Of the Sheriffs
Let there be provided as sheriffs, loyal people, and substantial
men, and land tenants ; so that hi each county there be a vava-
sour of the same county as sheriff, to treat the people of the
county well, loyally, and rightfully. And that he take no fee, and
that he be sheriff only for a year together ; and that in the year
he give up his accounts at the exchequer and answer for his time.
And that the king grant unto him out of his own, according to his
contribution, so that he can guard the county rightfully. And
that he take no fee, neither he nor his bailiffs. And if they be
convicted let them be punished.
Be it remembered that such amendment is to be applied to the
Jewry, and to the wardens of the Jewry, that the oath as to the
same may be kept.
Of the Escheators
Let good escheators be appointed ; and that they take nothing
of the effects of the dead, of such lands as ought to be in the king's
hand. Also that the escheators have free administration of the
goods until they shall have done the king's will, if they owe him
debts. And that, according to the form of the Charter of liberty.
And that inquiry be made into the wrongs done which the escheat-
ors have done there aforetime, and amendment be made of such
and such. Nor let tallage on any thing else be taken, excepting
such as ought to be according to the Charter of liberty.
Let the Charter of liberty be kept firmly.
62 English Constitutional Documents
Of the Exchange of London
Be it remembered to amend the exchange of London, and the
city of London, and all the other cities of the king which have gone
to shame and destruction by the tallages and other oppressions.
Of the Place of Reception of the King and Queen
Be it remembered to amend the hostelry of the king and the
Of the Parliaments, how Many shall be held by Year, and in what
It is to be remembered that the twenty-four have ordained that
there be three parliaments a year. The first at the octave of Saint
Michael. The second the morrow of Candlemas. The third the
first day of June, to wit, three weeks before Saint John. To these
three parliaments the elected councillors of the king shall come,
even if they are not sent for, to see the state of the realm, and to
treat of the common wants of the kingdom, and of the king in like
manner. And other times in like manner when occasion shall be,
by the king's command.
So it is to be remembered that the commonalty elect twelve
honest men, who shall come at the parliaments and other times
when occasion shall be, when the king or his council shall send
for them to treat of the wants of the king and of the kingdom.
And that the commonalty shall hold as established that which
these twelve shall do. And that shall be done to spare the cost
of the commonalty.
There shall be fifteen named by these four, to wit, by the earl
Marshall, the earl of Warwick, Hugh Bigot, and John Mansel,
who are elected by the twenty-four to name the aforesaid fifteen,
who shall be the king's council. And they shall be confirmed by
the aforesaid twenty-four, or by the major part of them. And
they shall have power to counsel the king in good faith concern-
ing the government of the realm and all things which appertain to
the king or to the kingdom ; and to amend and redress all things
which they shall see require to be redressed and amended. And
over the chief justice and over all other people. And if they can-
not all be present, that which the majority shall do shall be firm
and established. [The names of the principal castles of the king,
and of those who have them in keeping, follow in the Ms.]
The Provisions of the Barons or of Westminster 63
35. The Provisions of the Barons or of West-*
(October, 1259. Latin text and translation, I S. R. 8, Stubbs, S. C. 401.
2 Stubbs, 83.)
IN the year of the Incarnation of our Lord, one thousand two
hundred and fifty-nine, and the forty-third year of the reign of
king Henry the son of king John, there being assembled at West-
minster in the fifteenth of Saint Michael, our said lord the king
and his great men, by the common counsel and consent of the
said king and great men, the underwritten provisions were made
by the same king and great men, and were published in the
1. Of doing suits, unto the courts of the great men and others
the lords of these courts, it is provided and with full consent
ordained, that no man who hath been infeoffed by deed shall be
distrained from henceforth to do suit unto the court of his lord,
unless he be specially bounden to do suit by the form of his deed :
except those whose ancestors or who themselves have used to do
such suit, before the first voyage of the said lord the king into
Brittany ; from the time whereof there have passed twenty-nine
years and a half at the time of making this ordinance ; and in like
manner no man infeoffed without deed from the time of the Con-
quest, or by other ancient feoffment, shall be distrained to do such
suit ; unless he or his ancestors have used to do the same, before
the first voyage of the said lord the king into Brittany.
2. And if any inheritance wherefrom only one suit was due,
shall descend unto many heirs, as parceners thereof, he that hath
the elder's share of that inheritance shall do one suit for himself
and his coparceners; and his coparceners shall contribute after
their shares, to the doing of that suit. And in like manner if
many shall have been infeoffed of any inheritance wherefrom one
suit were due, the lord of that fee shall have but one suit there-
from ; nor can he exact more than one suit from the said inherit-
ance, as it hath been used to be done before. And if the persons
infeoffed have no warrantor or mean who ought to acquit them
thereof, then all of them shall contribute after their shares, to the
doing of that suit.
3. And if it happen that the lords of courts do distrain their
tenants for such suit, contrary to this provision, then upon the
complaint of those tenants they shall be attached to appear in the
64 English Constitutional Documents
king's court at a short day to answer therefore ; and they shall
. have but one essoin if they be within the realm ; and the cattle
or other distresses taken upon this occasion shall be delivered
to the plaintiff forthwith, and shall remain delivered until the plea
between them be ended. And if the lords of the courts who have
made such distresses, shall not appear at the day whereto they
were attached, or shall not keep the day given to them upon the
essoin, then the sheriff shall be commanded to cause them to
come upon another day; at which day if they come not, the
sheriff shall be commanded to distrain them by all that they pos-
sess within his bailiwick, so that he shall answer to the king for
the issues, and to have their bodies by a certain day to be pre-
fixed, so that if they should not come upon that day, the party
plaintiff may go thence without day ; and the cattle or other dis-
tresses shall remain delivered until those lords shall recover that
suit by award of the court of our lord the king ; and in the mean
time such distresses shall cease : saving to the lords of the courts
their right to recover those suits in form of law, when they will
sue therefore. And when the lords of the courts shall appear to
answer unto the plaintiffs for such distresses, if they be thereupon
convicted, then by the award of the court, the plaintiffs shall
recover against them their damages, which they have sustained
by occasion of the aforesaid distress. And in like manner, if ten-
ants, after this act, do withdraw from their lords their suits which
they ought to do, and which before the time of the aforesaid
voyage and hitherto they have used to do, the lords of the courts
shall obtain justice to recover their suits, together with their dam-
ages, by the same process and dispatch, in respect of appointment
of days and awarding of distresses, like as the tenants do recover
their damages. And this matter of recovering damages must be
understood of the withdrawings done to themselves, and not of the
withdrawings done to their predecessors : nevertheless the lords
of the courts shall not recover seisin of such suits against their
tenants by default ; as that hath not been the custom hitherto.
And concerning the suits that were withdrawn before the time
of the aforesaid voyage, let the common law have its course, as it
hath used to have before.
4. Concerning the sheriff's turn, it is provided that archbishops,
bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, shall not be obliged to come
thither, nor any men of religion, or women, unless their presence
be specially required ; but the turn shall be holden as it was wont
to be in the times of our lord the king's predecessors. And where
any do hold tenements in divers hundreds, they shall not be obliged
The Provisions of the Barons or of Westminster 65
to come to such turn except in the bailiwicks where they shall
dwell : and the turns shall be holden according to the form of the
king's Great Charter, and as they were wont to be holden in the
times of king John and king Richard.
5. It is also provided that neither in the circuit of justicers, nor
in the county and hundred courts, nor in the courts baron, shall
fines be taken from any from henceforth for fair pleading, nor for
not being troubled on that account.
6. In the plea of dower that is called Unde nihil habet, from
henceforth there shall be given four days in the year at least, and
more if it may be conveniently done.
7. In assizes of darrein presentment, and in the plea of Quare
impedit of churches vacant, the day shall be given from fifteen
days to fifteen days, or from three weeks to three weeks, accord-
ing as the place may be far or near. And in the plea of Quare
impedit, if the disturber come not at the first day for which he
shall have been summoned, nor cast an essoin, then he shall be
attached unto another day, on which day if he come not nor cast
an essoin, he shall be distrained by the great distress above men-
tioned. And if he come not then, upon his default the bishop
shall be written to, that the claim of the disturber shall not
obstruct the plaintiff for that term ; saving unto the disturber his
right at another time, when he will sue therefore.
8. Concerning charters of exemption and privilege, that the
purchasers shall not be impanelled in assizes, juries, or recogni-
tions, it is provided, that if their oath should be so necessary,
that without it justice could not be administered, as in the great
assize and perambulations, and where they may have been named
as witnesses in charters, or writings of covenants, or in attaints
or other like cases, they shall be compelled to swear; saving
unto them at another time their aforesaid privilege and exemp-
9. If any heir should be under age after the death of his ances-
tor, and his lord have the wardship of his lands, if that lord will
not render unto the said heir his lands when he cometh to lawful
age, without plea, the heir shall recover his land as from the death
of his ancestor, together with the damages that he shall have sus-
tained by that withholding from the time of his coming to lawful
age ; and if an heir at the time of his ancestor's death be of full
age, and such heir, apparent and known to be the heir, be found
in the inheritance, his chief lord shall not put him out, nor take
or remove any thing therefrom, but shall take simple seisin only
for the acknowledgment of his seigniory.
66 English Constitutional Documents
10. And if a chief lord do maliciously keep such an heir out
of the possession, whereby it behoveth him to proceed by an
action of mort d'ancestor or cosinage, then he shall recover his
damages, as in the action of novel disseisin.
11. No man from thenceforth shall be permitted, for any man-
ner of cause, to make distresses out of his fee, nor in the king's
or common highway, except our lord the king and his officers.
12. It is also provided, that where land that is holden in socage
is in the custody of an heir's kinsfolk, because the heirs were
within age, those guardians cannot make waste or sale or any
despoiling in that inheritance, but shall keep it safely for the
use of the heir : so that when he shall come to age, they shall
answer unto him by a lawful account for the issues of the said
inheritance ; saving unto those guardians their reasonable ex-
penses. Neither can the said guardians give or sell the marriage
of the said heir, but for the benefit of the heir himself.
13. No escheator, or commissioner, or justice, especially as-
signed to take any assizes, or to hear and determine any com-
plaints, shall from henceforth have authority to amerce for default
of the common summons, except the chief justice or justices in
eyre in their circuits.
14. It shall not be lawful for men of religion to enter into any
man's fee, without the license of the chief lord of whom the fee
is immediately holden.
15. Concerning essoins it is provided, that in the county or
hundred courts, or courts baron, or elsewhere, no man shall be
obliged to swear for the warranting of his essoin.
1 6. None but the king from henceforth shall hold plea in his
court of a false judgment given in the court of his tenants ; be-
cause such pleas do especially belong to the king's crown and
1 7. It is provided also, that if any man's cattle be taken and
unjustly detained, the sheriff after complaint thereof made unto
him, may deliver them, without let or gainsaying of him who took
the said cattle, if they were taken without liberties, and if such
cattle should be taken within liberties, and the bailiffs of the
liberties will not deliver them, then the sheriff, for the default of
the said bailiffs, shall cause them to be delivered.
1 8. No man from henceforth shall distrain his free tenants to
answer for their freehold, nor for any matters pertaining to their
freehold, without the king's writ ; nor shall cause his free tenants
to swear against their will : for none can do this without a pre-
cept of the king.
The Provisions of the Barons or of Westminster 6j
19. It is provided also, that if bailiffs who are bounden t<\
render account unto their lords shall withdraw themselves, and
have no lands or tenements whereby they may be distrained, then
they shall be attached by their bodies, so that the sheriffs in
whose bailiwicks they shall be found, shall cause them to come to
the rendering of their account.
20. Also farmers during their farms, shall not make waste, or
sale, or exile, in woods, houses, men, or in any thing else belong-
ing to the tenements which they have to farm ; unless they have
a special grant in the writing of their covenant, making mention
that they may do so. And if they do, and be convicted thereof,
they shall restore damages in full.
21. The justices in eyre from henceforth shall not amerce the
township in their circuit, because all that are twelve years old
do not appear before the sheriffs and coroners upon inquests for
the death of man, or other things pertaining to the crown ; so
that from those townships there come enough for the making of
such inquests fully.
22. The fine of murder from henceforth shall not be adjudged
before the justices, where it hath been adjudged to be misfortune
only : but the fine of murder shall hold place upon those slain
feloniously, and not otherwise.
23. It is moreover provided, that no man who is vouched to
warranty before the justices in eyre, in a plea of land or tenement,
shall from henceforth be amerced because he was not present,
save on the first day of the coming of the justices : but if the
vouchee be within the county, then the sheriff shall be enjoined
to cause him to come within the third or fourth day, according
to the distance of the places, as it was wont to be in the circuit
of the justices : and if he dwell without the county, then he shall
have a reasonable summons of fifteen days at the least, according
to the discretion of the justices and the tommon law.
24. If any clerk should be arrested for any crime or charge
that toucheth the crown, and afterwards by the king's precept,
be let to bail, or be replevied, so that those to whom he is let to
bail should have him before the justices, from henceforth they to
whom he hath been let to bail, or his other pledges shall not be
amerced, if they have his body before the justices, although he
will not or cannot make answer before them by reason of the
privilege of clergy.
68 English Constitutional Documents
36. Confirmation of the Charters
(March, 1265. Latin text, Stubbs, S. C. 416. Translation by Editors.
2 Stubbs, 94.)
*T^HE king to all the people of the county of York, Greeting.
-L * * * We will and expressly agree that, if we or the said
Edward our son shall have presumed to go in any way contrary
may it be far from us to the said ordinance, or our provision,
or oath, or to disturb the peace and tranquillity of our realm, or
to molest, by reason of their former acts in the time of the late
disturbance and war, any one of the aforesaid, or of the party of
the aforesaid whom we have defied, or do or procure the doing
of injury to any of them, it shall be lawful for every one in our
realm to rise against us and to use all the ways and means they
can to hinder us ; to which we will that each and every one shall
henceforth be bound by our command, notwithstanding the fealty
and homage which he has sworn to us ; so that they shall in no
way give attention to us, but that they shall do everything which
aims at our injury and shall in no way be bound to us, until that
in which we have transgressed and offenced shall have been by a
fitting satisfaction brought again into due state, according to the
form of the ordinance of the aforesaid, and of our provision or
oath ; this having been done let them be obedient to us as they
were before. * * *
Witness myself at Westminster, the fourteenth day of March,
in the forty-ninth year of our reign.
37. The Statutes of Westminster ; the First
(1275. French text and translation, I S. R. 26, Stubbs, S C. 450.
2 Stubbs, 113.)
*~PHESE be the acts of king Edward, son to king Henry, made
J- at Westminster at his first parliament general after his coro-
nation, on the Monday of Easter Utas, the third year of his reign,
by his council and by the assent of archbishops, bishops, abbots,
priors, earls, barons, and the commonalty of the realm, being
thither summoned : because * * * the king hath ordained and
established these acts underwritten, which he intendeth to be neces-
sary and profitable unto the whole realm.
Grant of Customs on Wool, Woolfells, and Leather 69
5. And because elections ought to be free, the king command-
eth upon great forfeiture, that no man by force of arms, nor by
malice, or menacing, shall disturb any to make free election.
36. Forasmuch as before this time, reasonable aid to make
one's son knight, or to marry his daughter, was never put in cer-
tain, nor how much should be taken, nor at what time, whereby
some levied unreasonable aid, and more often than seemed neces-
sary, whereby the people were sore grieved ; it is provided, that from
henceforth of a whole knight's fee there be taken but twenty shil-
lings, and of twenty-pound land holden in socage, twenty shillings ;
and of more, more ; and of less, less ; after the rate. And that
none shall levy such aid to make his son knight, until his son be
fifteen years of age, nor to marry his daughter, until she be of the
age of seven years. And of that there shall be made mention in
the king's writ, formed on the same, when any will demand it.
And if it happen that the father, after that he hath levied such aid
of his tenants, die before he hath married his daughter, the execu-
tors of the father shall be bound to the daughter, for so much as
the father received for the aid. And if the father's goods be not
sufficient, his heir shall be charged therewith unto the daughter.
38. Grant of Customs on Wool, Woolfells, and
(May, 1275. Latin text, Stubbs, S. C. 451. Translation by Editors. 2 Stubbs,
WILLIAM of Valence, earl of Pembroke, to all the faithful in
Christ to whom the present writ shall come, Greeting in
Since the archbishops, bishops, and other prelates of the realm
of England, and the earls, barons, and we and the communities
of the said realm, at the instance and request of the merchants,
have for many reasons, unanimously granted to the great prince
and lord, our well-beloved lord Edward, by the grace of God, the
illustrious king of England, for us and our heirs, a half mark from
each sack of wool, and a half mark from each three hundred wool-
fells, which make a sack, and one mark from each last of leather,
exported from the realm of England and the land of Wales, to be
yo English Constitutional Documents
collected henceforth in each and every port of England and Wales,
as well within liberties as without ; we, at the request and instance
of the aforesaid merchants, do grant, for ourselves and our heirs,
that the same lord the king and his heirs in each and every one
of our ports in Ireland, both within our liberties and without, shall
have a half mark from each sack of wool, and a half mark from
each three hundred woolfells, which make a sack, and one mark
from each last of leather, exported from the land of Ireland, to be
collected by the hand of the wardens and bailiffs of the said king,
saving to us the forfeiture of those who, without licence and war-
rant of the said lord the king, by his letters patent signed by his
seal for this provided, shall have presumed to carry out of Ireland
wool, woolfells, or leather of this sort, through our fiefs where we
have liberties. From which the aforesaid lord the king and his
heirs shall receive and have the half mark from the wool and wool-
fells and the mark from the lasts of leather in the form aforesaid ;
nevertheless so that in each of our ports where the writs of the
aforesaid lord the king do not run, two of the more discreet and
faithful men of those ports shall be chosen who, upon oath, until
the merchants of the aforesaid wool, woolfells, and leather shall
have his warrant for it under the seal of the lord the king for this
provided, shall faithfully collect the customs from the wool, wool-
fells, and leather, seized in the said ports, and shall receive them
for the use of the said lord the king and shall answer to him for
In testimony whereof, we have set our seal to the present writ.
Given in the general parliament of the aforesaid lord the king, at
Westminster on Sunday the feast of Saint Dunstan the bishop, in
the third year of the reign of the said king.
39. Writ for Distraint of Knighthood
(June, 1278. Latin text, Stubbs, S. C. 457. Translation by Editors.
2 Stubbs, 115, 221, 294.)
THE king to the sheriff of Gloucestershire, Greeting.
We order and straitly enjoin you, that, without delay, you
distrain all those in your bailiwick who have twenty pound lands
or a whole knight's fee worth twenty pounds a year, and who hold
from us in chief and ought to be knights and are not ; that before
the feast of the Lord's nativity next coming or at the same feast,
they receive the insignia of knighthood from us : also, without
Statute of Mortmain or De Religiosis 71
delay, distrain all those from your bailiwick who have twenty
pound lands or a whole knight's fee worth twenty pounds a year,
from whomsoever they hold, and ought to be knights and are not,
that they receive insignia of the same sort at the same feast or
before : so that you receive from the same good and sufficient
security for it, and cause the names of all of them to be written
down in a roll upon the attestation of two lawful knights of the
aforesaid county, and to be transmitted to us, without delay, under
your seal and the seals of the two knights. And we will you to
know that we will make prompt visitation upon your action in the
execution of this order of ours, and thereupon we shall cause suit-
able remedy to be made for it.
Witness the king at Westminster, the twenty-sixth day of June.
40. Statute of Mortmain or De Religiosis
(November, 1279. Latin text, I S. R. 51, Stubbs, S. C. 458. Translation,
i 5.^.51, G. and H.8i. 2 Stubbs, 117.)
THE king to his justices of the bench, Greeting.
Where of late it was provided, that religious men should
not enter into the fees of any without licence and will of the chief
lords, of whom such fees be holden immediately ; and notwith-