The city of Norwich, chapter 10: Of the city in Richard I's time

Pages 35-39

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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Richard the First, sirnamed Cæur de Lion, or the Lion's Heart, from his great valour, (fn. 1) was not only a valiant, but a wise, liberal, just, merciful, and religious prince; he was crowned at Westminster, September 3, 1189, and not having the same value for the Jews that his predecessors had, gave strict commandment that no Jew, whether man or woman, should presume to be present at his coronation; notwithstanding which, the chief of them came to make him an honourable present, and declare their joy at his advancement, and to procure friendship to have the charters and liberties of his predecessors confirmed to them; but he commanded that none of them should enter the church during his coronation, nor the hall at dinner, which one of them attempting to do, was stricken by a Christian, and driven back, who declared he had the King's command for so doing, which was no sooner known by the populare, but they fell upon the Jews, and chased them to their houses, which they robbed and fired, burning and killing many of them; and though the King sent Ralf de Glanvil, his chief justice, to quell them, he could not do it till 2 o'clock the next day; and it being rumoured about the nation, that the King did not favour them, by this example, the populace of Bury, Linn, and Norwich, rose against them, and robbed and spoiled abundance of them. (fn. 2)

On the 27th of November following, the King, by charter dated at Westminster, created Roger, son of Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, and Steward of his Household: (fn. 3) who being in such favour as to be made Earl of the county, may be allowed to be constable of the castle, seeing history mention no other as constable at that time; earls in favour were mostly constables of the royal castles of their counties; and when they were not in favour, the sheriffs of the counties had the custody of such castles, along with their farm of the county; and by his means it was, he being always a great favourite of this King's, that the citizens afterwards obtained as ample a charter as the city of London then had: which city, upon his expedition for the Holy War, presented him with a large sum, (fn. 4) in requital of which, he granted them many privileges, and ordained that they should be ruled by two head officers, called Boiliffs, which they should choose among themselves every year; and in like manner, in 1193, being the 5th year of his reign, in consideration of 200 marks to be paid into the Exchequer by the citizens of Norwich the year following, (fn. 5) he granted the city in fee-farm to them and their heirs, paying into the Exchequer the fee-farm rent of 108l. a year, out of which, they had an annual discount of 25s. for lands and meadows in the suburbs, which King Stephen had granted to his nuns at Carrowe, and this fee-farm exceeded all profits that the Kings ever received annually from the city, by above 40l. a year; the tenour of which Charter here follows, as I transcribed it from the original in the gild-hall, which is very fair, and hath a perfect broad seal of red wax of this King's hanging to it.

Ricardus Dei gratia Rex Anglie, Dux Normanie, Aquitanie, Comes Andigavie, Archiepiscopis, Episcopis, Abbatibus, Comitibus, Baronibus, Justiciarijs, Vicecomitibus, Ballivis, Ministris, et omnibus fidelibus suis Francis et Anglis, salutem. Sciatis nos concessisse civibus nostris Norwicensibus, quod nullus eorum placitet extra civitatem Norwicensem, de nullo placito preter placita de tenuris exterioribus, exceptis monetarijs et ministris nostris. Concessimus etiam eis quietanciam murdri, et gawitam infra civitatem, et quod nullus eorum faciat duellum, et quod de placitis ad coronam pertinentibus se possint disrationare, secundum consuetudinem civitatis Londonie, et quod infra civitatem illam nemo hospitetur, vel capiat quicquam per vim, hoc etiam eis concessimus, quod omnes cives Norwicenses sint quieti de thelonio et lastagio, per totam Angliam, et per portus maris, et quod nullus de miserecordia pecunie judicetur, nisi secundum legem quam habent cives nostri Londinenses, et quod in civitate illa in nullo placito sit meskenninga, et quod hustinga semel in ebdomada tantum teneatur, et quod terras suas, et tenuras, et vadia sua, et debita sua omnia juste habeant, quicunque eis debeat, et de terris suis, et tenuris que infra civitatem sunt, rectum eis teneatur, secundum consuetudinem civitatis, et de omnibus debitis suis que accomodata fuerint apud Norwicum, et de vadijs ibidem factis, placita apud Norwicum teneantur, et si quis in tota Anglia, theloneum vel consuetudinem ab homnibus Norwicensibus ceperit, postquam ipse a recto defecent, Prepositus Norwici namium inde apud Norwicum capiat, has predictas consuetudines eis concessimus, et omnes alias libertates et liberas consuetudines, quas habuerunt vel habent cives nostri Londinenses, quando meliores vel liberiores habuerunt, secundum libertates Londini, et leges civitatis Norwici. Quare Volumus et firmiter Precipimus, quod ipsi cives et heredes eorum hec omnia predicta cum civitate et pertinentijs ejus hereditarie habeant et teneant de nobis et de heredibas nostris, reddendo per annum centum et octo libras Esterlingorum, numero, de civitate Norwici, per manus Prepositi Norwici, ad Scaccarium nostrum, in termino Sancti Michaelis, et cives Norwici faciant Prepositos de se, per annum, qui sint idonei nobis et eis. Hijs testibus, Hen. Sar. electo, W. de Sancte Ma. ecclesia, Decano Moreton. Magistro Eustach. Decano Sa. Magistro Ph. Comite W. Sa. Gauf. filio Pet. Rob. filio Rog. Rob. de Tregos, Dapifero, W. de Mallion, W. de Stagno. Data apud Potesmutam, per manus W. de Longo-campo, Elyen. Episcopi, Cancellarij nostri, quinto die Maij, regni nostri (fn. 6) anno quinto.

Richard by the grace of God King of England, Duke of Normandy, and Acquitain, and Earl of Anjou, to the Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Barons, Justices, Sheriffs, Bailiffs, and to all his faithful subjects, French and English, greeting. Know ye, that we have granted to our citizens of Norwich, that none of them shall be forced to answer to any plea (or action) out of Norwich, unless it be to pleas concerning foreign tenures, (fn. 7) except the mintmasters, (fn. 8) and our own officers; we have also granted them acquittance of murder, (fn. 9) and gavelet (fn. 10) within their city, and that none of them shall be forced to duel, (fn. 11) (or combat,) and that they may try all pleas of the Crown among themselves, (fn. 12) according to the custom of the city of London; and that nobody, (that is a stranger) shall lodge (or be received) into the city, (fn. 13) or take any thing by force; (fn. 14) we have also granted this to them, that all the citizens of Norwich shall be free from toll and lastage, (fn. 15) throughout all England, and in all the sea ports; and that no one of them shall be condemned or amerced in any sum of money, unless it be according to the law, that our citizens of London have; and that also in that city (of Norwich) there shall be no plea of mikenning, (fn. 16) and that they shall hold their husting (fn. 17) but once in a week, and that they shall justly have their lands and tenures, and their securities, and all their debts that any one shall owe them; and as to their lands and tenures, which are within the city, the writ of right shall be tried by them according to the custom of the city, (fn. 18) and as to all their debts which shall be lent at Norwich, and as to all securities there made, the pleas (or actions relating to them) shall be tried at Norwich: and if any one in all England shall take toll or custom from the men of Norwich, and afterwards that person shall desist (and not prosecute) his writ of right (for so doing) the Provost (fn. 19) of Norwich shall take out the writ of naam (fn. 20) (or withernam) for so doing, at Norwich: all these aforesaid customs we have granted them, and all other liberties and free customs which our citizens of London have had, or now have, or others, if ever they had any better, or more free, according to the liberties of London, and the laws of the city of Norwich. Wherefore we will and firmly command, that the citizens themselves, and their heirs, all the aforesaid things, with the city and its appurtenances, shall have and hold of us and our heirs, to them and their heirs, paying yearly one hundred and eight pounds of esterlings, (fn. 21) by tale, from (out of, or for,) the city of Norwich, by the hands of the Provost of Norwich, at our Exchequer, every Michaelmas day, and the citizens of Norwich shall yearly choose such Provosts out of themselves (or their own body) as shall be agreeable to us (fn. 22) and them; these being witnesses, Henry Bishop elect of Salisbury, William Dean of St. Marie's church at Moreton, Master Eustace Dean of Salisbury, Master Philip, William Earl of Salisbury, Jeffry Fitz-Peter, Robert FitzRoger, Robert de Tregos the Sewer, William de Mallion, William de Stagno, or De la Pool; (fn. 23) (dated or given) at Potesmouth, by the hands of William de Longchamp Bishop of Ely, our Chancellor, the fifth day of May in the fifth year of our reign.

In this King's reign it seems there were abundance of Danes and Irishmen settled here, if we may credit the following verses of this age:

Eboracum silvis, Excestria clara metallis, Norwicum Dacis, Hibernis, Caestria Gallis.

For Danes and Irish, Norwich much is fam'd, Chester for French, for mines Excester's nam'd, Yorkshire for woods, &c.

This King was killed with an arrow, April 6, 1199, and was succeeded by his brother, John.


  • 1. Baker, fo. 97.
  • 2. Stow, fo. 159. Daniel, fo. 97. Hol. 118.
  • 3. Dug. Bar. 133. Essay, &c. 24.
  • 4. Hol. 119.
  • 5. Rot. Mag. 6 R. 1. Rot. 5. Norff. and Suff. Madox. Hist. Exch. p. 257. "Cives de Norwico Regi concesserunt 200 marc. pro habenda confirmatione libertatum civitatis sue, per cartam domini Regis Ricardi, et pro habenda civitate sua in manu sua, ita ut respondeant de firma debita ad Scaccarium."
  • 6. This is indorsed on the back of this charter: Ista Carta lecta et allocata, coram Johanne Wrotham, Majore civitatis Londonie, at Aldermannis ejusdem civitatis, et intratur in camera Gyhalde dicte civitatis, in libro cum litera G. folio octogesimo octavo, videlicet decimo octavo die Februarij, anno regni Regis Edwardi Tertij, post Conquestum tricesimo quinto. 1359.
  • 7. No citizen should be obliged to answer or plead to any action for any lands, tenements, or such like, that he held in the city, or to any personal action, arising or acknowledged in the city, but in the city courts only, but such citizens as owned lands or tenements of foreign tenure, that is, out of the liberties of the city, should answer concerning them, in the county or place they laid in, and not in the city.
  • 8. The mintmasters and King's officers, as the constable, sheriff, bailiffs, &c. to be responsible to the King, and not to be under the city's jurisdiction.
  • 9. Quietancia murdri carries with it power to have a coroner, either to acquit any persons of self-murder, or, if found guilty, to seize all forfeitures on that account, and retain them to their own use.
  • 10. Gawita or gavelet is a power to call all persons into their husting that refuse to pay their rents, land-gable, &c. due to the city, as lords thereof, concerning which, see the statute 10 E. 2. 1316: and this shows the city had, before this charter, a husting court; see also Cowel's Interpreter. Lond. 1637.
  • 11. In ancient times, contests at law were determined by duel or combat between the two persons, for trial of the truth, which being an uncertain way of judgment, the strongest, whether right or wrong, mostly prevailing, it was a privilege to be exempt from this sort of determination or judgment of the law. See Minsheu, under the word Combat. Skene, p. 48, &c.
  • 12. That is, all such pleas or actions as in other places belonged to the Crown, as they did here, before the first charter.
  • 13. That is, no stranger shall be entertained or suffered to settle in the city, without entering himself in their society or company, and paying scot and lot.
  • 14. That is, no purveyour of the King's should enter the city, and forcibly take any thing for the King's use, as they did elsewhere. See Hol. vol. i. fo. 171, as to London.
  • 15. Lastage is the custom paid at markets, fairs, and seaports, for things bought, sold, and carried thither.
  • 16. Miskenning is a changing of speech in court, and consequently means, that every one shall stand to his plea, and have no power of altering it afterwards.
  • 17. The principal and ancient court of pleas, held before the mayor and court of aldermen of London, Norwich, Winchester, Lincoln, &c. so called from hus, a house, and wing, a cause or trial. Bailey.
  • 18. That is, they shall try all actions relating to any of their lands and tenements in the city, in their city court.
  • 19. This shows, whatever may be pretended, that there was only one Provost at a time, granted by this charter, and not two provosts every year.
  • 20. The writ of naam, is called of neman, to take, in the Saxon language, it being a power to take a distress of a man's goods, and carry it any where out of the county, where the distress was taken; so that by virtue of this privilege, the provost of Norwich could take a distress any where in England, if any forced the citizens to pay toll or custom, and did not prosecute their writ of right for so doing, and justify themselves by it; which if they failed in, then he could distrain them, bring the distress to Norwich, and make them try their right of taking such toll or custom, in his court at Norwich. Cowel. Minsheu. Bailey, &c.
  • 21. Sterling money, that is, the best current lawful money of the kingdom, and was so called from the Esterlings or Prussians, who anciently taught the English the art of refining gold and silver.
  • 22. By this it seems, till now, the Provosts were always named by the King, whoever he pleased, whether Citizen or not; but now, all the provosts for the future were to be citizens, and chosen by the citizens, and after such choice, allowed or confirmed by the King.
  • 23. Hol. vol. i. 175.