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Title: Extracts Relating to Mediaeval Markets and Fairs in England
Author: Douglas-Irvine, Helen
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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INTRODUCTION                                              9

ANGLO-SAXON MARKETS                                      11

EFFECT OF THE CONQUEST                                   14

NEW CREATIONS                                            16

MARKET-PLACES                                            19

SMITHFIELD MARKET UNDER HENRY II.                        24

SPECIAL PRIVILEGES                                       25

PIED POUDRE COURTS                                       26

PROFITS                                                  30

PRE-EMPTION AND PRISAGE                                  36

MARKET HOUSES                                            39

ENFORCEMENT OF REGULARITY                                40

SUPERVISION OF SALES                                     44

FOREIGN MERCHANTS                                        48

MISCELLANEOUS POINTS OF INTEREST                         51

DEGENERATION OF FAIRS                                    54


This series of source-books aims at providing illustrations of various
aspects of English history at a price that will enable the teacher to
place them in the hands of the pupils themselves. All teachers of
history are agreed as to the value of using the "original documents" in
their work as a means of making their pupils realise that they are
studying human life in past ages, but hitherto the consideration of
price has confined the use of them almost entirely to the teachers
themselves. In the series here prepared for the use of scholars and
teachers alike the volumes are each devoted to one aspect of history,
so that the teacher can select that one which will illustrate the
particular line taken. Thus, one will be on "Markets and Fairs," for
use when the teaching has an economic basis, another will deal with
political events, and another with the social side of history. Great
care has been taken to secure extracts from contemporary and reliable

K. H. V.


Fairs and markets are not different institutions--a fair is a market of
a particular kind, an important market held not once or several times a
week, but once or several times a year. The customs, the rights, and
the law of markets are therefore relevant to fairs; and generalisations
as to markets apply to fairs.

There is no direct evidence as to the origin of markets and fairs in
England. Early Oriental and classical literature indicate that they
have served all peoples whose development has reached a certain stage.
As communities cease to be entirely self-supporting trade arises
naturally; and trade is obviously facilitated by a concentration in
particular places at particular times of sellers and buyers. Certain of
these gatherings had in the ninth century already been regularised in
England as markets. The king or other lord had become responsible for
the validity of sales in them, and suffered them to take place within
the territory over which he had power. In return he received from the
market people tolls, fines for transgressions, and other dues, which
were a considerable source of profit, sufficient to make the tenancy of
a market an object of desire. It was frequently acquired by a religious

It is noteworthy that the king was regarded as the original holder of
all market right in England. The lord who had a market on his manor,
whether in virtue of a royal charter or by force of a custom of which
the beginning had been forgotten, was considered to exercise a right
which initially had been derived from the king. In historic times the
establishment of new markets has been, until recently, only possible by
means of a royal grant.


873-99. _Grant to the church of St. Peter, Worcester, of half the
rights of Worcester Market._

To Almighty God, true Unity and holy Trinity in heaven, be praise and
glory and rendering of thanks, for all his benefits bestowed upon us.
Firstly for whose love and for St. Peter's and the church at Worcester,
and at the request of Werfrith the bishop, their friend, Aethelraed the
ealdorman, and Aethelflaed commanded the burh at Worcester to be built,
and eke God's praise to be there upraised. And now they make known by
this charter that of all the rights which appertain to their lordship,
both in market and in street, within the byrg and without, they grant
half to God and St. Peter and the lord of the church; that those who
are in the place may be the better provided, that they may thereby in
some sort easier aid the brotherhood, and that this remembrance may be
the firmer kept in mind, in the place, as long as God's service is done
within the minster. And Werfrith, the bishop, and his flock have
appointed this service before the daily one, both during their lives
and after, to sing at matins, vespers, and undernsong the psalm _De
Profundis_, during their lives, and after their death _Laudate
Dominum_; and a mass for them whether alive or dead. Aethelraed and
Aethelflaed proclaim that they have thus granted with goodwill to God
and St. Peter, under witness of Aelfred the king and all the witan in
Mercia; ... as for ... wohcéapung,[1] and all the customs from which
any fine may arise, let the lord of the church have half of it, for
God's sake and St. Peter's, as it was arranged about the markets and
the streets; and without the market-place let the bishop enjoy his
rights, as of old our predecessors decreed and privileged. Aethelread
and Aethelflaed did this by witness of Aelfred the king, and by witness
of those witan of the Mercians whose names stand written hereafter, and
in the name of God Almighty they abjure all their successors never to
diminish these alms which they have granted to the church for God's
love and St. Peter's.

    Kemble, _Codex Diplomaticus_, No. 1075. _Saxons in England_, I.

          [1] Fine for buying or selling contrary to the rules of the

904. _Grant by Edward of Wessex, son of King Alfred, to the church of
Winchester of Taunton Market._

I Edward, who by divine and indulgent clemency am king of the Anglo-Saxons,
... consent of my magnates whose names are written below, ... grant for
ever the market of the town of Taunton, which in English is called
_thaes tunes cyping_, ... to the holy church of God in the city of
Winchester, ... without limitation or impediment and with all

    Kemble, _Codex Diplomaticus_, No. 1084.

          [2] Services or conveniences, yielding no direct profit,
          which a holder of property rights had in respect of his
          neighbours, _e.g._, right of way, lights.

968. _Confirmation of Edward's grant by Edgar._

Here is made known in this writing how King Edgar renewed the liberty
of Taunton, for the Holy Trinity and St. Peter and St. Paul, to the
episcopal see of Winchester, as King Edward had before freed it, ...;
and let the town's market and the produce of the town-dues go to the
holy place, as they did before, in the days of my forefathers, and were
levied for Bishop Aelfeah and every one of those who enjoyed the land.
Whoever will increase this liberty, may God increase his prosperity in
a long life here and in eternity. But if any, through audacity and the
instigation of the devil and his limbs, will violate this liberty or
pervert it to another, unless ere his departure hence he make
reparation, be he with malediction cut off from the communion of our
Lord and all his saints, and ever be tormented in hell torture, with
Judas who was Christ's betrayer.

    Thorpe, _Diplomatarium Anglicium Aevi Saxonici_, 235.

_Circa 901-21. Law of Edward and Guthrum._

If any man engage in Sunday marketing, let him forfeit the chattel, and
twelve ores among the Danes, and thirty shillings among the English.

    Thorpe, _Ancient Laws and Institutes_, 73.

_Circa 1020. Charter of Canute._

We admonish that men keep Sunday's festival with all their might, and
observe it from Saturday's noon to Monday's dawning; and no man be so
bold that he either go to market or seek any court on that holy day.

    Stubbs, _Select Charters_, 76.

_N.B.--These latter enactments were chiefly distinguished by their
breach, for throughout the middle ages English markets were frequently
held on Sunday. They were probably abortive attempts on the part of
pious legislators to end a custom which seemed to them ungodly._


In Domesday Book there is evidence of a considerable number of markets
which had existed in England under Edward the Confessor, and which
usually yielded to their holders an annual profit of from 20s. to 40s.,
in those days large sums of money. New markets were in some cases
established by the Norman lords who acquired English lands, and they
tended to disorganise the market economy.

1087. _The ruin of the bishop's market at St. Germans._

The bishop has a lordship called St. Germans. In that lordship, on the
day on which King Edward lived and died, there was a market held on
Sunday. And now it is made nothing by the market set up close at hand
by the count of Mortain in his castle, on the same day.

    _Exon. Domesday_ (Rec. Com.), 182, 470.

1087. _Necessity to change the day of the market at Hoxne in Suffolk._

Ailmarus, the bishop, held Hoxne in the time of King Edward.... In this
manor there was a market in the time of King Edward and afterwards.
William the king came, and the market was held on Sunday. And William
Malet made his castle at Eye; and on the same day on which there was a
market in the bishop's manor, William Malet made another market in his
castle, and that so much to the detriment of the bishop's market that
this was of little worth. Now therefore it is held on Friday, but the
market of Eye still takes place on Sunday.

    _Domesday_ (Rec. Com.), II. 379.

1087. _Abolition of Launceston Market._

The canons of St. Stephen hold Launceston. Thence the count of Mortain
has now taken a market, which was situated there in the days of King
Edward, and which was worth 20s.

    _Domesday_ (Rec. Com.), I. 120b.

It appears always to have been the intention of the Government that
markets and fairs should be held only in the stronger places of the
country, where the just and peaceful transaction of business could be
secured. Such a situation was in the later middle ages the rule, but
that in an early period it was not universal appears from the existence
of legislation on the subject.

1066-87. _Law of William the Conqueror._

We forbid that any market or fair be held or suffered except in the
cities of our realm and in the walled boroughs and in castles and in
the safest places, where the customs of our realm, and our common
right, and the dues of our crown, which were constituted by our good
predecessors, cannot suffer loss nor fraud nor violation; for we will
that all things be done with right forms and openly, and in accordance
with judgment and with justice.

    Thorpe, _Ancient Laws and Institutes_, 212.


1214. _Grant of a market and fair to William of Lancaster._


Know that we have granted to our beloved and faithful William of
Lancaster that we have every week a market at his manor of Barton on
Thursday, and that he have a fair there every year to last two days,
the vigil and the feastday of All Saints. And therefore we command you
to cause that the said William have the market and fair according to
the tenor of our charter which he has.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 173.

1215. _Grant of a market to the men of Beer Hackett._


Know that we have granted to our men of Beer that they have a market at
Beer every week on Wednesday, so that it be not to the injury of
neighbouring markets. And therefore we command you to cause them thus
to have that market.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 220.

1205. _Creation of a royal fair having for three years special

Mandate to the sheriff of Oxford that he cause a fair to be at
Wallingford every year to last for four days, for Friday in Pentecost
week and the three following days, and that that fair be free and quit
of toll and all customs which pertain to such fairs for three years.

    Given by the Lord King at Oxford on the 28th day of March.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 24.

A fair or market was sometimes bought from the crown.

1221. _Remission of the price of the right to hold a market and fair._


Know that for God's sake we have pardoned the abbot of Hale the palfrey
by which he made fine to us for having a market every week on Wednesday
at Hale, and a fair every year lasting for two days, the eve and the
feastday of St. Dennis, that thus he may make two chalices in his abbey.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), 477.

1298. _To the Sheriff of Hereford._

Order to supersede entirely the levying of 11 marks from Miles Pychard,
for the fee of a charter of fair and market granted in the twenty-third
year of the reign, as Miles paid this sum into the wardrobe by the
hands of John de Drokenesforde, keeper thereof.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1296-1302, 171.

    _A Fair which was Farmed._


Order to cause William de Pynlande, clerk, to be discharged of 50s.
yearly for the fair of Lopen in Somerset, ... the king having committed
the fair to Gilbert Talebot for the term of twenty years.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1330-3, 265.

Some precautions were taken that new markets and fairs should not be
established where they would damage those which already existed. A
saving clause to this end was usually inserted in the grants.

1205. _Grant of a market at Wilton._


Know that we have granted to Henry de Longchamp that he have a market
at Wilton every Tuesday, so that it be not to the injury of
neighbouring markets. And therefore we command you to cause that he
hold it, and to cause this to be proclaimed throughout your bailiwick.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 50.

    _Provision against Encroaching Markets._


Because we granted to our beloved Thomas of Muleton a market to be held
at Flete every week on Sunday, before we granted to Fulk of Oyri his
market at Gedney on the same day: we will that the said Thomas stand
and hold as we granted to him, and that Fulk's market be on another
day. And therefore we command you that you cause this to be done.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 20.


We command you that the market of Crowmarsh, which is held to the
injury of our market at Wallingford, and which by our precept was
forbidden to be held for one turn, be prohibited and entirely

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 175.


We have heard that a market has been newly established without warrant
at Wechat to the detriment of the market of Dunster. And therefore we
command you that if so it be, then without delay you cause such market
to be forbidden, so that for the future no market be there held to the
detriment of the market of Dunster.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 527b.


Markets and fairs were held sometimes in open and outlying places, as
at Smithfield; but more frequently in central parts of their towns--in
graveyards, in the market-places of which many survive, and in the
streets. The last case has named streets in many English towns "Cheap"
or "Cheapside," for "cheap" meant "market."


We command you that on our behalf you cause to be forbidden that any
market be held in future at Lincoln in the graveyards, but that the
markets be held in the streets of that city, where best and most
adequately you shall provide that they be.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 547.

1233. The king has granted to Hamo de Crevecquer that the market, which
has been used to be held every week on Sunday at Brenchley in the
graveyard of the church, be held henceforth on the land of Hamo of
Brenchley, and that he and his heirs have there every year a fair to
last three days, the vigil, the day and the morrow of the feast of All
Saints. And the sheriff of Kent is commanded to cause that market and
the fair to be proclaimed, and to be held as aforesaid.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1231-4, 234.

1234. The king has granted to the prior and the brethren of the bridge
of Lechlade that they have for ever at Lechlade bridge every year a
fair, to last for five days, the eve and the feastday of the
Decollation of St. John the Baptist and the three following days.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1231-4, 398.

1235. The king has conceded to Henry, Abbot of St. Edmund, that he and
his successors have yearly for ever two fairs in the suburb of the town
of (Bury) St. Edmunds, namely one outside the north gate, outside the
town, beside the hospital of St. Saviour, to last for three days, the
eve, the day, and the morrow of the feast of the Transfiguration of the
Lord; and another outside the south gate of the town, likewise to last
for three days, the eve, the day, and the morrow of the feast of the
Translation of St. Edmund: unless such fairs be to the injury of
neighbouring fairs. And the sheriff is commanded to cause this charter
to be read in full county court, and these fairs to be proclaimed and

    _Cal. of Close_, 1234-7, 61.

Encroachments on market-places were not lawful without special licence.

1123. _Foundation of the Priory of St. Bartholomew on part of
Smithfield market-place by Rahere, first prior._

Since the place godly to him (Rahere) shown was contained within the
king's market, of the which it was not lawful to princes or other
lords, of their proper authority, anything to diminish, neither yet to
so solemn an obsequy to depute: therefore, using ... men's counsel, in
opportune time he addressed him to the king, and before him, and the
Bishop Richard (de Belmeis, Bishop of London) being present, the which
he had made to him favourable before, effectually expressed his
business, and that he might lawfully bring his purpose to effect meekly
besought. And nigh him was he (St. Bartholomew) in whose hand it was,
to what he would the king's heart to incline, and ineffectual these
prayers might not be, whose author is the apostle, whose gracious
hearer was God: his word therefore was pleasant and acceptable in the
king's eye. And when he had weighed the good will of the man prudently,
as he was witty, he granted to the petitioner his kingly favour,
benignly giving authority to execute his purpose. And he, having the
title of the desired possession, of the king's majesty, was right glad.

    _Book of the Foundation of the Church of St. Bartholomew, London._
    Original Latin version (Cotton MS., Vesp., B. IX., fols. 41-3),
    written 1174-89. Old English version written about 1400 and edited
    by Norman Page.

In the greater markets particular places were assigned to the sellers
of particular wares.

    _Ancient Regulation of Oxford market renewed in 1319._

The sellers of straw, with their horses and carts that bring it, shall
stand between East Gate and All Saints' church, in the middle of the
king's highway.

The sellers of wood in carts shall stand between Shydyerd Street and
the tenement sometime of John Maidstone....

The sellers of timber shall stand between the tenement which is called
St. George's Hall and St. Edward's Lane....

The sellers of hogs and pigs shall stand between the churches of St.
Mary and All Saints and on the north side of the street.

The ale or beer shall stand between St. Edward's Lane and the tenement
sometime of Alice de Lewbury on the south side of the king's highway.

The sellers of earthen pots and coals shall stand between the said lane
of St. Edward and the tenement sometime of John Hampton ... and from
that place upward.

The sellers of gloves and whittawyers shall stand between All Saints'
church and the tenement which was sometime John the Goldsmith's....

The sellers of furs (? monianiorum) and linendrapers and langdrapers
shall stand from the tenement which was John the Goldsmith's to the
tenement of the abbot of Osney, in the corner, which John Smith
sometime inhabited.

The bakers selling bread called Tutesyn shall stand between the shop
which Nicholas the Spicer now holdeth and the tenement which John
Coyntroyer holdeth.

The foreign[3] sellers of fish and those that are not free or of the
Gild shall stand on market days behind the said sellers of bread,
towards the middle of the street.

The foreign or country poulterers shall stand between Mauger Hall and
the tenement called Somenois Inn....

The sellers of white bread shall stand on each side of Quatervois, from
the north head thereof toward the south.

The tanners shall stand between Somenois Inn and Quatervois.

The sellers of cheese, eggs, milk, beans, new peas, and butter, shall
stand on Quatervois Corner on each side of the way towards the Bailly.

The sellers of hay and grass at the pillory.

The sellers of rushes and brooms opposite to the Old Drapery.

The sellers of corn shall stand between North Gate and Mauger Hall.

The fruiterers ... shall stand from Guildhall down towards Knap Hall.

The sellers of herbs ... shall stand from Knap Hall towards Quatervois.

The sellers of dishes ... between Baptys Inn and Stokenrow, near to the

The sellers of fresh fish which are of the Gild shall stand as they
were formerly wont to do, under the palace of Nicholas the Spicer.

The sellers of wood from the great Jewry to the tables where fish is

The carts with thorns and bushes shall stand between North Gate and
Drapery Hall on the west side of the street.

    Oxford Hist. Soc., _Collectanea_, II. 13 (reprint of MS. of Anthony

          [3] Foreign here denotes all persons not inhabitants of


Outside one of the gates there (in London), immediately in the suburb,
is a certain field, smooth (Smith) field in fact and name. Every
Friday, unless it be a higher day of appointed solemnity, there is in
it a famous show of noble horses for sale. Earls, barons, and many
citizens who are in town, come to see or buy. It is pleasant to see the
steppers in quick trot going gently up and down, their feet on each
side alternately rising and falling. On this side are the horses most
fit for esquires, moving with harder pace yet swiftly, that lift and
set down together, as it were, the opposite fore and hind feet; on that
side colts of fine breed who, not yet well used to the bit,

    "Altius incedunt, et mollia crura reponunt."[4]

In that part are the sumpter horses, powerful and spirited; here costly
chargers elegant of form, noble of stature, with ears quickly
tremulous, necks lifted, haunches plump. In their stepping the buyers
first try for the gentler, then for the quicker pace, which is by the
fore and the hind feet moving in pairs together. When a race is ready
for such thunderers, and perhaps for others of like kind, powerful to
carry, quick to run, a shout is raised, orders are given that the
common horses stand apart. The boys who mount the wing-footed, by twos
or threes, according to the match, prepare themselves for contest;
skilled to rule horses, they restrain the mouths of the untrained with
bitted bridles. For this chiefly they care, that no one should get
before another in the course. The horses rise too in their own way to
the struggle of the race; their limbs tremble, impatient of delay they
cannot keep still in their place; at the sign given their limbs are
stretched, they hurry on their course, are borne with stubborn speed.
The riders contend for the love of praise and hope of victory, plunge
spurs into the loose-reined horses, and urge them none the less with
whips and shouts. You would think with Heraclitus everything to be in
motion, and the opinion to be wholly false of Zeno, who said that there
was no motion and no goal to be reached. In another part of the field
stand by themselves the goods proper to rustics, implements of
husbandry, swine with long flanks, cows with full udders, oxen of bulk
immense, and woolly flocks. There stand the mares fit for plough, dray
and cart, some big with foal, and others with their young colts closely

    William Fitzstephen, _Description of the Most Noble City of
    London_, prefixed to his _Life of Thomas à Becket_. (Translation by
    H. Morley, prefatory to his edition of Stow's _Survey of London_.)

          [4] "Prance high, and rear their supple necks."

                  From Virgil's _Georgics_.


In some cases the king gave his special protection to markets and

1133. _Charter of Henry I. to the Priory of St. Bartholomew, Smithfield._

I give my firm peace to those who come to the fair which is wont to be
held on the feast of St. Bartholomew in that place (Smithfield), and to
those who go thence; and I command that no royal servant implead them,
nor exact from those who come customs, without the consent of the
canons, on these three days, on the eve of the feast, on the feastday,
and on its morrow.

    Printed in Dugdale, _Monasticon_, VI. 296.

    _Charter of Henry II. to the burghers of Nottingham._

... Moreover all who come to the market of Nottingham shall not suffer
distraint, from Friday evening until Sunday evening, except for the
king's farm.

    Stubbs, _Select Charters_, 167.


The term "Pied Poudre" or "Pie Poudre" is generally held to be derived
from the French _pieds poudrés_, that is, dusty feet, and perhaps
arose from the fact that the courts so called were frequented by
chapmen with dusty feet, or less probably from the celerity of the
judgments which were pronounced while the dust was on the feet of the
litigants. The existence of such courts, in connection with fairs, was
common to England and the continent. It is possible that in some cases
and in an early period the business of fairs was not transacted in a
special court. On the other hand, the distinctive feature of Pied
Poudre Courts, the method of trial by the persons best qualified to
judge, the merchants, was akin to the spirit of English law. Therefore
it is probable that they were very early introduced into England.

    _Definition of Pied Poudre Courts._

Divers fairs be holden and kept in this realm, some by prescription
allowed before justices in eyre, and some by the grant of our lord the
king that now is, and some by the grant of his progenitors and

And to every of the same fairs is of right pertaining courts of
pipowders, to minister in the same due justice in his behalf;

In which court it hath been all times accustomed, that every person
coming to the same fairs, should have lawful remedy of all manner of
contracts, trespasses, covenants, debts, and other deeds made or done
within any of the same fair, and within the jurisdiction of the same,
and to be tried by merchants being of the same fair.

    _Statute, 17 Edward IV._, cap. 2.

The manner of holding a Pied Poudre Court, sometimes called _riding
the fair_.

1277. _Award between the barons of the (Cinque) Ports and the men of
Great Yarmouth._

With regard to the claim of the said barons to have at Yarmouth royal
justice and the keeping of the king's peace in time of the fair lasting
for forty days, they are to have the keeping of the king's peace and to
do royal justice, namely during the fair they are to have four
serjeants, of whom one shall carry the king's banner, and another sound
a horn to assemble the people and to be better heard, and two shall
carry wands for keeping the king's peace, and this office they shall do
on horse-back if they so wish. The bailiffs of the Ports together with
the provost of Yarmouth are to make attachments and plead pleas and
determine plaints during the fair, according to law merchant, and the
amercements and the profits of the people of the Ports are to remain to
the barons of the Ports, at the time of the fair, and the profits and
amercements of all others who are not of the Ports to remain to the
king by the bailiffs of Yarmouth. The aforesaid bailiffs of the barons
of the Ports together with the provost of Yarmouth are to have the
keeping of the prison of Yarmouth during the fair, and if any prisoner
be taken for so grave a trespass that it cannot be determined by them
in time of fair, by merchant law, nor the prisons delivered, such
persons to remain in the prison of Yarmouth until the coming of the

    _Cal. of Pat._, 1272-81, 203.

The court of Pied Poudre is specified in later grants of fairs.

1462. _Charter of Edward IV. to the city of London._

We have ... granted to the ... mayor and commonalty and citizens, and
their successors for ever, that they shall and may have yearly one fair
in the town aforesaid (Southwark) for three days, that is to say the
seventh, eighth and ninth days of September; to be holden together with
a court of pie-powder, and with all liberties and free customs to such
fair appertaining; and that they may have and hold there at their said
courts, before their said ministers or deputy, the said three days,
from day to day and hour to hour, from time to time, all occasions,
plaints and pleas of a court of pie-powder, together with all summons,
attachments, arrests, issues, fines, redemptions and commodities, and
other rights whatsoever, to the same court of pie-powder any way

    Birch, _Charters of City of London_, 82.

The Londoners could hold their own Pied Poudre Courts in all fairs of

1327. _Charter of Edward III. to the city of London._

And forasmuch as the citizens, in all good fairs of England, were wont
to have among themselves keepers to hold the pleas touching the
citizens of the said city assembling at the said fairs: we will and
grant, as much as in us is, that the same citizens may have suchlike
keepers, to hold such pleas of their covenants, as of ancient time they
had, except the pleas of land and crown.

    Birch, _Charters of City of London_, 55.

1298. To all stewards, bailiffs, and officers of the fair of St.
Botolph and other faithful of Christ to whom the present letters shall
come, Henry le Galeys, mayor of the city of London, as well as the
whole commune send greeting. Know ye that we have made and constituted
our beloved in Christ Elyas Russel, John de Armenters, William de Paris
and William de Mareys, our wardens and attorneys at the present fair of
St. Botolph, to demand and claim and exact all our citizens who are for
any cause arrested or impleaded in any of your courts, and for
executing full justice in all plaints against them according to the law
merchant, ratifying and holding good anything they or any one of them
may do in the premises, and in all other things which they or any one
of them shall deem to affect in any way the liberties of the city and
our citizens. In witness whereof we have set our common seal to these

    London, Sunday the Feast of St. Margaret the Virgin, 26 Edward I.

        Sharpe, _Cal. Letter Books of Corporation_, B. 219.


Besides fines the _tolls_ were the most general source of profit. They
were duties which the tenant of a market might exact on goods brought
into the market and sold there.

1275. _Statute against exorbitant tolls._

Touching them that take outrageous toll, contrary to the common custom
of the realm, in market towns, it is provided that if any do so in the
king's town, which is let in fee-farm, the king shall seize into his
own hand the franchise of the market; and if it be another's town, and
the same be done by the lord of the town, the king shall do in like
manner; and if it be done by a bailiff or any mean officer, without the
commandment of his lord, he shall restore to the plaintiff as much more
for the outrageous taking as he had of him, if he had carried away his
toll, and shall have forty days' imprisonment.

    _Statute, 3 Edward I._, cap. 31.

Tolls were not necessarily levied. In later mediæval times it was held
illegal for the holder of a market to exact them unless he could prove
his prescriptive right to do so, or unless, in the case of a market
erected by a charter, such right had been explicitly granted.

1233. Because it has been certified to the king, by an enquiry made in
accordance with his precept, that in the fair of Shalford, which is
held there every year on the feast of the Assumption of Blessed Mary,
it has never been customary to take toll or custom, except at the time
when John of Gatesden was sheriff of Surrey, who of his own will ruled
that toll should there be taken: therefore the sheriff of Surrey is
commanded that he take no custom in that fair nor suffer it to be
taken, and that he cause public proclamation and prohibition to be
made, that in future none take toll on the occasion of that fair.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1231-5, 245.

Stallkeepers made payments called _stallage_ for the sites they
occupied to the holder of the market or fair.

1331. The profits of the bailey of Lincoln, to wit of vacant plots...,
and stallage in the said vacant plots in the times of fairs and

    _Cal. of Close_, 1330-3, 255.

The analogous payment of _piccage_ was for the breaking of the ground
in order to erect stalls.

1550. _Grant of Southwark Fair to the city of London._

... The mayor and commonalty and citizens, and their successors, shall
and may, from henceforth for ever, have, hold, enjoy and use ... tolls,
stallages, piccages.

    Birch, _Charters of City of London_, 122.

A duty called _scavage_ or _shewage_ was exacted from strangers who
sold in the fairs.

I have heard also that our townsmen (of Oxford) in their fair, which
they keep at Allhallowtide, do exact of strangers a custom for opening
and shewing their wares, vendible, &c., which is called scavage or

    Oxford Historical Society, _Charter of Henry II. to the citizens of
    Oxford._, II. 2 (from Twyne's MSS. in the Bodleian).

In 1503 it was rendered illegal, except in the case of London, to take
scavage from denizens, otherwise from subjects of the king who were of
alien birth, so long as they sold goods on which due customs had
already been paid.

1503. Be it therefore ordained ... that if any mayor, sheriff, bailiff,
or other officer in any city, borough or town within this realm, take
or levy any custom called Scavage, otherwise called Shewage, of any
merchant denizen, or of any other of the King's subjects denizens, of
or for any manner of merchandise to our Sovereign lord the King before
truly customed, that is brought or conveyed by land or water, to be
uttered and sold in any city, borough, or town in this land, ... that
then every mayor, sheriff, bailiff, or other officer, distraining,
levying, or taking any such Scavage, shall forfeit for every time he so
offendeth £20, the one moiety thereof to our Sovereign lord the King,
and the other moiety thereof to the party in that behalf aggrieved, or
to any other that first sueth in that party by action of debt in any
shire within this realm to be sued.... Provided always that the mayor,
sheriffs, and commonalty of the city of London, and every of them,
shall have and take all such sums of money for the said Scavage, and of
every person denizen, as by our Sovereign lord the King and his
honourable council shall be determined to be the right and title of the
said mayor, sheriffs, and commonalty of the said city of London, or any
of them.

    _Statute, 19 Henry VII._, cap. 8.

Certain citizens and burghers, who had the privilege of free trade in
England or throughout the king's dominions, were exempt from paying
tolls or other customs.

    _Charter of Henry I. to the citizens of London._

... Let all the men of London be quit and free, and their goods, both
throughout England and in the seaports, of toll and passage[5] and
lastage[6] and all other customs.

    Stubbs, _Select Charters_, 108.

          [5] Passage was probably the due payable for the use of

          [6] The most probable explanation of lastage is that it was
          the due payable for the right of freely carrying away goods
          bought in a market.

1384. The Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London to the Abbot and
Bailiffs and Good Folk of the Town of Colchester.

Desiring them to restore to William Dykeman, Roger Streit, William
Fromond, and Henry Loughton, citizens of London, the distress they had
taken from their merchandise for piccage at Colchester fair; and to
cease in future to take custom of citizens of London, inasmuch as they
are and ought to be quit of piccage, and of all manner of custom
throughout the King's dominion, by charter granted to them by the
King's ancestors. The Lord have them ever in his keeping.

    London. 8th June, 38 Edward III.

        Sharpe, _Cal. Letters of City of London_, 105.

    _Charter of Henry II. to the citizens of Oxford._

... I have granted to them moreover that they be quit of toll and
passage and every custom throughout England and Normandy, on earth, on
water and on the seashore, by land and by strand.

    Stubbs, _Select Charters_, 167.

1190. _Charter of Richard I. to the citizens of Winchester._

... This also we have granted that the citizens of Winchester of the
Merchant Gild be quit of toll and lastage and pontage[7] in fairs and
outside them, and in the seaports of all our lands, on this side the
seas and beyond them.

    Stubbs, _Select Charters_, 266.

          [7] Pontage was a due payable for crossing bridges.

1194. _Charter of Richard I. to the citizens of Lincoln._

... This too we have granted that all citizens of Lincoln be quit of
toll and lastage throughout all England and in the seaports.

    Stubbs, _Select Charters_, 266.

1200. _Charter of John to the citizens of York confirming a grant by
Richard I._

... Know moreover that we have granted and by this charter have
confirmed to our citizens of York quittance of any toll, lastage,
wrec,[8] pontage, passage, or trespass, and of all customs, throughout
England and Normandy and Aquitaine and Anjou and Poitou. Wherefore we
will and straitly command that they be thereof quit, and we forbid that
any disturb them in the matter, on pain of the forfeiture of £10, as is
reasonably testified in the charter of our brother Richard.

    Stubbs, _Select Charters_, 312.

          [8] The liability of shipwrecked goods to be forfeit to the
          king, or the local holder, other than the king, of the right
          of wreck.

    _The Great Value of the Market of Retford._


Order not to molest or aggrieve the men of the town of Retford before
them in eyre for holding a market on Saturday in every week in that
town, as the king has granted that they may hold a market there every
week on the said day during the eyre aforesaid, notwithstanding the
proclamation made by the justices according to custom that no market
shall be held in the county during the eyre, the men having shewn to
the king that they hold the town of him at fee-ferm, and he has
assigned the ferm to Queen Isabella for her life, and the greatest aid
they have towards levying the ferm comes from the profit of the said
market, and they have prayed the king that they may hold the fair
notwithstanding the said proclamation, and the king accedes to their
supplication for the reason aforesaid, and because of the distance of
the town of Nottingham.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1327-30, 585.


The king exercised certain rights of pre-emption, of buying articles
before they were offered for sale in the open market, and of prisage,
of taking from the sellers without payment certain articles for his own


We command you that you acquit in the fair of St. Botolph all the great
falcons which Henry de Hauvill and Hugh de Hauvill bought for our use
in that fair, ... and moreover five hawks which they bought there for
our use.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 85.


We command you that you satisfy the merchants of the fair of Lynn as to
the merchandise, namely, wax and pepper and cumin, which our bailiffs
took in that fair for our use, and we shall cause payment to be made to
you in London after the close of the said fair.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 365.

1237. It was provided at Kennington before the king and his council,
and granted by the king, that his bailiffs who are sent to fairs and
elsewhere to buy wine and cloths and other merchandise for the king's
use, shall take for his use no more than he have need of, and no more
than shall be stated in the king's letters made for them as to the
matter, nor anything for which they have not as warrant a royal brief.
And when they come to fairs they shall take the wares and merchandise
for which they have been sent at once and without long delay, lest any
merchants be unjustly burdened by them, as formerly they have been
burdened. And such bailiffs shall have letters so that four legal
merchants of each fair, in the faith which binds them to God and the
king, reasonably impose prices on the merchandise, in accordance with
the diverse kinds of merchandise which the bailiffs have to buy.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1234-7, 522.

1257. _Petition of the barons in the parliament at Oxford._

The earls and barons petition ... as to the prises of the lord king in
fairs and markets and cities, that those who are assigned to take the
said prises take them reasonably, as much, that is to say, as pertains
to the uses of the lord king; in which matter they complain that the
said takers seize twice or thrice the amount which they deliver to the
king's uses, and keep the rest, forsooth, for their own needs and the
needs of their friends, and sell thereof a portion.

    Stubbs, _Select Charters_, 385.

1417. A Court of our Lord the King, holden before Henry Bartone, Mayor,
and the Aldermen, in the Guild-hall of London, on Tuesday, the 16th day
of February....

William Redhede of Barnet was taken and attached, for that when one
Hugh Morys, maltman, on Monday the 15th day of February, ... brought
here to the city of London four bushels of wheat, and exposed them for
sale in common and open market, at the market of Graschurch
(Gracechurch) in the parish of St. Benedict Graschurch in the city
aforesaid, the said William there falsely and fraudulently pretended
that he was a taker and purveyor of such victuals, as well for the
household of our said lord the king as for the victualling of his town
of Harfleur; and so, under feigned colour of his alleged office, would
have had the wheat aforesaid taken and carried away, had he not been
warily prevented from so doing by the constables and reputable men of
the parish aforesaid, and other persons then in the market; in contempt
of our lord the king, and to the grievous loss and in deceit of the
commonalty of the city aforesaid; and especially of the said market and
of other markets in the city, seeing that poor persons, who bring wheat
and other victuals to the city aforesaid, do not dare to come, by land
or by water, through fear of the multitude of pretended purveyors and
takers who resort thither from every side.

... And thereupon, by the said mayor and aldermen, to the end that
others might in future have a dread of committing such crimes, it was
adjudged that the same William Redhede should, upon the three market
days then next ensuing, be taken each day from the prison of Newgate to
the market called Le Cornmarket opposite to the Friars Minors
(Greyfriars, whose house was on the site of Christ's Hospital), and
there the course of the judgement aforesaid was to be proclaimed; and
after that he was to be taken through the middle of the high street of
Cheap to the pillory on Cornhill, and upon that he was to be placed on
each of those three days, there to stand for one hour each day, the
reason for such sentence being then and there publicly proclaimed. And
after that he was to be taken from thence through the middle of the
high street of Cornhill to the market of Graschurch aforesaid, where
like proclamation was to be made, and from thence back again to prison.

    Riley, _Memorials of London_, 645.


Already in the early thirteenth century the greater markets and fairs
were held partly under cover.


We command you that you do not suffer the market which hitherto has
been held at Maurice de Gant's manor of Randwick, and which is to the
injury of our town and market of Bristol, and of other neighbouring
markets, as we have surely learnt. And that you cause the houses built
there on account of the market to be removed without delay. So that
neither ships come thither nor a market is there held otherwise than
was done in the time of the Lord John, King, our father.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 499.


Order to cause a house of the king in that town constructed for the
king's fair there ... to be repaired by the view and testimony of John
de Hoo and Thomas de Shelvyng.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1302-7, 55.

1345. At a congregation of the mayor and aldermen, holden on the Friday
next before the feast of St. George the Martyr in the 19th year of the
reign of King Edward III., it was ordered for the common advantage of
all the citizens dwelling in the city (of London), and of others
resorting to the same ... that all foreign[9] poulterers bringing
poultry to the city should take it to the Leaden Hall, and sell it
there, between Matins and the hour of Prime, to the reputable men of
the city and their servants for their own eating; and after the hour of
Prime the rest of their poultry that should remain unsold they might
sell to cooks, regratresses (retail saleswomen), and such other persons
as they might please; it being understood that they were to take no
portion of their poultry out of the market to their hostels (lodgings)
on pain of losing the same.

    Riley, _Memorials of London_, 221.

          [9] Poulterers other than Londoners.


1233. Mandate to the sheriff of Hampshire that he cause strict
proclamation and prohibition to be made in the town of Winchester, that
no merchant of wool, cloths, and hides, do any business in wool, hides
and cloths in the said town of Winchester, after the established term
beyond which the fair of St. Giles is not wont to last.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1231-4, 253.

1233. Mandate to the bailiffs of Worcester that they do not permit the
fair and drapery of Worcester to be held on the feast of the Nativity
of Blessed Mary elsewhere than in that place in which it was held in
the time of the Lord John, father of the Lord Henry, King.

    _Cal. Rot. Lit. Claus._ (Rec. Com.), I. 555.

1297. On Thursday next before the feast of Pentecost, in the 25th year
of the reign of King Edward, it was ordered in the presence of Sir John
le Bretun, warden of the city of London, and certain of the aldermen,
that by reason of the murders and strifes arising therefrom between
persons known and unknown, the gathering together of thieves in the
market, and of cutpurses and other misdoers against the peace of our
lord the king, in a certain market which had been lately held after
dinner in Soper Lane (on the site of Queen Street, Cheapside), and
which was called _The Neue Faire_; the same should from thenceforth be
abolished, and not again be held, on pain of losing the wares both
bought and sold there; the same market having been established by
strangers, foreigners and beggars, dwelling three or four leagues from

    Riley, _Memorials of London_, 33.


Order to cause proclamation to be made that all persons having fairs by
charters of the king or of his progenitors or otherwise, shall cause
the fairs to be held in the manner and form and on the days and times
according to the tenor of the charters, or as they ought to do
according to the title, to wit from time out of mind, and upon no other
days and times, and to summon all persons claiming to have fairs to be
before the king's council at Westminster.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1317-18, 456.

1328. It is established that it shall be commanded to all the sheriffs
of England and elsewhere, where need shall require, to cry and publish
within liberties and without that all lords which have fairs, be it for
yielding certain farm to the king for the same or otherwise, shall hold
the same for the time that they ought to hold them and no longer: that
is to say such as have them by the king's charter granted them, for the
time limited by the said charters; and also they that have them without
charter, for the time that they ought to hold them of right.

And that every lord at the beginning of his fair shall there do, cry
and publish how long the fair shall endure, to the intent that
merchants shall not be at the same fairs over the time so published,
upon pain to be grievously punished before the king. Nor the said lords
shall not hold them over the due time upon pain to seize the fairs into
the king's hands, there to remain until they have made a fine to the
king for the offence, after it be duly found that the lords held the
same fairs longer than they ought, or that the merchants have sitten
above the time so published.

    _Statute, 2 Edward III._, cap. 15.

1393. The ordinance underwritten was publicly proclaimed in full market
in Westchepe (Cheapside), and Cornhulle (Cornhill) in London, on
Thursday the 20th day of March in the 16th year.

As from of old it has been the custom to hold in the city on every
feastday two markets, called _Evechepynges_, one in Westchepe and
the other on Cornhulle; that is to say the one in Westchepe between the
corner of the lane called St. Lawrence Lane and a house called the
Cage. So always that the said lane be not obstructed by the people of
the said market, who are not to stand near to the shops there for the
sale of divers wares that in such shops are wont to be sold. And that
too by daylight only, between the first bell rung and the second, for
the said markets ordained. And now on the 10th day of March ... William
Staundone, the mayor, and the aldermen of the said city, have been
given to understand that divers persons at night and by candlelight do
sell in the common hostels there and in other places, in secret, divers
wares that have been larcenously pilfered and some falsely wrought and
some that are old as being new; and that other persons do there
practise the sin of harlotry, under colour of the sale of their said
wares, to the very great damage and scandal of good and honest folks of
the said city.

Therefore the said mayor and aldermen by wise counsel and with good
deliberation between them had, for the honour of the city and in order
to put the said markets under good control and governance, have
ordained that from henceforth on every such market night each of the
said two bells shall be rung by the beadle of the ward where it is
hung, one hour before sunset and then again half an hour after sunset.
At which second ringing all the people shall depart from the market
with their wares, on pain of forfeiture to the chamber of all such
wares as shall, after the second bell rung, be found in the same; as to
the which the beadle if he be acting, or officer by the chamber of the
Guildhall thereunto assigned, shall have twopence in every shilling for
his trouble in taking them. And that no one shall sell in common
hostels any wares that in the said market are wont to be sold, or
anywhere else within the said city or in the suburbs thereof, but only
in their own shops and in the places and at the days and hours
aforesaid, on pain of forfeiture to the use of the said chamber of all
the wares that shall otherwise be sold.

    Riley, _Memorials of London_, 532.

1320. Be it remembered that on the Monday next before the feast of St.
Katherine the Virgin in the 14th year, the pork and beef of John Perer,
John Esmar, and Reynald ate Watre, alleged to be foreign[10] butchers,
were seized because that they against the custom of the city (of
London), had exposed the said meat for sale at Les Stokkes (the Stocks
Market on the site of the Mansion House), after curfew rung at St.
Martin's-le-Grand: whereas it is enacted that no foreign butcher
standing with his meat at the stalls aforesaid shall cut any meat after
None rung at St. Paul's; and that as to all the meat which he has cut
before None rung he is to expose the same for sale up to the hour of
Vespers, and to sell it without keeping any back or carrying any away.

    Riley, _Memorials of London_, 142.

          [10] See previous footnote.


The quality of wares and the prices asked for them were supervised, and
fair dealing was enforced, by officers. Sometimes, as at Oxford, these
were specially appointed for the discharge of their duties. In London
they were the masters or wardens of the crafts, otherwise the
associations of members of one trade. When many of the crafts had
developed into the livery companies the officials of the latter
inherited the inspectorial functions of the wardens.

1393. Ordinance by the mayor and aldermen of London as to markets of
West Cheap and Cornhill.

... That the masters or those assigned thereto of each trade of which
the wares are brought to the said markets shall have power, together
with the beadle of the ward or other officer thereto assigned, to
survey, assay and stop all false and defective wares, in the markets
aforesaid or elsewhere exposed for sale, and to present the same to the
chamberlain to be there adjudged upon as to whether they are
forfeitable or not; and further to arrest to the use of the said
chamber all other things and wares in hostels or other places exposed
for sale against the form.... Of the which forfeitures so by the said
masters, or others thereto assigned, taken and adjudged as forfeited,
the said masters or persons thereto assigned shall have one third part
for their trouble.

    Riley, _Memorials of London_, 532.

1556. _Of the clerks of the market of Oxford and of the fixing of

The clerks of the market should be chosen of such as have experience of
the prices which, for necessity or convenience, pertain to food and
clothing, and of such as have knowledge, power and will faithfully and
diligently to fill the office enjoined on them. Especially it behoves
them to see that no fraud is committed as regards the measures and
weights and quality of all foodstuffs and of all things which belong to
clothing, and to observe the statutes and ordinances issued in this
behoof; and since, for the most part, among these commodities, high
prices greatly flourish, the clerk should summon to his aid the
presidents of colleges and such others of the university as he knows to
be fit for the business, and should consult with them as to what course
can be taken to render the prices lower.

    Oxford Hist. Soc., _Collectanea_, II. 104.

1468. The assize[11] of a tallowchandler is that he selleth salt,
oatmeal, soap and other divers chaffer, that his weights and measures
be assized[12] and sealed and true beam. For when he buyeth a pound of
tallow for an halfpenny, he shall sell a pound of candle for a penny,
that is a farthing for the wick and the wax and another farthing for
the workmanship. And right as tallow higheth and loweth, so he for to
sell his candle. And if his stuff be not good, or any he lack of his
weight, or any he sell not after the price of tallow, he to be amerced,
the first time twelvepence, the second time twentypence, the third time
fortypence, and to forfeit all that is forfeitable; and he to be judged
according to the form of statutes.

    Printed in Strype's edition of Stow's _Cal. of Close_, Book V. 344.

          [11] Regulation.

          [12] According to regulation.

1327. John de Causton, citizen of London, has shown the king, by
petition before him and his council, that John Dergayn, the late king's
ulnager, in the eighth year of his reign, took five pieces of John's
striped cloth of Gaunt (Ghent) outside his shop in Boston Fair,
asserting that they were not of the assize, and that they were
therefore forfeited to the late king, and delivered to Ralph de Stokes,
then keeper of the king's wardrobe, and that it was afterward found, by
enquiry made by the said king's order before the treasurer and barons
of the Exchequer, that the cloth was of the assize and ought not thus
to be forfeited, and that the cloth was worth 22-1/2 marks; ... and he
has prayed the king to cause that sum to be allowed to him.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1327-30, 86.

1366. On the 14th day of October ... John Edmond of Esthamme (East
Ham), cornmonger, of the county of Essex, was brought before John
Lovekyn, mayor, and the aldermen at the Guildhall, for that he had
exposed for sale at Grascherche (Gracechurch) one quarter of oats in a
sack, and had put a bushel of good oats at the mouth of the sack, all
the rest therein being corn of worse quality and of no value, in deceit
of the common people.

Being questioned as to which falsity, how he would acquit himself
thereof, the same John did not gainsay the same. Therefore it was
adjudged that he should have the punishment of the pillory, to stand
upon the same for one hour of the day.

    Riley, _Memorials of London_, 333.

1363. On the 9th day of the month of November ... William Cokke of Hees
(Hayes) was taken because that on the same day he, the same William,
carrying a sample of wheat in his hand, in the market within Newgate in
London followed one William, servant of Robert de la Launde, goldsmith,
who wanted to buy wheat, from sack to sack, and said that such wheat as
that he would not be able to buy at a lower price than 21 pence;
whereas on the same day and at that hour the same servant could have
bought such wheat for 21 pence.

Upon which the same William Cokke being questioned, before the mayor,
recorder, and certain of the aldermen, he acknowledged that he had done
this to enhance the price of wheat, to the prejudice of all the people.
It was therefore awarded by the said mayor and aldermen that the said
William Cokke should have the punishment of the pillory.

    Riley, _Memorials of London_, 314.


    To Wye and to Wychestre I went to the faire,
    With many menere marchandise as my Maistre me hight,[13]
    Ne had the grace of guile ygo[14] amonge my ware,
    It had be unsolde this sevene yeare, so me god helpe!

    _The Vision of Piers the Plowman_, Lines 205 _et seq._

          [13] Told.

          [14] Gone.


1233. Mandate to the bailiffs of Peter de Dreux, count of Brittany, in
the fair of St. Botolph, that every week, for so long as the fair
lasts, they shall cause thrice to be proclaimed throughout that fair
that no merchant bringing wine for sale to England, whether wine of
Gascony, of Anjou, of Oblenc (Le Blanc on the Creuse), of Auxerre, or
of other place, shall after this fair of St. Botolph bring to England
any dolium of wine which contains less than it was wont to hold in the
time of Henry, Richard and John, kings.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1231-4, 223.


Know that we have granted by our charter for us and our heirs to our
beloved citizens of Cologne that they may go freely to the fairs
throughout our land, and buy and sell in the town of London and
elsewhere, save for the liberty of our city of London.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1234-7, 216.


Order to send to the king the 310 marks which Reyner de Luk and his
fellows, merchants of Lucca, lent to William at the last fair of St.
Giles at Winchester.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1272-9, 519.

1327. The bailiffs of Boston Fair ... have arrested wool and other
goods of Taldus Valoris and his fellows, merchants of the society of
the Bardi of Florence, in the said fair.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1327-30, 221.


Order to restore upon this present occasion to the merchants of Douay
in Flanders their goods arrested by John and Philip; for the king
lately ordered John and Philip to arrest the wool and goods of
merchants of Flanders in Boston Fair and at Lynn and Lincoln, yet it
was not his intention that the goods of certain persons should be
arrested, but that all goods and wares of Flemings should be arrested
at one and the same time everywhere in the realm, by reason of the debt
which the countess of Flanders owes to him and the merchants of the
realm; and by reason of the neglect of the agreement between the king
and countess; and the king did not then recollect his grant to the
Flemish merchants that they might safely come into the realm and stay
until the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula last past.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1272-9, 308.


Order to cause to be delivered to Robert de Basing, citizen of London,
two bales of cloth, which Robert lately bought from the merchants of
St. Omer in the fair aforesaid, and which the steward caused to be
arrested under pretext of the king's order to arrest the goods and
wares of merchants of the power and lordship of the count d'Artois; as
Robert de Tybetot has become surety before the king for the said Robert
that he will answer to the king for the bales in the next parliament.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1288-96, 302.


Order not to arrest the goods of the men or merchants of Mechlin in
Brabant, and not to molest them by virtue of any order to arrest goods
of the men and merchants of the power of the duke of Brabant, in the
fair of St. Ives or in his bailiwick, as the king learns that Mechlin
belongs to the count of Hainault, Holland and Zeeland, and not to the
duke of Brabant.

The like to the abbot of Ramsey's bailiff of the fair of St. Ives.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1313-18, 408.


Order to suffer fishermen from Flanders and elsewhere over sea, who
shall come within the realm for taking herring of the present season
and bringing them to Yarmouth Fair, to take with them to their own
parts or elsewhere, without let, at their will, all the money they
shall receive for the price of herrings brought thither and sold at the
said fair, after paying the customs due thereupon, ... although lately
the king caused proclamation to be made throughout the realm forbidding
any man, under pain of forfeiture, to take or cause to be taken out of
the realm gold or silver in money or otherwise: as, willing to shew
favour to the said fishermen, the king has given them license under his
protection to come within the realm, and take at sea what herring they
may, receive money in gold for what they shall sell, and take the same
with them whither they will, as they shall deem for their best

    _Cal. of Close_, 1364-8, 30.


_Special Organisation of Citizens of York in Boston Fair._


Order to permit the citizens of York to have, until otherwise ordered,
their hanse[15] and gild merchant in Boston Fair, as they ought to have
them there and in times past have been wont to have them.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1272-9, 65.

          [15] Another word for gild. _Cf._ the German Hanseatic

    _Dress of London Women._

1281. It is provided and commanded that no woman of the city (of
London) shall from henceforth go to market or in the king's highway,
out of her house, with a hood furred with other than lambskin or
rabbitskin, on pain of losing her hood to the use of the sheriffs;
save only those ladies who wear furred capes, the hoods of which may
have such linings as they may think proper. And this because that
regratresses, nurses and other servants, and women of loose life,
bedizen themselves and wear hoods furred with gros vair and minever,
in guise of good ladies.

    Riley, _Memorials of London_, 20.

    _Unlawfulness of Bearing Arms at Fairs._

1328. It is shewn to the king on behalf of John Wynter of Norwich and
Thomas Wynter of Norwich, merchants, that they lately went with their
goods and wares to the abbot's fair at Reading, to trade there with the
same and for no other purpose. And although they wore no armour save
two single aketons, to wit one each, and that only by reason of the
dangers of the road and not for the purpose of committing evil, the
bailiffs nevertheless took and imprisoned them with their goods, and
still detain them and their goods, by virtue of the ordinance of the
late parliament at Northampton that no one shall go armed in fairs or
markets or elsewhere, under pain of imprisonment and loss of their
arms, wherefore they have prayed the king to provide a remedy. The king
therefore orders the bailiffs to release the said John and Thomas and
goods, upon their finding surety to have them before the king in three
weeks from Michaelmas.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1327-30, 314.

    _Misadventure of some Shrewsbury Merchants travelling to a Fair._


Whereas the king lately took into his protection the burgesses of
Shrewsbury so that they might be free to intend their affairs and to
exercise their merchandise more safely, forbidding any to do them harm;
and they have shewn to the king that whereas John de Weston, Richard
Biget, William son of Roger de Wythiford, and John son of Yarvord le
Walssh, their fellow burgesses, lately wished to go to the town of La
Pole (Welshpool) in Wales to a fair there, to ply their merchandise,
Yevan ap Griffith, the earl's yeoman, with other armed Welshmen of the
earl, took without cause the said John, Richard, William and John, at
Cause in the Welsh marches, without the earl's lordship, as they were
going to La Pole, and took them with their horses and other goods and
chattels, to the value of £200, and brought them to the earl's castle
of Osewaldestre (Oswestry), where they imprisoned them and where they
are still detained. And although the burgesses have repeatedly
requested the earl to deliver the aforesaid men and to restore their
said goods and chattels, the earl has neglected to do anything in the
matter; wherefore the burgesses have besought the king to provide a
remedy. The king therefore orders the earl to deliver from prison the
said John, Richard, William and John without delay and to restore to
them their horses, goods and chattels, or, if there be any reasonable
cause why he should not do this, to be before the king and his council
at the octaves of Holy Trinity to inform the king.

    _Cal. of Close_, 1330-3, 572.


In the seventeenth century and afterwards, certain fairs, notably those
in and near London, had come to be little more than places of
amusement, more or less disreputable.

    _Bartholomew Fair_ (in 1641).

Bartholomew Fair begins on the twenty-fourth day of _August_, and is
then of so vast an extent that it is contained in no less than four
several parishes, namely Christ Church, Great and Little Saint
Bartholomews, and Saint Sepulchres. Hither resort people of all sorts,
High and Low, Rich and Poor, from cities, towns and countries; and of
all sects, Papists, Atheists, Anabaptists, and Brownists, and of all
conditions, good and bad, virtuous and vicious, Knaves and fools,
Rogues and Rascals.

And now that we may the better take an exact survey of the whole Fair,
first let us enter into Christ Church cloisters, which are now hung so
full of pictures that you would take that place, or rather mistake it,
for Saint _Peters_ in _Rome_; only this is the difference, those there
are set up for worship, these here for sale....

Let us now make a progress through Smithfield which is the heart of the
Fair, where in my heart I think there are more motions in a day to be
seen than are in a term in Westminster to be heard. But whilst you take
notice of the several motions there, take this caution along with you,
let one eye watch narrowly that no one's hand makes a motion in your
pocket, which is the next way to move you to impatience.

The Fair is full of gold and silver-drawers. Just as Lent is to the
Fishmonger so is Bartholomew Fair to the Pickpocket; it is his high
harvest which is never bad but when his cart goes up Holborn.[16] ...
Some of your cutpurses are in fee with cheating costermongers, who have
a trick now and then to throw down a basket of refuse pears, which
prove cloak-pears to those that shall lose their hats and cloaks in
striving who shall gather fastest. They have many dainty baits to draw
a bit, and if you be not vigilant you shall hardly escape their nets.
Fine fowlers they are, for every finger of theirs is a lime twig with
which they catch dotterels.[17] They are excellently well read in
Physiognomy; for they will know how strong you are in the purse by
looking in your face, and for more certainty thereof they will follow
you close, and never leave you till you draw your purse, or they for
you, which they'll be sure to have if you look not to it though they
kiss Newgate for it.

          [16] _I.e._, from Newgate prison to Tyburn gallows.

          [17] Literally a bird said to mimic gestures, idiomatically a
          foolish person.

It is remarkable and worthy your observation to behold and hear the
strange sights and confused noise in the Fair. Here a Knave in a fool's
coat with a trumpet sounding, or on a drum beating, invites you and
would fain persuade you to see his puppets. There a Rogue like a wild
woodman, or in an Antic-shape like an Incubus, desires your company to
view his motion; on the other side Hocus Pocus with three yards of tape
or ribbon in's hand, shewing his art of Legerdemain to the admiration
and astonishment of a company of cockloaches.[18] Amongst these you
shall see a gray goose-cap, as wise as the rest, with a "what do ye
lack" in his mouth, stand in his booth shaking a rattle or scraping on
a fiddle, with which children are so taken that they presently cry out
for these fopperies. And all these together make such a distracted
noise that you would think Babel were not comparable to it. Here there
are also your gamesters in action: some turning of a whimsey, others
throwing for Pewter, who can quickly dissolve a round shilling into a
three halfpenny saucer. Long lane at this time looks very fair and
puts out her best clothes with the wrong side outward, so turned for
their better turning off. And Cloth Fair is now in great request; well
fare the ale-houses there. Yet better may a man fare, but at a dearer
rate, in the pig-market, alias Pasty-nook or Pie-corner, where pigs are
all hours of the day on the stalls piping hot, and would cry, if they
could speak, "come eat me." ... Unconscionable exactions, and excessive
inflammations of reckonings, made that corner of the Fair too hot for
my company; therefore I resolved by myself to steer my course another
way, and having once got out, not to come again in haste.

          [18] Simple fellows.

    Now farewell to the Fair, you who are wise,
    Preserve your purses while you please your eyes.

    Reprinted in Hindley, _The Old Book Collector's Miscellany_, Vol.


    By Her Majesties Permission.

_This is to give Notice to all Gentlemen, Ladies and Others, that
coming into_ May-Fair,[19] _the first_ Booth _on the Left Hand, over
against_ Mr. Pinckeman's Booth; _During the usual time of the_ Fair,
_is to be seen a great Collection of strange and wonderful Rareties,
all A-live from several parts of the World._

          [19] The London district of Mayfair includes the site of this
          fair, and was named after it.

    _Vivat Regina._

    _Advertisement in a collection at the British Museum._


_At the Great_ THEATRICAL BOOTH ON the Bowling-Green behind the
Marshalsea, down Mermaid-Court next the Queens Arms Tavern, during the
Time of Southwark Fair (which began the 8th instant and ends the 21st),
will be presented that diverting droll, call'd

    _The True and Ancient History of_

    MAUDLIN, _the Merchants Daughter of_ BRISTOL,


    _Her constant Lover_ ANTONIO,

who she followed into Italy, disguising herself in Man's Habit; shewing
the Hardships she underwent by being Shipwrecked on the Coast of
Algier, where she met her Lover, who was doom'd to be burnt at a Stake
by the King of that Country, who fell in Love with her and proffered
her his Crown, which she dispised, and chose rather to share the fate
of her Antonio than renounce the Christian Religion to embrace that of
their Imposter Prophet Mahomet.

    With the comical Humours of


And Variety of Singing and Dancing between the Acts, by Mr. Sandham
Mrs. Woodward and Miss Sandham.

Particularly, A new Dialogue to be sung by Mr. Excell and Mrs.
Fitzgerald. Written by the Author of _Bacchus one Day gaily striding_,
etc., and a Hornpipe by Mr. Taylor. To which will be added a new
Entertainment (never performed before) called



    Any Wife better than none.

With Scenes, Machines, and other Decorations proper to the

    _Advertisement in a collection at the British Museum._

    GREENWICH FAIR (in 1835-6).

... Imagine yourself in an extremely dense crowd which swings you to
and fro and in and out, and every way but the right one; add to this
the screams of women, the shouts of boys, the clanging of gongs, the
firing of pistols, the ringing of bells, the bellowing of
speaking-trumpets, the squeaking of penny dittoes, the noise of a dozen
bands with three drums in each, all playing different tunes at the same
time, the hallooing of showmen, and an occasional roar from the wild
beast shows; and you are in the very centre and heart of the fair.

This immense booth, with the large stage in front, so brightly
illuminated with variegated lamps and pots of burning fat, is
"Richardson's," where you have a melodrama (with three murders and a
ghost), a pantomime, a comic song, an overture, and some incidental
music, all done in five-and-twenty minutes. The company are now
promenading outside in all the dignity of wigs, spangles, red ochre,
and whitening.... The exhibitions next in popularity to these itinerant
theatres are the travelling menageries, or, to speak more intelligibly,
the "Wild beast shows," where a military band in beef-eater's costume,
with leopardskin caps, play incessantly, and where large highly
coloured representations of tigers tearing men's heads open, and a lion
being burnt with red hot irons to induce him to drop his victim, are
hung up outside, by way of attracting visitors.

... The grandest and most numerously frequented booth in the whole
fair however is "The Crown and Anchor," a temporary ballroom--we
forget how many feet long--the price of admission to which is one
shilling.... The dancing itself beggars description--every figure
lasts about an hour, and the ladies bounce up and down the middle
with a degree of spirit which is quite indescribable. As to the
gentlemen they stamp their feet upon the ground every time "hands
four round" begins, go down the middle and up again with cigars in
their mouths and silk handkerchiefs in their hands, and whirl their
partners round, nothing loth, scrambling and falling and knocking
up against the other couples, until they are fairly tired out and
can move no longer.

    Dickens, _Sketches by Boz_.


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