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individuals were not only fined, but the liberties of the city were seized.
Afterwards the liberties were restored in 1252.

In 1263 prosecutions wore commenced against several of the citizens
for firing each others' houses and committing other crimes. At this time
the citizens seem to have been divided into factions, and the ancient feuds
between them and the monks broke out afresh. In 1267, the bailifis of
Norwich were summoned to answer for the numerous murders and dis-
orders which had taken place in their city, but on their contemptuously
leaving the Court their liberties were again seized by the Crown.

In 1251, and in the thirty-fifth of Henry III., the Eastern Counties
suifered much from a severe drought, which was succeeded by damps and
foul air, which produced contagious diseases among the cattle and rained
the harvest, insomuch that a dreadful famine and plague ensued destroy-
ing many people. At that time the land was not half cultivated, and aU
Norfolk was an immense common like Roudham Heath. The whole
population of Eastern England was very small, not 100,000, but the produce
of the soil was not then sufficient to supply the common necessaries of life.
King Henry III. held the fee farm of Yarmouth and Lothingland, and
in the twelfth year of his reign Eoger Fitz Osbert, warden of Lothingland
manor, took certain customs in the port of Yarmouth against the express
liberties of the burgesses, which being represented to the King, he com-
missioned Martin de Tatteshale and others to inquire into and ascertain
what customs belonged to the burgesses and what to his said manor of


Lothingland. Whereupon an inquisition was taken at Yarmouth, the
same year, upon tlie oaths of twenty-two knights and others of Norfolk,
and twenty-six of Suffolk, when a verdict was found that all wares ought
to be unladen and sold at Great Yarmouth, and that all the haven belonged
to the burgesses of that to^^^^ ; but that the lesser wares and victuals
might be unladen at Lothingland, on the Yarmouth side, at the option of
the owners or importers thereof. This decision, though much in favour
of Yarmouth, did not make the burgesses much gainers in the contest, as
ships might unload with victuals on the Lothingland side, and as their
chief trade was fishing they found themselves losers in an article from
whence they derived their profits. In the fortieth year of Henry III.,
therefore, they petitioned that King for a new charter, which was granted.
It was to this effect, "That all merchandises and wares as well of fish as
of other commodities, should be sold at Yannouth by the hands of the
importers of them into the haven, whether found in ships or without ; and
that henceforth there be no brokers in the aforesaid town of Yarmouth,
by whom the buyers and sellers may be impeded to the detriment of the
said town.'^

Besides these contests, the burgesses were subject to many others ; and
in particular on account of Henry III. exchanging the fee farm of Yar-
mouth and Lothingland with John de Baliol, of Bernard Castle, for
certain lands in Cheshire. The said John de Baliol dying in 1269, the fee
farm of Yarmouth and Lothingland became the possessions of his son,
John de Baliol, King of Scots, who as well as his father had for many
years taken tolls and customs in the port of Yarmouth, contrary to the
charter and injurious to the interests of the burgesses, who had suffered
these invasions of their rights with impunity, fi'om an apprehension of
their inability to contend with such powerful oppressors. But after the
said King of the Scots had renounced his homage to Edward I., King of
England, and in consequence had forfeited all his English estates, this
fee farm of Yarmouth and Lothingland reverted to the Crown.

The situation of Yarmouth being as it were the grand entrance by sea
into the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, it was only natural that after it
had acquired some degree of importance as a seaport and commercial
town, it should be thought necessary to provide for its security against
invasion by some more substantial means than the adventitious advantages
so open and exposed a situation could afford. Accordingly we find that
measures were taken for this purpose, and the burgesses presented a
petition to the King praying for a new charter.

In 1260, Henry III. granted to the burgesses of Yarmouth two
charters of privileges with the liberty of having a jai I for the security of
their own prisoners. The King justly considering that Yarmouth was the


key to the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, granted his letters patent to
the burgesses to fortify the town with a wall and moaTj and to use every
precaution against a foreign enemy. These fortifications,, however, were
not begun till 1285, when King Henry's tower was erected at the north-
east corner of St. Nicholas' Churchyard, but the others were not com-
pleted for a long time. The wall and ditch surrounded the town on all
sides except that next the river, and measured 2238 yards. The wall had
ten gates and sixteen towers, and a ditch was navigable for boats and had
a draw-bridge at each gate. A castle was also ereoted near the centre
of the town, surrounded by a beacon and flanked at the corners by four
turrets or watch-towers. Thus fortified, the town was considered impreg-
nable, until the use of artillery rendered it necessary to improve the
works. This charter was dated St. Paul's, London, 28th September,

In order to assist the inhabitants in carrying on this work, they had a'
grant from the King empowering them to collect a custom called murage,
which was levied upon all ships arriving at their port ; but about two
years after, in 1262, the walls not being yet begun, the merchant strangers
made a just complaint against the town of the imposition, on which the
custom was annulled, and the moneys already collected on that account
ordered to be refunded for the use of the King.

It is probable that the north-east tower, in St. Nicholas, Churchyard,
was the first part of it that was built, and it was begun on the east side,
and thence proceeded southward. This is the more probable, as we find
men afterwards employed at the south end of the town, about the Black-
friars, and thence trace them to the north end, which no doubt was the
last finished. After the wall was built, a moat was made all round the
town, and bridges were thrown across the moat at every gate.

After the Norman Conquest and the rise of towns in East Anglia
continual disputes arose between the burgesses and the monks or friars,
more especially in Cambridge, Norwich, Ipswich, Bury St. Edmund's, and
Yarmouth. The Kings frequently interfered, and generally in favour of
the religious orders. To notice all the disputes would be an endless and
wearisome task. Mr. John Kirkpatrick left a long account of the rehgious
orders in Norwich and of the quarrels between the citizens and the
monks. This account was printed at the cost of the late Hudson Gurney,
Esq., and edited by the late Dawson Turner, Esq., and published in one

While the citizens of Norwich had been subject to the repeated
disasters already related, they had in addition sustained many injuries
and offences in another direction. Not only had they been scourged by
Kings and barons, they had also received many stripes of injury from the


lordly ecclesiastics of the period. A partial subsidence of differences
took place in the reign of King John, but they broke out with greater
violence than ever in the reign of his son Henry III. The monks in some
way or other incensed the populace to such a degree that they forcibly
entered the convent and plundered and burnt part of it, thus rendering
some interference necessary on behalf of the higher powers. Wlien the
Sheriff of Norfolk was about to visit the city to ascertain the extent of
the depredations, the burgesses would neither suffer him to do so nor do
it themselves. The King finding his officer thus resisted, seized all the
liberties of the city into his own hands, though shortly after on their
submission he restored the liberties. A triumph was, however, reserved
for the citizens in the year 1244, when the tax for the city being laid at
£100, the tenants of the Prior of Norwich, dwelling in the privileged
locality, were taxed at £20, which they were obliged to pay for the first

The citizens exulted over the fact that while the prior had gained a
nominal victory over them, they had secured a substantial victory over
him, in placing his tenants on the same footing as they were with respect
to taxes. Fuel seemed never wanting to keep in a blaze the fire of ani-
mosity enkiudled between the parties. When the barons rose in arms
against King Henry III., with Simon de Montfort at their head, the
bishop and clergy took their side, while the city bailiffs and commons,
with the dwellers in the castle fee, took the side of the monarch. The
leader of the barons enlisted in his favour Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk,
who was Constable of the Castle, and thus the barons were overawed; but
when the King defeated the insurgent barons at Evesham, he removed
Roger Bigod from his office, and appointed in his place John de Vaux.
While these feuds prevailed, the citizens killed many of the monks and
their partizans, and the citizens in their turn suffered by the retaliation of
their opponents, and the two factions burned down the houses of each
other. About the close of 1266, the barons, headed by Sir John
d^Eyville, entered the city, killed and imprisoned a great number of the
inhabitants, and carried away in triumph some of the wealthier citizens.

This touched the pride of the monks, who held that the officers of the
city magistrate had no right to enter within this jurisdiction in pursuit of
the criminals, as it was exempt from the interference of the authorities.
They accordingly shut up their gates, and enlisted the services of a body
of soldiers, who shot at and wounded several citizens who were only
passing the place. They did not confine themselves to these outrages, as
on the Sunday before St. Lawrence day (August 10th) they rushed into
the city, which they ravaged all that day and night, plundering the houses
^nd killing several merchants and citizens without provocation. In this


emergency tlie magistrates, being unable to repel force by force, sent
information to the King, stating what liad occurred, and summoned tlie
citizens to meet them in tlie ;Market Place on the following day. The
inhabitants rose in a body, filled the Market Place, and enraged at the
brutal atrocities committed by the myrmidoms of the church, flew to the
priory, assaulted it on every side, set fire to the great gates, and stormed
the defences. Once within, they applied the torch to St. Albert's Church,
the great almonry, the church doors, and the great tower, which was
speedily enveloped in flames and burnt down as far as the materials
could be burned.

The whole church (except St. Mary's Chapel) with the dormitory,
refectory, hall of entertainment, and infirmary (with its chapel), and
almost all the buildings in the court, were consumed, while many of the
subdeacons, clerks, and laymen were killed in the precincts ; others were
carried out and slaughtered in the city ; others were cast into prison. All
the plate, holy vessels, books, and vestments, and what articles the flames
had not destroyed in the church, were carried ofi* by the besiegers, who
carried on their riot for three days, killing and plundering the tenants and
partizans of the church. The prior, meanwhile, fled to Yarmouth, and the
affrighted monks who survived sought refuge wherever it was to be found.

They had conjured up a storm which they could not lay, but a day of
reckoning for the city was at hand. The report of the outrage reached
the ears of the stern old King Henry III., who convened a meeting of all
the nobles and bishops of England in the grand old abbey of Bury St.
Edmund's, on St. Giles' day, to consider what should be done in this
important matter. The King, having heard the denunciations of his
councillors, resolved to punish the city with the utmost severity.

At the same time the Bishop of Norwich called the clergy together at
Eye, in Suffolk, when excommunication was denounced against all the
persons who were concerned in the riot, and the whole city was placed
under an interdict, a dreadful thing in those days, the effect being a sus-
pension of all rehgious ceremonies, as those in relation to the marriage
service, the burial of the dead, and the performing of mass and vespers j
no persons could be married, no corpses could be buried, no business
done. All commerce was suspended, all shops closed, and gloom reigned
over the doomed city eveiywhere. Norwich seemed to be a city of the
dead. The whole power of the Church and the State was brought to
bear upon the unfortunate citizens, and with the most brutal accompani-
ments, as will be related. The barons, most of whom held in partial
dependence boroughs of their own, and the bishops, who feared that
similar riots would break out elsewhere, were not likely to counsel mode-
ration in dealing with such offenders,


Tho result of the Parliament at Bury was the visit of the King in
person to the scene of tho riot^ with the stern intention to punish the
rioters, and he did so with a vengeance. He entered the city on September
14th, when at his request the bishop removed the interdict.

Then followed atrocities which seem to be incredible in these days. The
King's officers caused thirty-four of the offenders to be drawn by horses
through the streets until they were dead ; others were hanged and quar-
tered, and their bodies afterwards burned j and a woman who first set fire
to the gates was buried alive ! Minor penalties were inflicted on those
who were implicated in the riot. Twelve of the inhabitants forfeited their
goods to the King. The city was fined oOOO marks towards re-building
the cathedral, and £100 for a cup of gold weighing ten pounds. The King
also seized the city and its liberties, and appointed officers to govern it in
his name. At the same time the prior was thrown into a dungeon, and
the priory property was taken out of his hands.

In the following year, the bailiffs being summoned to answer for the
many murders and disorders lately committed in Norwich, contemptuously
departed from the court without leave, and the King in consequence seized
their liberties, and kept them in his own hands.

The monks and the citizens were greatly embittered against each other
by their frequent armed collisions ; so that they scarcely needed a pretext
for attacking each other with weapons on any public occasion.

On Trinity Sunday, in 1272, a fair was held on Tombland, according to
custom, under a charter granted to the monks, before the gates of
the monastery. This custom on a Sunday would have been more honoured
in the breach than the observance, but it was observed with very fatal
results. The fair on this Sunday was attended by the citizens and the
servants of the monks ; and as might have been expected, they soon
came to blows, and several of the citizens were killed in the affray. War-
rants were directly issued for the apprehension of the offenders wherever
they could be taken, an inquest having been held on the bodies by the
city coroner.

While attempting to describe the feuds between the monks and the
citizens of Norwich, we have, for the time, dropped the thread of our
narrative of civil and municipal events, and, therefore, here resume it in
due order. The charter of Eichard I. estabhshed the burgesses in the
possession of their privileges, though these were from time to time suspended
at the discretion of various monarchs. Henry HI. granted three charters,
but they do not seem to have added any material franchises to those
before granted. In his third charter, dated 1250, he gave them the
return of all writs as well as of all summons out of the exchequer, as of all
other things relating to the city of Norwich, requiring also that all


merchants enjoying their liberties and merchandises should pay to the lot
and scot_, and aids of the citizens wherever they might dwell, as they ought
and used to do ; and that for the future no guild be held in the city to its
damage. Thus it appears that;, for some time previously, a portion of the
suburban population had participated in local advantages without sharing
the public burdens.

In 1265, the Isle of Ely being then in rebellion, the King came to
Cambridge and took up his abode in the town and began to fortify it,
causing gates to be erected and a ditch to be dug round the walls with all
speed. During his stay, Walter Cottenham, who had been knighted by
the rebelHous barons, was taken at Hornsey and executed at Cambridge.
The King being called away suddenly by the news of the successes of the
Earl of Gloucester, left Cambridge without a garrison, of which his
enemies in the Isle of Ely taking advantage, marched there immediately,
and burnt the gates which the King had erected, and the house where he
had lodged. The townsmen fled at their approach, leaving their houses to
be plundered and destroyed. The Priory of Barnwell was saved from the
j&ames by the intercession of the Peeches, who were patrons of that
monastery, and then in arms with Lord Hastings and his party. Barnwell
Priory was situated near Cambridge, near the present railway station.

The fifth Earl de Warrenue, of Castleacre, Norfolk, took an active part
in the serious differences which prevailed between Henry HI. and his
barons, under the influence of the celebrated Simon de Montfort, Earl of
Leicester. De Warrenne appears to have adhered to the King^s party,
and enjoyed the friendship of Prince Edward. On the defeat of the
Royalist forces at the battle of Lewes, De Warrenne made his escape to
the continent, accompanied by the half-brothers to the King. From thence
he subsequently returned and landed in Wales with a small force, and soon
after overthrew De Montfort near Evesham.

Roger de Skerving (so called from his native place), who had
been Prior of the Convent of Norwich Cathedral, was chosen Bishop in
1265. In his time the Cathedral was set on fire, during a commotion
between the monks and the citizens. He died January 22nd, 1278, and
was buried in the Cathedral. William de Middleton, Archbishop of
Canterbury and Prebend of St. Paul's, London, succeeded him. He was
enthroned on the day when the Cathedral was re-consecrated, after the
damage done to it by the fire, the repairs being then finished.

The first Parhament of England appears to have been held in 1272, in

the reign of Heniy III. The next was held in 1296, in the reign of

Edward I., when Norwich, Yarmouth, and Lynn, in Norfolk, returned

representatives. The next Parliament was held at Bury St. Edmund's in

496, in the reign of Hemy VI. The last time Parliament was held at


Bury St. Edmund's was in 1448. Afterwards, Parliament met regularly
at Westminster.

Henry HI. assembled a Parliament at Westminster for granting sup-
plies to enable him to recover Gascony. After long debates, the laity
agreed to a scutage, and the prelates consented to an imposition according
to the Pope's bull, which they had formerly rejected. But they com-
plained that the King had overruled the elections of bishops and abbots,
contrary to the first article of the Magna Charta. The King acknow-
ledged that upon some occasions ho had extended the royal prerogative
too far, but said that he had firmly resolved to observe the charters with
the utmost punctuality. Sir Thomas Bacon, Knight, was returned to be
one of the principal knights of the shire of Norfolk, and in his time the
House of Commons appears to have had some weight in checking the
power of the King.

In 1272 Norwich, Yarmouth, and Lynn tirst sent representatives to
Parliament, originally four in number for the city, who were paid for their
services. The latest researches confirm the conclusions of the earlier
historians that the year 1265 is the date of the first regal summons con-
voking the great council of the nation, at least in its complete form as a
nmster of lords spiritual and temporal, knights of the shire, and repre-
sentatives of cities or boroughs ; and throughout the whole sexcentenary
period which has elapsed, the estates of the realm have been convened at
frequent intervals to advise the sovereign on national affairs. Parliament
gradually effected great advances in the cause of liberty ; for, at the time
of granting taxes and aids, the Commons generally coupled such con-
cessions with important provisions for the good of their constituents, as
well as of the community at large. For many centuries the House of
Commons represented only the landed interest before great towns arose,
and nearly all laws were in favour of the landowners, who under pretence
of protecting native industry, enacted laws to prevent or limit the impor-
tation of foreign corn.

Thetford returned its first representatives to Parliament in or about the
year 1272, and continued to do so without inten-uption till the sixteenth
century, when this privilege was either taken from its inhabitants or it
was allowed by them to fall into disuse. The privilege, however, was
re-established by the charter of Elizabeth, upon petition of the Mayor
and Corporation, and continued till the Keform Act of 1867. In those early
elections monkish influence is supposed to have largely predominated,
and it was not till later times that political opinions had much influence
at elections.

The Jews had a synagogue in the Market Place, Normch, during the
thirteenth century, but it was destroyed by the unruly citizens in their


rage against that peculiar people. They were accused of corrupting the
nation with usury, and debasing the King's coin, and having first a badge
given them that they might be known, they were afterwards banished
from England to the number of 300,000 men. There are some under-
ground remains of a synagogue to be seen in some cellars in the Market
Place, Norwich.

William de Raleigh, Chaplain to Heury III., Prebendary of London
and Litchfield, succeeded to the bishopric of Norwich in 1240 and was
translated to Winchester in 1243.

Walter de Suffield was the next Bishop of Norwich. He repaired the
bishop's palace at Eccles, where he resided. He built the Chapel of St.
Mary the Great at the east end of the Cathedral, now demolished. He
died at Colchester May 20th, 1257, possessed of immense wealth, all of
which he bequeathed to rehgious and charitable purposes.

Prince Edward came to Cambridge in 1270 and caused an agreement
to be drawn up, by which certain persons were appointed by the town
and the University, for keeping the peace between the students and the
inhabitants. The same illustrious personage in 1294, being then King,
spent two days in the castle at Cambridge, and it is observed by the
annalist who records the fact, that this was the first time that the town
had been honoured with a royal visit within the memory of man.

Henry HI. granted to Sir Robert de Tateshale, Knight, a charter for
free warren at Denton, in Norfolk, which was confirmed to his heir
Constantino Clifton, and in 1285 Roger Bigod as lord of the Hundred
had joint free warren with him. It went from the Tateshales, through
the Bennalls, Orrebys, &c., to the Cliftons, and continued in that family
with Buckenham Castle till 1447, when Sir John Chfton, Knight, gave
this manor to Robert Clifton, his cousin, and his heirs, who conveyed
the united manors of Denton cum Topcroft, the manors of Hoes and
Littlehall, in Denton, with the advowson of the church, to Sir Gilbert
Debenham, Knight, and the advowson of St. Giles' Chapel in Topcroft,
the manors then extending into Denton, Topcroft, Aldburgh, Beden-
ham, Woodton, Hemenhale, Haddiscoe, Thorpe, and Dickleburgh. Sir
Thomas Brewer, of Sail, in Eynsford Hundred, and of Wenliam, in
Suffolk, in right of Elizabeth, his second wife, sister and heiress to
Sir Gilbert Debenham, inherited this estate, from whom it descended
to Robert Browse, Esq., of Topcroft Hall, his second son. John
Brewse was lord in 1602. He was afterwards knighted and married
Cecily, only daughter of John Wilton, of Topcroft, and soon after

Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 63 of 70)