Encyclopedia | Library | Reference | Teaching | General | Links | About ORB | HOME
|cap. 84||Recently, viz. on Thursday following the festival of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist in the second year of the reign of King John [29 June 1200], it was ordained by common counsel of the town of Ipswich that from henceforth there might be in the borough of Ipswich 12 sworn Capital Portmen, such as there are in other free boroughs of England. And that they should have full power on behalf of themselves and the whole town to govern and maintain the borough and all its liberties, and to render judgements of the town; and also to take care of, ordain and do in the borough whatever might need to be done to maintain the status and reputation of the town. Now, viz. on Thursday following the festival of St. Luke the Evangelist in the eighth year of the reign of King Henry VI [20 October 1429], it is ordained, established and agreed by William Debenham and Robert Drye, bailiffs and portmen of the town, and by James Andrew, William Whethereld, John Deken, John Joye, John Wode, Robert Bikleswade, John Knepping, John Caldwell, Robert Wode and Thomas Denys the other portmen of the town, that if a foreigner or outsider is arrested in a plea of debt, detention of chattels, charters, writings or other records, transgression, or any other contract, [then] the one arrested must before being released from custody of the bailiffs or sergeants find two freemen of the borough of Ipswich as pledges for him answering the plaintiff at the next court in his own person. If he defaults [in appearance] at the next court session, or at any session before which the action is brought forward, he risks conviction and being obliged to satisfy the plaintiff. The bailiffs shall have the power, at the petition or request of the plaintiff, to execute the judgement on the goods and chattels of the convicted party or his pledges at the court session next following the conviction. If the plaintiff demands or seeks execution against the convicted party, it is granted and agreed that he shall have it against the convicted party or his pledges. The pledges will be informed of the date of the next court session, so that they might have the convicted party present to satisfy the plaintiff. If they do not have him at the next court, then execution is to be made on the goods and chattels of the pledges by the valuation of trustworthy men of the town specially sworn to that duty and delivery of the same, or the price obtained for them, to the plaintiff.|
|cap. 85||Present or future bailiffs of the town shall not again be bailiffs for two years immediately following the end of their year in office.|
|cap. 86||During his term of office,
no bailiff shall sell wine or ale from his house or a tavern, nor
regrate victuals personally or
by anyone else acting on his behalf, nor lease his tavern (for the
sale of wine or ale) to anyone. Neither shall he use his property for
a common hostelry or a stable for the horses of outsiders, nor sell
horse-bread, hay or oats, during his term of office. If it is
determined by six or more portmen, before his successor bailiffs in
full court of Portmanmoot, that he has been in any way delinquent in
these matters he will incur a fine of £10, levied to the use of
the community. With the
proviso that if anyone elected bailiff has in his tavern, on the day
of the election, a tun or two pipes of wine, he may be allowed to
sell them at a profit after Michaelmas.
Notes: Michaelmas was the day when the men who had been, earlier in the month (see cap.91), elected bailiffs for the coming year assumed office. It is not certain whether the concern of this ordinance is the potential for the use of official status for personal profit, or the dignity of office; the suggestion is, however, that most men of means who might be chosen bailiff were likely to operate a tavern as part of their business interests.
|cap. 87||If any Portman shall refuse the clothing called "Portman's livery" assigned to him by the bailiffs, he shall be permanently removed from the status of portmanship.|
|cap. 88||The town chamberlains are to have a review of their account of receipts of all incoming revenues of the town each quarter; at the end of the year, viz. on the eve of Michaelmas, they shall present their final account, without concealing anything, before the bailiffs and others whom the bailiffs assign [to the task]. If it happen that the chamberlains are convicted of concealing anything [of the revenues] then they shall pay to the use of the community 4d. for every penny [concealed].|
|cap. 89||It is agreed that since
there are 4 wards in the town there are henceforth to be 4
sergeants-at-mace and each of them is to be assigned by the bailiffs
responsibility for a ward. Each is to levy and collect all fines,
rents, farms and
amercements due from his ward
and execute, diligently and without fraud or negligence, all
[ballival] commands and instructions occurring in
relation to his ward. The sergeants are to find sufficient
surety for answering faithfully in
full court for the payment of amercements, fines, rents and farms,
and for the execution of orders passed on to them month by month, under
penalty of being removed from office.
Notes: this is based on an ordinance made
in 1435, which was itself associated with a
dispute over the election of sergeants.
This set of ordinances concludes with the following paragraph:
This set of ordinances concludes with the following paragraph:
The named bailiffs, together with the other portmen and the burgesses of the town whose names follow, took a sacred oath upon the Gospel that each and every one of them whose name is recorded in this book of constitutions (in place of his seal) as testimony to and affirmation of the above matters, shall perpetually keep, preserve, and observe these afore-written constitutions, ordinances and agreements, without any contradition, revocation or diminution. And thus there follow the names, viz. William Debenham and Robert Drye, bailiffs and portmen [followed by a long list of some 190 names; this list having been edited in later years, through additions and scoring out of some names while others were marked with crosses or dots or "mort", indicating that the individual had died.]
|cap. 90||At the General Court held
at Ipswich on Friday following the festival of St. David in the
thirteenth year of King Edward IV [4 March 1474],
before Benedict Caldwell and John Hasting then bailiffs, according to
the custom of the town used and approved since time beyond memory and
to the liberties and franchises of the burgesses granted by the kings
of England and confirmed by the present king.
[This was a typical header for a
General Court session. The General Court Roll itself, however, gives
a date a few days earlier for these ordinances.]
Before the bailiffs and Richard Felawe, Robert Wimbill, Roger Stannard, Edmund Winter, John Gosse, John Rever and other portmen there at the time, and in the presence of William Worsop esq., William Winter, William Wattis, John Campion, Thomas Winter, John Litill, Richard Melis, John Baldwin, Roger Merveyn, William Sewall, Thomas Drayll, Walter Hering, John Broun, Robert Wode, Thomas Skipper, John Kingmason, Nicholas Purchet and other burgesses of the town. In former times within Ipswich it was the custom for the government of the town and its inhabitants that the bailiffs, 12 portmen and 24 burgesses would make decisions through the holding of a Great Court, by which action often a great disturbance would come about through to ensure henceforward good and healthy government, it is ordained by common consent and assent of the bailiffs, portmen and burgesses that the bailiffs and the 12 portmen or [at least] seven of them have the power and authority to convene 14 of the 24 burgesses, which bailiffs, portmen and 14 burgesses have the power and authority to undertake and deal with each and every [matter] is perceived necessary to undertake for the benefit of the town; and for the enacting, condoning and making of taxes, laws, statutes, ordinances, provisions and constitutions which they shall consider necessary and proper.
Notes: the key point here seems to be the substitution of the principle of majority rule, or quorum, for the ancient preference for an appearance of unanimity.
|cap. 91||All burgesses who are permanently resident, and no-one else, are (by ancient custom) free to participate in the elections of bailiffs and other officers of the town on the day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary [8 September] and in the elections of burgesses to the king's parliament when such parliaments shall be summoned.|
|cap. 92||If anyone should procure
or bring any letters written or signed by any lord, knight or esquire,
for the purpose of being made a burgess to the king's parliament for
the town, or for having or exercising the office of common clerk,
sergeant-at-mace, or collector of petty customs within the town, that
person shall not be elected nor admitted to the office
[sought], but shall be banned from those
[offices] in perpetuity.
Notes: an ordinance to this effect, but not specifying any particular offices, was passed in 1455.
|cap. 93||If a
foreigner or outsider is
arrested in a plea of debt, detention of chattels, charters,
writings or other records, transgression, or any other personal
plea, [then] the one arrested must before being
released from custody of the bailiffs or sergeants find two
freemen of the borough of Ipswich
as pledges for him answering the
plaintiff at the next court in his own person. If he does not appear
in person at that court session, or the next one or the one after that,
he is to be amerced at the
discretion of the bailiffs. And if, at the court next following the
third non-appearance, he again defaults in appearance and the plaintiff,
after that default, makes (personally or by attorney) in the appropriate
form a corporal oath on his accusation,
the bailiffs may with reason and good conscience convict the defendant
of the charge and [assess on him] the damages and costs
of the action. If it is a plea of transgression in which the defendant
is convicted, he may not put himself on the
country in regard to the damages but must satisfy the plaintiff for
the full amount.
Notes: it will be noted that this chapter begins with almost identical wording to that in chapter 84.
|cap. 94||In the same way, if the
arrested individual appears in person at any court, after the arrest
has been made on him, and afterwards shall make his defence, then he
shall be convicted and his pledges
shall answer for the
Notes: the point of this chapter seems unclear, since it appears that the defendant was going to be convicted whether or not he appeared to answer the charge; it is also evident that "arrest" did not have the same meaning as it does today, in terms of confinement perhaps the implication was that the defendant was not to leave town.
|cap. 95||After judgement has been rendered in any action or plea, the bailiffs may make execution [of the judgement] by [writ of] fieri facias on the goods and chattels of the convicted party or his pledges, at the request of the plaintiff, whether by [writ of] elegit or [writ of] capias, in order to give satisfaction [to the plaintiff] at the next court session following the conviction.|
|cap. 96||If the plaintiff demands or seeks execution [of a judgement] against the convicted party or his pledges, this is to be granted. A day shall be assigned to the pledges to have the convicted party at the next court session to satisfy the plaintiff. If the pledges do not produce the convicted party, then execution may be made against them by [writ of] fieri facias, per elegit, or per capias to satisfy the option chosen by the plaintiff. With the proviso that if the pledges are unable to produce the convicted party because he is dead, then they are released from execution of the judgement of the court.|
|cap. 97||If the arrested party or his pledges, after the arrest but before the sergeants make return [of writ?], provide to the bailiffs or sergeants sufficient distraints, then the sergeant may make return based on those. Thereafter the bailiffs may prosecute the case according to town custom in the way and form as stated above.|
|cap. 98||If a foreigner or outsider is attached by goods or chattels to answer a plaintiff in one of the aforementioned pleas, but does not appear before the bailiffs at the first, second or third court session immediately following, he may be amerced at any of these courts at the discretion of the bailiffs. If, at the court next following the third non-appearance, he again defaults in appearance and the plaintiff after that default, makes (personally or by attorney) in the appropriate form a corporal oath on his accusation, the bailiffs may with reason and good conscience convict the defendant of the charge for which the said goods and chattels were attached, and [assess on him] the damages and costs of the action. If it is a plea of transgression in which the defendant is convicted, he may not put himself on the country in regard to the damages.|
|cap. 99||And let there be made execution on the goods or chattels to satisfy the plaintiff, after they are appraised by trustworthy men sworn to the task. The goods or chattels are to remain in the custody of the bailiffs for twenty days. If the attached party comes personally or by attorney within that time, he shall be allowed to answer by the country or by other manner according to the custom of the borough.|
|cap. 100||If the attached party is convicted by the country or by other manner or if, within the twenty days, he does not appear in person or by attorney to answer the plaintiff, then the appraised goods or chattels are to be delivered from the custody of the bailiffs to the plaintiff in execution of the amount due according to the judgement, in addition to the amount of the aforesaid amercement. And any residue shall be delivered to the attached party. If the plaintiff does not win his case against the attached party, the goods and chattels are to be restored to the attached party and the plaintiff shall be in mercy for false accusation.|
|cap. 101||If any resident of the town shall instigate or encourage any foreigner or outsider of whatever station, degree or status [in society] in maintaining or persisting in any [legal] dispute or settlement of a matter within the town, then if the instigator is a burgess he is to be deprive of burgess status forever. If he is a foreigner or outsider he is to pay a forfeit of 20s. (or more or less, depending on the circumstances of the case) to the king, levied on his goods, chattels, lands and tenements. If he has no property by which this can be effected, he is to be committed to the king's prison in the town, there to be kept without manucaption freeing him therefrom, until he is freed by the decision of bailiffs and portmen. The aggrieved party may recover damages against the one who made the instigation or encouragement concerning the legal action.|