Charter of 1201
 
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CHARTER OF 1201

 

Cooper C.H. (1842) Annuals of Cambridge

Warwick & Co. Cambridge - 8th January 1201

The King, by a charter dated at Geddington, the 8th of January, in the 2nd year of his reign, and tested by Roger bishop of St. Andrew's, Geoffery Fitzpeter earl of Essex, Robert earl of Leicester, William earl of Sarum, and others, granted to the burgesses of Cambridge the following privileges :

I. That they should have a gild of merchants.(1)

II. That no burgess should plead without the walls of the borough of any plea, save pleas of exterior tenure (except the King's moneyers and servants).

III. That no burgess should make duel;(2) and that with regard to pleas of the Crown, the burgesses might defend themselves according to the ancient custom of the borough.

IV. That all burgesses of the merchant's gild should be free of toll, passage,(3) lastage,(4) pontage,(5) and stallage,(6) in the fair, and without, and throughout the ports of the English sea, and in all the King's lands on this side of the sea, and beyond the sea, (saving in all things the liberties of the City of London).

V. That no burgess should be judged by arbitrary amerciaments, except according to the ancient late of the borough existing in the time of the King's ancestors.

VI. That the burgesses should have justly all their lands and tenures, wages and debts whatsoever, to them due, and that right should be done to them of their lands and tenures within the borough, according to the custom thereof.

VII. That of all the debts of burgesses which should be contracted at Cambridge and of the appearances there to be made, the pleas should be holden at Cambridge.

VIII. That if any one in all the King's dominions, should take toll or custom from the men of Cambridge of the merchant's gild, and should not make satisfaction, the Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, or the Bailiff of Cambridge, should take therefore a distress at Cambridge, (saving in all things the liberties of the City of London).

IX. That for the amendment of the borough, the burgesses should have a fair in Rogation week,(7) with all its liberties as they had been accustomed to have.

X. That all the burgesses of Cambridge might be free of yereshyve(8) and of scotale,(9) if the King's sheriff or any other bailiff had made scotale.

XI. That the burgesses might have all other liberties and free customs which they had in the time of the King's ancestors, when they had them better or more freely.

XII. That if any customs should be unlawfully levied in war, they should be broken.

XIII. That whosoever should come to the borough of Cambridge with his merchandise, of whatever place, whether stranger or otherwise, might come, tarry, and return in safety, and without disturbance, rendering the right customs.

XIV. That any one causing injury, loss or trouble, to the burgesses, should forfeit a £10 to the King.

XV. That the burgesses and their heirs, might have and hold the foregoing liberties, of the King and his heirs, peaceably, freely, quietly, entirely, and honourably in all things.(10)

The King, on the 26th January, directed his writ to Eustachius bishop of Ely, requiring him to deliver to Hamo de Valon (sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire) the Castle of Cambridge, with all things and stores, as the said Bishop had received the same.(11)

The King appears to have been at Barnwell on the 17th of March he did not however stay long, as he was at Bury St. Edmunds on the 19th of the same month.(12)

(1) A mercantile meeting or assembly: the word gild signifies a company or society, and is derived from the Saxon word gildan, to pay; because every member paid his share of the expenses of the community.

(2) One of the ancient modes of trial adopted by the English law was the wager of battle or duel, in which the litigants fought with batons or staves, and the cause was decided in favour of the victor. This barbarous relic of the olden time, though long previously obsolete, was not formally abolished till 1819.

(3) Toll paid for passing over a river.

(4) Toll paid on the sale of wares by the last, as herrings, pitch, &c.

(5) Toll paid for passing over a bridge.

(6) A payment for the liberty of erecting stalls in a market or fair.

(7) This fair is held at Reach, about ten miles from Cambridge, on Rogation Monday, yearly.

(8) Yereshyve or Jeresgive was a payment made to the King's officers for connivance and favour.

(9) Scotale or Scotal was a payment to the officers of the Crown who kept ale houses, and caused men to come there and spend their money for fear of such officers displeasure. The word is used in the Charter of the Forest.

(10) Cart. Antiq.,E.. n. 8.-Rot Cart, 2 Joh. m. 16.-Corporation Cross Book, fo. 49.-MS. Baker, xxv. 4.-Blomeneld. Collect. Cantab. 221.-Hardy, Rotuli Chartarum, i, 83.

(11) Rot. Cart., 2 Joh. m. 17 d.-Hardy, Rotuli Chartarum, i. 100.

(12) Rot. Cart. 2 Joh m. 6.-Hardy, Rotuli Chartarum, i. 92.-Rymer Foedera, edit:Clarke, &c, ii. 83.-Hardy. Itinerary of King John (in Archaeologia, xxii.) 132.