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The Medieval English Borough

By James Tait
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  1. (1896) 13 ff.;
  2. (b) The oath of the commune of London in 1193 bound its members " to be obedient to the mayor of the city of London and to the skivins (skivini) of the said commune
  3. (before 1456) Cliester . 24 48 ' (before 1459) Colcllester . . 8+16~ 16 (1462) Exeter . . I2 '2 (1450-55 3, Gloucester . . 12 number undefined Ipswich .
  4. 106, 3q? ; Statutes of the Realm, ii. 340. The assistants were sometimes called commoners "
  5. 107, n, 2. In the twelfth century the tenements then held of the crown were known collectively as the king's soke (Page, London, p. 117). Cf. the payment de socagio to the king in the St. Paul's rental of c. 1130 (Essays fiuesented to
  6. 1155, the London accounts for the reign are complete, except for the fifth year.
  7. 116) has created confusion by post-dating this event by a year. But further study of the Pipe rolls has convinced me that the suggestion in my article as first printed, that the citizens were the real farmers between 1191 and 1x94, cannot be sustained.
  8. 117 f. "bid.
  9. 1200 (Rot. Chartarztm, p. 6ob) ; Exeter by 1205
  10. 127, 256 n. 3 ; mint, 28 ; judges, 44 ; Ainsty of, 70, 72 ; pop. 1066, 76 ; burgess custom, 87 ; no heriot, IOI ; archbishop's exemptions, 94 ; laws and customs, 106, 214 ; trade,
  11. 14 12. Melcombe had received in 1280 the liberties of London as contained in the charter of 1268
  12. 149 ff. Since 1524 the representatives had been elected by the town council directly. not through a committee (ibid.,
  13. (1933). 177 ff. Since my article was written, Professor Stephenson has restated his thesis more fully and with some notable modifications in his book : Borough and Town : a Study of Urban Orzgins in England (Medieval Academy of America,
  14. 19 b. For the lawmen, see also Vinogradoff,
  15. 228) may have some bearing on the disputed question as to what happened in London in that year (cf. below,
  16. 229 ; Book of Fees, i. 79 f. ; E.H.R. v. 638, n. From 1204. at latest, it was reduced by allowances for grants to 10s. '
  17. 26 n I Census, gable, rent,
  18. 337a I. Cf. the Newcastle privilege under Henry I, except when the ownership was in dispute (Stubbs, Select Charters,
  19. 3The spelling Leyrcestria on the earliest extant impression (fourteenth century) was going out of use in the early years of the thirteenth century (Bateson,
  20. 4 Where he was chosen by the common council of sixty (Hudson, Records of Norwich,
  21. (1914). 451, 12 g. 'Anglo-Saxon Institutions,
  22. 49, 125 140 ; barons, 260 ; seal, 261 n. 8. Ilchester [Somerset!, a hundred (?),
  23. 60 ; Red Book ojExcheqz~er, iii. 1038. See below,
  24. 7 As appended to letters of the mayor and uniuersitas to the mayor and r4niversitas of Bordeaux and of
  25. 7 Corrected from 1156, Rallard's date, given in the article as first printed. See appendix below,
  26. 94, 80 ; Cambridge, 231 n. 2 ; civic, 122. Thetford, early " liberty " of,, 42 ; 69-70 ; pop. 1066, 76 ; allenation of tenements, IOI ; commendation, 89 ; arable, I45 ; 305. Tilshead [Wilts], 55, 91. Tolls, in A.-S.
  27. 96. In what was known as the " Black Assembly."
  28. a A list of those of Oxford in 1257 contains only thirty-two names (Cal.
  29. (1928). a At Newcastle-under-Lyme this object was attained in the fifteenth century without increasing the total number by adding twelve for the community to twelve representing the older twenty-four
  30. A Brihtmer senator of London before the Conquest is mentioned in a document of 1098-1108
  31. A court of the vill of Hertford is
  32. a For a note by M. Petit-Dutaillis on the parliamentary meaning of ' " Commons," see Studies Supplementary to Stubbs' Constitutional History,
  33. A further charter in 1599 gave to the forty-eight the formal title of common council (ibid.,
  34. (1837). a Round, Cal. of Docs. in France,
  35. a The hundred which with the market at Bruton was granted to the priory before I205
  36. A very different conception of the Anglo-Saxon borough has recently been put forth by
  37. After five years the two councils coalesced. See above, p. 333. When their election was transferred to the wards in 1384, their number was fixed at 96, but this was afterwards increased. See above, p. 313. 61ieduced to 18 by the charter of 1524. See above,
  38. An acre for the burgage seems to have been a maximum allowance in the new boroughs of the thirteenth century (B.B.C.
  39. and the later surrender of their common seals by English boroughs whose charters were cancelled (above,
  40. and the London farm, 154. 161. Mansio, mansura, 99, 112. Markets and fairs, early urban,
  41. Anglo-Saxon, third penny of, in boroughs,
  42. Annals of Cambridge,
  43. App., 493b et alias. Sandwich was incorporated in 1684 as the mayor, jurats, and community of the
  44. Area in 1836 (including the borough) 8450 acres (Rep.
  45. arrears when the account was closed at Michaelmas 1130.
  46. (1926). AS suggested by Dr. Stephenson in Arnerican Historictrl Review, xxxii
  47. aSee the Calendar of Rolls of
  48. At Bristol in 1355 tenements are mentioned as held of the king in chief by socage after the custom of Bristol "
  49. (1935). At Cambridge hawgable and landgable were still distinguished in the thirteenth century, though they had both been comprised under landgable In Domesday (Maitland, Township and Borough,
  50. At Dunwich in 1086 there were 236 burgesses and 178 paupeves homines. The population had largely increased since 1066 when there were only 120 burgesses (?bid.
  51. (1925). Avch~ologia Aeliana, 4th series, Vol I
  52. (1726). Between 1118 and 1168. '
  53. (1925). Black Book of Winchester,
  54. (1509). Both numbers seem to have varied slightly. In 1518 a list of the Consilium Maioris contains 37 names and that of the consilium commzuze 28 (Turner,
  55. Burgesses for parliament and coroners were appointed by committees of twelve who were similarly selected (ibid.,
  56. But as the thlrteenth century judicatores were at least nine in number (below,
  57. Calendar of Plea artd Memovalzda Rolls of London,
  58. case of the barons of the Cinque Ports, there is the initial difficulty that until 1206 there is no evidence that any of the ports but Hastings had them.
  59. Charter Rolls,
  60. Cives Lond' Willelmus de Hauerhell et Johannes Bucuinte pro eis reddunt compotum de ccc li. bl. hoc anno."
  61. Commentaries on the Constitution, ntc., of London (1869),
  62. Commune of London,
  63. countess of Gloucester, between 1183 and 1x97, granted to all her burgesses who had built or should build in Petersfield all the liberties and free customs which the citizens of Winchester have in their city who are in gild merchant "
  64. Diplomatarium aevi Saxonici,
  65. (1930). Dr. Stephenson recognized no real As this study was written before the appearance of Dr. Stephenson's fuller and somewhat modified statement of his views in his book Borough and Town
  66. (1934). eAt Canterbury these had been extended northwards before the Coming of
  67. En la cite deiuent estre vint e quatre iurez esluz des plus prudeshomes e des plus sages de la vile e (sic) leaument eider et conseiller le avandit mere a la franchise sauuer e sustener "
  68. (1927). English Monastic Boroughs.
  69. Feudal England (1895). 552 ff.
  70. Feudalism 1066-1166 (1g32), p. 85. Liber de Antiquis Legibus, Camden Soc.,
  71. For a later referencein 1032-to the hustinges gewiht see
  72. For its constitution in 1256, see Sussex Arch.
  73. (1920). For possible abnormal exceptions, see above,
  74. For quarterly meetings of council as a minimum number at London from 1384 and at Worcester, see above,
  75. For some leading citizens among the offenders, see The Earliest Lincolnshire dssize Rolls 1202-09
  76. (1902). For the "little of Seasalter, see below,
  77. For the creation of a commzinitas at Coventry in 1345, see Gross, Gild Merchant, i. 93 n. The burgesses of Hedon in Holderness obtained a similar grant in 1348 (C.Ch.R. v. 87 ff.).
  78. (1932). For the inclusion of Lexden and three other agricultural vills in Colchester hundred, see above, p. 48, and for the admitted rateability of Milend in the twelfth century,
  79. For the minimum number of meetings, cf. Worcester practice in 1467 (Smith, English Gilds, E.E.T.S.,
  80. For the viscountess, who also farmed Rouen, see Tout. Chafitevs in Administrative History, i. 106-7, I 11-12. She answered for the debt on the farm of 1157-58 at ~ichaelmas 1159 as well as for the farm of 1158-59
  81. For two or three named burgesses of
  82. (1979). gild merchant,
  83. (1906). gp 44 f , 210 f ; A Ballard, Tlze Domesday Boioughc (~goq), pp 11-40, The Walls of Malmesbury,"
  84. (1932). Griffiths's history of the town
  85. He was very likely the Calvellus from whom, according to a charter of Malling nunnery, Archbishop Ralph d'Escures bought two mills which he granted to his sister Azeliz between 1114 and 1122
  86. heriot or relief " from Tewkesbury and Cardiff between 1147 and 1183 (ibzd.
  87. Histoire de Belgique, i. 2, 3 I. He remarla on the equivalence of poovt with the English port.
  88. (1925). Historical Essays presented to,
  89. i (Liber Albus), 69-70. For the suggested origin of the congregatio in the husting, see A.
  90. I rgj the men of Ipswich held the farm of the borough, doubtless " during pleasure," at an increment of t5, but it was three years before they paid anything (P.R.
  91. If the old Guildhall (Stow, Survey of London,
  92. if Totnes should be included. but its charter is spurious as it stands, though Ballard believed it to be based on a genuine grant
  93. In 1106 a lawman of York was described as hereditario iure lagaman civitatis quod I-atine potest dici legislator vel iudex (ibid). Alex. Bugge somewhat exaggerated the self-government of these boroughs (Vievteljalz~schrift fiiv
  94. In his valuable article on " Taxation Boroughs and Parliamentary Boroughs, 1294-1336" (HZst. Essays in honour of James Tait
  95. In the case of Lynn it was definitely royal free boroughs, but as it was merely " any free borough " in the Stafford charter, it would be unsafe to infer that the Bridgewater formula imposed any restriction of choice.
  96. In the list of St. Paul's rents, c. 1130, the royal quit-rent is described as de socagio (Essays presented to
  97. In the second line of this entry 1111 is an error for 111. 2 See, however, appendix 11 below,
  98. inaccurately known as the Trinoda Necessitas.
  99. Introduction to Domesday Book, ii. 446. By the date of the inquest (c. 1096-1101) its render had been increased to g46. 150
  100. is called the hundred of Bramber, which was the caput of his honour
  101. It has been doubted whether Slmon received the earldom before Henry 1's time (Farrer, Honors nnd Knzghts' Fees, il. 2961, but he attests a charter of the previous reign as earl (Davis, oj. czt., no. 315) and was already earl at Henry's coronation.
  102. It is interesting to note that the burgesses also asked that they might have the London pondus.
  103. It is possibly significant that these were all in or adjoining the French Vexin, on the Norman border.
  104. It may well be that Gross drew too sharp a line between the Anglo-Saxon cnihtengilds of London,
  105. It was an addition of the same amount in John's grant of the farm to the burgesses (1201) " quamdiu nobis bene servierint "
  106. It was assumed that only l~verymen of a year's standing were qualified to voic ln,fhe assembly now known as the L~verymen in Common Hall assembled (Cal. of Plea and
  107. It was generally affirmed by statute in 1725 (11 Geo I, c. 18), whlch provided a legislative decision on some disputed points (zbzd,
  108. It was in the queen's hands in 1156
  109. (1923). London ; zt~ Ovigtn und Eavly Development
  110. (1931). Mcr/ir.t~nl Coz~?zc~l ujExetev
  111. (1928). Medieval Newcastle-tinder-Lyme
  112. Meliores etiam xii eiusdem urbis cives ad eum mecum duxi ut per illos melius ceteros animaret " (Simeon of Durham, Opera (Rolls Series), i. 189 ;
  113. Memorials of Ipswich,
  114. Milverton are not credited with burgesses either in 1066 or 1086. There was a market in both. Milverton, but not Frome, was afterwards accounted a " Borough town " and had a portreeve down to 1835.
  115. Morris seems to regard the pre-Conquest town reeve as normally the sheriff's subordinate
  116. Nearly all the chief English towns of the Middle Ages are found either among the Roman civitates or burhs re-occupied and their walls repaired, sometimes very early, or the new
  117. of Docs. in France, p. 7 (I 170-75) et alibi. The Londoners must have been perfectly familiar with the civic institutions of Rouen.
  118. of later times was already not unknown. At Colchester there were more houses than burgesses, but this was in 1086 (above p. 73). They were not " waste " houses, however, such as were many in the boroughs at that date.
  119. of Plea and
  120. of Plea and Memoranda Rolls, 1323-64, ed Thomas,
  121. of the borough of Buckingham, whose number is not specified, are mentioned in 1130
  122. of the peace (1242, 1252,1z85), 253 n. 4, 356. Constabularies, wards at
  123. on date of the peace between Alfred and Guthrum, 17; on borough and hundred courts, 32 ; on meaning of bltrh in A.-S.
  124. on Glanvill's commztna, 223. Worcester, foundation of bzcvh, 19-21; in Burghal Hidage, 17, 21, 30 ; port, 25 ; hundred, 45 ; danegeld, 46-7. 58 ;
  125. On this occasion (1378) thirty-one misteries voted one way and ten the other.
  126. or twice for temporary purposes,' no more is heard of gild representation until 1376.
  127. Other towns which appear after I300 and before 1500 with councils of twelve are : Axbridge (13),
  128. Primogeniture is no exception. " It is by no means certain," says Maitland, '' that in 1066 primogeniture had gone much further in Normandy than in
  129. (1924). Queen Edith's tenure of the two carucates at Torksev was temporary. T~G~ reverted to the royal demesne at her death. ' Blakeway. The City of Gloucester
  130. (1921). Quicunque manens in villa assiduus reddebat regi consuetudinem."
  131. (1906). Records of Norwzch
  132. rzga) ; York by 1213 (ibid..
  133. saca et soca et cum tho1
  134. scholar as
  135. See also C.P.R.
  136. See for example a petition of th~ mayor and Bchevins of St. Omer " et pour $te la communalte de yceli to the king of England on behalf of certain bourgois marchans de la dite communalte " (ibid.
  137. See Littr6, s.v.
  138. Selections from the Records of Oxford,
  139. Since 1340, at least, one sherie was chosen by the mayor, who had nominated him for election as early as 1328
  140. Studies in the Period of Baronial Reform and Rebellion,
  141. Supplementary to Stubbs'
  142. Szcruey of London, ii. 279 ; Thomas, Gal. of Plea
  143. Taxation Boroughs and Parliamentary Boroughs,
  144. that of Conway in the British Museum Catalogue. For an example of the use of a reeve's private seal to authenticate a document before 1181, see Salter, op. c~t. no. 88. The raven seal of Colchester with the legend :
  145. The " (consuetudo) panificis " of
  146. (1930). The 30 jugera on the north side of Canterbury granted (a. 823) in C.S. 373, i. 511 are " aritiges aecra " in the contemporary English endorsement.
  147. The addition of " or our other burgesses in Wales (have) " clearly involved no real alternative. For the general affiliation of Welsh boroughs to
  148. (1930). The Anglo-Saxon Borough in
  149. (1930). The Burgesses of Uo~nesday dnd the Malmesbury Wall," zb~d xu1 (1906), 709 ff , C Pet~t l)utalll~s, 5tltdzcs SltPPlcmentavy to Stubbs'
  150. The burgesses of Warrington renounced their free borough court in 1300 on the demand of the lord
  151. (1924). The City of Gloucester,
  152. The common councilmen were often described as assistants of the superior body. At Shrewsbury, for instance, " thei
  153. The Commune of London and other Studies (1899). 229 ff.
  154. The date is between
  155. the decision of St. Louis in 1235 that the citizens of Rheims " non debebant habere sigillum cum non habeant cornmuniam" (Ducange s.
  156. (1904). The Domesday Borough
  157. THE DOMESDAY EVIDENCE The evidence derivable from Domesday Book is still scanty, which is not surprising in a financial record, and in part not altogether clear. Most of it comes from the North and the North Midlands. The lagemen, " lawmen," of
  158. (1927). The English Monastic Boroughs (Univ. of Missouri Studies,
  159. The fact that the Oxford aldermen remained the chief officers of the town for some time after 1191 (Carl.
  160. The figures are 1066 A13 2s. ; quando Petrus (de Valognes) recepit A24 ; 1086, k16. a Ibid. i. 162b. 262b. The king's two-thirds at Malmesbury were included in a farm (zbid, i.
  161. The figures resulting are those of 1086. There may have been changes since 1066 which are not
  162. (1913). The Firma Burgi and Election of Reeves (Bailiffs) Exeter Gloucester Grlrnsby Guildford Hereford Hertford Huntingdon IN
  163. The first mention of a ward alderman is in 1111 (Page, London, p. r80), and Mr. Page places their creation after 1100, but with so little evidence the argument ex silentio is dangerous. Cf. note I above.
  164. The germ of such a common council appeared, of course, much earlier in London.
  165. (1908). The Gilds and Companies of London,
  166. (1908). The Gilds and Companies ofZ.ondon
  167. (1931). The Great Red Book of Bristol,
  168. (1902). The heavy penalty of 65 for evading toll is noticeable. 'E.H.R. xvii.
  169. (1930). The Hidation of Kent," E.H.R. xliv (1929). 612 ff. ; " The Domesday Hidation of Sussex and the Rapes," ibid. xlv.
  170. The hundred-borough was also general in
  171. the king has 113 houses in demesne and the king's barons have IIZ "
  172. the liberi custumavii of Chester,
  173. (1931). The Medizval Council of Exeter. With introduction by
  174. The Northampton writ of 1215 serves as a warning not to assume that the twenty-four afterwards recorded in many boroughs was necessarily the original number of councillors.
  175. The same number in 1519
  176. The Sheriff's Farm.
  177. the somewhat qualified remarks of Maitland who hardly realized the force of the communal movement inspired from abroad (Hzst.
  178. The somewhat similar Tamworth passage is not, however, pPen to this explanation, for the eight burgesses belonging 1086 to the king's neighbouring manor of Drayton (Basset) I' ibi operantur sicut alii villani." 7 Possibly we havc here
  179. The suggestion that London had a municipal council of twelve members more than a century before the first-known creation of such a body may, I think, be dismissed as insufficiently supported and otherwise improbable, though it
  180. the sworn : on the Continent, 159-61 ; the London communio of 1141, 161 ; Henry I1 and the Commune,
  181. The text does not justify the statement that the Mayor nominated the electors. '
  182. The third penny of Ipswich granted to Count Conan of Brittany before 1x56 was allowed to the sheriff of Suffolk in that year (P.R.
  183. The third penny of Norwich granted to Hugh Bigot with the earldom of Norfolk (1155) does not appear on the rolls with the third penny of the county. I'
  184. The three marks " relief" of the Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire thegn with six or less manors, " whether he dwells within or without borough " (D.B. i. zSob, I) is a different matter. * Liebermann, Ges: ii. 571, $ ga ;
  185. The view that " mayor " comes from maior ballivus is of course untenable, though the title of mayor may have been occasionally given to the senior bailiff in the thirteenth century
  186. The well-known Worcester ordinances of 1467 furnish Rot.
  187. (1930). The whole question," she says, " is of great importance in tracing out the origin of the borough court."
  188. The Worcester city court was known as the hundred so late as 1241 and Gloucester was reported by the sheriff in 1316 to '
  189. There at least were twenty c. 1128 (op. cit., p. 176 ; Essays presented to
  190. They appear together in 958 as witnesses of C.S. 1010, 111. 213: 111 gcferscipas innan et utan burhwara." 10
  191. (1908). They had burhwitan like Exeter (above,
  192. This is the earlier of the two Latin cartularies, begun, Mr. Salter believes, in 1198. The Christ Church cartulary was made in 1284. It does not contain Chesney's charter, which was doubtless omitted as being no longer of importance as a title-deed.
  193. this sacrifice as a measure of relief to the citizens.l June, 1174, was the critical point in the feudal revolt of 1173-74.
  194. This was a Hereford custom in 1066 (ibid. i. 17ga, I). It was closely associated with the landgable (ibid. iv. 531a, 539b) It appears (as brugable) in the same association at Oxford under
  195. was a surprisingly hlgh return from pasture.
  196. When London was again in the hands of keepers in 1189-90, the county was farmed by John Bucuinte for L37 9s.
  197. Willcinson's m&ograph on The Medi~val ~ounci1.o.f Enct~r (M.U.P.
  198. xli f.
  199. Yet English merchants still, as in Offa's day, made their way far into the Continent. Cnut in 1027 obtained from the '