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marketings be strictly forbidden "1. The laws of the Northumbrian priests also forbade "Sunday marketing and all gatherings of the people and all labour and travelling "2. Legislation, however, was ineffectual in extirpating a practice so deeply rooted; and in Domesday Book the market of St. Germains in Cornwall is distinctly stated to have been held on Sunday. Neither the Norman Church nor the Norman kings appear to have regarded Sunday marketing with disapproval. The Conqueror granted to the monks of Battle a market every Sunday, and in 1201 a charter of Wells granted that there should be a free market every Sunday, "as there is now and is wont to be "5. In the thirteenth century a renewed attempt was made to compel the observance of the Sabbath. The abbot of Flaix was sent by Innocent III. to England to put an end to all buying and selling on Sundays, and for a time his preaching met with success at London, Bury St. Edmunds 7, and "many other places throughout England". His work, however, was soon undone, to the indignation of the monkish chronicler, despite the fact that a large number of markets were under ecclesiastical control 8. Everywhere men continued to buy and sell at a time when "they ought to be at divine service, minding their souls' welfare". At Norwich in 1380 it was "granted by the whole community that the market for the sale of victuals shall be . . . every Sunday as anciently used", but in 1422 the order was rescinded 10. In the reign of Henry VI. an act was placed on the statute-book, reviving the old legal enactment with a proviso in favour of "necessary victuals and "the four Sundays in harvest" 11. But Sunday marketing did not die out, and in parts of the country survived the close of the
1 Liebermann, Gesetze, i. 132, 164, 171, 240, 265.
2 D. Wilkins, Leges Anglo-Saxonicae (1721), 101, No. 55.
3 Domesday Book, i. 120 b.
5 Ballard, Borough Charters, 171.
4 Davis, Regesta Regum, i. 16.
• Chronica Magistri Rogeri de Houedene, iv. 123.
7 Chronica Jocelini, 98.
8 M. Paris, Chronica Majora, ii. 465. The market at Cirencester was held on Sunday in the thirteenth century, though owned by the abbot: Trans. Bristol and Glouc. Archæol. Soc. ix. part i. 300 (n. 2).
• Patent Rolls, 1381-1385, p. 506. 10 Records of Norwich, ii. 87, 406.
11 Statutes, ii. 351.
sixteenth century. A petition from the preacher at Bishop's Sunday marketing Castle in Shropshire addressed to Lord Burghley (1595) in the lamented that "contrary to the express word of God, and sixteenth contrary also to the laws of this realm, the fairs holden not only in the town of Bishop's Castle, but also for the most part in all other towns in Wales and the Marches thereof. are holden upon the Sunday . . . and where in all the chief cities and towns of this realm . . . the same great abuse is reformed, and remaineth unreformed chiefly in Wales and the Marches"1. The Acts of the Privy Council (1580) contain a letter of thanks to the bishop of Chester, "with their lordships' resolution touching fairs and markets kept on the Sabbath day "2. At Enfield a meat market was held in the churchyard on Sunday before service according to "an old and ancient usage", and in 1586 the inhabitants petitioned to be allowed to retain it. They recounted their troubles with much bitter complaint of the vicar, who one Sunday in a very outrageous manner, ill-beseeming a man of the Church", had thrown the butcher's meat on the ground, "most pitiful to behold", and also threatened to kill him even "if he hanged for it half an hour afterwards". He followed up this exploit with a sermon preached “in a most melancholy and angry vein ", until his uncomfortable auditors did "wish themselves at home" 3. Again at Battle the Sunday market was not changed to Thursday till the end of Elizabeth's reign 4, and the persistence of the practice affords a further illustration of that conflict between law and custom, which constitutes one of the most interesting developments of the later Middle Ages. We are apt to assume too readily that the promulgation of a law initiated a new departure, or embodied a change already partially or completely accomplished. But mediaeval statutes are often more valuable for the light they throw upon the aspirations of the moment, than they are trustworthy as a guide to actual economic practice. This is a truth of which we shall be reminded in more than one connexion.
1 Ellis, Introduction to Domesday Book, i. 254 (n. 2).
2 Acts of the Privy Council, 1580–1581, p. 125.
3 Vict. County Hist. Middlesex, ii. 86.
4 Sussex Archæol. Collections, xxxvi. 184.
Questions affecting the duration of the mart were of vital of the fair. moment to the lord and to the trader. On this accounta they merit some attention, for from the apparently dry and insignificant details gleaned from records and charters, civil pleadings and inquisitions, is built up the living story of the growth of English commerce. The market, held once a week and occasionally more often 1, lasted a single day; the fair was an annual institution, though several fairs were sometimes held in the same place during the course of the year. Nottingham had two fairs; Eton College two; Bristol and Cardiff had three; and Wells four, which belonged to the bishop2. The duration of the fair varied considerably in different parts of the country; sometimes it was limited to two, three and four days, but more commonly it was spread over a week. Frequently the period of the original grant was lengthened by royal favour. In 10964 William Rufus bestowed upon the bishop of Winchester the fair of St. Giles to last for three days; Henry I. prolonged it to eight days, Stephen to fourteen, and Henry II. to sixteen; in 1269 the bishop purchased a further extension of eight days by the payment of £605. At Coventry the fair lasted only one day until Henry VI. increased it to eight days. As English trade developed and the needs of society grew apace, the tendency was for the fair to become more and more important and to extend over longer periods of time. From this standpoint the protraction of the fair has a marked significance, and it became increasingly common for the fair to extend over a month. The burgesses of Hull received from Edward I. a fair of thirty days, and
1 Hull had a market on Tuesdays and Fridays: Charters of Kingston upon Hull, ed. J. R. Boyle (1905), 3. Folkestone also had two markets: Patent Rolls, 1388-1392, p. 184. Lincoln had markets on three days in the week: Royal Charters of Lincoln, 54.
a (i.) Records of Nottingham, i. 59; (ii.) Rot. Parl. v. 78 b (Eton); (iii.) Latimer, Bristol Charters, 31-32; (iv.) Records of Cardiff, ii. 71; (v.) Hist. MSS. Comm. Wells, i. 259.
3 Patent Rolls, 1345-1348, pp. 527, 530.
Charter of Edward III., ed. G. W. Kitchin (1886), 43.
Patent Rolls, 1266-1272, pp. 365, 366.
• Hist. MSS. Comm. 15th Rep. App. x. 119. John granted a fair to Newcastle for two days, and Edward II. extended it to twenty-eight: Proceedings of the Archæol. Institute, Newcastle (1852), 33.
Charters of Hull, 3.
Edward III. granted to Northampton 1 a fair of four weeks. But any extension of the fair required the royal licence 2, and without it the extension was illegal and involved the forfeiture of the franchise to the Crown. In 1293 the royal escheator seized into the king's hands the fair of St. Giles, together with the tolls and other profits accruing from it", and refused to surrender it on the ground that the bishop had held the fair beyond its proper term imposed in the charter. The king restored it to the bishop 'de gratia sua speciali', but with the caution not to repeat his offence3. The king's jealous apprehensions were shared by the townsmen with whose commercial monopoly the holding of the fair conflicted, and in an agreement between the prior of Lenton and the burgesses of Nottingham the former was induced to lessen the great fair of Nottingham by four days 4. Similarly the Oxford fairs of St. Frideswide and Austin Friars were limited to eight days 5.
Equally stringent was the exercise of the royal control Removal of fairs and in other directions. It is common to meet with petitions markets. praying for an alteration in the time of holding the fair", for sometimes the fair did not flourish because the feast on which it was held was observed as a holiday in the town alone and not in its neighbourhood'. The king's sanction was always needed to make the change valid, and Bracton 8 expressly states that the justices itinerant should make inquiry "of markets removed from one day to another
1 Records of Northampton, i. 66. Similarly the fair of Westminster lasted 32 days: Patent Rolls, 1292-1301, p. 589.
2E.g. the bishop of Lincoln petitioned for an extension of his fairs of Banbury and Newark: Rot. Parl. ii. 439 a. Again in 1250 the fair of St. Giles was granted temporary extension by letters patent: Patent Rolls, 1247-1258, p. 74. The bishop of Worcester was allowed to extend his fair from eight to sixteen days: Charter Rolls, ii. 329.
Rot. Parl. i. 97 a.
Similarly St. Botolph's fair: Thompson, Boston, 52. Edward III. forbade the extension of the fair beyond the time fixed by charter or prescription: Statutes, i. 260, 266.
A Records of Nottingham, i. 61.
5 Records of Oxford, 169. The town's dislike of fairs is illustrated by the survival of a curious custom at Manchester: S. Hibbert-Ware, History of the Foundations of Manchester (1848), iv. 41.
Rot. Parl. i. 434 b, 477 a.
8 Bracton, f. 117.
Patent Rolls, 1429-1436, p. 248.
fair were temporarily confiscated because held on the wrong day: Placita
de Quo Warranto, 384.
without the licence of the king". He allows, however, that a lord may change a market held on Sunday to some other day in the week, but if this concession is anything more than merely a legal opinion it was certainly a recent development. In earlier reigns there are numerous instances of pecuniary amercements being imposed whenever the market-day was changed from Sunday without warrant 1. Similarly the royal licence was necessary to transfer a fair or market from one place to another. The abbot of Holmcolstran 2 was allowed to remove his fair and market to his town of Kirkeby-Johan; he had paid a fine of a hundred marks to hold them at Skynburnese, but now both the town and the road leading to it were washed by the sea.
There was considerable antagonism between the fairs and markets of the different localities, an antagonism which has ing fairs. its counterpart in the struggle of the towns to assert their supremacy over one another. The lord of a market or fair was jealous of any encroachment upon his liberties, which might diminish their value or lessen their profit. Sometimes the grant expressly forbade a rival market to be set up in the neighbourhood; in his charter to the minster at Peterborough, Edgar ordered that there should be no other market “betwixt Stamford and Huntingdon". At other times the burgesses themselves tried to control the erection of new markets by proclaiming "that no foreign fair or market may be raised in the vicinity of the borough, to the injury of the fairs and markets of the borough "4; while the Church obtained papal injunctions safeguarding its privileges 5. More commonly, however, a proviso protecting local interests was inserted in the charters by which the grants were conferred, and an inquisition Ad quod damnum was held to ascertain whether the new mart conflicted with those already established. As early as 1206 two charters of King John,
1 Plac. Abbrev. 36 b, 41 a, 43 a, 71 b; Select Pleas of the Crown (Seld. Soc. Pub.), i. 20. Bracton's opinion seems supported by a case in 1221 where no objection was raised to the change: Pleas of the Crown for Gloucester, 12. 2 Rot. Parl. i. 161 b. 3 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 963.
4 The Colchester Oath Book, 28.
E.g. Cart. Monast. de Rameseia, ii. 137. Cf. also Early Yorkshire Charters, ed. W. Farrer (1914), i. 106.