SOCIAL EVENTS Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval Bristol recreation festivals drink crafts celebration
Subject: Drinkings by the craft gilds
Original source: Bristol Record Office, MS. 04719 (Great Red Book), f.14
Transcription in: Elspeth Veale ed., The Great Red Book of Bristol, Bristol Record Society, vol.4 (1933), part I, 125-26.
Original language: Middle English
Location: Bristol
Date: 1450


Memorandum that on 20 May 1450 William Canynges, mayor of the town of Bristol, Thomas Hore, sheriff of that town, John Borton, Richard Forster, John Sherp, Clement Bagot, John Shipward, John Stanley, Nicholas Hille, William Coder, John Forde, William Pavy, with all [other] notable and worthy persons who were assembled in the hall of the common council of the town on the above date, have ordained and permitted that the drinkings on the nights of [the festivals of] St. John and St. Peter shall, from henceforth, be restricted solely to members of those crafts who come on those nights before the mayor, sheriff and notable persons, and their successors. The mayor then in office is to provide at his expense wine to be sent to the craft [gild] halls on St. John's day, according to the provisions below. And the sheriff then in office is to do the same on St. Peter's day. On condition that the members of the crafts send their own servants and their own pots for the wine. Which ordinance the mayor, sheriff and notable persons commanded me, John Joce their common clerk, to enrol in their book of records. Which is:

First, to the weavers 10 gallons     Hoopers 3 gallons
Item, to the fullers 10 gallons        
Item, the dyers 5 gallons       Barbers and waxmakers 4 gallons
Item, the tailors 8 gallons     Cordwainers 8 gallons
Item, the skinners 4 gallons     Tanners 4 gallons
Item, to the butchers 6 gallons     White-tawyers 4 gallons
Item, the bakers 5 gallons     Bowyers and fletchers 2 gallons
Brewers 5 gallons        
Smiths, ironworkers, cutlers, locksmiths, and cardmakers 3 gallons     Wiredrawers 3 gallons
Masons 3 gallons     Shermen 5 gallons
Tilers 3 gallons        
Carpenters 4 gallons        

Any future mayor or sheriff who acts contrary to the above ordinance is to forfeit and pay £3.6s.8d, to be levied by the mayor next in office to the put to the use of the community of the town of Bristol, without any remission.


This appears to be one example of the effort by urban governments to bring craft gilds under careful regulation and control. The volume of wine assigned to each craft, or group of crafts, was presumably dictated (at least in part) by the numbers of gildsmen.

For another example of a festival celebration specific to a craft, see "Homicides investigated by the coroner".



"St. John and St. Peter"
The former probably refers to the festival of St. John before the Latin Gates (6 May), while the latter to St. Peter in Chains (1 August).

"common clerk"
I.e. the town clerk.

Leather-workers specialising in a fine quality tawed leather (sourced from sheep or goats) originally imported from Cordoba in Spain. This leather was found particularly suitable for footwear, and so cordwainers were essentially shoemakers, but distinct from cobblers (who repaired shoes using cheaper cow leather).

Tawing and tanning were the two main methods softening and preserving (preventing decay of) hides. White-tawyers took hides that had been cleaned and treated them with alum and oil, to produce a hard white leather useful for manufacturing items.

I believe these were makers of wire, although the term "drawers" was more usually applied to those involved in transportation services.


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Created: August 18, 2001. Last update: May 27, 2016 © Stephen Alsford, 2001-2016