A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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THE LIBERTY OF PORTSMOUTH AND PORTSEA ISLAND
The island of Portsea is separated from the mainland by a narrow channel known as the Port Creek, crossed by means of an iron bridge which replaces one of stone. North of the island rise the grassy slopes of Portsdown, while the Portsea side is fringed with the loopholes of half-hidden fortifications. In 1831 part of the island, viz. Hilsea, which is now included in Cosham parish (q.v.), and a portion of Portsea parish known as the Gildable, lay in the hundred of Portsdown, while the rest of the island was within the borough of Portsmouth. Now (i.e. since 1835) the whole of Portsea is contained in the borough, which includes that part of the island south of an irregular line crossing from Langstone Harbour at a point north of Great Salterns to Portsmouth Harbour, midway between Great Horsea Island and Tipner.
The district which is now Portsmouth borough was sparsely inhabited in the eleventh century, for in 1086 there were only a few villeins, bordars, and serfs on the demesne lands of the manors of Buckland, Copnor, and Fratton, while the town of Portsmouth did not then exist. (fn. 1) The island is, for the most part, unproductive. The soil is either sand or gravel upon Bagshot and Bracklesham beds in the south, and London clay farther north. Vegetables only are grown in any quantity, and all wheat is imported. In the seventeenth century the inhabitants depended almost entirely on the Isle of Wight for their supplies of wheat and flour. (fn. 2) This fact doubtless accounts for the scarcity of mills in the island. At present a windmill stands in Fratton. It may have been built on the site of the windmill which belonged to the Domus Dei at the time of its dissolution. (fn. 3) There used also to be a water-mill, known as Beeston's Mill, or the King's Mill, since it was used for grinding wheat for the garrison of the town. It stood on the Old Gun Wharf, but has not been rebuilt since it was burnt down about 1891. The mill-stream entered through the Gun Wharf and reached as far as the site of the Mill-Dam Barracks, where it terminated in the Mill Pond. (fn. 4) The mill took its name from the Beeston family, its former tenants. (fn. 5) In a map of the town dated 1668 two fresh-water mills are marked near each other at the head of the mill-pond. (fn. 6) They appear to have been those granted to the abbey of Fontevrault in 1189. (fn. 7) It appears, from a papal confirmation in 1201, that one of these mills was granted to the abbey by Richard I. (fn. 8) A mill called 'le Brendemulne' at Portsmouth was in the custody of Maud countess of Ulster in 1340, and was granted for life to Stephen Lambyn of Winchelsea for his good service to the king at sea. (fn. 9)
Late in the twelfth century the town of Portsmouth grew up in the south-western corner of the island, doubtless owing its origin to the increasing difficulty of reaching Portchester by sea. When the docks, which had been built on the peninsula to the north of the town, came into importance in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the town of Portsea arose round the dockyard to accommodate the workers there; and during the nineteenth century it has grown until, at the present day, Portsmouth and Portsea, with their members of Landport, Southsea, Milton, and Eastney, form practically one town almost co-extensive with the island.
The town of Portsmouth (Portesmue xii–xiii cent.; Portesmuth xiv cent.) proper is a wedge-shaped district, separated from the larger inhabited parts of the island by the Civil Service Recreation Grounds and Southsea Common. The High Street, or main thoroughfare, runs north-east and south-west, and containsseveral buildings of interest. At the north end of the street stand the red-brick gabled buildings of the Portsmouth Grammar School. Opposite are the Cambridge Barracks, named after the late Duke of Cambridge, and occupying the site of the old theatre once under the management of Charles Kemble. Further down the street is the house formerly known as the "Spotted Dog," where the murder of the duke of Buckingham took place in 1628. Facing it, but lower down, is the church of St. Thomas, the old parish church of Portsmouth, while opposite, at the corner of Pembroke Road, is the old Guildhall, now used as the Borough Museum. This building took the place of a former hall, built in 1738, (fn. 10) which stood across the High Street. In a house in the High Street, George Meredith was born in 1828.
Across the south end of the High Street stands a strong stone fort, which forms the corner of the Point Barracks, and overlooks the old Victoria Pier, from which can be obtained a fine view of the narrow entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, and of the distant hills of the Isle of Wight. The King's Stairs lead down to a shingle beach, whence in former times a strong chain could be drawn across to the Gosport side as an additional defence to the harbour mouth. Nothing of this is visible from the High Street, the view thence being bounded by the grey stone wall of the fort, in which is set a niche containing a bust of Charles I as Prince of Wales, with an inscription recording his safe arrival at Portsmouth in October, 1623, after his travels in France and Spain. Soon after the bust had been set up, the Governor, Viscount Wimbledon, recommended that the signs of the inns in the High Street should be set in to the houses 'as they are in all civil towns,' since they not only obscured but outfaced the figure, and ordered that all officers and soldiers should doff their hats in passing it. (fn. 11) A series of narrow streets running at right angles to High Street contains some of the oldest houses in the town, for the most part two-storied buildings interspersed with warehouses, and it is noticeable that in this district the population has decreased of late years, while in other parts of the island it has more than doubled itself. At the back of these narrow streets, which form the old town of Portsmouth, are the Colewort Barracks, which take their name from the Colewort Garden, which was still in use as a burying ground in 1817. (fn. 12) It is said to have belonged to the chapel of St. Mary, which existed in this part of the town in the time of Queen Elizabeth, (fn. 13) and from which, doubtless, St. Mary Street took its name. The present church of St. Mary, which stands at the back of the barracks, was not built till 1839. (fn. 14)
At the back of the Point Barracks, and parallel with the coast line, Broad Street leads from the High Street to the Point, a small peninsula washed by the waters of the harbour and the Inner and Outer Camber. In the latter are the docks which accommodate the few trading vessels, chiefly coasting ships, that visit the town. Between the Point and Gosport plies a steam ferry capable of transporting thirty carriages as well as passengers. This 'floating bridge,' which was established under an Act of 1838, (fn. 15) and the ferry are the chief means of communication with Gosport. The ferry had been maintained by the inhabitants of Gosport, and in 1600 it had fallen into decay as the sailors had been pressed in great numbers. Consequently a decree was issued forbidding the lease of the ferry to private individuals, and commanding the maintenance of twenty boats and a skilful man in each. (fn. 16) Subsequently it was leased to certain decayed seamen, (fn. 17) but after their lease had lapsed no grant of the ferry was made for nearly a century, during which time the men-of-war and merchantmen took advantage of the opportunity of smuggling when carrying people across the harbour. (fn. 18)
Near the Camber is a dry dock for trading vessels, and still farther north is the Gun Wharf, the arsenal where is stored ordnance both for the fleet and for the garrison of the town. It consists of the old and the new Gun Wharf, separated by a small basin where barges enter to carry the naval guns from the wharf to the battleships in the dockyard, or to unlade stores of rifles and bayonets, which are kept in the Armoury. The latter is ingeniously decorated with obsolete weapons and armour of all descriptions and from all countries. The main entrance of the wharf is near the United Service Recreation Grounds, which form a fine open space between Portsea and Portsmouth, and are entered through one of the old town-gates, the Landport Gate, which formerly stood at the entrance of Warblington Street.
It is evident that Portsmouth did not exist as a town before the twelfth century, though the favourable position of its present site, more especially as a landing place, was recognized some time before any settlement was made there. The story runs that in 501 Port landed with his two sons Bieda and Mægla, 'at a certain place which is called Portes Mutha,' and there slew a very noble young Briton. (fn. 19) It is evident that the chroniclers in reciting this story were merely trying to account for the name of the place, (fn. 20) another form of which is preserved in the Chronicle of Abingdon Monastery. (fn. 21) To that abbey King Edgar granted the catch of fish from one vessel at 'Portmonna hyth,' besides a certain rent from Southampton, in 962. No mention of Portsmouth occurs in Domesday Book, but with the Norman Conquest and the consequent closer relations between England and the continent such a harbour could not fail to become of importance. (fn. 22) Henry II took advantage of the harbour, and many times crossed thence to his continental possessions, and in 1189 Richard I landed at Portsmouth. (fn. 23) At that date there appears to have been no town there, but merely a few sea-faring people, while the town of Southampton had control of the harbour. (fn. 24) It was doubtless the strategical advantages of the island that induced Richard I to build a town there. (fn. 25) He let out the land to various men to build thereon, and granted a charter to the inhabitants in 1194. (fn. 26) It is dated 2 May, from Portsmouth, where he had been staying since the preceding 24 April, just before leaving England for the last time.
The king himself had houses built there, for in 1197–8 £2 18s. 3d. was spent on the improvement of his houses and hall (curia) at Portsmouth, and in the same year 4s. was accounted for as the rent of building sites. (fn. 27) From these accounts, and from the sums spent in the following year on tables and benches for the king's house, it would appear that the latter at least was new. (fn. 28) In 1298 it was in such bad repair that it threatened to collapse, and an inquisition being taken as to its value, the hall, with certain other houses, was assessed at £40, the chapel at £20, and the site at 2s. (fn. 29) The position of this building may be marked by the name Kingshall Green, which was given to the site of the former Clarence Barracks in Penny Street. (fn. 30)
It was only fitting that the early history of a town founded by Richard Cœur-de-Lion should be filled with war and preparations of war. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the town was used as a rendezvous for expeditions to Normandy, (fn. 31) Poitou, (fn. 32) and more especially to Gascony, (fn. 33) while ships from most of the maritime towns of England were sent thither to transport men and horses, provisions, and arms gathered from all the country, (fn. 34) and in 1254 the Great Council of the realm itself met there. (fn. 35) Besides the trade thus brought into the town, it carried on considerable traffic with the western and northern countries of Europe. Large quantities of wheat were exported to France and Spain, (fn. 36) in addition to that conveyed from Portsmouth for the provision of troops during the French wars. The wool-trade also was so considerable that Portsmouth was among the fifty-seven towns summoned to send wool-merchants to consult with the king at York in 1327–8, (fn. 37) and the townsmen joined in a petition that the wool-staple for South England should be at Southampton and not at Winchester, as had been appointed. (fn. 38) In 1449 three pockets of wool and eighty-nine sheepskins called 'Moreyns' were arrested on board a boat of Harfleur at Portsmouth. (fn. 39) The chief import was wine, most of which was brought from Bayonne and Bordeaux. (fn. 40) Woad also was imported from Normandy in considerable quantities, (fn. 41) and wax and iron from France. (fn. 42) Nevertheless the vessels belonging to the port were neither many nor large, for when summoned in 1336 to send to the king's aid all their vessels capable of carrying over forty dolia of wine, they could only provide two, one of which was out of repair. (fn. 43)
Judging by the number of conveyances of houses in the town, even early in the thirteenth century, it would seem that it was of fair size. Some of the buildings had an upper room or solar. (fn. 44) The majority were probably made of wood, for in 1338 only the Domus Dei and the parish church escaped the fire when the French burnt the town. The inhabitants were all but ruined by the four hostile assaults which they suffered during the fourteenth century, and until the building of the docks by Henry VII the prosperity of the town was at a low ebb, though the wool and wine trades were still carried on. (fn. 45) The building of the docks brought new life to the town; brew-houses were built and leased to private individuals on condition that the king should have the use of them in time of war, (fn. 46) and in 1525 there were also five royal brew-houses, the 'Rose,' the 'Lion,' the 'Dragon,' the 'White Hart,' and the 'Anchor,' (fn. 47) and foreign trade increased. Leather was brought from Spain, (fn. 48) and Portsmouth vessels traded largely with Holland, (fn. 49) and the import of woad was still continued. (fn. 50) An effort was also made to encourage weaving in the town, a petition being addressed to the queen in 1585 to allow clothiers residing within the liberties freedom from custom for twenty years on condition that they should each keep two corselets and able men to wear them, and to fix the wool-staple for the adjoining counties at Portsmouth. (fn. 51) Nevertheless, in 1579 the townspeople were obliged to seek relief throughout the realm for the losses which they had sustained by sea and by fire. (fn. 52) Camden described the town as 'populous in time of war, but not so in time of peace.'
The presence of the fleet at Portsmouth during the sixteenth century obliged the laying of posts to London, first through Bagshot and later by way of Petersfield and Guildford. (fn. 53) The port at this time was infested with smugglers and pirates, even the mayor being accused of dealing with them, (fn. 54) while it was frequently used by priests and recusants in escaping from the country. (fn. 55) In 1554 precautions were taken to prevent merchants from bringing in goods duty-free under pretence that they belonged to the king, (fn. 56) and during the seventeenth century merchant vessels made a practice of sinking hogsheads and casks in the harbour till an opportunity should arise for landing them. (fn. 57)
From the sixteenth century till the middle of the nineteenth Portsmouth was essentially a garrison town, and, more especially during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the inhabitants found the consequent restrictions somewhat irksome. (fn. 58) During the seventeenth century, also, the quartering of soldiers upon the already overcrowded inhabitants became a serious grievance. (fn. 59) In 1665 Commissioner Thomas Middleton complained that nine people were packed in a room 16 ft. by 12 ft., while in the house of the mayor himself there were twenty-six in family. (fn. 60) The number of poor in the town also became so alarming to the garrison that the Council of State sent an urgent command to the mayor in 1651 to provide for their employment and relief. (fn. 61) Poverty had doubtless been increased by the siege of 1642, and for many years vain attempts had been made to secure the more effectual paving and cleansing of the town. (fn. 62) The inhabitants suffered severely from small-pox and the plague during the seventeenth century, the latter being rife in the town both in 1625 (fn. 63) and 1665, (fn. 64) and even when the plague had left the town there were more deaths from fever and ague than there had been in its time. (fn. 65) The overcrowding was relieved during the next century by the growth of Portsea, while the paving and watching of the town were improved under a series of Acts of Parliament, the first of which was passed in 1763–4. (fn. 66) The commissioners for the paving and cleansing of the town first met in 1768, and under them its general condition was rapidly improved. (fn. 67) Their work is now ably carried on by the Urban Sanitary Authorities.
The discovery of New England had opened a fresh field of commerce to the merchants of Portsmouth. They were especially anxious to obtain the monopoly of the tobacco trade, and petitioned in 1625 that all tobacco should be unladen in their port, and that all ships bound for New England should be obliged to set forth thence, but without apparent result. (fn. 68) A proposal made in 1632 for a joint-stock company to monopolize all trade in the port and ten miles out to sea also seems to have come to nothing. (fn. 69) Nevertheless, by the end of the seventeenth century the customs paid there had increased from £800 to £6,000, (fn. 70) the chief import still being French wine. (fn. 71)
Early in the last century the import of coal had increased, (fn. 72) while cattle were brought from the west of England and cows from Ireland. The coasting trade is now alone considerable, and it has been gradually diminished by the ever-increasing facilities for transport overland. The watermen were loud in their protestations against stage-coaches, and proposed in 1673 that, as the latter had of late strangely increased to the great prejudice of watermen and seamen, the coach-owners should be obliged to contribute towards the building of hospitals in several ports. (fn. 73) Both the coasting and foreign trade are limited by the restrictions imposed upon Portsmouth as a naval harbour, and the use of the greater part of the neighbouring coast-line for Government purposes. The Portsmouth and Arundel Canal was intended to facilitate the coasting-trade by allowing barges to enter from the Langstone Harbour and unlade near the site of the present town station. It was opened on 28 May, 1823, (fn. 74) but was never a success owing to the slowness of transport. The London & South Western Railway, a branch of which was laid down to Portsmouth under an Act of 1839, (fn. 75) and the Portsmouth Railway from Godalming to Havant, extended to Portsmouth in 1853, (fn. 76) superseded the canal, which was ultimately filled in, since it had been found that the salt water percolated to the fresh springs in the town. Its former course is marked by such names as Arundel Street. (fn. 77)
During the American and Napoleonic wars the town increased rapidly in size and importance, and with the establishment of peace its prosperity did not fail. (fn. 78) In 1544 there were not more than a hundred able-bodied persons besides the garrison in the town, (fn. 79) while three centuries later the population of Portsmouth was over nine thousand, and that of Portsea was nearly forty-four thousand.
Previous to 1194 all customs from the port of Portsmouth had evidently been assessed with those of Southampton. Immediately after Richard I had given the town its charter, £7 was deducted from the ferm of Southampton for the portage and customs of Portsmouth, and for these William of Ste. MèreÉglise, afterwards bishop of London, was to account separately. (fn. 80) In 1196 £8 was similarly deducted, (fn. 81) but no separate account for Portsmouth is to be found on the Pipe Roll of the following year. In 1198, however, the receipts of the sheriff included £10 6s. 6d. for the year's pontage and small customary dues apart from the ferm (census) of Portsmouth and Kingston, which amounted to £14 2s. 7d. (fn. 82) It appears, therefore, that it was only the pontage and petty customs of Portsmouth that had been separated from those of Southampton. The port itself remained a member of the latter, and the greater customs were still collected and accounted for with those of Southampton, an arrangement which gave rise to several disputes between the two towns. Portsmouth did not become a separate port until late in the eighteenth century.
The petty customs together with the pontage were all the rent paid by the men of Portsmouth for their town before 1197, and even in the following reign the bailiffs declared that the dues arising from custom and pontage were all that they owed to the king by way of ferm, (fn. 83) yet in 1198 the sheriff had accounted for £14 odd as the 'census' or ferm of Portsmouth and Kingston, (fn. 84) while the receipts from the town amounted to over £15 in the following year. (fn. 85) The next Pipe Roll gives no details of the sheriff's account for Portsmouth, and in May 1201 only £5 is given as the amount of ferm paid. (fn. 86) In the year ending May, 1202, the ferm was £18, (fn. 87) and so continued until November, 1229, when it was raised to £20. (fn. 88) This ferm, which had been previously received by the sheriff for the crown, was granted by Edward I to his mother, Queen Eleanor, for life, in May, 1281, (fn. 89) and confirmed to her five years later. (fn. 90) Later it formed part of the dowers assigned successively to the queens of Edward II and Edward III. (fn. 91) In 1403 Henry IV granted it for life to Eleanor widow of Nicholas Dagworth, but the gift was almost immediately cancelled. (fn. 92) Henry VI gave the ferm of Portsmouth to his uncle Humphrey duke of Gloucester for life in 1442. (fn. 93) In 1450, three years after the duke's death, this ferm with many others was definitely assigned to the use of the royal honsehold, (fn. 94) and was partly employed on repairs in the Palace of Westminster and the Tower of London. (fn. 95) The former settlement was confirmed in 1485, (fn. 96) but Henry VIII granted £10 from the petty customs of Portsmouth to Alice Davy in November, 1519, in reward for her services as gentlewoman to Katharine of Aragon and nurse to Margaret queen of Scotland. (fn. 97) £12 odd rent from the town was granted to Queen Anne by James I and to Queen Catherine by Charles II, (fn. 98) and finally under an Act of Parliament dated 1670 it was conveyed to the trustees for the sale of fee-farm rents. (fn. 99) No record of its sale has been found, and in 1835 the farm to the crown was still included among the expenses of the corporations, (fn. 100) but it has since ceased to be paid.
Portsmouth, therefore, has existed as a borough since 1194. (fn. 101) The charter then granted to it by Richard I recites that the king had retained in his own hands the 'borough' of Portsmouth, and that he had established a fair to be held there annually to last fifteen days, commencing on the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula (1 August), while all men who should come to it from places within his kingdom should enjoy the same liberties as those who attended the fairs at Winchester and Hoyland. At the same time he granted that his burgesses there should have a weekly market to be held on Thursdays, with all such privileges as were enjoyed by the citizens of Winchester and Oxford; that all the burgesses in the town, and holding of the town, wherever they should go within his realms, should be quit from toll, pontage, passage and pavage, stallage and tallage, and from shires and hundreds, and from summons and aids of the sheriff, and from all pleas, including pleas of the forest; and that his burgesses having houses and tenements within the town should hold them with toll and theam infangtheof and utfangtheof as freely as the citizens of Winchester and Oxford held theirs. Finally, he forbad their being impleaded touching any tenement in the town save before himself. (fn. 102) In October, 1200, soon after his accession, King John confirmed his brother's charter, at the same time extending the clause as to pleas about tenements in the town so that they might be heard either before him or the chief justice. (fn. 103) For this confirmation the men of Portsmouth paid ten marks and a palfrey. (fn. 104) Henry III also in a charter dated 18 November, 1229, renewed the former grant of his father and uncle, but omitted entirely the phrase as to pleas before the king or his justice; on the previous day the ferm of the town had been increased from £18 to £20. (fn. 105) On 5 April, 1255, the same king confirmed to the burgesses of Portsmouth all their liberties included in his own charter and those of Richard I and John, (fn. 106) and in July 1256 he granted a gild merchant to the good men of Portsmouth and freed them from caption of person or goods for debt save where they were principal debtors or securities or where the principal debtor belonged to their community and was able to satisfy the debt while the men of the gild had failed to do justice; at the same time he confirmed to them the freedom from cheminage throughout the king's forest, and other privileges which they had been wont to enjoy. (fn. 107) Edward II, in February 1312–13, inspected and confirmed the charters of 1194, 1200, 18 November, 1229, and 5 April, 1255, (fn. 108) and this confirmation was itself confirmed in 1358 by Edward III. (fn. 109) In 1384 Richard II confirmed the charter of Edward III, and also the grant of a gild merchant. (fn. 110) There followed successive confirmations of the same charters in 1401, 1423, 1461, 1484, 1489, 1511, 1550, and 1561. (fn. 111) The town was thus practically governed by the charters of Richard and John until the end of the sixteenth century; then, in February 1599–1600, Queen Elizabeth reorganized the corporation of the town. (fn. 112) In this its first definite charter of incorporation, after reciting the ancient constitution and privileges of the borough, and referring to the ambiguities in its former charters and to its important position as a port and frontier town, she declared that, at the petition of Lord Mountjoy, then captain there, the borough of Portsmouth should henceforth be a free borough, and its inhabitants a body corporate under the name of the Mayor and Burgesses of Portsmouth, with the usual ability to acquire lands and privileges, to plead and be impleaded, and to possess a common seal. The charter then recounts the details of the corporation and the functions of its various officers. In spite of the new life inspired by Elizabeth's charter of incorporation the town had fallen into great decay by 1625, and the mayor and inhabitants petitioned for a renewal of their privileges with a grant of certain trading advantages. (fn. 113) In November, 1627, a new charter of incorporation was granted to the town, enlarging considerably the privileges bestowed by Elizabeth, making some changes in the constitution of the body corporate, and giving the inhabitants licence to weave, make, and sell all kinds of kersies and broadcloths. (fn. 114) In April, 1666, the king threatened to take the town into his own hands and proposed giving the care of it to the LieutenantGovernor, Sir Philip Honeywood, owing to the remissness of the mayor and aldermen in not providing for the removal of the plague-stricken soldiers and inhabitants to the pest-house. (fn. 115) In 1682 Charles II invited all corporate towns and boroughs to show their loyalty to the crown by surrendering their charters. This Portsmouth did in the same year, and, though the surrender was not formally enrolled, the king granted the town a new charter in August, 1682. (fn. 116) It recited the surrender of the charter of Charles I and re-incorporated the borough, adding to it the town of Gosport. The corporation, according to this charter, was similar to that organized under that of Charles I, save that its jurisdiction extended over Gosport. One clause alone sufficed to give the crown almost absolute power over the borough: mayor, aldermen, and burgesses were all to be removable by the king's sign manual. By this charter the town was governed till October, 1688, when James II issued a proclamation revoking all charters granted after the surrender of the boroughs to Charles II, since in almost every case the deeds of surrender had not been enrolled; (fn. 117) accordingly, the men of Portsmouth applied for the return of their former charter to Lord Dartmouth, among whose papers it had been found. (fn. 118) They were evidently successful, for the charter is still among the corporation records, and the town is still governed by it, subject to such modifications as were provided by the Municipal Reform Acts of the last century.
The town of Portsmouth had a corporate existence soon after its foundation. Richard I in his charter granted definite privileges to the burgesses, and before 1214 they possessed lands in common, for the burgesses of Portsmouth had alienated a messuage and land in Portsmouth called Westwood to the Domus Dei there. (fn. 119)
This corporate body had no definite name till the sixteenth century. King John's charter was addressed to 'the burgesses of Portsmouth,' but the men of Portsmouth paid for its enrolment. (fn. 120) The bailiffs of Portsmouth acted for the town in the time of King John, (fn. 121) and a royal writ was addressed to them in 1224, (fn. 122) and subsequent writs were sent to the bailiffs and men or to the men of Portsmouth. (fn. 123) The 'customs and usages' of the town, which may be assigned to the latter part of the thirteenth century, were drawn up by the mayor, bailiff, constables, serjeants, and jurats, (fn. 124) but it is doubtful whether the word here translated 'mayor' may not have been 'prepositus' in the original document, which, unfortunately, is not in the possession of the corporation. The office of mayor certainly existed in 1323, when a writ was addressed to the mayor and bailiffs of Portsmouth ordering them to search for and arrest all letters coming into the realm. (fn. 125) The bailiffs continued in existence long after the introduction of the offices of 'prepositus' and mayor, and in Elizabeth's charter of incorporation it is stated that the town had formerly been governed by a mayor, two bailiffs, two constables, and other public officers, and the name of the reorganized corporation is given as 'the Mayor and Burgesses of the Borough of Portsmouth.' Under the charter of Charles I the name of the corporation was 'the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of Portsmouth,' but the government of the town was practically vested in the mayor and aldermen only. This charter also mentions a recorder, justices of the peace, common clerk, and two serjeants at mace. Under the charter of Charles II (1682), the recorder was included in the governing body; but since this grant was cancelled under the proclamation of October, 1688, the corporation of the town remained unaltered till the Municipal Reform Act of 1835, under which its nature was entirely changed. It now consists of fortytwo councillors, one-third of whom retire in rotation every three years, and fourteen aldermen, from among whom the mayor is chosen. (fn. 126) The councillors are chosen by the burgesses, and serve for a term of three years. In 1888, under the Local Government Act, Portsmouth became a 'county borough' for administrative purposes. (fn. 127)
The number of burgesses varied considerably from time to time. The privileges granted by Richard I were to be enjoyed only by those who held land or property in or of the town. (fn. 128) In the earliest recorded list of burgesses (c. 1575) there are fifty-four names, including that of the mayor, but of these six are marked as deceased; (fn. 129) twenty-five burgesses besides the mayor and twelve aldermen are named in the charter of Charles I, and Charles II appointed the same number in 1662 when no fewer than eighty-eight burgesses were disfranchised. (fn. 130) There was evidently no limit to the number of burgesses elected each year, for within five months of the year 1773 no fewer than forty-three were admitted to the freedom of the borough, (fn. 131) and in 1834 seventy-eight burgesses were sworn besides nine aldermen. (fn. 132) There was apparently no qualification necessary for a burgess. It was not even needful for him to be a resident, for the following names occur on the list of burgesses:—John White of Southwick, 1553; William Gage of Havant, 1557; William Bennet of Fareham, 1634; and so on throughout the list. (fn. 133) It was possible also for the soldiers in the garrison and officers in the dockyard to become burgesses; thus in 1531 Richard Palshyd, a captain of the garrison; in 1594, Joshua Savour, master gunner; in 1575, Richard Popinjay, government surveyor; and in 1576, William Davison, admiralty-serjeant, were burgesses. (fn. 134) Early in the seventeenth century, however, when the relations between the town and the garrison were somewhat strained, it was considered contrary to the customs of the town for a soldier of the garrison to be given the freedom of the borough, and in 1618 Thomas Mondaie, one of the burgesses, was disfranchised because he had bought a soldier's place, and was under the command of the governor. (fn. 135) On the other hand an ordinance had been made in 1545–6, forbidding the captain of the town from receiving any inhabitant as a soldier there. (fn. 136) Before the charter of Charles I (1627), burgesses were elected with the common consent of the mayor and burgesses in the borough court. After 1627 till the Municipal Reform Act of 1835 they were chosen by the mayor and aldermen whenever they thought fit. (fn. 137) In 1682 an ordinance was made providing against the proposal of any new burgess save in the council in the Councilhouse. (fn. 138) Since 1835 every ratepayer has been accounted a burgess.
The fine paid for the freedom of the borough varied considerably, while in many cases no fine at all is recorded. In 1546 Francis Botkyn gave 10s. at his election, (fn. 139) while Richard Jenens paid 26s. 8d. on a similar occasion in 1593, (fn. 140) and in 1531 John Playfoote of Copnor agreed upon his admission as burgess 'of his mere mind and good will' to repair the prison house. (fn. 141) William Heaton, gentleman, paid 10s. fine and 10s. upon a breakfast for the burgesses at his election in 1597. These conditions were determined by two arbiters, one representing the town and one the burgess-elect, evidently the customary mode of agreement as to the fine to be paid. (fn. 142) On the election of honorary burgesses at the request of the mayor and aldermen, the town paid certain fees to the town clerk and other officers. (fn. 143) Many famous men have thus been burgesses of Portsmouth: the list includes Sir Christopher Hatton, Sir Julius Cæsar, Thomas Pride, George Monk, Samuel Pepys, Admirals George and John Byng, Lord Chancellor Erskine, and many other well-known men. Burgesses were disfranchised before 1662 by the common consent of the mayor and burgesses. (fn. 144) In that year many members of the corporation were disfranchised by the Royal Commissioners on grounds of disaffection, (fn. 145) and in the charter of Charles II it was definitely stated that the burgesses and other members of the corporation were removable by the king's sign manual, but this clause was only in force till the proclamation of 1688 annulled the charter of Charles II.
Once elected the burgesses formerly enjoyed many privileges, which have now fallen into insignificance. Their share in the government of the town was probably considerable until the rise of the twelve assistants and afterwards of the aldermen, and at all times these last have been chosen from their number. Under the charter of Richard I they were free from toll and passage and the many other dues paid by ordinary travellers in the king's realms. They were quit of suit at the shire and hundred courts and from pleas of forest; in fact, they had all the liberties granted to the citizens of Winchester and Oxford. (fn. 146) The burgesses who brought pleas to the borough courts paid a smaller fee than the ordinary inhabitant or 'stranger.' (fn. 147) Besides this they had various trading advantages. They could buy and sell within the town without a licence from the mayor, (fn. 148) while the non-burgess who did so was amerced in the court leet. (fn. 149) Early in the seventeenth century the townsmen struggled to maintain this right against the soldiers of the garrison, who persisted in keeping alehouses and victualling-houses in the town. (fn. 150) In 1630, in answer to a petition from the soldiers stating that, if not allowed to trade, they would not be able to live, since they only had 8d. a day, and that not paid, it was ordered that they should be allowed to trade in the town till they received their full pay, or the matter should be debated in the presence of both parties. (fn. 151) Two years later it was again ordered that no soldier should trade or keep an ale-house in the town, but the regulation seems to have been broken very soon. (fn. 152) The borough also regulated trade in the harbour, for Robert Reeve was heavily fined in 1594 for having bought a ship in the harbour while not a burgess. (fn. 153) Under Elizabeth's charter of incorporation neither the burgesses nor inhabitants of the town were to be impanelled on any jury save in causes affecting property within the borough; and to the present day they are free from serving on county juries. They were for many years exempt from wharfage dues, but this privilege was disputed early in the last century. (fn. 154) Perhaps the most important privilege enjoyed exclusively by the burgesses was their right to vote for the two members returned by the town to Parliament. This they retained till the Reform Act of 1832. Their functions primarily included all the responsibility of the government of the town, until the growth of the office of alderman. Then their duties became more formal; they were obliged to attend the mayor in their gowns when summoned, and their presence at the election of a new mayor was also enforced. (fn. 155) In 1605 their gowns were known as cloaks in contradistinction to the gowns of the assistants. (fn. 156) In 1700 it was agreed that since many burgesses, in spite of their oath, had absented themselves from the mayor's courts and assemblies, all inhabitants when admitted as burgesses should either pay a fine of £5 or take a special oath to attend the mayor's courts and assemblies. (fn. 157)
A method of government which placed supreme control in the hands of an indefinite number of burgesses must have proved somewhat clumsy in the working. It is not surprising, therefore, to find a more limited number of the burgesses gradually forming a council to aid the mayor or bailiffs in the executive branches of their business. Owing to the absence of early records it is difficult to discover at what date such a council first existed, but in the list of usages and customs of the town which was probably drawn up late in the twelfth or early in the thirteenth century, mention is made of twelve jurats, who were apparently identical with the mayor's council of twelve men which he himself chose yearly upon his election. (fn. 158) In 1537 it was the twelve jurats who made certain regulations concerning trade in the town. (fn. 159) Probably these twelve men were those 'senior and principal better and more honest burgesses' from whom the mayor was to be chosen according to the terms of Queen Elizabeth's charter of incorporation, and represented the mayor's assistants. The latter term occurs about the middle of the sixteenth century. There were evidently eight assistants, two of whom attended the mayor in rotation at the weekly courts of the borough. (fn. 160) In 1585 the mayor, aldermen, and inhabitants of Portsmouth petitioned the queen with regard to the decay of trade in the town, (fn. 161) hence it seems probable that the terms 'alderman' and 'assistant' were interchangeable before the charter of 1627, in which it is definitely stated that there should be twelve aldermen to form the council of the borough, and aid and assist the mayor. They were to be chosen for life from the burgesses, and vacancies were to be filled up by the remaining aldermen and mayor or the majority of them. On at least one occasion a newly elected burgess was immediately chosen as alderman. (fn. 162) This occurred in 1656. In 1662 the Royal Commission appointed four new aldermen in place of four removed for alleged disloyalty. (fn. 163) Under the charter of Charles II the aldermen were removable, like the burgesses, by the royal sign manual. Towards the end of the seventeenth century there were continual discords among the aldermen. In the words of a contemporary tract, 'the beginning of our divisions and distractions may be dated from the time Mr. Ward, our vicar, made choice of Mr. Ely Stamyford for churchwarden at Easter, 1703. (fn. 164) These divisions continued with increasing acrimony between the Whig and Tory parties. Both parties chose numerous burgesses for political purposes, and the struggle continued till 1711, when the two leading Whigs, Henry Seagar and Thomas White, were ousted from among the aldermen by a mandamus from the Queen's Bench. A similar conflict arose in the latter part of the eighteenth century. (fn. 165) From 1782 onwards the Whig party was supreme in the town, and until the Reform Act of 1832, their selection of burgesses was openly based on political considerations, while the aldermen were almost all of the Carter family. (fn. 166) Under the Municipal Reform Act of 1835, the number of aldermen was altered to fourteen, half of their number retiring every three years, an arrangement which is still in force.
There appear to have been no privileges attached to the office of alderman beyond its political and social power. The former rested chiefly in the ability of the aldermen to choose burgesses and hence to influence both the parliamentary and municipal elections. Their duties included all the government of the town and the management of the corporation estates. They were bound to attend the common council when summoned by the mayor. (fn. 167) In 1678 a rule was made that they should attend him to church every Sunday, and in 1682 it was agreed that they should wear their scarlet gowns on election day, certain feast days, the first Sunday in the month, and any other day appointed by the council. (fn. 168)
The earliest government of the town appears to have been by a reeve and bailiffs. Possibly William de Ste.-Mère Eglise, who accounted for the petty customs of the town when they were first separated from those of Southampton, acted as the first reeve. (fn. 169) Theobald, the reeve of Portsmouth, witnessed a conveyance of land in Portsmouth in 1201, (fn. 170) and in 1216 a royal writ was addressed to the reeve and men of Portsmouth, (fn. 171) while the reeve and whole court of Portsmouth witnessed a conveyance of the thirteenth century. (fn. 172) In 1270 Peter Coperas was reeve. (fn. 173) The number of bailiffs is so far unknown. Probably, as at Winchester, there were two; Elizabeth's charter states that the town had been governed by a mayor and two bailiffs. It was the bailiffs who collected the rents and customs and were responsible to the crown for the farm of the borough during the reign of King John. (fn. 174) Pleas were also held before them and writs addressed to them (fn. 175); they acted as the king's escheators in the town. (fn. 176) Their duties also included the hearing of recognizances of debt, (fn. 177) and the sealing of conveyances of lands within the borough, since the seals of the parties to the deeds were unknown to most men. (fn. 178) Towards the end of the thirteenth century the government seems to have been modified in form. The ancient usages of the town, which apparently belong to the latter end of the century, were drawn up by the mayor and one bailiff. (fn. 179) The mayor evidently succeeded the reeve, and in 1323 definite mention is made of the mayor and bailiffs. (fn. 180) Subsequently the importance of the mayor's office increased, while the bailiffs gradually lost their authority. In a deed of sale of a stall or shop in the market dated 1450 the rent was said to be paid to the king by the hands of the bailiffs, but only one bailiff witnessed the deed, (fn. 181) and only one is recorded as accounting for the farm of the town in 1443. (fn. 182) In 1521 the bailiff of Portsmouth gave a detailed account of a suspicious character lately seen near Havant, (fn. 183) and on 28 April, 1538, when Thomas Carpenter was mayor, Thomas Yonge, bailiff of the town, evidently had full authority over the watchmen and constables there. (fn. 184) Unfortunately, owing to the loss or destruction of the corporation records for the sixteenth century, there is no clue to the time when the bailiff's office lapsed, (fn. 185) but apparently it was in disuse before 1600, the date of Queen Elizabeth's charter to the town. The ancient usages of the town state that the bailiff received one-half of the surplus of any fine which exceeded 24s. and 12d. in every pound recovered in the borough court, besides 6s. 8d. fine for drawing a weapon, and 6d. for bloodshed in the case of any frays in the town. From the first the mayor seems to have been chosen by the burgesses from among themselves. (fn. 186) The election took place on the Monday preceding Michaelmas Day, (fn. 187) a custom which continued till 1627, when, under the charter of Charles I, it was altered to the Monday week before that feast. In 1835 the day of election was again changed to 9 November. Before this time the mayor had been sworn into office on the Michaelmas Day after his election. Under Elizabeth's charter he was to be chosen from among the senior and better burgesses, and by the charter of 1627 it was ordained that he should be chosen by the majority of the aldermen and burgesses from the aldermen. By the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 the election was vested in the borough council, i e. the mayor, aldermen, and councillors. His duties necessitate residence within the borough limits. (fn. 188) Under the charter of Charles I the mayor was removable at the will of the aldermen, and so continued till 1835, except during the few years that the charter of Charles II was in force, when he might have been removed by the royal sign manual, as has been before pointed out. During the bitter political struggle between the Whig and Tory aldermen Henry Seagar, who had been chosen mayor by one party, was ousted under a mandamus from the Queen's Bench in 1711, as having been unduly elected. (fn. 189) Again, at the latter end of the same century party feeling was so strong that for three years the mayoralty was in dispute. (fn. 190) In October, 1779, John Carter was elected by the Whig party, Edward Linzee, who had been chosen in the preceding September, not having appeared to be sworn. Carter was ousted in the following January, and John Godwin, who took his place, resigned in May, so that from that time till Michaelmas, 1780, there was no mayor at all in the town, and during a whole year no justices nor minor officials were sworn. (fn. 191) Early in the seventeenth century there were evidently objections raised to the choice of members of the garrison as mayor, for William Winter at his election in 1635 renounced his position in the garrison and promised 'hereafter to be none of their company.' (fn. 192) In the case of Benjamin Johnson, a storekeeper who was chosen mayor in 1665, a deputy fulfilled the greater part of his functions, though he attended the more important councils, e.g. to consult as to the prevention of the plague. (fn. 193) He refused to relinquish office, saying that only the king and council could remove him, (fn. 194) and in spite of definite orders to the contrary several officers in the docks were chosen mayor, for in the words of a letter addressed to Samuel Pepys, 'the king had as good as taken away the charter from the town as prohibit his officers from being magistrates.' (fn. 195)
The appointment of a deputy mayor in case of the mayor's sickness or any other reasonable cause of absence was provided for in the charter of Charles I. The deputy was to be one of the aldermen and was chosen by the mayor himself.
As the office of bailiff became extinct, it devolved upon the mayor to preside over the court leet and view of frankpledge in the town. In the charter of Charles I it is stated that either the mayor or the recorder must be present at these and at the court of record. The charter of Elizabeth provided that he should be ex officio a justice of the peace, and, with the common clerk, should hear and seal recognizances of debt.
The mayor's hospitality consisted mainly in great banquets on special occasions. At first he was bound to provide two grand feasts at the time of the sessions and one on the Friday following, together with other banquets on election days and Michaelmas Day, and a piece of roast beef on Christmas Day, Easter Day, and Whitsunday. Late in the seventeenth century the mayor's salary having been reduced by £10 to increase the fund for paving the town, one of these feasts was abolished; and in 1681, when the town was burdened with the costs of a suit concerning the elections, the two grand feasts of the session were excused. (fn. 196)
At first there was no definite allowance due to the mayor from the corporation funds, but he had certain perquisites, e.g. two bushels of wheat from every boat-load brought into port, (fn. 197) and certain amercements at law days and courts, (fn. 198) the latter privilege being evidently a survival of the old custom which allowed the bailiff 12d. in every pound recovered in the court. (fn. 199) In 1543 these amercements were commuted for an annual payment to be settled at the election of the mayor. (fn. 200) Latterly the amount assigned to him yearly was £30, but late in the seventeenth century this was reduced to £20, and in 1671 this was changed for the use of the butchers' shambles and the loft above them, the corporation keeping them in repair, (fn. 201) while, in 1693, it was arranged that the mayor himself should pay the cost of repairs. (fn. 202) Finally, in 1785, it was arranged that all the former perquisites of the mayor should be added to the common fund, from which the expenses of the mayoralty up to £300 yearly were to be paid by the chamberlain. (fn. 203) It was a privilege of the mayor to elect a burgess on retiring from office. (fn. 204) At an election of aldermen in 1690 a discussion arose as to whether the mayor had a casting vote in the matter, and the decision was in the negative, (fn. 205) but by 1835 it was customary for him to have a casting vote. (fn. 206) At that date also he had the appointment of certain minor officers such as the serjeants-at-mace. In 1682 it was ordained that when not wearing his robe he should carry a white staff 6 ft. to 7 ft. in length. (fn. 207)
By Elizabeth's charter the powers of justices of the peace were first definitely conferred on the mayor and three of the senior or better burgesses of the town, (fn. 208) though some at least of their functions, e.g. the suppression of riot and the prevention of forestalling, must have been previously exercised by officials of the corporation. Under the charter of 1627 the mayor, ex-mayor of the previous year, the recorder, and three other aldermen were justices of the peace for one year, being chosen Monday week before Michaelmas by the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses for the time being. The three aldermen then appointed by the king had all previously acted as mayor, and it evidently became the custom later for the office only to be given to ex-mayors, for Hugh Salisbury, an officer of the dockyard who had been elected justice in 1666, excused himself for taking such an office since there were only three aldermen besides himself who had been mayors. (fn. 209) The charter of Charles II extended the jurisdiction of the justices of Portsmouth to Gosport, but otherwise no change was made, except that it definitely stated that only aldermen who had been mayors could become justices of the peace. Owing to the party struggles of the eighteenth century no new justices were sworn into office in 1779. (fn. 210) The number of magistrates has since increased.
The recorder, or presiding officer in the court of record, and more recently the quarter sessions of the borough, is definitely mentioned in the charter of Charles I. It is evident, however, that the office was in existence previous to that time, for in 1601 John Moore, 'recorder of Portsmouth,' was returned as member of Parliament for the town. (fn. 211) He had been under-steward of Portsmouth during the highstewardship of Henry, earl of Sussex, who was appointed in 1590. (fn. 212) Again, in 1615, Moore was entered in the list of officers as serjeant-at-law and recorder. (fn. 213) According to the charter of 1627 the recorder was to be a man learned in the laws of England, to be elected by the mayor and aldermen and to continue in office during good behaviour, but before 1833 his term of office had been changed to one for life. (fn. 214) The charter of Charles II included the recorder among those who had power to make by-laws for the government of the town. His fee, which was paid from the rent-roll by the mayor, amounted to £10 in 1682. (fn. 215) By the Municipal Reform Act of 1835 the choice of a recorder was vested in the crown. Among those who have held this office was Judge Jeffreys, appointed in 1685, presumably on the nomination of the earl of Dartmouth. (fn. 216) His duties were fulfilled by a deputy.
The stewards have been said to be predecessors of the recorders, but little is known of their office. In the ancient usages and customs of the town, the steward is named among the officers to be elected with the mayor, (fn. 217) and record is kept of the appointment of seneschals or stewards in the sixteenth century, John Moore, the recorder of 1600, being deputy-steward under the earl of Sussex, as stated above.
The chamberlain or treasurer of the corporation was of considerable importance in the sixteenth and following centuries. In 1531 there were two chamberlains, (fn. 218) and again in 1561 the 'chamberlains' had charge of the town muniments, (fn. 219) but in 1620 there was only one. (fn. 220) In addition to his ordinary duties as treasurer he was responsible for the repair of the town property, e.g. the pound. He was elected annually by the mayor and a majority of the aldermen, but as a rule the chamberlain of the previous year was re-elected. (fn. 221) His place is now taken by a treasurer and accountant.
The coroner's office is prescriptive. The 'Customs' of the fifteenth century state that he was elected yearly with the mayor. (fn. 222) During the eighteenth century it was customary for the town clerk to be chosen as coroner each year. (fn. 223) Controversies arose in the eighteenth century between the admiralty coroner and the coroner of Portsmouth as to the extent of their jurisdictions, and in 1738, the matter having been laid before the King's Bench, it was decided that they held concurrent jurisdiction on board the men-of-war in the harbour. (fn. 224)
The charter of 1627 provided that there should be a town clerk of the borough who should also be a clerk of the peace, but the two offices are now held separately and the town clerk himself is assisted by a deputy.
In attendance on the mayor were the serjeants-atmace, their duties including the care of the town hall, (fn. 225) the summoning of members of the council, (fn. 226) and the preservation of the peace. (fn. 227) From the fourteenth century onwards there were apparently two serjeants. (fn. 228) At first certain fees from burgesses and strangers pleading in the borough court were due to them, (fn. 229) but in 1682 their salary was a fixed one. (fn. 230) By 1835 there was only one serjeant, and he was appointed annually by the mayor, the choice generally falling on the officer of the previous year. (fn. 231)
Other officers were the beadle, whose duties in 1685 included the cleaning of all gutters; (fn. 232) the hayward, who had care of the cattle in the common fields, and impounded strays; the constables, whose numbers increased from three in 1531 (fn. 233) to twenty-two in 1833, (fn. 234) but whose influence in the government of the town decreased after the thirteenth century, when they had a voice in the formation of by-laws; (fn. 235) and the ale-tasters and searchers of market, who sought offenders against the assize of bread and ale. There were also four cofferers, who in the thirteenth century had charge of the borough muniments, (fn. 236) an office which was filled in 1531 by the mayor and two other burgesses, (fn. 237) and seems, later on, to have been exercised by the justices of the peace, while the cofferers' duties were those of auditors. (fn. 238) In connexion with the port there were also water-bailiffs, a wharfinger, and a measurer. (fn. 239)
Richard I exempted the town of Portsmouth and the burgesses holding in it and of it from pleas of the shire and hundred, and from all other pleas, including forest pleas; (fn. 240) moreover, he gave them the right of infangtheof and utfangtheof, so that from the first foundation of the town the burgesses had criminal jurisdiction therein. The early 'Customs' recite the punishments awarded in various cases: the pillory for minor thefts, death by burning or drowning at Catcliff (the site of the older portion of the royal dockyard) for murder, the cucking-stool for scolds, and fixed fines and the forfeiture of the weapon drawn in breaking the peace for assault. (fn. 241)
Under the Municipal Corporation Act of 1835 Portsmouth was allowed to retain quarter sessions of the peace. (fn. 242) The business of these courts had also included the lighting and cleansing of the town until special trustees were appointed for that purpose in the eighteenth century. (fn. 243) It is curious that burgesses were occasionally disfranchised at the sessions of the peace, although their removal was dependent on the votes of the mayor and aldermen, and not only on those of the magistrates. (fn. 244) For more than a century the sessions have been held three times a week, while the court of record, instituted by Charles I to deal with civil cases in the town, has been held every Tuesday. In 1819 a Bill was introduced for the more easy recovery of small debts in Portsmouth, but the attempt was unsuccessful, (fn. 245) and as yet the borough has no separate court of requests.
Court-leet and view of frankpledge were probably the oldest of the borough courts. It was doubtless the perquisites of these courts for which £8 10s. 3d. were accounted in 1198. (fn. 246) Their business included the supervision of weights and measures, the making of presentments concerning such misdemeanours as encroachments, frays, and bloodshed, breach of the pound, and all offences affecting trade in the town, such as breaking the assize and using false weights. It appears also that the court-leet dealt with such matters as would elsewhere have been heard in the courtbaron of the lord of the manor; for instance, tenants were there admitted to the town lands, at the same time taking an oath to be true tenant to the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses. (fn. 247) During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the criminal work of the court-leet was gradually assumed by the justices of the peace, and its local duties, such as the supervision of the repair and lighting of the streets, were executed by the commissioners for that purpose. Thus, early in the nineteenth century, though the court was nominally held every Tuesday, the presentments were invariably postponed till the court day next before the Easter or Michaelmas sessions, (fn. 248) and it is doubtful if they performed any real business even then, for no leet presentments later than those for 1778 are to be found among the corporation records. (fn. 249)
A court of piepowder was formerly kept during fairtime. (fn. 250) The same court was held for burgesses as well as strangers during a month which commenced a fortnight before Michaelmas Day. (fn. 251) A memorandum made on the cover of a seventeenth-century book of sessions of the peace and view of frankpledge notes that 6s. was due to the mayor and 4s. to the town clerk for every court of piepowder held; (fn. 252) but the court fell out of use as the fair deteriorated.
The fair itself was granted to the burgesses by Richard I. It was to be held on the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula (1 August) and during the following fortnight, and the charter extended to those who attended it all the privileges enjoyed by visitors to the fairs at Winchester. (fn. 253) The grant of this fair was confirmed in the subsequent charters, and doubtless it brought much trade to the town and profit to the corporation, who took the tolls. In 1585, when the prosperity of Portsmouth was at a low ebb, the mayor and corporation, in petitioning for various trading advantages, begged that they might be allowed to hold two free fairs yearly, each to last for twenty days, and that during fair-time all men might discharge merchandise there for half the usual custom; (fn. 254) but apparently no grant of a second fair was made, nor is the original one definitely mentioned in the charter of 1600. Charles I, in 1627, confirmed the fair or feast to be held on the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula and the fourteen days following according to the grant of Richard I, but abolished 'a certain other fair' which the burgesses had been wont to hold for fifteen days from the first day of August. It seems probable that, as the fair was subsequently held on 29 June and the fortnight following, it was under this charter that the date of the fair was altered from its original date to the only feast of St. Peter observed in the English calendar. With the change of style in 1752, the first day of the fair was again altered to 11 July. It was a trading fair of some importance, held in the open street, and was resorted to not only by the people of the neighbourhood, but by traders from Normandy and Holland. The chief articles sold were cutlery and earthenware from the Midlands, cloth from the west of England, baskets from Normandy, and Dutch metal and delftware. The fair opened with the display of an open hand or glove, which was placed at the end of a pole and exhibited from the window of the old gaol in the High Street, and latterly from the old town-hall. The glove is now kept in the borough museum: it replaced an older one which had been stolen and sold in America. (fn. 255) Towards the end of the eighteenth century the fair began to deteriorate, becoming a mere gathering of shows and gingerbread stalls, and a great inconvenience and nuisance to the inhabitants. Several attempts were made to put an end to it, but they were ineffectual, until in 1846 a clause inserted in a Local Improvement Act finally abolished it after an existence of more than six centuries. (fn. 256)
The markets also instituted by the charter of 1194 are held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, though the original grant only mentions Thursday as market-day. The charter gave to the burgesses all the liberties enjoyed by the citizens of Winchester and Oxford at their markets. During the seventeenth century 'standings' were let out in the markethouse, (fn. 257) which was presumably under the gildhall, which stood across the High Street. Later, the ground floor of the old town-hall, at the corner of Pembroke Road, was known as the market, but was let to a yearly tenant as a shop. (fn. 258) It is now held in the Commercial Road, the main thoroughfare northwards from the present town-hall. Vegetables, fruit, and dairy produce are sold wholesale and retail. The market begins in the early hours of the morning, when cars are driven in from all the country round, and even from over the Sussex borders. The carts themselves are drawn up in the road and used as stalls, or the fruit and vegetables are exposed for sale in baskets placed along the curb, while the salesman stands in the gutter. The corporation still takes 2d. toll for each standing.
On 4 July, 1256, Henry III granted to the 'good men' of Portsmouth that they and their heirs might have a gild merchant in the town, with all the liberties thereto belonging. A clause in the charter was evidently intended to free the community from liability for the debts of its individual members, (fn. 259) and the grant ends with a confirmation of exemption from cheminage and the other privileges enjoyed by the men of the town during the reigns of Richard I and John. It is curious to note that, though the burgesses obtained several confirmations of their other charters, it was not till 1384 that this grant of a gildmerchant was exemplified. (fn. 260) Owing to the unfortunate loss of the earlier town records, the relations between the gild and the corporation remain unknown; nevertheless, it may be inferred that they were closely allied, from the fact that it was the mayor and burgesses who regulated the trade in the sixteenth and following centuries, and that the borough courts were held in the Gildhall. (fn. 261)
The earliest known common seal of the town is in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries, and is said to date from the thirteenth century. It shows a single-masted vessel on the waves, with furled mainsail. Above the vessel are a crescent and star.
The common seal at present in use bears on the obverse a similar vessel, with an anchor at the bow and an indented flag at the mast-head. Before the mast are two figures rowing; two others in a tower at the stem are blowing long trumpets. The legend is 'Sigillum Commune de Portemutha.' On the reverse are three canopied niches. In the centre niche are the Virgin and Child; in the right-hand niche St. Nicholas with hand raised in benediction; and in the left-hand niche St. Thomas of Canterbury, holding his archiepiscopal cross. The legend is 'Portum Virgo Juva Nicholae Fove Roge (fn. 262) Thoma.'
The seal of the mayoralty is circular, and bears the crescent and star of the borough arms, and the legend 'S. Prepositi de Portesmuth.'
A seal affixed to warrants authorizing flogging during the eighteenth century bears the Tudor rose surmounted by a crown, and the legend 'Prepositus Portesmouth.'
The corporation insignia include:—
(1) A small silver mace with cup-shaped head, on one side of which is the Tudor rose and on the other the fleur-de-lis crowned; no hall-mark.
(2) A silver parcel-gilt mace with semi-globular head engraved with the star, a five-bladed shaft, and the arms of Charles II on a boss on the head, so fixed that it may be reversed to show the arms of the Commonwealth; no hall-mark.
(3) A silver-gilt mace 'converted' at the Restoration. The head is surmounted by a crown, of which the arches are of unusual character. The maker's mark is W. H.
(4) The mayor's chain of office, purchased in 1859, is of gold. Attached is a pendant bearing the borough arms.
Among the fine collection of corporation plate are:—
(1) A silver-gilt cup with the hall-mark of 1525–6 and the inscription 'Si Deus Nobiscum quis contra nos.' On the inside of the foot the initials F. B.
(2) Three silver spoons of Elizabethan pattern marked with the hall-mark of 1558–9 and bearing the letters F. B. pounced on the stems; and three silver spoons marked respectively with the hall-marks of 1588, 1601, and 1618, the earliest having the initials I. S. A. engraved on the knob.
(3) A standing silver-gilt cup with cover. On the edge of the bowl the legends 'Multa cadunt inter calicem supremum labra' (sic) and 'Vivite ad extremum C.C.' The following inscription referring to the donor, Sir Benjamin Berry, is pounced round the lip of the cup: 'This sweete berry from benjamin did falle then goode sir benjamin berry it call.'
(4) Silver tazza pounced with the initials I. S. A, and marked with the hall-mark of 1582.
(5) A silver-gilt covered cup surmounted by a female figure. On the bowl is an inscription stating the cup to be the gift of Robert Lee of London, merchant-taylor, and on the cover the legend 'Amieorum beneficia non peribunt.' The hall-mark is of the year 1590–1.
(6) A silver-gilt standing cup and cover bearing the arms of Portsmouth and of the three donors, John Watts, William Bryan, and John Riddlesden, and the legend 'Tres prohibet supra rixarum metuens gratia.' (fn. 263) The hall-mark is of 1606.
(7) Silver-gilt standing cup and cover inscribed 'The gift of Thomas Bonner, 1609.'
(8) Silver double salt-cellar, with cover bearing the hall-mark of 1615.
(9) Two small silver wine-cups pounced with the name of the donor, William Haberley, and marked with the hall-mark of 1617. A third somewhat similar cup has the hall-mark of 1618. A modern facsimile of the last was given to the corporation in 1875.
(10) A plain silver cup, having the hall-mark of 1619, and inscribed 'The gift of Elizabeth Ridg, widow, 1629.'
(11) A plain silver cup, 'the gift of James Moray,' marked with the hall-mark of 1625.
(12) A plain silver rose-water salver and ewer, both marked with the hall-mark of 1637, and inscribed 'The gift of John Herman, Esq, deceased, to ye mayor and aldermen of ye towne of Porstmouth.'
(13) A plain silver salt-cellar marked with the hallmark of 1665. On the foot is inscribed the name of Edward Silvester.
(14) A plain tankard marked with the hall-mark of 1679, and inscribed 'The gift of Thomas Hancock, alderman, to the corporation of Portsmouth, 1679.'
(15) A plain flagon, with the hall-mark of 1681. Engraved on the front is the inscription 'The gift of Captain Thos. Allin, commander of His Majts ship ye Rubie, to ye corporation of Portsmouth, Anno Domini, 1682.'
(16) A pair of silver-gilt flagons, the gift of Louise, duchess of Portsmouth, in 1683. They bear her arms with the motto 'Abeb. Ent. Lealdet.'
(17) A silver-gilt loving-cup, presented to the corporation by Robert East in 1890.
(18) A silver rose-water dish and ewer, the gift of Alderman Ridoutt to the corporation in the same year. (fn. 264)
According to the thirteenth-century custumal of the town, the jurisdiction of the borough extended 'from the Est side of Hambroke (fn. 265) to Hasilhorde, (fn. 266) and ynward as far as it ebbith an Floweth into the Byrg of Faram ande to Palsgrove as strong as we have hit in Lond yn owre Fraunchise.' Thus the borough claimed jurisdiction over the whole harbour. Proceedings were taken in Chancery in 1435 by John Matthew, deputy to the lord admiral, against the bailiff and burgesses of Portsmouth for assaulting him and preventing him from holding a court in the borough. (fn. 267) It appears that on the first attempt to hold an admiralty court there in February, 1434–5, the bailiff showed the deputy a copy of the town charter, which did not satisfy him that the borough was without the jurisdiction of the admiralty, whereupon the bailiff pleaded the town's customs, and begged for respite until the Lord Chancellor's decision as to the meaning of the charter should be known. The deputy agreed, but nevertheless held a court at the water-side some time later, and was interrupted by the bailiff, serjeant, and constables. A struggle ensuing, it was reported that the bailiff was killed, and the whole town came out against the deputy, who had to be escorted to his house by the bailiff's officers. He pathetically complained that in the confusion the king's books were cast to the ground, and that he had 'never yet found a purse of black leather, in which was £13 of gold . . . . and a seal of office.' The same question arose from time to time. In the corporation books of the eighteenth century is an entry recording a request from the vice-admiral of Hampshire for permission to hold a court of admiralty in the town. In acceding to this request, the corporation added a saving clause for their privileges, and asserted the non-precedential nature of the occasion.
In 1822 the question of the right of the corporation to the foreshore and soil of the harbour was raised, (fn. 268) but the case was not proceeded with until 1869. In 1877 the cause was heard, but the corporation failed to establish its right, except to that part of the harbour adjacent to the old town. (fn. 269)
From a perambulation of the borough and its liberties in 1566, (fn. 270) it appears that its jurisdiction extended as far north as a line from Tipner to the Green Post on the London Road, and as far east as the bounds of Copnor, Kingston, and Fratton, while the sea formed the southern boundary. The borough proper was co-extensive with Portsmouth parish, the liberties were part of Portsea parish, the east of Portsea being known as the Gildable. (fn. 271) Under the Reform Act of 1832 the Gildable was included in the borough for parliamentary purposes, (fn. 272) and three years later the parliamentary boundaries were adopted for municipal purposes, (fn. 273) the town being divided at first into six, and later into fourteen wards. (fn. 274) Under this arrangement the borough included all the old parishes of Portsmouth and Portsea. In 1895 the small extra-parochial district of Great Salterns was added to it. (fn. 275)
In 1295 Portsmouth returned two burgesses to Parliament, viz. Richard de Reynold and Stephen Justice, (fn. 276) and from that date until the present day it has sent two burgesses to every Parliament with some few exceptions. These occurred chiefly in the fourteenth century, when the bailiffs failed to return burgesses to six several Parliaments. (fn. 277) This failure was probably due to the burden of their expenses, which fell upon all the burgesses, for as late as 1597 one representative was paid 2s. a day during the session of Parliament. (fn. 278) The lord of Portsea manor was bound to contribute towards these expenses, since divers of his lands lay within the liberty of the town. (fn. 279) It might therefore be concluded that the vote was vested in landholders within the borough; but, so far as can be drawn from the existing returns, the bailiff and burgesses alone had a voice in parliamentary elections. This was the case in 1477–8; in 1572 the mayor, chamberlains, and commonalty of the town elected two burgesses, and in 1584 the election was by the burgesses and freeholders, but with these exceptions the returns were always made by the bailiff, or mayor, and burgesses, until the charter of incorporation granted by Elizabeth, after which they were made by the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses, except in 1688, when the commonalty also voted. In 1695–6, the election of Colonel Gibson and Admiral Aylmer having been contested on the grounds that nonburgesses had been allowed to vote, decision was given in favour of the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses. (fn. 280) At a former election the inhabitants of Portsea who paid scot and lot endeavoured to vote, but the gates of the town were shut upon them. (fn. 281) During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries further difficulties arose respecting non-resident burgesses. The question was finally brought before a committee of the Commons in 1820, and a decision given in favour of the non-residents, (fn. 282) but the Reform Act of 1832 gave the vote to householders both in the old borough of Portsmouth and in the parish of Portsea, an arrangement which has not since been altered. (fn. 283)
The jurisdiction of the town over the harbour has been the subject of much dispute owing to the early relations between Southampton and Portsmouth. Evidently before the foundation of the town by Richard I the customary dues from ships lading and unlading in what is now known as Portsmouth Harbour were accounted for by the men of Southampton; then, after Richard's charter to Portsmouth, £7 was deducted from the ferm of the former for the pontage and petty customs of Portsmouth. (fn. 284) The greater customs were still collected by the men of Southampton, and the customer there accounted for them until the end of the eighteenth century. (fn. 285) The port of Portsmouth was named in King John's charter to Southampton. Perhaps from this grant arose a plea between the men of the two towns as to what right the bailiffs of Portsmouth had to take the ferm of their town, which was alleged to belong to Southampton. They asserted that they collected the pontage and other water-dues, of which their ferm consisted, under the sheriff's writ, and denied that the bailiffs of Southampton had any right in their town. (fn. 286) Unfortunately no account of the termination of this plea has been found, but in 1239 an agreement was made by which the burgesses of Southampton retained only their rights over the water. (fn. 287) Thenceforward the customer of that town collected the greater customs, while the petty customs were retained by the men of Portsmouth, who also had jurisdiction over the whole of the harbour from the western portion of Southsea Common to Haslar and northwards to Fareham Bridge and Paulsgrove. (fn. 288) In 1279 a commission was issued to inquire into the alleged exaction of undue customs at Portsmouth, by which the trade of the town had been greatly prejudiced, (fn. 289) and again, in 1344, merchants began to abandon the town owing to the double customs exacted, first by the men of Southampton in the port, and then by the bailiffs of Portsmouth in the town, in accordance with letters patent granting them the dues on goods bought and sold there towards building the town walls. (fn. 290) In 1432 the men of Newport complained that no deputy customers were appointed in the various havens of Hampshire, and the customers at Southampton were commanded to place deputies at Portsmouth and other harbours for one year. (fn. 291) In the fifteenth century the water-toll of Portsmouth was farmed out by the steward of Southampton, (fn. 292) and again in 1571 the township petitioned that a deputy-customer might be appointed there 'as in former time,' (fn. 293) and in 1602 Portsmouth was named as a member of Southampton, (fn. 294) and was still so in 1696, at which date the customer of Southampton reported that it had formerly paid to the king £800 yearly in customs, but had so grown in recent years as to produce £6,000. (fn. 295) Nevertheless Portsmouth remained a member of Southampton port till late in the eighteenth or early in the nineteenth century, when it was separated and became itself a port. (fn. 296) Its extent, set out in 1852, includes the whole coast-line from the limits of the port of Arundel at Bosham Creek westwards as far as Hill Head, the limit of Southampton port. (fn. 297)
It is as a naval station rather than a trading centre that Portsmouth has gained its importance. Before the building of the town the harbour was used as a starting-point for Normandy; the royal treasure was sent there from Winchester for transport, (fn. 298) and in 1177 almost all the ships of England were gathered at Portsmouth and Southampton. (fn. 299) For two centuries after the town had been founded it was used as a rendezvous for expeditions to Normandy and Gascony. (fn. 300) King John gathered a fleet of unprecedented size there in 1205 Under Edward III menat-arms took ship there for Brittany, (fn. 301) and in 1416 the French blockaded the English fleet then lying at anchor in the harbour. (fn. 302)
King John caused some kind of protection to be made for his ships there during the winter months, for in 1212 he commanded the sheriff of Hampshire to cause the royal basin or dock (exclusa) at Portsmouth to be inclosed with a strong wall for the safe-keeping of his ships during the following winter. (fn. 303) It appears that the 'basin' here referred to was a pond belonging to the abbey of Fontevrault, probably attached to the mills granted to the abbey by Richard I, in which case it was situated near the present Gun Wharf. Sixteen years after the building of the walls, at the petition of the abbess, Henry III commanded the constable of Rochester to provide wood to fill up the basin and to make another causeway there, notwithstanding that King John had caused walls to be built close by for the protection of his vessels from storms. (fn. 304) There was still a royal ship at Portsmouth in 1232 under the custody of Vincent de Hastings, (fn. 305) to whom a grant of the 'water of Portsmouth' by King John had been confirmed in March, 1216–17. (fn. 306) Probably, therefore, the king's ships continued to have their winter quarters at Portsmouth, though no definite mention of a dock is found before 1495, when Henry VII ordered the construction of a dry dock there. (fn. 307) It is said to have been situated near the King's Stairs, i.e. in Portsmouth itself. Throughout the reign of Henry VIII large sums were expended on this dockyard and the storehouses attached, and in 1523 a new dock was rebuilt for the Henri Grâce à Dieu. (fn. 308) Towards the end of the reign special efforts were made to maintain the importance of the harbour. Sir Anthony Knyvet, governor of the town in 1544, set forth its convenience, since the greatest ships could get in and out at all tides, and it was only one night's sailing from Newhaven, Dieppe, Harfleur, and the Seine. (fn. 309) In 1545 a new chain was stretched across the harbour, and the whole fleet concentrated to defend the town; (fn. 310) but after the succession of Edward VI Portsmouth fell into comparative insignificance as a naval station, owing to its distance from London. (fn. 311) The old dry dock had been filled in before 1627, when Buckingham was earnest in his endeavours to build a new double dock in its place. (fn. 312) Unfortunately his death deferred its construction, and, though ships were stationed in the harbour and estimates made for a new dock, the latter was not commenced till 1656. (fn. 313) The yard was partly fortified in 1667. (fn. 314) Subsequently the docks were extended northwards, many acres being reclaimed from the harbour for this purpose, and their importance increased during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with that of the Channel Fleet. Portsmouth from this time has been intimately connected with naval history, notably with the execution of Admiral Byng in 1757, the loss of the Royal George in 1782, and the mutiny at Spithead in 1797. The Naval College was established within the dockyard in 1733, and in 1798 a new dock was built to receive ten sail of the line. (fn. 315) With the introduction of steam vessels more accommodation was needed, and for this purpose a new steam-basin was opened in 1848. (fn. 316) Between that date and 1876 the area of the yard was more than doubled, a large extension including fitting-out, rigging, and repairing basins being opened in 1876. (fn. 317) Small additions have been more recently made. The yard now occupies the greater part of the peninsula to the north of Portsmouth, and gives employment to many thousands of men, since it is used for the building and repairing of all kinds of vessels, from the torpedo-destroyer to the largest of our men-of-war.
The position of Portsmouth, favourable as it is for a trading port and naval station, lays the town open to foreign invasion. It was here that Robert of Normandy is said to have landed in 1101, when he sought to wrest the kingdom from his brother Henry, (fn. 318) though it is probable that the chroniclers refer to the whole harbour as Portsmouth, and that the actual landing was effected at Portchester. (fn. 319) The fortification of such a town was, therefore, of the utmost importance, yet little effort was made to protect it before the fourteenth century. There is, indeed, record of the serjeanty due from William of Cosham in the thirteenth century of providing one man in the 'castle of Portsmouth' in time of war, (fn. 320) but the name seems to be either an error of the scribe for Portchester, or to have been given to that castle owing to its position at the head of Portsmouth Harbour. When the town was first founded a house was built there for the king, and ditches were made about its court, (fn. 321) but there is no evidence of a royal castle there previous to the fifteenth century. The first assault on the town came, however, not from the Continent, but from the barons of the Cinque Ports. In 1216 they had served as allies with the men of Portsmouth in aiding the Dauphin against King John, (fn. 322) but in the succeeding reign both the men of Portsmouth and Southampton suffered grievously from the violence of the barons, who seized cargoes on their way to Portsmouth and transferred them to their own ships, and refused to allow the bailiffs to enter their vessels to buy wine. (fn. 323) In 1265 the barons of the Cinque Ports, joining in the political struggles of that date, and doubtless inspired with no good feeling against a prosperous port in their immediate neighbourhood, landed in force at Portsmouth, slew some of the men who had gathered together in defence of the port, put the rest to flight, and finally burnt the town. (fn. 324) Some years later an affray in the Isle of Wight, though it did not closely affect the town, must have caused no little excitement there. In 1293 some English sailors set upon certain men of Bayonne and slew them, mistaking them for Spaniards. It was in Portsmouth Church that they swore to their mistake, and bound themselves to provide three chaplains at Portsmouth and three at Bayonne to pray for the souls of the slain. (fn. 325) The defenceless state of the town is well shown by its fate during the Hundred Years' War. Early in 1338 some ships and galleys which were reported to have come from Normandy landed on the south coast and plundered and burnt the towns and villages near Southampton and Portsmouth, all the latter town save only the parish church and the Domus Dei being destroyed by fire. (fn. 326) The king, having compassion on the misery of the townspeople, pardoned them the triennial tenth and fifteenth then due, (fn. 327) and in the following year gave them respite from the exaction of wool. (fn. 328) These concessions were extended from time to time; (fn. 329) in 1339 efforts were made to strengthen the defences of the town, and the commissioners of array for the guard of the sea in Oxfordshire were charged to increase their payment for this purpose in order to provide a man-at-arms and two archers to do guard at Portsmouth. (fn. 330) In 1342 further steps were taken to protect the town, which had offered no resistance to the first French attack. (fn. 331) In that year townsmen were released from payment of all tallages and contributions to the king on condition that they applied the contingent due from them in walling and fortifying the town, this work being under the sheriff's supervision. (fn. 332) An order was also sent to the sheriff to cause the king's grant to be proclaimed, and to permit the men of Portsmouth to levy customs in their town for the purpose of walling and paving it. (fn. 333) This last grant, however, proved more hindrance than help, for when merchants discovered that they must pay dues to the burgesses of Portsmouth on selling their goods in the town, as well as custom to the men of Southampton on entering the port, they took their merchandise elsewhere, so that two years after the grant of this doubtful privilege the townsmen petitioned for its reversal. (fn. 334)
After the renewal of hostilities with France in 1369 the town was again burned by the enemy, whereupon the impoverished inhabitants petitioned for respite from the payment of ferm, (fn. 335) and after inquisition had been made on the subject they were released from payment for ten years. (fn. 336) The town is said to have been again assaulted and plundered by the French expedition which, under Jean de Vien, ravaged the south coast in 1377. (fn. 337) There is a tradition that it was again attacked in 1380.
The necessity for strong fortifications having been thus forcibly proved, Thomas earl of Kent, Nicholas Sharnesfield, knight of the chamber, and Robert Cholmelegh, king's esquire, were appointed to survey Portsmouth and take order for its defence in 1386, (fn. 338) and in 1421 Robert Barbot was clerk of the king's works there. (fn. 339) Within the three following years he received over £690 for works about the town. These included the erection of a new tower 'for the safe custody of the king's ships,' and the construction of a wharf at 'Chiderodd' as a foundation for another new tower. (fn. 340) No record of any former tower is at present forthcoming, but from the wording of Robert Barbot's account it might be inferred that the tower built by him took the place of an older one, perhaps built after the survey of 1386. (fn. 341) Robert Thorpe accounted for repairs about the 'castles' of Portchester and Portsmouth from 1441 to 1443. (fn. 342) One of these towers was still standing in 1483, when it was mentioned in the grant of the government of the town to John le Moyne. (fn. 343) It was doubtless identical with the round tower which is shown at the mouth of the harbour on a plan of the time of Henry VIII. (fn. 344)
In 1513 special instructions were given to the earl of Arundel for the keeping of the tower and blockhouses at Portsmouth, (fn. 345) and at about this date a large storehouse was built and the old brew-houses were repaired. (fn. 346) Nevertheless in 1518 Fox, then bishop of Winchester, wrote to Wolsey: 'If war be intended against England the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth are too feeble for defence. Our manner is never to prepare for war to our enemies be light at our doors.' (fn. 347) A few years later, in accordance with further advice from the bishop urging that Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight should be provided with artillery, 'for if they be lords of the sea Calais will never be lost,' (fn. 348) ten ships were engaged in carrying ordnance to Portsmouth. (fn. 349) Still, in 1526 the town was 'in sore ruin and decay,' (fn. 350) and when in 1538 a vessel from Southampton, pursued by four French ships, ran aground beside Palshyds Bulwarks, the ordnance of the town was out of order and the Frenchmen boarded and carried off their prize unresisted. (fn. 351) In the following year new ramparts and fortifications were well advanced owing to fear of a French war, (fn. 352) but two years later the hastily-built ramparts were 'clean fallen down' and the king so annoyed that he went in person to direct how they should be rebuilt. (fn. 353) In 1544 Sir Anthony Knyvet, then governor of the town, petitioned for more men to defend it, stating that whereas there had formerly been a hundred gunners there, there were latterly only fifty, besides four or five hundred bakers and brewers and also labourers repairing the wall, and reinforcement would be difficult in time of war owing to the single approach to the island over Portsea Bridge. (fn. 354) In 1545 arose another alarm of attack; the council met there to consider its defence, artillery from the Tower of London was sent thither, the whole navy gathered for its defence, and four of the inhabitants were appointed to watch nightly with the soldiers. (fn. 355) In the following year plans were made for the partial inclosure of the town with ramparts of turf and a ditch, and for the protection of the wharves with mounds of earth, (fn. 356) but in 1559 Portsmouth was reported to be 'nothing strong' and a man could gallop his horse up the ditch, (fn. 357) and this in spite of many plans for its defence in the preceding years. (fn. 358) In June, 1557, a terrible fire broke out and destroyed the royal storehouse known as the Broomehouse. (fn. 359) During the latter part of Queen Elizabeth's reign the work of fortification went on apace under the direction of Sir Henry Radcliffe, then governor of the town. A commission was issued to assemble and train the townsmen and islanders, (fn. 360) and an estimate made for the building of a 'new great bridge' and gates to the town, (fn. 361) the work being done by labourers levied from the country round. (fn. 362) In 1587 the inhabitants were ordered to cut down all hedges within forty or fifty yards of the town walls. (fn. 363) At this date it was considered that a thousand men could hold the town until the navy could come to their aid, (fn. 364) but in 1590 able men to the number of 2,000 were appointed in fourteen neighbouring hundreds to be ready to repair thither in case of assault. (fn. 365) Again in 1596 special preparations were made to resist a threatened attack from Spain. (fn. 366) In 1624 the ramparts were severely damaged in a great storm. (fn. 367) A few years later the town was filled with the men levied for the duke of Buckingham's expedition, (fn. 368) yet the fort itself was in ruins. (fn. 369) In 1634 it was proposed to remove the old town wall, (fn. 370) and three years later the townsmen were commanded to cover all houses near the king's buildings with tiles instead of thatch as a precaution against fire. (fn. 371) The chain which had been laid across the harbour in 1621, was by this time destroyed. (fn. 372) It has since been replaced, for it can still be seen at low tide.
The strength of the town was tried during the civil wars. It being the policy of the Parliamentarians to secure for themselves the chief maritime towns, they were necessarily anxious to make sure of Portsmouth, and the more so that it was reported in May, 1641, that the queen was besieged there, while the king himself was said to be on his way thither with the army. (fn. 373) Colonel George Goring, then governor of Portsmouth, was suspected of complicity in a plot to possess the Papists of the town, and was sent to London to be examined before Parliament, where he succeeded in justifying his conduct. The soldiers themselves not being trusted, trained bands from the county, which was for the most part inclined to favour the Parliamentarians, were sent into the town. (fn. 374) The townspeople were very ill-disposed towards the governor owing to his royalist principles. There had also been a growing feeling of dissension between the garrison and the townsfolk for many years past. As early as January, 1546–7, Edward Vaughan, then captain of Portsmouth, had brought a complaint against the mayor touching the gauge of beer, (fn. 375) and in 1564 a quarrel arose between the corporation and the governor as to houses which the latter had built on waste land. (fn. 376) Irritation increased under the government of the earl of Sussex, captain of Portsmouth from 1571 to 1593, who caused the townsmen to cut down the hedges near the walls. They welcomed his successor, 'thinking his coming amongst them to be their year of jubilee, and having now some hope to grow rich, which heretofore was impossible by reason of the great dislike between them and the dead earl.' (fn. 377) Again in 1609 the mayor and his brethren petitioned the governor, the earl of Pembroke, for more liberty of ingress and egress, for equal benefits of the law with the soldiers, for special provisions for the relief of poor soldiers and their families, and that members of the garrison should not be allowed to trade in the town. (fn. 378) The governor acceded to most of these requests, but the soldiers again raised the question of the trading privilege in 1627 (vide supra), while in 1632 the mayor and aldermen objected to the removal of the wall between the Quay Gate and the Square Tower, (fn. 379) and further difficulties arose with regard to the mayor's having assessed the garrison as well as the town for shipmoney. The sergeant-major then in command complained at this time that the townspeople had always shown themselves 'like most splenetive men' to the garrison. (fn. 380) In 1635 the townsmen recited the concessions made by the earl of Pembroke, and stated that they had been confirmed by the king in 1632, but complained that they had since been broken, their chief grievance being that the soldiers traded within the town. (fn. 381) The dislike of the townsfolk to Colonel Goring was increased by political considerations. (fn. 382) He stood by the Parliament until they had paid him over £5,000 for fortifications and other sums for arrears due to the garrison, (fn. 383) and these having been received, declared for the king on 2 August, 1642, (fn. 384) whereupon the gentry of Hampshire surrounded the town to prevent aid reaching him from the king, while Parliament appointed the earl of Pembroke governor in his stead. (fn. 385) Having built a wooden fort to protect Portsbridge and commandeered provisions from the whole island, Colonel Goring administered an oath of loyalty to the king to his soldiers, and ejected those who refused to take it. (fn. 386) Before 16 August he was forced to abandon the wooden fort at the bridge, which was at once seized by the Parliamentary adherents of the neighbourhood. (fn. 387) The king's ships, which had declared for Parliament, prevented stores being brought in, and early in September the batteries from Gosport opened fire upon the town (fn. 388) and Southsea Castle surrendered without a blow. The majority of the soldiers, finding that no help came from the king, took part with the town in opposing all further resistance, and the officers were obliged to surrender on 4 September. (fn. 389)
The work of fortification was subsequently continued by Parliament. (fn. 390) In 1648 the garrison petitioned for the trial of the king, (fn. 391) but their pay was still in arrears, and £6,000 was needed for the repair of the fortifications to prevent the tower at the harbour mouth from falling into the sea. (fn. 392) In 1660 the town stood for Parliament against the army. (fn. 393) In 1665 a new plan for the fortifications of the town made by Sir Bernard de Gomme was carried out by Dutch prisoners of war. (fn. 394) The king himself visited these new works in September 1668, (fn. 395) and the lands acquired for this purpose were vested in him and his successors two years later. (fn. 396)
New barracks were built in 1688 at a time when they were most grievously needed, for the inhabitants were overburdened with the number of soldiers quartered upon them. (fn. 397) Nevertheless the townspeople remained loyal, and in 1690 prepared to raise five companies of foot should they be needed. (fn. 398) Early in the eighteenth century more land was purchased for the fortifications of Portsea, (fn. 399) and in 1748 the town was secured from attack by land by the raising of works round the dockyards and gun-wharf. At this time the ancient town of Portsmouth, i.e. that part which lies entirely within the south-western corner of Portsea Island, was completely surrounded by earthworks, the ramparts being strengthened at the angles by King's Bastion, Pembroke Bastion, and East Bastion, all looking over what was then a morass between the town and Southsea Common, Town's Mount, and Guy's Bastion facing inland, and Beeston's Bastion at the corner of what is now the new gun wharf, but was then below water. The Point, protected by its round tower, was without the town, access to it being gained through King James's Gate. This with King William's Gate, Quay Gate, and Lion Gate, the last being the entrance to Portsea, has been destroyed, but the Landport or St. George's Gate has been removed to form the entrance to the recreation ground, while the old Unicorn Gate is one of the entrances to the Dockyard. (fn. 400)
The town walls were demolished between the years 1871 and 1878. (fn. 401) The present line of fortifications extends along the coast, a part of the old ramparts remaining near Governor's Green. The most southerly point of the island is guarded by Southsea Castle, a formidable building within a strong high wall partly surrounded by a deep fosse, and flanked by two batteries. The first castle was built before 1547, in which year a stone platform was raised, and the neighbouring bulwarks of earth strengthened. (fn. 402) It was possibly identical with the Southampton Castle of Portsmouth to which John Chalderton was appointed captain in 1555. (fn. 403) A plan of the castle of this date shows it to have been a square fort within diamond-shaped walls, flanked by two platforms. (fn. 404) In 1627 this building was burnt to the ground, the woodwork of the chimney having first caught fire. (fn. 405) At the time of the fire there were neither guns, men, nor powder in the castle, (fn. 406) and two years later the captain of Southsea complained that it was 'a castle where is neither house nor lodging, to guard a fort that is unprovided for defence or offence.' (fn. 407) It was rebuilt in 1634, (fn. 408) but the lodgings and storerooms were again burnt down in March 1639–40. (fn. 409) Its surprise and capture by the Parliamentarians during the siege of Portsmouth in 1642 rendered the town untenable. (fn. 410) Towards the end of the century it was used as a state prison, (fn. 411) and was under the control of the governor of Portsmouth. (fn. 412) Beyond the castle are the Eastney Batteries overlooking the Channel, and behind them a well-kept road leads past the military church, known on account of its shape as the 'Crinoline Church,' towards the Eastney Barracks. The church has recently been replaced by a large red-brick building on the Henderson Road farther inland.
The military governor of Portsmouth at first held also the office of governor of Portchester Castle. (fn. 413) It appears that in early times the latter was ex officio governor of Portsmouth, but during the troubled years when the town was burnt by the French, separate captains were appointed to the two places with full power to rule and punish all the men of the towns and their neighbourhoods as well as men-at-arms, hobelers and archers, and to hold an array there in order to resist the enemy. (fn. 414) A saving clause for the jurisdiction of the governor was inserted in the later charters of the town. After the reign of Henry VIII the office was not always granted with the constableship of Portchester, though the two were occasionally held together. (fn. 415) Since 1834 a lieutenant-governor has ruled the town. Governor's Green, an open turfed space forming the south-east corner of Portsmouth town and protected towards the sea by part of the old town ramparts, is the site of the old governor's house, which has been replaced by a modern building standing in its own grounds near Cambridge Road. On the green stands the GARRISON CHURCH, a building of very great historical and architectural interest, which after a somewhat chequered career is now most efficiently cared for and maintained. It has a vaulted chancel of three bays, with north vestries, and a nave with aisles of five bays, the chancel having been the chapel, and the nave the living-rooms of the hospital of St. John Baptist and St Nicholas, (fn. 416) otherwise known as Domus Dei, or God's House, founded by Bishop Peter des Roches of Winchester (1205–1238) shortly before 1214. It was brought to its present condition, after various repairs mentioned below, by a thorough renovation and refitting in 1866 under Street. The chancel is lighted by triplets of lancets on north and south, and three trefoiled lancets on the east, and is covered with a quadripartite ribbed vault springing from clustered wall shafts which stop on the moulded string running at the level of the window-sills. In the south-west angle of the chancel is a small doorway leading to an octagonal stair turret which gives access to the roof over the vault, and the middle bay on the north of the chancel is taken up by a modern organ chamber, with a vestry added to the east. The nave arcades, the western bay of which is entirely modern, are very finely proportioned, with lofty pointed arches of two chamfered orders on octagonal pillars with moulded capitals and bases. The roof originally stretched in one span over nave and aisles, the outer walls of the latter having been heightened in modern times and two-light windows of fourteenth-century style inserted, but parts of the older and thicker walls are still to be seen, being best preserved at the south-east angle. The south doorway is in the west bay of the south aisle, and with the south porch and west front of the nave is entirely modern. Attached to the pillars in the nave are the colours of the 7th Royal Fusiliers, of the Scinde Camel Corps placed in the church in memory of General Sir Charles Napier, and of the 67th (South Hampshire) Regiment.
After the surrender of the hospital in 1540 it was handed over to the military authorities, and for a time the church was used for the storing of armour, while the rest of the building was used as the governor's house. (fn. 417) In 1582 plans were made for its repair, two of the arches being in ruin, while there was a breach 50 ft. long in the wall of the house. (fn. 418) The latter was again repaired in 1644; (fn. 419) in it took place the marriage of Charles II and Catherine of Portugal, and the allied sovereigns lodged there in 1814. The whole building except the church was demolished in 1826. (fn. 420)
Without the town, i.e. outside what was once the walled town of Portsmouth, lies the extensive parish of PORTSEA, which includes Kingston, Buckland, Stubbington, Stamshaw, Fratton, Copnor, Milton, Eastney, and Southsea. All these are now within the municipal borough of Portsmouth, but before the Reform Act of 1835 only a part of Portsea was within the liberty of Portsmouth, while the remainder of the parish, known as the Gildable, was included in the hundred of Portsdown. (fn. 421) The men of the Gildable were accustomed to do watch and ward without the town, (fn. 422) and had a separate constable. (fn. 423) Buckland, Copnor, and Fratton are assigned to Portsdown Hundred in the Domesday Book, but this was before the existence of Portsmouth borough. Stamshaw was certainly within the liberty of Portsmouth, (fn. 424) while Kingston, which was apparently included in the borough in 1194, is mentioned separately on the Pipe Roll of 1198. (fn. 425) In 1606 Richard Earnley of Gatcombe, whose hall lay in Hilsea, while his parlour was in Portsea parish, had to do service for the Portsea half of his house at Southsea Castle. (fn. 426)
The town of Portsea stands on the former site of Portsmouth Common, and took its present name in 1792. (fn. 427) The streets are narrow, and the houses for the most part low, with tiled roofs and doors approached by two steps from the street. Some of the lowest houses are still known as 'garrison houses,' because, it is said, the inhabitants were not allowed to build them higher lest they should interfere with the outlook from the old fortifications. Still narrower, ill-paved alleys intersect the town in its poorest parts. The high walls of the dockyard bound it on two sides, while along the third runs the Hard, a roadway leading by the harbour-side to the main gates of the yard. The Portsea Extension Railway connects the town station with the harbour, where a new station was built on a pier in 1876. Facing the harbour is a row of houses, chiefly taverns, where the sailors used to be paid off, while on the wooden seats opposite watermen wait to take visitors to Nelson's flagship, the Victory, or round the harbour. Following the dockyard wall Queen Street is reached. It is the main thoroughfare of Portsea, and is lined with single-windowed shops stocked with goods to suit the needs of sailors and dockyard men. Indeed, it is to the docks that Portsea owes its origin, and this appears most clearly in the names of the streets, which date from the beginning of the eighteenth century. Queen Street itself was named after Queen Anne, as appears from a legend on one of the houses there, and the names Marlborough Road and Orange Street are significant of the date of the town. Defoe described it as a suburb, or rather a new town, which promised to outdo Portsmouth as to the number of inhabitants and the beauty of the buildings, especially as it was unencumbered by the laws of the garrison and the town duties and services. (fn. 428) Complaints of encroachments on the town common were frequent after about 1690, (fn. 429) when it is said to have been an open field with one hovel upon it; but by 1775 it was closely built with houses for the dockyard-men, (fn. 430) and the population increased with great rapidity as the dockyard rose in importance. In 1764 an Act was passed for the better paving and cleansing of the common, (fn. 431) and under a new Act for the same purpose, passed in 1792, the town was first named Portsea. (fn. 432) The lighting and paving have since been transferred to the Portsmouth authorities.
The fortifications of Portsmouth were extended in the eighteenth century to surround Portsea, but were so formed that the borough and its suburb were two walled towns adjacent to each other. The Portsea lines were complete in 1809. (fn. 433)
Long before the town of Portsea had come into existence there was a manor of that name in the island, a large portion of which was demesne land of the manor. The manor or court-house has long since disappeared. (fn. 434)