The city of Norwich, chapter 13: Of the city in Edward I's time

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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Francis Blomefield, 'The city of Norwich, chapter 13: Of the city in Edward I's time', An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part I, (London, 1806), pp. 60-76. British History Online [accessed 25 June 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "The city of Norwich, chapter 13: Of the city in Edward I's time", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part I, (London, 1806) 60-76. British History Online, accessed June 25, 2024,

Blomefield, Francis. "The city of Norwich, chapter 13: Of the city in Edward I's time", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part I, (London, 1806). 60-76. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024,

In this section



Edward, son of King Henry III. at his father's death, was about 35 years of age, and was then on his journey homeward from the Holy Land, where he had behaved gallantly in those wars: he was proclaimed King in his absence, the 22d day of November, and was crowned with his Queen, Eleanor, Aug. 19, 1274, in the second year of his reign. The city, castle, and all the liberties, were in his hands when he ascended the throne, but in 1273, Roger Bigot Earl of Norfolk, had the custody of the castle and liberties granted to him, and Will. Giffard was made sheriff of the county.

The interdict laid on the city by the Bishop, Oct. 18, 1272, continued till the day before Christmas Day, and then was taken off till the day after the Epiphany, and then renewed again; and in the same year, at the request of Robert de Kilwarby Archbishop elect of Canterbury, it was taken off till the octaves of Easter, and then was renewed the third time.

In 1274, matters were still unsettled between the Bishop, monks, and citizens, of whom the Prior and convent demanded no less than 4000 marks for damage; but not finding themselves born out so much as they expected by the King, about the beginning of November, they sent Gervase Fordham, celerer, and Richard Brampton, clerk, (two of their monks,) as proctors to Rome, with a relation of the whole affair, drawn up and sealed by four suffragan bishops of the province of Canterbury, to complain of the Norwich citizens, and to cite them to appear and answer in the Pope's court there, who returned the same year, and brought letters by which the Pope delegated the matter to be tried before the Bishops of Ely and London; but just as the suit began, the Bishop of London died, and the Bishop of Ely conventing the parties to Ely before him, by joint consent it was referred to the Pope again; soon after, the proctors being at Rome, the whole, by agreement, was left by the Pope to the sole determination of the King. who at the instigation of Roger Bishop of Norwich, determined in the following manner,

1st, That all parties should be real friends.

2dly, That the citizens should pay 3000 marks to build the church again, in six years time, viz. 500 marks a year.

3dly, That they should give to the use of the church a pix, or cup weighing 10 pounds in gold, (fn. 1) and worth an hundred pounds in money, to serve at the sacrament at the high altar in the Cathedral.

4thly, That they might make new gates and entrances into their monastery, and go in and out of them whenever they pleased, into any part of the city, so that they injured no man's private property.

5thly and lastly, that at their own charge, they should send some of the chief of the citizens to Rome, to assure the Pope of the truth of the agreement, and humbly beg his pardon and peace.

And upon the city's complying herewith, the King restored it's ancient dignity; and commanded that as a penalty in perpetual memory of these things, the treasurer should pay yearly into his Exchequer 40s. besides their old fee-farm.

And thus the unjustifiable rashness of the citizens was severely punished, when the Prior and monks, that were authors and promoters of these offences, by the favour of the Pope and their bishop, avoided as just punishment: the monks themselves, that went with the Prior to Yarmouth, and harassed the city in an hostile manner, as well as those that did so, before ever the citizens rose at all, being all discharged: and thus ended this great riot, which was so injurious to all concerned, that one would have thought this example had been sufficient to deter both parties from any such attempts for the future; and it had been well if it had proved so.

This is the account we have from the different historians, but the old roll in the Book of Charters, fo. 127, gives us the following account of the beginning of this quarrel: (fn. 2)

At the fair then held on Trinity Sunday before the monastery gates, in a certain void place late a churchyard, the same day after dinner, came the young men of the town, on horseback, as they used to do, and ran with their spears at the quintyne; (fn. 3) and there, for the truncheons of the spears, arose a contention between the Prior's men, and the men of the town, so that many of the townsmen were killed in the fray, wherefore the coroners of the city took an inquest, and found the Prior's men guilty, and made out a precept to take them, if they came within the liberty of the town; and not long after, two were taken in the city liberties, whereupon arose this great envy and discord between the Prior and townsmen.

For this inquest the Prior got the citizens excommunicated, pretending it a breach of his privivileges, which increased the malice between them till August, so that the Prior's men shut up their gates, and hung out over them, scutcheons, targets, bucklers, and crossbows, with which they wounded many that went by; and on Sunday before St. Laurence, the Prior's men came out by night, armed, and robbed a merchant called Alfrid Cutler to 20l. value and more, and then broke open Hugh Bromholm's tavern, and proceeded in the manner as is before related.

But matters being thus settled, the Bishop took off the interdict, Nov. 1, 1275, and the King restored the city liberties; and in 1276 the Pope's general absolution came from Rome, and was published about Palm-Sunday, by the Priors of the Minorites and Dominicans of Norwich, by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury. (fn. 4) (fn. 5)

Immediately after this, in 1275, there was a patent granted to the Prior, to make what gates he pleased out of the monastery, and to open and shut them, and keep them locked up at his pleasure; and also to erect a gate with a bridge 20 foot broad thereto adjoining, which I take to be Bishop's-gate and Bridge.

In 1276, the King's tenants in the fee of his castle enjoyed the benefit of free trade and commerce in the city, in the same manner as the other citizens, and refused paying to the tallages and other aids, demandable of the citizens; but the case being tried before the Barons of the Exchequer, it was given in favour of the citizens, and the tenants of the burgh of the castle were adjudged to contribute with the citizens to all tallages and aids.

At this time, Thomas Spigurnell was constable of the castle, who had it in 1274, in which year Peter de Wytefeld quitted it.

In 1277, the King himself led an army towards Suffolk and Norfolk, and kept his Easter at Norwich, and returned from thence to London by the sea-coast of Suffolk and Essex, making this military progress to see his castles and forts put in good order, and well provided with all necessary stores. (fn. 6)

In 1278, on Advent Sunday, William de Middleton was inthroned Bishop of Norwich, and the same day the cathedral being quite finished since it was burnt, was consecrated by him, at which solemnity the King himself, and Eleanor his Queen, John de Chisil Bishop of London, Tho. de Cantelupe Bishop of Hereford, Stephen Bishop of Waterford, and many other earls, barons, and nobles, were present. (fn. 7)

In 1279, the statute of mortmain was made, (fn. 8) which hindered the religious from buying or receiving by gift any lands, tenements, &c. without license from the King, and the chief lord of the fee.

And the same year, the penny which used to have a double cross, in such manner that it might easily be clipped or broke in the mddle, or into quarters, and so be made into halfpence or farthings, according to the order made in 7th Henry I. 1106, was not forbidden to go, either whole or in such pieces, but it was ordained that orders should be given to all the mints in England, that for the future all pence, halfpence, and farthings should be coined round, and that the King's head and name should be on one side, and the name of the city it was coined in, on the other; and accordingly the money we meet with coined here since this order, hath always [CIVITAS NORWIC], i. e. the City of Norwich, on the reverse: then also were the first groats coined, which contained four-pence each; of this Robert Brun writes thus,

Edward did smite the round penny, halfe-penny, farthing, The cross passed the bond of all, right through the ring, On the king's side was his head, and his name written, On the cross side, what city 'twas coined in, and smitten, &c. (fn. 9)

In 1280, there were great tempests and inundations, which did much damage to this city and country, and many other parts.

In 1281, the King seized the liberties, because the bailiffs were not at the Exchequer at the appointed time, to answer the city debts, and pay their fee-farm, but upon their appearance and payment, they had restitution of them. (fn. 10)

At Christmas there was such a frost and snow, as no man living could remember the like, by which the bridges received much damage; it continued till Candlemas so very extreme that the birds died in the woods through cold and want of food. (fn. 11)

In 1284, the King was in Norfolk all Lent, (fn. 12) and at Easter the liberties were seized, for taking up and executing divers persons without the King's warrant, for facts committed out of the jurisdiction, one of which, though he was hanged, came to life again, and obtained the King's pardon; but at St. Peter's day they had them restored, upon their accounting with the King in his Exchequer, and paying all arrears, except 191l. 10s. 1d. ob. before which, they owed 564l. 16s. on the account, they were allowed 25s. paid yearly to the Prioress of Carhow, 6l. for the deficiency of four mintmasters, &c. and the next year they obtained a Charter, which is dated at Westminster the 7th day of May, 1285, (fn. 13) in which all the former Charters are recited and confirmed, but no new liberties granted; the seal still hangs to it, and is of green wax, and the following persons are witnesses, viz. Robert Bishop of Bath and Wells, Anthony Bishop of Durham, and Thomas Bishop of St. Asaph, Edmund the King's brother, Will. de Valence, his uncle, Edmund Earl of Cornwall, Gilbert de Clare Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, Roger le Bygod Earl of Norfolk, and Marshal of England, John de Warren Earl of Surrey, Henry de Lacy Earl of Lincoln, Will. de Beauchamp Earl of Warrewyk, Rich. de Burgh Earl of Ulster, John de Vescy, Reginald de Grey, Rob. Tybetot, Tho. de Weylaund, and John de Lovetot:

And at this time, many of those citizens returned, that fled for burning the priory, and pleaded the King's pardon.

In 1286, on the second of May, (fn. 14) all the Jews in England were apprehended, and at this time their synagogue in Norwich was destroyed, though they remained here and in other cities, till 1290, in which year they were all banished, to the number of above 15,000 souls, for usury, and clipping and debasing the King's coin, since which time they have had no settlement in this city, and their goods and houses were forfeited to the King, which he sold, and so raised a great sum of money. (fn. 15)

In 1288 the citizens being summoned to appear to several causes out of the jurisdiction of the city, refused to appear and plead to them, and had a trial for it, and recovered, by producing their Charter of exemption, which justified them in so doing. (fn. 16) (fn. 17)

This year the extreme heat and drought was so great in these parts, that many persons died thereof, and the price of corn was so much advanced by the following scarcity, that wheat was sold in London for 40 pence a quarter, an extravagant price at that time.

In 1289, the Prior of Norwich was prosecuted by the King, for not suffering his bailiffs to enter Newgate and Holmstrete to take distresses, &c. upon trial of which, Newgate was recovered by the King, and Holmstrete by the Prior.

The same year, in June, the liberties were seized, and Walter de Redham, and Richard de Belhus, were appointed custoses, upon which the citizens petitioned the parliament, and were answered, that they should agree with the King for the fine for their transgressions, and have the whole debt levied upon them, and then his Majesty would do them justice in making them all proper allowances at his Exchequer; (fn. 18) by which it appears, that the seizure was made for not paying the fee farm, and insisting on more than common deductions out of it; and in particular the King acquainted the custos, that when he seized the liberties in 1284, and restored them, and confirmed their charter in 1285, he reserved the old fee farm, and added a new one of 40s. per annum, as an increase to be paid by the bailiffs, which hitherto had not been done, though they agreed to it: but upon their acquiescing, and paying their arrears, soon after Michaelmas they were restored to their privileges again. At this time also, the dispute between the prioress and nuns of Carrow was settled between them and the city, by joint agreement. (fn. 19) Amabilia, then Prioress, surrrendered all her right of view of frankpledge of all her tenants in Newgate, and all her other tenants in the city, and all her right of toll of all corn sold in the city, on the day before, day, and day after, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin: and they agreed that the bailiffs should yearly pay on the day of the nativity aforesaid, to the Prioress, half a comb of the best wheat, and that the city should not take any toll, or molest the Prioress, during the time her fair is held at Carrow.

This year, the King and Queen, on the fifth of August, landed at Dover, having been beyond sea three years two months and odd days, and staying a while in Kent, went to Essex, and came to St. Edmund's Bury in Suffolk, and from thence went a pilgrimage into Norfolk, to the Blessed Virgin at Walsingham, and stayed in those parts some time, and during his being here, granted the citizens another Charter, (fn. 20) confining all business belonging to the county, to be held in the old shire-house, which stood in the castle ditches, and is now quite demolished.

Cum dilecti nobis cives civitatis nostre Norwyci, teneant de nobis civitatem predictam ad feodi firmam, et ijdem cives nobis dederunt intelligi, quod per frequentes adventus justiciariorum nostrorum, ad assissas, juratas, et certificationes, ac ad inquisitiones de felonijs et transgressionibus capiendas, nec non ad gaolas nostras deliberandas, assignatorum, qui in diversis locis infra libertatem civitatis predicte, ad placita in eadem civitate emergencia, par ballivos ejusdem civitatis tenenda, deputatis, unde magna pars firme predicte provenit, sessiones suas fecerunt, et ipsos ballivos, quo minus placita illa tenere possent, perturbarunt, impediti fuerunt multipliciter, in collectione et levatione firme sue predicte, in ipsorum civium grave dampnum, et nobis supplicaverunt, ut pro ipsorum indempnitate in hac parte ordinare velimus et precipere, quod sessiones hujusmodi, in domo nostra que vocatur Shirehous, et que est in feodo castri nostri civitatis predicte, fiant tantummodo, et non alibi infra libertatem civitatis predicte; nos ipsorum supplicationi in premissis favorabiliter annuentes, volumus et firmiter precipimus pro nobis et heredibus nostris, quod de cetero, justiciarij, inquisitores, et alij ministri nostri et heredum nostrorum, quicunque ad assissas, juratas, certificationes, et inquisitiones quascunque capiendas, aut ad gaolas nostras deliberandas, assignati seu in posterum assignandi, sedeant, et sessiones suas teneant, in domo nostra predicta que vocatur Shirehous, et non alibi infra libertatem civitatis supradicte; per hoc tamen, prejudicium fieri nolumus Cancellario, Capitali, Justiciario, vel Justiciarijs Itinerantibus, seu Senescallo et Marescallis Hospicij nostri vel heredum nostrorum, quin ipsi, et eorum quilibet, cum ad civitatem predictam declinaverint vel declinaverit, infra libertatem predictam sedere, et ea que ad ipsos vel eorum aliquem pertinent, facere et exercere possint vel possit, ubi et quando sibi visum fuerit expedire. In cujus rei testimonium has litteras nostras fieri fecimus patentes, teste meipso apud Walsingham, secundo die Februarij anno regni nostri decimo nono.

Per ipsum Regem.

Whereas, our beloved citizens of the city Norwich, hold the said city of us in fee farm, and the said citizens have given us to understand, that by the often coming of our justices assigned to hold assizes, and goal delivery, warn juries, make certificates, and take inquisitions, of felonies and other transgressions, and by their holding their sessions in divers places within the liberty of the city aforesaid, which are deputed to hold the pleas belonging to the city before the city bailiffs, in and from which places great part of the fee farm aforesaid is issuing, by which means the bailiffs themselves are not only hindered from holding their pleas, but also greatly damaged in collecting and levying their fee farm aforesaid, they have supplicated us, to ordain and command for their indemnity, that all such session shall be held only in our house called the Shire-house, which is in the fee of the castle of our city aforesaid, and no where else within the liberty of the city aforesaid, to which we have favourably consented, and do will and firmly command, for us and our heirs, that for the future, the justices, inquisitors, and all other officers, (fn. 21) of us and our heirs, which are or ever shall be impowered to hold assizes or gaol delivery, warn juries, make certificates, and take inquisitions, shall sit and hold their sessions in our house aforesaid, called the Shirehouse, and nowhere else within the liberty of the city aforesaid; provided nevertheless, that this shall not be prejudicial to our chancellor, treasurer, chief justice, or justices itinerants, or to the steward or marshals of the household of us or our heirs, but that they, and every one of them, when he or they come to the city aforesaid, may sit in the liberty aforesaid, and may exercise and do all things belonging to them or any one of them, where and when they think fit or convenient. In witness of which, we have caused our letters to be made patents Witness our self at Walsingham, the second day of February, in the nineteenth year of our reign.

By the King himself.

1290, on Wednesday after the Feast of the Epiphany, was a great flood, which did much damage to the city; the water came down in such abundance, that it went over St. Martin's bridge, and ran even to the gates of St. Giles's hospital, and washed down many houses by its violence. (fn. 22)

In 1291, there was a suit between the Prior and City, concerning the leet of Newgate; the Prior pleaded that it belonged to Blofield hundred, and that the bailiffs of that hundred exercised their office there, and that it was given by King Henry II. to his church, it being then called Thedwardes-Croft, together with the Bishop's land from St. Martin's bridge to the water, now called Holmestreet, with soc, sac, and all liberties: the citizens pleaded, that it could not belong to Blofield hundred, because no part of the city is found in that hundred in Domesday Book, (fn. 23) but as to the rest they admitted it to be true, but recovered, by proving that the Prior's predecessor in the 41st Henry III. relinquished all right in Newgate. (fn. 24)

This year the liberties fell into the King's hands, and Richard de Belhouse was appointed custos; but they were soon restored.

In 1292, the King made a progress through Norfolk and Suffolk; (fn. 25) but I cannot say whether he was here or no.

In 1293, Roger Bigod had license to imbattle his mansion-house at Bungeye, (fn. 26) where there had formerly been a castle, which was-erased by order of Henry II. at which time he was a great favourite of the King's, and as Earl of the county, was constable of the castle of Norwich, (fn. 27) where the sheriff of the county was to keep criminals in safe custody, till the coming of the justices itinerant and jail delivery.

In 1294, the walls of the city of Norwich were first began, and a murage (fn. 28) granted, which expired in 1297, and then there was a patent passed for another murage; (fn. 29) and the same year, William de Carleton, Baron of the Exchequer, was appointed by the King to survey the works of Norwich castle, and certify what repairs were necessary to put it in good condition of defence. (fn. 30)

In the year 1300, Roger Bigod resigned and gave up into the King's hand's, his Earldom of Norfolk, his marshal's staff, his constableship of Norwich castle, his demean castles, honours, manors, and lands, to redeem his life, that he had forfeited for conspiring against the King, (fn. 31) and the year following, having made his peace, he had a re-grant of them all, in tail special, to himself for life, and to his heirs by Alice his wife, with remainder to the King; (fn. 32) and accordingly at his death in the 35th of this King's reign, without issue by Alice, all that he had surrendered fell to the King, and none descended to John Bigod, his brother, but Stockton in Norfolk, Setterington in Yorkshire, and a few more estates that were never surrendered, and so descended in fee.

In 1302, Tombland and Ratton-rowe were determined to be out of the liberty of the city, and in the King's hundred of Blofield; (fn. 33) and in 1303, (fn. 34) there was a commission directed to Will. Howard and John le Breton, to call the bailiffs of Norwich to answer the King, how they could justify their forcibly hindering Roger de Hales, his coroner, from exercising his office in Tombland and Ratton-rowe: but on their submission the matter was made up.

At this time also, the King caused a tallage to be assessed by commissioners in all cities and burghs, and gave particular direction that the tallage of Norwich should be assessed at 400l. (fn. 35)

In 1304, they petitioned the King in parliament, to have a grant of the leet of Great Newgate, which he recovered against the Prior, to hold it at a certain rent; and were answered that they should make application to the Treasurer and Barons of the Exchequer, and if it was found to be for the King's profit, they should have it; (fn. 36) and it being found to be so, the King not only granted them the leet, (fn. 37) but for a fine paid, and an annual rent of 10l. added to their old fee farm by way of increment or increase, he confirmed all their former Charters, and granted them the following liberties and privileges more than they had before, by a new Charter. (fn. 38)

Sciatis, nos per finem, quem cives nostri civitatis nostre Norwyci fecerunt nobiscum, coram consilio nostro, necnon pro decem libris annuis, quas ijdem cives et successores sui, cives ejusdem civitatis, solvent nobis et heredibus nostris, singulis annis in perpetuum, ad Scaccarium nostrum et heredum nostrorum, in augmentationem firme sue civitatis predicte, Concessisse, et hec Carta nostra confirmasse, eisdem civibus, et successoribus suis predictis, pro nobis et heredibus nostris,

Quod nullus eorum, placitet vel implacitetur, extra dictam civitatem Norwicensem, de aliquibus placitis, assissis, seu querelis de tenuris aliquibus, infra eandem civitatem existentibus, nec de transgressionibus, seu contractibus aliquibus, in civitate illa factis, nisi res ipsa nos vel heredes nostros specialiter tangat,

Et quod cives illi, vel successores sui predicti, super aliquibus appellis, rectis, calumpnijs, transgressionibus, contractibus, aut demandis intrinsecis, per aliquos forinsecos, minime convincantur, set solummodo per concives suos, nisi factum illud tangat nos, vel heredes nostros, seu totam communitatem ejusdem civitatis,

Et etiam, quod non summoneantur, nec ponantur in assisis, juratis, vel inquisitionibus aliquibus, de tenuris intrinsecis, seu super quocunque facto, contractu, calumpnia, sen querela, in dicta civitate aliqualiter emergentibus, nec recognitiones aliquas, in assisis, vel juratis illis faciant, extra civitatem predictam, nisi factum illud, nos, vel heredes nostros, specialiter tangat,

Concessimus insuper eisdem civibus, pro nobis et heredibus nostris, quod ipse et successores sui predicti, in perpetuum sint quieti, de theolonio, pontagio, passagio, muragio, pavagio, lastagio, cariagio, picagio, cayagio, et rivagio, per totum reguum nostrum, et protestatem nostram,

Et quod nullus de civitate predicta, vel alius in eadem, civitate indictatus, vel arrestatus, pro quocunque delicto vel causa fuerit, alibi quam in prisona nostra ejusdem civitatis imprisonetur; set omnes ibidem indictati, vel arrestati, in prisona illa detineantur, et per ballivos nostros ejusdem civitatis custodiantur, quosque inde deliberentur, secundum legem et consuetudinem regni nostri, nisi exinde amoveantur per speciale preceptum nostrum, vel heredum nostrorum, vel eciam per preceptum justiciarij nostri de foresta, qui pro tempore fuerit, si fortassis, de aliqua transgressione fereste indictati fuerint, et ea occasione capti et detenti,

Et quod summonitiones, districtiones, et attachiamenta, ac alia officia regalia quecunque, que infra eandem civitatem, vel suburbium ejusdem emerserint, facienda fiant per ballivos nostros ejusdem civitatis,

Ita quod nullus vicecomes, coronator, aut alius ballivus, vel minister noster forinsecus, aliquod officium regale in civitate predicta, videlicet, infra fossata ejusdem civitatis et ripariam de Wensum, vel in suburbio predicto, exerceat, seu aliqualiter exequatur, nisi in defectum ballivorum nostrorum, civitatis ejusdem,

Et liceat, ballivis nostris civitatis illius, qui pro tempore fuerint, tallagia, et alia auxilia racionabilia, super communitatem dicte civitatis, per assensum tocius communitatis illius, vel majoris partis ejusdem, pro tuitione, et communi utilitate civitatis illius, intra se, quociens opus fuerit, assidere, et pro tallagijs, et auxilijs illis levandis, racionabiles facere districtiones, sicut hactenus in casu hujusmodi, in alijs civitatibus racionabiliter fieri consuevit,

Et Concessimus eis, pro nobis et heredibus nostris, quod ipsi, et successores sui predicti, letam nostram de Neugate in eadem civitate, quam versus Priorem Sancte Trinitatis Norwycensem, in curia nostra, coram nobis, per consideracionem ejusdem curie nuper recuperavimus, et que ad duos solidos extenditur per annum, habeant, et teneant, et percipiant amerciamenta, et omnia alia proficua, inde proveniencia quoquo modo in perpetuum.

Et si fortassis cives illi, aliquibus libertatum sibi, vel antecessoribus suis, civibus dicte civitatis, per Cartas nostras, vel progenitorum nostrorum quondam regum Anglie, prius concessarum, hactenus plene usi non fuerint, volumus et concedimus pro nobis et heredibus nostris, quod ipsi, et successores sui predicti, libertatibus illis, quocunque tempore casus ex nunc contigerit, quod eis uti possint, plene et absque impedimento, nostri vel heredum nostrorum, aut ministrorum nostrorum quorumcunque, gaudeant racionabiliter, et utantur,

Hijs testibus, ven. patribus R. Cantuariensi Archiepiscopo tocius Anglie Primate, A. Dunelmensi Episcopo, Humfrido de Bohun Comite Hertford et Essex, Guidone de Bellocampo Comite Warrewyk, Johanne de Britania, juniore, Rob. de Clifford, Willo de Brewosa, Willo de Leyburne, Thoma de Bykenore, et alijs.

Data per manum nostram, apud Cantuariam, octavo die Julij, anno regni nostri tricesimo tercio. (fn. 39)

Know ye, that we for a fine paid us by the citizens of our city of Norwich, before our council, and also for ten pounds yearly to be paid by the citizens and their successors into our Exchequer, as an augmentation of the fee farm of the city aforesaid, yearly and for ever, have given and by this our Charter confirmed, to the said citizens and their successours aforesaid, for us and our heirs,

That none of them shall plead or be impleaded out of our said city of Norwich, in any pleas, assizes, or plaints, concerning any tenures whatsoever within the said city, nor concerning offences or any contracts made in the said city, unless it be a matter that concerns us or our heirs in particular.

And that the citizens and their successours aforesaid, shall not be convicted before any foreign officers, in any appeals, writs of right, claims, offences, contracts, or demands, arising among themselves, but by their fellow citizens only, unless it shall be for such a fact as concerns us or our heirs, or the whole community of the said city,

And also that they shall not be summoned to assizes, nor empanneled on juries, or any inquisitions concerning tenures in the city, or concerning any fact, contract, claim, or plaint, arising by any means in the said city, neither shall they be forced to make any recognizances to serve at assizes, or on juries, out of the aforesaid city, unless the fact particularly concerns us or our heirs,

Furthermore we have granted for us and our heirs, to the said citizens, that they, and their successours aforesaid, shall be for ever free, from toll, (fn. 40) pontage, (fn. 41) passage, (fn. 42) murage, pavage, (fn. 43) lastage, (fn. 44) car riage, (fn. 45) picage, (fn. 46) cayage, (fn. 47) and rivage, (fn. 48) throughout our whole kingdom and our dominion,

And that none of the said city or any other, indicted or arrested in the said city, for any debt, or action, shall be imprisoned any where but in our city goal, and all that shall be so arrested and indicted, shall be detained in that prison, and shall be kept by the bailiffs of our said city, until they be thence delivered according to the law and custom of our realm, unless they be thence removed by the special precept of us and our heirs, or otherwise by the precept of the justice of our forests, for the time being, in case they be indicted, taken and detained, for any offence done in our forests,

And that all summons, distresses, attachments, and other royal offices whatever, arising within the said city or its suburbs, shall be made by our bailiffs of the said city,

And that no sheriff, coroner, or other bailiff, or any other foreign officer of ours, shall any way perform or execute any office royal in the aforesaid city, that is to say, within the ditches of the same city, and the bank of the river Wensum, or in the suburb aforesaid, unless our bailiffs of the same city shall neglect to do it themselves.

And it shall be lawful for our bailiffs of the city for the time being, to assess tallages, and other reasonable aids, upon the community of the said city, by the consent of the whole community or the major part thereof, as often as there shall be occasion so to do, for the defence and profit of the city, and to make reasonable distresses in levying such tallages and aids, as hath been heretofore in like cases reasonably used in other cities,

And we have granted to them for us and our heirs, that they and their successours aforesaid, shall have and hold our leet of Neugate in the said city, which we lately recovered by judgment of our court, against the Prior of the Holy Trinity of Norwich, which is valued yearly at 2s. and that they shall receive the amerciaments and all other profits any way arising therefrom, for ever,

And if by chance the citizens have not heretofore fully used all the liberties granted to them and their ancestors, citizens of the said city, by our Charters, or by the charters of our ancestors, King's of England, formerly granted them, we will and grant for us and our heirs, that they and their successours aforesaid, may reasonably make use of, and enjoy all those liberties, whenever hereafter they shall want to use them, without any impediment from us, our heirs, or any of our officers,

The witnesses are, the venerable fathers, R. Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, A. Bishop or Durham, Humfry de Bohun Earl of Hertford and Essex, Guy de Beauchamp Earl of Warrewyk, John de Brittain the younger, Rob. de Clifford, Will. de Brewse, Will. de Leyburne, Tho. de Bykenore, and others.

Given by our own hand at Canterbury, the 8th day of July, in the 33d year of our reign.

At the latter end of this year, the citizens petitioned the King, to have a new grant for murage, to finish building their walls, their old one being expired, which was granted in parliament at Westminster, for 5 years more, it being the third murage for that purpose; (fn. 49) so that they now had been 10 years at work on them, and it is an errour of those who write that they were first begun this year.

In 1305, Simon de Hedirsete, for the good council and advice he had given the city for time past, and should give for the time to come, had an annuity for life of 20s. granted him under the common seal, he having been very serviceable in the affair of procuring the murage and forwarding the walls.

In 1306, the King finding great animosities still subsisting between the church and city, he referred the whole to his privy council, and by their advice made a general

Composition and Agreement, between the Prior and Convent of the cathedral church of the Holy Trinity, on the one part, and the Bailiffs, Citizens, and Commonalty on the other part, by which all discords were adjusted, and their rights settled, and though it is under the broad seal, and is reckoned and numbered among the Charters, (fn. 50) it is not a charter, neither is it exemplified in any inspeximus as such.

The dispute was, the Prior and Convent claimed all Tombland to be their demean, (as it really was,) and to have a coroner, and all other officers, which originally belonged to the Crown, to exercise their offices not only in the priory, but in Tombland, Ratton-rowe, Holmestrete, and Spytelond in Norwich, where the tenants of the priory resided, which tenants, they said, could sell all manner of merchandise, and trade in those places, and not contribute to any tallage or other taxes with the other citizens.

On the other hand, the city asserted, that not only in those places, but in the priory itself, all jurisdiction of such offices as originally belonged to the Crown was in them, and that therefore if they traded, they should pay all charges with the rest of the citizens.

Upon the whole, it was settled and agreed, that Tombland should be cleared of all timber, and every thing laid on it, and always kept so, unless at the time of the yearly fair belonging to the Prior and convent held there at Whitsuntide, so that henceforward, neither the church nor city shall use it as formerly, either for a market, or to lay timber on, or make ropes on it for the time to come, unless at such times as the synods are held at Norwich, and every Sunday, when victuals, fruit, &c. may as usual, be sold at the priory gates; and before next Ascension day, it was to be measured, and equally divided by dools into four parts both in length and breadth, and at every fair the citizens were to choose first which half they would have to build their stalls on, for which they were to pay no picage, stallage, toll, or custom: the other half to remain to the Prior, to make what he can of.

That part of the street between the stone cross lately erected and Ratton-rowe, in breadth, and from the cross to the priory wall in length, not to be built on, but to be open for a passage to the priory gates, and for the horses and cattle to stand on for sale as usual, the Prior to have all rights as before, belonging to this fair, and all customs belonging to it, both in the city and suburbs; and his officers are to take distresses, attachments, and all things belonging to the fair, every where in the city and suburbs, in the same manner that the bailiffs and under-bailiffs of the city, exercise their jurisdiction at all times in the year, except in the fair time; and during the fair, all citizens and others may be summoned, attached, distrained, and amerced, in the Prior's fair-court; (fn. 51) and when the fair is done, all prisoners imprisoned in the Prior's prison during the fair, shall the day after be sent to the King's city prison, and be delivered to the bailiffs of the city to imprison them, till they be delivered by course of law; but if they be after convicted to loose life or limb, the officers of the Prior shall execute the judgment.

The coroner of the city was to exercise his office in the priory and the other places mentioned, with this restriction in the precincts and in Holmstrete and Spytelond, that the Prior shall name a person to be present and assisting, to see he doth nothing maliciously or contrary to his office; and the jury shall be only the parishioners of those parishes, and no other citizens, and those living in the precinct shall not be compelled to be on any jury or inquisition, out of the precinct, and the coroner shall deliver a transcript indented to the assistant of the Prior, which assistant shall be sworn by the coroner, to discover none of the King's secrets, and no coroner shall enter till he hath given the Prior notice, and demanded an assistant.

The Prior and convent shall hold their leet in Spitelond and Holmstreet, without any bailiff or city officer, and their free or court barons with their leets.

The city was not to intermeddle, as to any pleas or concerns for any lands, houses, or things within the precinct, nor to pretend to exercise any manner of jurisdiction there.

The Prior was to receive none there, that fly from justice from the city officers, unless they be intitled to the privilege of Holy Church.

Such as be taken in Holme-street and Spitel-lond for theft, shall be judged in the Prior's court there, and if any be condemned in the city, and belong to those places, the Prior shall execute such judgment, and the forfeited chattels shall remain in the parishioners' hands, until the King's itinerant justices shall determine, whether they belong to the Prior or city.

All persons presented in the Prior's leets, that regularly belong to the jurisdiction of the city, shall be delivered to the bailiffs, and all persons presented in the King's city leets before the bailiffs, if they belong to Holmstrete or Spitel-lond, shall be delivered to the Prior's officers, the day after the leet.

The city shall not hinder the Prior of the amerciaments of his own men and tenants, nor of the chattels of fugitives and felons, which the King's Charters have granted him,

Neither shall such of the Prior's tenants or farmers, living in Raton-Rowe, Holmestrete, and Spitel-lond, and that serve in the Prior's leets there, be compelled to serve in the King's leet in Norwich; but if they do not belong to the Prior's leet, they shall be subject to the King's leet, but their amerciaments shall belong to the Prior.

None of the Prior's family to merchandise gross wares in the precinct, so as the city lose any toll or custom.

The bailiffs not to distrain or enter into Holmstreet or Spitelond, nor to levy any tolls or customs there for the city, they being excluded merchandising, but if any merchandise there, they are to pay according to their trade or merchandise, all city tolls, customs, &c. to the Prior, who is to answer it to the city bailiffs, and if the Prior will not do it, he may be compelled in the King's superiour court by course of law: and if any break this agreement, the same remedy to be taken.

One part is to be in the hands of the Prior, and one in the custody of the city.

The witnesses to the King's confirmation of this agreement, were, W. Bishop of Coventre and Lichfield, the Treasurer, William de Hamelton, Chancellor, Roger de Brabazon, Ralf de Hengham, Will. Howard, Rog. de Hegham, Peter Malorre, and Will. de Carleton. Dated at Laurecost, 4th Dec. in the 35th year of his reign.

It appears at this time, that the bailiffs paid the fee farm rent of the city, so that oftentimes it was an office of expense, when the rents and tolls did not answer well, for which reason there was a law made, that for the future no man should be compelled to serve the office above once in four years, and that nobody should merchandise above a year and a day in the city without being compelled to take up his freedom, for which he was to pay a fine of 40s. if he was not intitled to it by birth or service.

The bailiffs of the city at their admission into their office every year, took an oath,

"To serve the King faithfully that whole year, in the office of bailiff, and to keep and defend the city, and well, duly, and faithfully, to administer justice equally to rich and poor, the ancient laws, liberties, and customs, used immemorially by the citizens, to preserve inviolate, and also well and faithfully to pay the fee farm of the city, and indemnify the city by so doing, and to execute all judgments by them given, according to the customs of the city, without sparing any one in any way whatever, and to maintain and in all things promote, the constant use of their ancient laws, liberties, and customs, and suffer no one to merchandise above the usual time, without taking up their freedom, and if they refuse so to do, to seize their wares found in the city and detain them, till they submit to the law of the city, and take up their freedom, or leave the place." (fn. 52)

In 1307, King Edward departed this life, a prince of great renown, (fn. 53) to whose heroick mind, God gave a body answerable in beauty and goodly presence, so that for his virtue, wisdom, and valour, by due desert, he was reputed a fit King for, and a chief honour to, his kingdom; a King to whom this city in a particular manner is obliged, both for the ample liberties that he first gave them, and for that peace and concord that he restored, by settling all their old discords, by which means, great increase, and much prosperity, immediately followed in this place.

Custoses, or Keepers of The City.

1273, Roger de Tudenham. William Estormy or Sturmy, custos by commission, during the King's pleasure.
Will. de Refham. Walter Knot. Bartholomew de Acre.

1274, Walter de Shelfhangel, sheriff of Norfolk, and custos of Norwich, was displaced for extortion, and lecying new customs of the clothiers, fishermen, &c. and Will. Sturmy made custos again.

BAILIFFS, the liberties being restored.

1275, Adam le Tofts. Roger de Morley. Gervase Latimer. Tho. Lyncolne. [For the latter part of the year.]

1276, Adam de Tofts. John Bate. Will. Yelverton. Roger de Swerdeston.

1277, Roger de Tudenham. Will. de Refham. Roger de Swerdeston. Roger de Morley.

1278, Roger de Tudenham. Will. de Refham. Roger de Morley. Will. Pigot.

1279, The same first three, and William Knot.

1280, Adam le Toftes. Roger de Pentney. James Nade. John Bate.

1281, Adam le Toftes. Roger de Morley. Rog. de Tudenham. Tho. de Lincolne.

1282, Rog. de Tudenham. Will. de Refham. Barth. de Acre or Akers. Walt. Knot.

1283, Roger de Tudenham. Walter Scot. Paul Pagrave. Will. de Refham.

1284, Adam le Clerk. Will. de Burwood. James Nade. Roger de Wilby. [The liberties seized into the King's hands.]

1285, Will. Rockingham, custos. Roger de Tudenham. James Nade. [The liberties restored, the two bailiffs continued to Mich. following.]

1286, Adam de Tofts. Jeffry de Bungey. Adam de Saham. John de Blexter.

1287, Roger de Tudenham. Will. Butt. Adam de Thurston. Roger de Flemingham.

1288, The same first two, and John de Poringland. John de Ely.

1289, Adam de Sterston. John de Eaton. Adam de Taverham. R. de Newbrigge. [June 6, the liberties seized, W. de Redham and Rich. de Belhuse, custoses.]

1290, Will. Butt. Walter le Tanner. John Holveston. Tho. de Hekingham.

1291, Rich. de Belhuse, custos. Will. Butt. Odo de la Boothe. Alex. de Swerdeston. Ralph de Newbrigge. [The liberties restored.]

1292, Will But. Jeffry le Clerk. John de Poringland. Odo de la Booth.

1293, The same first three, and Will. de Kirby.

1294, Roger de Tudenham.

1294, Will. Butt. Rich de Felmingham. Rob. de Hickling. Tho. de Erlham, town clerk.

1295, The three first as before, and Tho. de Hekingham.

1296, Hen. Clerk. Tho. Sparrwe or Sparrow. O. de la Booth. Tho. de Gunthorp.

1297, The same.

1298, John de Holveston. William le Spicer. Peter de Bumpstede. Ralph de Newbrigge.

1299, John de Norwich. Ro. de Tudenham. John de Poringland. Peter de Basingham.

1300, Hen. le Clerke. Hen. de Hale. Rog. de Stallon. John de Gunthorp.

1301, Will. Butt. Will. Bateman. Peter de Bumpstede. John de Gunthorp.

1302, Jeffry Kempe, clerk.

1302, Rob. de Lopham. John le Graunt. John de Thurston.

1303, John de Morley. Peter de Bumpstede. Will. Butt. John de Thurston.

1304, Peter de Bumpstede. Peter Basingham. John de Morley. John de Gunthorp.

1305, John de Morley. John Sparwe. John de Gunthorp. Peter de Basingham. Arnold de Stanford, town clerk.

1306, Alex. de Santon. Will. Bateman. Jeffry Kemp. John de Wilby.

1307, Will. Butt. Henry de Heylesden. John Cosyn. John de Gunthorp. Ralf, son of Thomas de Erlham, town clerk.

The following is an exact List of the Burgesses, that have served in Parliament for this City, taken from the Parliament Rolls, and City Evidences.

A writ was directed to the Bailiffs of Norwich, commanding them to send two of the wisest of their citizens to the King at Shrewsbury, to parliament there, to advise about David son of Griffith, then lately taken prisoner: (fn. 54) but I do not find who were returned.

26 Edw. I. Parl. at York, Adam de Toftes and John le Graunt, were returned.

27 Parl. at Lincoln, Rob. de Holveston, Roger de TuDenham.

28 Parl. at Westminster, the same.

30 Parl. at London, Roger de Tudenham, Robert de Weston.

31 Parl. at Westm. John le Graunt, John de Morle.

32 Parl. at Westm. the same.

33 Parl. at Westm. Jeffry de Norwich, clerk, Ralph. de Burewode.

34 Parl. at Carlisle, Will. de Wichingham, Henry Gare.

From this list we may observe, that they sent none but their own fellow-citizens, and that parliaments were then annual, if the King wanted them, and were dissolved as soon as the business they were called for was dispatched.

Irrotulatur in Rotulis Regis (sc. in the King's Bench) coram ipso Rege in termino Pasche Ao regni ipsius Regis Edwardi tricesimo quarto. Rotulo xliiijo.


  • 1. Nevile says, seven pounds. Weever, fo. 791: "Unam cuppam de pondere decem librarum auri, et valore centum librarum argenti:" Whereby you may note the proportion then between gold and silver.
  • 2. The Roll of the Crown Pleas Ao. 14 E. 1, gives the same account.
  • 3. Least the reader should be desirous to know what this ancient and common sport of the quintyne was, I could not omit explaining it; it being an exercise that was universally in vogue for many ages, and esteemed absolutely necessary for all young men to be expert at, in order to make them tilt or fight well with launces; the quintain itself, was a post fixed strong into the ground, with a piece of wood about six feet long laid across on its top, which was placed so as to turn round, like what we now call a turn-pike; at one end of this cross piece, was hung a bag with an hundred pound weight of sand in it, and this bag was called the quintal, which signifies an hundred pound weight; at the other end was fixed a board about a foot square, at which, the gamester who was mounted on horseback, with a truncheon, pole, or sort of tilt spear, ran directly with great force; if he was an artist at the sport, the board gave way, and he was gone before the bag came against him, which was the thing aimed at, and in which the victory consisted, though it was esteemed an honour to break their truncheon if they were catched, but if the gamester missed hitting the board, that was the greatest disgrace, and if he did hit it and was not nimble enough to get off, the bag came and dismounted him, and in that the whole sport consisted.
  • 4. Whart. Ang. Sacr. fo. 401.
  • 5. Firma Burgi, 272.
  • 6. Stow, fo. 200. Essay, &c. p. 28.
  • 7. Whart. fo. 401. 412.
  • 8. Keble's Statutes fo. 33.
  • 9. Stow, fo. 201.
  • 10. Madox Excheq. p. 701, 2.
  • 11. Stow, 201.
  • 12. Cron. Thomas Wykes. Pat. Ao. 13 E. 1.
  • 13. It is marked Carta Septima.
  • 14. Stow, fo. 203.
  • 15. Fuller's Chu. Hist. fo. 84. Fuller tells us, that the Jews, as to their civil government, were governed by one principal officer, called the Justicer of the Jews, whose place in honour was next to the Barons of the Exchequer, and among others that bare that high office, I find in 1204, G. de Norwic, or G. of Norwich, was justiciary of the Jews, and R. de Norwic, one of the same family, in 1251, was chancellor of Ireland.
  • 16. Placita cor. Rege 17 E. 1.
  • 17. Reg. vii.
  • 18. Pet. in Parl. post Festum Sci. Mich. 18 E. 1.
  • 19. Stow, 204. Cron. Thomæ Wykes.
  • 20. It is marked Carta octava, and the charter marked Carta undecima, and placed under 19 E. II. among the city evidences, is only a duplicate of this. The seal is still appendant, and is of green wax.
  • 21. Coroners, escheators, &c.
  • 22. Chron. Cott. Mss. in Archiv. Ecce. Norwic.
  • 23. The true reason of which is, because this part of the city was then included in the parish of Thorp in Blofield hundred, and the jurisdiction was exempt in that hundred, and continued so, except in Newgate, which the Prior granted away.
  • 24. Plit. cor. Rege.
  • 25. Chron. Tho. Wikes ad an. 1292.
  • 26. Dug. Bar. 135.
  • 27. Essay, 38.
  • 28. Murage is a payment levied towards building or repairing the walls of a city or town.
  • 29. Pat. Ao 26 E. 1.
  • 30. Madox, 590.
  • 31. Dug. Bar. 135, 6. Essay, 30. Brady, vol. ii. p. 74.
  • 32. Rel. Spel. 167. Essay, 31.
  • 33. Pat. 31 E. 1. M. 17. and 27 Dors.
  • 34. Reg. 3.
  • 35. Brady. Burghs, p. 25.
  • 36. Rot. Parl. 33 E. 1. Ryley's Plita. p. 295, 7.
  • 37. It is said the jurisdiction of the leet extended to Stump Cross, and that that part was not then walled but laid open.
  • 38. It is marked Carta 9 a, and the seal of green wax is still perfect.
  • 39. Indorsed, Irrotulatur in Banco (sc. in the Common Pleas) coram R. de Hengham et Socijs suis Justiciarijs, &c. &c. in secundo Rotulo de Cartis et protectionibus irrotulatis de termino Sci. Michis. Ao Reg. Regis E. filij Regis H. 330.
  • 40. Toll is a tax or tribute, in its largest sense, but it particularly signifies such a tribute as is collected at markets and fairs for the liberty of selling goods and cattle.
  • 41. Pontage, or bridge-toll, is money paid for going over bridges, and also for building, maintaining, and repairing bridges.
  • 42. Passage is hire paid for being transported over sea, or ferried over a river.
  • 43. Pavage is toll or contribution paid towards repairing and maintaining streets and causeways.
  • 44. Lastage is a custom in markets and fairs for carrying things backward and forward, or a duty paid for wares sold by the last, and sometimes a liberty of taking ballasts for ships.
  • 45. Carriage is a duty paid for conveying goods and merchandises from one place to another.
  • 46. Picage is a toll paid in fairs or markets, for breaking the ground to set booths, stalls, and stands on.
  • 47. Cayage is a duty paid for landing goods at any key or wharf.
  • 48. Rivage is a toll paid for the passage of boats or wherries on a river.
  • 49. Ryley's Plita. 295. Rot. Parl. 33 E. 1. Stow, fo. 209.
  • 50. It is marked Carta decima.
  • 51. Sc. the pie-powder court.
  • 52. Custom Book, fo. 22.
  • 53. Camb. in Cumberland. Speed, 563.
  • 54. Rymer, vol. ii. p. 249. Stow, 202.