ric. Farrour, Tho. Veyle or Veal.
1469, John Awberry or Aubry. Tho. Bukenham, Will. Pepyr.
1470, Edw. Cutler or Coteler. John Harvey, Hen. Owdolf.
1471, John Butt 2. John Welles, Rob. Atmere or Aylmere.
1472, Rog. Beast 2. Edm. Sealye, Tho. Storme.
1473, Ric. Farrour or Ferriour. John Cook, Will. London.
1474, Tho. Ellis 3. John Goldbeter, John Burgh. (fn. 29)
1475, Will. Swaine. Tho. Cambridge, Rob. Lownde.
1476, John Welles. Hamond Claxton, Rob. Cook.
1477, Rob. (fn. 30) Portland. Gregory Clerk, Philip Curson.
1478, Ric. Farrour 2. Rob. Osborn, Tho. Bewfield.
1479, Tho. Bukenham. Rob. Welles, Tho. Phillips.
1480, John Aubry 2. Rob. Gardiner, Tho. Wurth or Woorts.
1481, Rob. Aylmere. Rob. Belton, John Denton.
Hen. Spelman, Esq. recorder.
Jeffry Spurleng, town-clerk.
1482, Will. London. Ric. Balls, Ralf East.
1483, Ric. Farrour 3. Will. (fn. 31) Rose, Will. Farrour.

Burgesses in parliament.

1 Edw. IV. Parl. at Westminster, Rob. Toppes, Edw. Cutler or Coteler.

2 Parl. at York, Tho. Elys or Ellis, Will. Skippewith.

7 Parl. at Westm. Henry Spelman, Esq. Ric. Hoste or Hofte.

12 Ditto, John Aubry, Tho. Bukenham.

17 Ditto, John Jenny, Hen. Wilton.


  • 1. Keble, 173.
  • 2. It is marked Carta xxiii. a. Cart. 1 E. 4. No. 2.
  • 3. Hol. vol. ii. fo. 667.
  • 4. Keble, 278. Stow, 417.
  • 5. Nevile. Baker 311.
  • 6. Keble, 280.
  • 7. Ibid. 282. Stow, 419. Hol. 668.
  • 8. Keble, 282, 4, 5.
  • 9. Hol. 672.
  • 10. Ibid. 677, 9, 80, 3.
  • 11. The iron-glove belonging to his armour, in which he was clad.
  • 12. Baker, 304.
  • 13. Congr. in Festo Invent. Sce. Crucis 14 E. 4. fo. 97 B.
  • 14. Nevile.
  • 15. Habington, Hist. E. 4. fo. 144,5.
  • 16. Keble, 290.
  • 17. Vol. ii. fo. 703, 4.
  • 18. Ibid. 704.
  • 19. Nevile, 183. Index.
  • 20. See p. 98, and Lib. Alb. fo. 177.
  • 21. June 30.
  • 22. As pie-dowder court, &c.
  • 23. Irrotulatur coram Domino Rege, apud West. Term. Mich. 22 Ed. 4. Rot. lxxx°. it is numbered among the Charters, viz. Carta xxiv. a.
  • 24. The fairs now kept are, one on Lammas day, on the right-hand of the road leading from Herdford-bridges; one on Tombland on Saturday before Whit-Sunday, another there on Saturday in Whitsun-week, and one there on Thursday before Good-Friday, which is Good-Friday fair, anciently belonging to the convent; and on Easter Monday and Tuesday is a fair held by Bishopbridge.
  • 25. Orig. penes me.
  • 26. Nevile says, Cook.
  • 27. I find him sometimes called Fornfield and Franfield.
  • 28. Called in some things Robert.
  • 29. Nevile hath it John Bright.
  • 30. Nevile says John.
  • 31. Some say Robert.