Wisbech: The corporation as a law court

Page 258

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 4, City of Ely; Ely, N. and S. Witchford and Wisbech Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



In its early days the Corporation was mainly concerned with the settlement of small disputes between the burgesses. Such powers of arbitration had not been provided for in the original charter, and no authority had been given to the 'ten men' to enforce their decisions, (fn. 1) which seem to have been accepted without question. For example, it was ordered in 1574 that a suit regarding the recovery of goods held in pawn was to be settled by the defendant giving the plaintiff a 'ryssyt gowne to make his wyff a cassok' and 30s. (fn. 2) Other typical disputes dealt with (1569-72) concerned the 'worowing of sertayne shepe', an action of trespass for the 'estray of a mare into a stack of hay', the recovery of small debts, or the hiring of a house in the New Market. (fn. 3) The occasional absence of this type of business at meetings of the 'ten' was specially noted, e.g. in November 1568 'there was no matter or cause of controversy dependyng betwene any person or persons of our neighbours . . . thanks be gyven to Almyghty God for the same'. (fn. 4)


  • 1. Their proceedings were not authenticated by their signatures until 1666-7.
  • 2. Walker and Craddock, Hist. Wisb. 309.
  • 3. Corp. Rec. ii, 66, 71, 85.
  • 4. Ibid. 45.