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The exclusive monopoly of trade, which towns in the Free trade. Middle Ages so jealously asserted, affords a further explanation of the rapid development of mediaeval markets and fairs. The townsmen carefully guarded their commercial privileges, and were reluctant to extend them to the stranger in their midst. At fairs and markets, on the other hand, full freedom of traffic was accorded indifferently to alien and native, to burgess and stranger; and it was this policy of free trade and the open door which attracted traders and afforded scope for the unrestricted play of commercial forces. Moreover, the stringent provisions contained in borough custumals against trading outside the walls of the town were commonly relaxed in favour of the great marts 1, and this concession enabled burgesses to carry their wares to distant centres.
The classical doctrine as enunciated in the pages of Coke The royal and Blackstone lays down that markets and fairs can only prerogative. be set up in virtue of a royal grant, or by long and immemorial usage and prescription which presupposes such a grant 2. This doctrine also held good in the Middle Ages, and it was among the duties of justices of the eyre to inquire "if any new market had been set up without the licence of our lord the king"3. The grant of a market or fair was essentially a royal prerogative, and was usually embodied in a formal charter or letters patent 4. The important fairs of Bartholomew and St. Ives were expressly founded by charter, but the fair at York was claimed by the archbishop on the ground of prescription," from a time whereof there is no memory "5. In the county palatine of Durham the right to erect fairs and markets was vested in the bishop, though he was careful to retain in his own hands the great fair of St. Cuthbert ®.
In a feudal organization of society the sovereign was easily induced to alienate the royal rights of the Crown, and 1 E.g. Newcastle Merchant Adventurers, ed. J. R. Boyle and F. W. Dendy (1895), i. 61.
2 E. Coke, Second Part of the Institutes (1671), 220; W. Blackstone, Commentaries (1825), i. 273. Statutes, i. 234.
For a typical grant of a market and a fair, see H. Hall, Formula Book of Diplomatic Documents (1908), 33.
5 Placita de Quo Warranto, 223 a. For a market held by prescription, cf. Rot. Hund. ii. 169. Lapsley, County Palatine, 62.
of royal rights.
Alienation no privilege perhaps was more lavishly conceded than the grant of fairs and markets. These grants were conferred upon towns and churches and individuals. Many towns 1 set up their own fairs and markets, but their privilege rested upon the royal licence. There was in fact an important difference between the commercial privileges of English and Scottish towns. In Scotland a borough exercised the right to hold a market as its natural monopoly, and maintained the complete control over all trade within a very wide area. The charters of Perth, Aberdeen and Inverness 2 gave them the exclusive privilege of trading within the counties of which they were the head, while the laws of William the Lion 3 ordered merchants to come with their merchandise to the market of the borough and there expose it for sale. But in England a different system prevailed; whenever the municipality acquired the privilege of a market, this privilege proceeded as a gift from the Crown, and was not part and parcel of the ordinary municipal franchise. Similarly in Wales the franchise of a market or fair was distinct from that of the borough, being based upon a separate charter 5. English fairs and markets were also often in the hands of private individuals; for example, the market of Belton belonged to a knight, and in 1306 Hugh Despenser petitioned Edward I. for the right to hold a fair 7; while Lord Berkeley owned three fairs, two at Newport and one at Berkeley 8. But the most frequent recipient of the grants was the Church, which generally, though not invariably, controlled all the great fairs and forced into the background those set up by the boroughs; at Cambridge
1 (i.) 1227: Henry III. granted a fair to Hereford (Hist. MSS. Comm. 13th Rep. App. iv. 284) and to Preston (W. A. Abram, Memorials of the Preston Guilds, 1882, p. 3). (ii.) 1319: Edward II. gave a fair to Colchester (Charters of Colchester, ed. W. G. Benham, 1904, p. 9). (iii.) 1368: Edward III. granted two fairs to Queensburgh (Letter Book G, 228). 2 Ballard, Borough Charters, 170.
Innes, Ancient Laws, i. 183. Date is 1165-1214.
R. Brady (Historical Treatise of Cities and Boroughs, 1777, P. 33) appears to regard the possession of a market and fair as an essential characteristic of a free borough. But the franchise was not restricted to boroughs. Cf. H. A. Merewether and A. J. Stephens, History of Boroughs and Corporations (1835), i. 381. 5 Lewis, Snowdonia, 169. Rot. Parl. i. 203 a.
• Rot. Hund. ii. 169.
J. Smyth, History of the Hundred of Berkeley (1885), 39, 82.
the fair which the townsmen held from early times was completely overshadowed by the fair of Stourbridge. Sometimes the control and profits of the fair were shared between two or more owners 1, and a fair at Exeter was divided between the Crown and the city 2. Rights of fairs and markets were transmissible by hereditary right, and apparently could also pass to a purchaser, for the plea that the charter lapsed when the franchise was sold to a stranger was overruled in a court of law. A statute of Edward I.5, however, enacted that a writ of inquiry must precede the purchase of any fair or market.
Whether in the hands of the king or his subjects, a re- Profit of markable number of periodical marts sprang up and flourished fairs and in England during the twelfth and subsequent centuries". The great stimulus to their creation was the recognition that they were a lucrative source of income to their owners. It is exceptional to find a free fair where neither toll, custom nor stallage was taken from traders. At Manchester, in 1282, the lord of the manor was drawing £6: 13:4 from his tolls-an amount nearly equal to his burgage rents, and no inconsiderable sum for those days. The market and fair at Bradford (1311) were worth £6, and the stallage of the Liverpool fairs and markets was farmed for £10.
1 At Aspella in Suffolk Ralph Peverel had "the third part" of the fair: Domesday Book, ii. 418. At Burton one moiety of the market belongs to the earl of Bologne, a fourth part to Richard Wascelinus, and a fourth part to Richard of Chester": Plac. Abbrev. 71 b. At Dublin the archbishop had the fair for two days and the burgesses the remainder: J. T. Gilbert, Historic and Municipal Documents of Ireland (1870), 64. 3 Bracton, f. 424.
Rot. Hund. i. 70 a.
• Placita de Quo Warranto, 38, 109. On the other hand, the re-grant of a franchise was regarded as an abuse in Rot. Parl. i. 98 a. Sometimes the lord gave away his rights; Thomas Basset gave to the Church "the whole tithe of the profit of the fair of St. Kalixtus": Hist. MSS. Comm. Various Coll. iv. 69. The priory of St. Andrew received a tithe of the profits of the fair held in Northampton: Associated Architectural Societies' Reports and Papers, xvi. 73.
Statutes, i. 131. Apparently if the grantee did not avail himself of his grant, it fell into desuetude and a renewal became necessary: cf. Patent Rolls, 1345-1348, p. 278.
• See Calendar of Grants of markets and fairs in the First Report of the Royal Commission on Market Rights and Tolls (1889), i. App. xix. For N. Wales, see Lewis, Snowdonia, 171.
'This was at Hethe: Charter Rolls, ii. 36 (1261). For French examples, cf. M. F. Bourquelot in Mémoires présentés à l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 2nd ser. v. 25.
St. Botolph's fair (1282) produced over £90 in rents and stallage, and £40 in profits of jurisdiction. Most striking of all was the fair of St. Giles, which at the end of Henry II.'s reign brought in £1461. The revenue derived in this way helped to maintain ecclesiastical and charitable foundations; the greatest of all English fairs, Stourbridge, was erected by King John to support a hospital, and he also granted a fair to the hospital of St. Mary Magdalene at Ipswich2. It was equally for their profit that they were valued by individuals and public bodies. In 1334 Northampton petitioned for a fair to enable it to pay its fee-farm to the Exchequer, and at another time a fair was granted to restore a village destroyed by fire. According to Matthew Paris, the abbot of Ramsey when deprived by the king of St. Ives fair asserted that he would have preferred to lose many manors 5.
When a quarrel broke out between the lord of St. Botolph's fair and the men of Lincoln, one of the citizens declared before the commonalty" that he would rather give out of his own chattels ten pounds before he would lose his fair of St. Botolph "".
The organization of fairs and markets was seldom tion of the uniform, and the exigencies of local requirements afforded scope for a great variety of practices. But though one differed from another in matters of detail, certain features were common to all. They were often held within the churchyard', although the tumult was denounced as a prejudice and scandal to the church 8. An episcopal charter to Wells in 1201 enjoined that all who came to the fair should "by no means presume to enter, or desecrate, the church of Wells or the church-porch to sell their merchandise "9; and Robert Grossteste forbade markets in his diocese
1 (i.) Manchester: Harland, Mamecestre, i. 145. (ii.) Bradford: J. James, History of Bradford (1841), 61, 82. (iii.) Liverpool: Vict. County Hist. Lancaster, ii. 281. (iv.) St. Botolph: P. Thompson, History of Boston (1856), 344. (v.) St. Giles : Pipe Roll, 1 Ric. I. (ed. J. Hunter, 1844), P. 5. 2 Bacon, Annals of Ipswich, 6. 3 Rot. Parl. ii. 85 b.
4 Morley, Bartholomew Fair, 17.
5 M. Paris, Chronica Majora, v. 297.
Rot. Hund. i. 320 a. Similarly Stafford: Patent Rolls, 1381-1385, p. 145. 7 For continental analogies, cf. Huvelin, Essai historique, 45 (n. 2). 8 Hist. MSS. Comm. Wells, i. 430; ibid., 10th Rep. App. iii. 185. • Ballard, Borough Charters, 173. Henry III. removed the fair at Northampton from the churchyard: Assoc. Archit. Soc. Reports, xvi. 73.
to be held within churchyards 1. Edward I. issued a general prohibition in the Statute of Winchester (1285), which enacted that "from henceforth neither fairs nor markets be kept in churchyards for the honour of the church "2. It is seldom safe, however, to regard mediaeval legislation as an index to anything more than the intentions of the legislator. There is at any rate evidence that as late as the fifteenth century the churchyard was still the resort for buyers and sellers. At Exeter merchants who brought their merchandise to town to sell in times of fairs were accustomed, "when that great multitude of people . . . cometh to the city, to lay open, buy and sell divers merchandises in the church and cemetery". Again at Worcester the prohibition was renewed as late as 1497 a.
The injunction against the desecration of the church Desecrawas extended to the desecration of the Sabbath day. In tion of the 1449 a petition in parliament 5 complained of the practice in terms that vividly depict for us the life of a mediaeval fair: For great earthly covetise the people is wilfully more vexed and in bodily labour defouled than in other festival days, as in pitching and making their booths and stalls, bearing and carrying, lifting and placing their wares outward and homeward, as though they did nothing remember the horrible defiling of their souls in buying and selling, with many deceitful lies and false perjury, with drunkenness and strifes, and so specially withdrawing themselves and their servants from divine service". As early as the tenth century a vigorous effort was made to prevent the holding of markets on Sundays. In the laws of Edward and Guthrum (c. 921) it was enacted that if any one presumed to engage in traffic on Sunday, he should forfeit the chattel and a money penalty besides. Athelstan (c. 925) ordained "that no marketings be on Sunday"; a later Witan apparently rescinded this (c. 929–939), but subsequently in 1008 and 1014 it was again reiterated: "Let Sunday's festival be rightly kept ", " and let Sunday's 1 A. Wood, City of Oxford (ed. A. Clark, 1890), ii. 31 (n. 2). 2 Statutes, i. 98. 3 Letters of John Shillingford, 93.
4 Green, Worcester, ii. App. Ixi.