Fine of the Month: October 2008
1. Fines made for Norwich and Lynn charters, 1229 and 1233, held in the Norfolk Record Office and King’s Lynn Borough Archives
Dr. John Alban is the county archivist for Norfolk and a member of the project’s Knowledge Transfer Advisory Group, of which body he is the first to contribute an article. Here, in examining two charters surviving in the municipal archives of Norwich and King’s Lynn, he demonstrates how the Henry III Fine Rolls Project complements surviving original documents from the reign and supplies vital information that has not survived.
⁋1An exciting aspect of the Henry III Fine Rolls Project is the way in which it gives ease of access to a vast quantity of primary source material which can complement documents held in local archives, or can provide information about local historical activities and events for which local documentary evidence is lacking.
⁋2To take advantage of this valuable resource, in September 2008, the public computer terminals in the Norfolk Record Office’s searchroom were given a direct live link to the Henry III Fine Rolls Project website. Record Office users now have effortless access to this important online resource, which contains a huge amount of material relating to Norfolk in the thirteenth century – already, there are 304 Norfolk entries and the number is growing. To publicise the launch of this facility, the Norfolk Record Office featured the Fine Rolls Project in their weekly ‘Sense of History’ column in the Sunday supplement of the Eastern Daily Press. 1
⁋3For Norfolk, the fine rolls can often complement the extensive holdings of thirteenth-century documents in the Norfolk Record Office and the King’s Lynn Borough Archives. 2 For example, they show that thirteenth-century royal charters came with a hefty price tag, as David Carpenter has previously demonstrated in the Fine of the Month series on this website. 3
⁋4The Record Office holds two contemporary duplicate copies of Henry III’s charter granted to Norwich on 13 February 1229, which confirmed the city’s charters from earlier monarchs. An entry, probably of 18 February 1229, 4 in the fine roll for 13 Henry III, shows that ‘the men of Norwich give the king 30 m. for having his confirmation of the liberties that they have by the charters of King Henry, his grandfather, King Richard, his uncle, and King John, his father’. 5
⁋5Thirty marks, or £20 (a mark was worth 13s. 4d.), was a considerable sum, but this fine was not as substantial as that offered by the burgesses of Lynn a few years later, for Henry III’s inspeximus, or confirmation of King John’s charter of 14 September 1204. 6 Two duplicate copies of the inspeximus were issued at Westminster on 6 February 1233, 7 while an entry on the fine roll of 17 Henry III, dated between 7 and 10 February, records that ‘the burgesses of Lynn give the king £60 for having his confirmation of certain liberties contained in a charter of King John that they have’. 8
⁋6Before a charter was granted, a certain amount of work and consultation had usually taken place behind the scenes: often there was a petition to be drafted, the intercession and help of influential persons were frequently sought, while there would also certainly be expenses involved. 9
⁋7As well as payments such as the fines offered to induce the king to grant or confirm a charter of privileges, there were also the costs of engrossing and sealing the instrument. 10 Indeed, from time to time, the crown regulated the fees to be taken for the use of the Great Seal, as, for example, by the Constitutio regis de feodis magni sigilli Anglie issued by King John in June 1199. 11 This stipulated that for every charter of new enfeoffment of lands, tenements or liberties, one gold mark or ten silver marks would be paid to the Chancellor, one silver mark to the Vice-Chancellor, one silver mark to the Protonotary, and 5s. for the wax. For a simple confirmation of an existing charter, the Chancellor was to receive one silver mark, and the Vice-Chancellor and Protonotary were each to have one bezant (bisancius), while 12d. was to be paid for the wax. For simple letters of protection, the payment was 2s.
⁋8For Norfolk in the reign of Henry III, there is no locally-held evidence to give an insight into the costs incurred by towns in obtaining royal charters. It is not until much later – from the fourteenth century onwards – that documents held in the Norfolk Record Office and the King’s Lynn Borough Archives begin to paint a clearer picture of this. To take one example, the Lynn Chamberlains’ account roll for the period Michaelmas 1384 to Michaelmas 1385 reveals in fair detail some of the costs which the borough incurred in acquiring royal letters patent, empowering the mayor and probos homines to carry out arrays for the town’s defence. For travelling to London to deliver the request from the borough’s Common Clerk, Thomas Morton, to James de Billyngford at the royal Chancery, Thomas Toke received 9s. 1d. in expenses, with an allowance for one horse and his labour. A further 6s. 10d. was paid to Billyngford himself for the letters patent and also for a writ directed to the commissioners of array for the county of Norfolk, ordering them not to intermeddle within the town of Lynn. 12
⁋9For the reign of Henry III, there are no surviving series of administrative or financial documents in the Norwich or Lynn archives which give this sort of information. In both places, such series of records start only in the 1290s. 13 However, as the two fines referred to in this article show, entries in the fine rolls of Henry III’s reign not only can complement surviving documents held locally, but in certain instances they can also help to plug gaps where the local sources are defective. Thus, although we do not know the complete expenditure incurred by Norwich and Lynn on their charters of 1229 and 1233, the fine rolls very usefully reveal to us what must have been the largest elements of the costs of obtaining them.
⁋10Images and translations of the two original charters for Norwich and Lynn, held in the Norfolk Record Office and King’s Lynn Borough Archives, appear below.
2.1. Charter of Henry III to the citizens of Norwich, 13 February, 13 Henry III  (Norfolk Record Office, NCR, Case 26a/4). (There is a contemporary duplicate copy at NCR, Case 26a/4a.)
⁋1 Download full size image [8MB].
⁋1Henry, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, count of Anjou, to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, reeves, ministers and all bailiffs, and his faithful men, greeting.
⁋2Know that we have granted to our citizens of Norwich that none of them shall plead outside the city of Norwich regarding any plea save pleas of outside tenures, our moneyers and ministers excepted. We have also granted them quittance of murder and gawite 14 within the city, and that none of them may undergo trial by battle, and that concerning pleas of the crown, they may clear themselves according to the custom of the city of London, and that no-one shall lodge within that city or take anything by force.
⁋3This also we have granted to them that all the citizens of Norwich may be quit of toll and lastage throughout all England and the ports of the sea. And that none of them shall be judged in an amercement of money, save according to the law which our citizens of London have. And that in that city there shall be no miskenning 15 in any plea. And that the husting [court] be held only once in the week. And that they may justly hold their lands and tenures and their bonds and all their debts, whoever is owing to them. And that concerning their lands and tenures which are within the city, right shall be done to them according to the custom of the city. And concerning all their pledges which shall have been contracted at Norwich and bonds made there, the pleas shall be held at Norwich. And if anyone in all England shall have taken toll or custom from the men of Norwich, after he had made default in [doing] right, the reeve of Norwich may take a distress therefor at Norwich.
⁋4These customs we have, however, granted to them and all other liberties and free customs which our citizens of London 16 had or have, when they had the best and freest, according to the liberties of London and the laws of the city of Norwich.
⁋5We have also granted to the same citizens, and we order that all those who have residence in the city of Norwich and who have shared in the liberties which we have granted to the said citizens of Norwich, may be taxed and give aid, as the aforesaid citizens of Norwich, when tallages and aids have been placed upon them. We have also granted to them, for us and our heirs, that if anyone has withdrawn himself from their customs and scots, he shall return to their society and custom and follow their scot, so that none be quit thereof.
⁋6Wherefore, we do will and firmly order that the citizens themselves and their heirs shall have and hold hereditarily of us and our heirs all the aforesaid [grants], together with the city and its appurtenances, rendering annually at our Exchequer, at the term of St Michael, £108 sterling in blanch 17 from the city of Norwich, by the hand of the reeve of Norwich. And the aforesaid citizens of Norwich may annually make from among themselves reeves, such as shall be agreeable to us and to them, as the charters which they have of King Henry, our grandfather, and King Richard, our uncle, and the lord King John, our father, thereon reasonably testify.
⁋7These being witnesses: Jocelin, bishop of Bath, Richard, bishop of Durham, Walter, bishop of Carlisle, Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent, justiciar of England, Stephen de Segrave, Philip de Albini, Nicholas de Molis, John fitz Philip, Richard fitz Hugh and others. Given by the hand of the venerable father, Ralph, bishop of Chichester, our chancellor, at Westminster, on the thirteenth day of February, in the thirteenth year of our reign.
⁋8There are two contemporary copies of this charter in the Norfolk Record Office, with some very minor textual variations between them. The copy regarded as the principal one (NCR, Case 26a/4, illustrated here) measures 320 mm x 348 mm, at its widest points. Its seal, in green wax, is fragmentary, but has been repaired. It hangs from braided seal cords which now have a pinkish brown appearance, but bear traces of green. The copy regarded as the duplicate (NCR, Case 26a/4a) measures 325 mm x 260 mm. Its incomplete seal, in green wax, has been repaired and is suspended from the document by plaited seal cords of a deep green.
2.2. Charter of Henry III to the burgesses of Lynn, 6 February, 17 Henry III  (King’s Lynn Borough Archives, KL/C 2/3). (There is a contemporary duplicate copy at KL/C 2/4.)
⁋1 Download full size image [8MB].
⁋1Henry, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou, to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, reeves, ministers and all his bailiffs and faithful men, greeting.
⁋2We have inspected the charter of the lord king John, our father, in these words.
⁋3John, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou, to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, reeves, ministers and all his bailiffs and faithful men, greeting.
⁋4Know that we, at the request and petition of our venerable father, John, the second [of that name], bishop of Norwich, have granted and by this present charter confirmed to the burgesses of Lenn, that the borough of Lenn may be a free borough for ever, and they may have soke and sake, toll and team, infangenthief and outfangenthief. And that throughout all our land and through all sea ports they may be free of toll, lastage, passage, payage, pontage, stallage and of leve 18 and of Danegeld and of all other customs, saving the liberty of the city of London. And that they may make no suit of counties or hundreds in respect of tenures within the borough of Lenn. We have granted, however, to the same burgesses and by this charter have confirmed that none of them shall plead outside the borough of Lenn in any plea except for pleas concerning foreign tenures. We have granted also to them quittance of murder within the borough of Lenn and that none of them shall undergo trial by combat. And that concerning pleas belonging to the crown they may prosecute their suit according to the law and custom of Oxford. And that within the aforesaid borough no one may take lodging by force, nor by livery of the marshals. And that in that borough in no plea may there be miskenning. And that a husting court shall be held once a week only. We have granted also to them a gild merchant and that they may have all their lands and tenures, securities and debts justly, whatever is due to them, and concerning their lands and tenures which are within the aforesaid borough, it is to be right for them to hold them according to the law and custom of the borough of Oxford. And concerning all their debts which shall be arranged at Lenn, and concerning securities made there the pleas may be held at Lenn. And if anyone in the whole of England should take toll or custom from the burgesses of Lenn, except, as above, in the city of London, and shall have made default in right, the reeve of Lenn may distrain in respect thereof at Lenn.
⁋5In addition, for the improvement of the borough of Lenn we have granted that whichever merchants shall go to the borough of Lenn with their merchandise from whatever place they be, whether foreign or others who are at peace with us, or those have come by our leave into our land, they may come, stay and depart in our safety and peace having paid the just customs of the borough. And we forbid anyone doing injury or damage or annoyance to the aforesaid burgesses, under forfeit of ten pounds.
⁋6Moreover, we have granted to the same burgesses that if in any judgment they should be in doubt or contention as to what they ought to do they may send their messengers to Oxford and what the burgesses of Oxford decide shall be valid and firm. 19 Saving for ever to the aforesaid John, bishop of Norwich, and to his successors and to William, earl of Arundel, and to his heirs the liberties and customs just as they have had of old and ought to have in the aforesaid town of Lenn.
⁋7Wherefore we do will and firmly order that the aforesaid burgesses of Lenn and their heirs may have and hold all the aforesaid things by inheritance for ever, well and peacefully, freely and quietly, wholly, fully and honourably, as aforesaid.
⁋8Witnesses: Geoffrey fitz Peter, earl of Essex, William, earl of Salisbury, William Briwerr, Simon de Pateshill, William de Cantilupe, James de Poterna, John de Stoke, Andrew de Beauchamp, Thomas Basset.
⁋9Given by the hand of Hugh of Wells, Archdeacon of Wells, at Lutegareshall, 20 the fourteenth day of September in the sixth year of our reign.
⁋10We, having therefore ratified and approved the aforesaid grant and confirmation of the aforesaid lord king John, our father, have, for us and our heirs, granted and confirmed it, just as the aforesaid charter of our aforesaid father, which the aforesaid burgesses of Lenn have in respect thereof, reasonably testifies.
⁋11These being witnesses: the venerable father Peter, bishop of Winchester, Jocelin, bishop of Bath, Richard, bishop of Durham, and Hugh, bishop of Ely, Richard Marshall, earl of Pembroke, William, earl Warenne, John, earl of Lincoln and constable of Chester, Stephen de Segrave, our justiciar, William de Stuteville, Ralph fitz Nicholas, Godfrey de Craucumbe, John fitz Philip and others.
⁋12Given by the hand of the venerable father Ralph, bishop of Chichester, our chancellor, at Westminster, the sixth day of February, in the seventeenth year of our reign.
⁋13As with the Norwich charter above, there are also two contemporary copies of Henry’s charter to Lynn, with some very minor textual variations between them. The version regarded as the main one measures 313 mm x 400 mm at its widest points. A large fragment of the seal, in green wax, depends from the documents on braided seal cords which now have a pinkish brown appearance. The duplicate copy measures 335 mm x 464 mm at its widest points. A large fragment of the seal, in green wax, measuring 69 mm x 61 mm at its widest points, hangs from the document on braided seal cords, which have an orange/brown appearance.
3.1. C 60/28, Fine Roll 13 Henry III (28 October 1228–27 October 1229), membrane 10.
⁋1 The fine of the men of Norwich.The men of Norwich give the king 30 m. for having his confirmation of the liberties that they have by the charters of King Henry, his grandfather, King Richard, his uncle, and King John, his father. [18–22 Feb. 1229].
3.2. C 60/32, Fine Roll 17 Henry III (28 October 1232–27 October 1233), membrane 7.
⁋1 Norfolk. The burgesses of Lynn give the king £60 for having his confirmation of certain liberties contained in a charter of King John that they have. [7–10 Feb. 1233] [in the Roll, S’]
- John Alban, ‘A hi-tech new Link to the thirteenth Century’, EDP Sunday (30 August 2008), p. 10. The Eastern Daily Press has the highest circulation of any regional daily newspaper in the country; certified figures from ABC show that 64,700 copies are sold every day, so many Norfolk people are now aware of the Henry III Fine Rolls Project website. Back to context...
- The Norfolk Record Office is based in The Archive Centre in Norwich and holds the greater bulk of Norfolk’s written historical records, including the archives of the city of Norwich, c. 1158–1974. The borough archives at King's Lynn Town Hall are in the custody of the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk, and administered jointly with the Norfolk Record Office. They consist mainly of records of King’s Lynn Town Council and its predecessors, 1204–1974. Back to context...
- David Carpenter, ‘Fines made with Henry III for the Confirmation of Charters, January-February 1227’, Fine of the Month (July 2006) and ‘The Bishop of Winchester’s Fine in 1227’, Fine of the Month (August 2006). Back to context...
- Norfolk Record Office [hereafter, NRO], NCR, Case 26a/4 and 4a. The Chancery enrolment is in Calendar of Charter Rolls, 1226–57, p. 93. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, it was the usual practice for Norwich and Lynn to acquire at least two original, sealed copies of each royal charter granted to them. As well as the examples referred to in this article, the Norwich city archives also hold two surviving copies of the charters of Richard I (1194), Henry III (1255, 1256), Edward I (1285, 1291, 1305), Edward II (1326) and Edward III (1337); the Lynn borough archives hold two duplicate charters of John (1204), Henry III (1255, 1268), Edward I (1305), Edward II (1313), Edward III (1335) and Richard II (1386). Back to context...
- CFR, 1228–29, no. 135. Back to context...
- John’s charter of 1204 is in King’s Lynn Borough Archives [hereafter, KLBA], KL/C 2/1. Back to context...
- KLBA, KL/C 2/3 and 4. CCh.R, 1226–57, p. 174. Back to context...
- CFR, 1232–33, no. 117. Back to context...
- See M. Weinbaum, The Incorporation of Boroughs (Manchester, 1937), pp. 37, 41, 51 and 64. The preamble to John’s charter of 1204 to the burgesses of Lynn states that it was granted at the request and petition of John de Gray, Bishop of Norwich, 1200–14 (KLBA, KL/C 2/1). Back to context...
- H.C. Maxwell-Lyte, Historical Notes on the Use of the Great Seal of England (London, 1926), pp. 265–71, 295–99. Back to context...
- Foedera, Conventiones, Litterae,.. cura … Thomae Rymer..., ed. A. Clarke, J. Holbrooke and J. Caley (4 vols., London, 1816–69), i. 75–76. Back to context...
- KLBA, KL/C 39/40. Back to context...
- Guides to the Norwich City Archives and the King’s Lynn Borough Archives are available on the Norfolk Record Office’s website at http://archives.norfolk.gov.uk. Lists of these archives may be found in NROCAT, the Record Office’s online catalogue, at http://nrocat.norfolk.gov.uk. Back to context...
- Gawytam, as it appears in the document, or gay-wite, was a fine for neglecting to keep watch and ward. See C. Gross, The Gild Merchant (2 vols., Oxford, 1890), ii. 405. The glossary in Gross’s book (ii. 393–422) is also useful for understanding the other technical and legal terms which appear in both the charters translated here. Back to context...
- ‘Miskenning’ was making an error in the correct formula necessary for stating a plea in court, or in the facts given when stating a plea. A mistake of this kind might result in the pleader’s forfeiting the case, or could at least result in a fine. It is probably the payment of the fine which the charter is waiving here. Back to context...
- It was a common practice for customs and liberties of some boroughs to be transferred to others. See A. Ballard and J. Tait, British Borough Charters, 1216–1307 (Cambridge, 1923), p. lv; C. Stephenson, Borough and Town. A Study of Urban Origins in England (Cambridge, Mass., 1933), pp. 140–43; J. Tait, The Medieval English Borough. Studies in its Origins and Constitutional History (Manchester, 1936), pp. 198–204; A. Ballard, ‘The Law of Breteuil’, English Historical Review, xxx (1915), pp. 646–58. Back to context...
- By blanch or blank farm, that is, the moneys rendered would be subject to testing by assay at the Exchequer, to ascertain their silver content. This clause in Henry’s charter follows that in the charter of King John, his father, granted on 22 September 1199 (NRO, NCR, Case 26a/3), although the earlier charter granted by Richard I to Norwich on 5 May 1194 [NRO, NCR, Case 26a/2 and duplicate at 2a) had specified that the render was to be made by tale, or simple counting and weighing. However, as Hudson and Tingey point out, Pipe Roll evidence from 6 and 7 Richard I shows that the farm actually demanded after the granting of Richard’s charter was £108 blanch (W. Hudson and J.C. Tingey, The Records of the City of Norwich (2 vols., Norwich, 1906-10), i. 10). For details of the processes, see Richard fitzNigel, Dialogus de Scaccario, ed. E. Amt, in Richard fitzNigel, Dialogus de Scaccario. The Dialogue of the Exchequer/Constitutio Domus Regis, ed. E. Amt and S.D. Church (Oxford, 2007), pp. xxiv–xxv, 54–59; The Course of the Exchequer by Richard, Son of Nigel, ed. C. Johnson (London, 1950), pp. 36–42; R.L. Poole, The Exchequer in the twelfth Century (Oxford, 1912), pp. 75–78. Back to context...
- Leve, lieve was a mercantile levy or impost, or else a fee for permission to trade. See Gross, The Gild Merchant, ii. 409. Back to context...
- Records in the King’s Lynn Borough Archives show that, on occasion, the burgesses of Lynn did, indeed, contact their counterparts in Oxford for advice. For example, the Chamberlains’ account roll for 5–6 Edward III refers to payments of 43s. for the expenses of Roger de Bristole and Thomas the clerk for going ‘towards Oxford and remaining there’ and 33s. 6d. ‘concerning the expenses of the Mayor of Oxford, Richard de Cary, and other burgesses of Oxford, when they answered the interrogations of the same persons’. Lynn also paid 40s. to the clerk of Oxford ‘for having their statutes’ and 6s. 8d. to him for writing out the statutes, while 20s. was paid to Richard de Cary ‘and his associate for the counsel of the same clerk’ (Historical Manuscripts Commission, Eleventh Report, Appendix, Part III: The Manuscripts of the Corporations of Southampton and King’s Lynn (London, 1887), p. 213). Back to context...
- Ludgershall, Wiltshire. Back to context...