TOLLS AND CUSTOMS Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval Andover charters tolls customs exemption Southampton records
Subject: Grant of exemption from tolls
Original source: Southampton City Archives, Black Book, f.11
Transcription in: A.B. Wallis Chapman, ed. The Black Book of Southampton, vol.I c.A.D. 1388-1414, Southampton Record Society, vol.13 (1912), 93.
Original language: Latin
Location: Andover
Date: 1194


Richard, by the grace of God King of England, Duke of Normandy [and] Aquitaine, Count of Anjou, to his justices, sheriffs, and all bailiffs and officers throughout the whole of England, greetings. Let all know that we have granted to our men of Andover that they may have a merchant gild in Andover. And that they may be exempt from toll, passage, and customs throughout all of our land, just as those burgesses of Winchester who belong to their merchant gild are exempt. Furthermore, that no-one should harass them for customs, upon [penalty of] forfeiting £10. Just as our father King Henry granted to them and confirmed by his charter. Witnesses: Henry archbishop of Canterbury, William Marshal, Geoffrey fitz Peter, William de Sainte Mère Eglise, Hugh Bard, William Brewer. Given by the hand of William bishop of Ely, our Chancellor, at Portsmouth on 29 April 1194.


One of the interesting features of this document is that it survives only as a copy registered in Southampton's volume of memoranda, as a record that Andover men were not to be subject to tolls. The date when the grant was copied into the Black Book was about mid-fifteenth century, and Dr. Chapman hypothesised that this might be because the Andover authorities were attempting to reassert their rights at that time, following economic decline contributed to by a serious fire in 1435 that destroyed most of the town; the losses perhaps included key records, for the townspeople made a point of obtaining a royal restatement and confirmation of all their liberties in 1446. However, it may also be, more simply, that the exemption was copied at that time from some other document in the Southampton archives. A fourteenth century list of towns exempt from toll, compiled by the Southampton authorities, indicates that Andover men had already been claiming exemption, and that the authorities had to investigate whether this was warranted; a copy of the grant would have been the likely outcome of such investigations.

It has been suggested Andover's name may derive from a term referring to a royal hunting-lodge. Whether a correct interpretation or not, certainly Anglo-Saxon kings are known to have made short stopovers there on several occasions, and there was later a royal fish-stew there. Around this lodging a royal vill had developed by the close of the tenth century. Richard's grant, purportedly reflecting an earlier one of Henry II, shows that the manor was acquiring some urban characteristics. Not until 1201 did the residents take over the farm of the royal revenues from the manor. This was made a permanent arrangement in1205, with a grant of fee farm, along with a fair. The merchant gild remained throughout the Middle Ages at the centre of local affairs. The townspeople were divided into those who had full membership rights, and those with a lesser set of privileges. The bailiffs, who presided over the borough court, which probably developed (as an institution otherwise separate from the gild) out of the court of the hundred of the same name, were elected at a gild meeting; and the town council of 24 "forwardmen" were drawn from the full members of the gild. In the fifteenth century gild and government merged to the point where the gild was eventually lost sight of. As a modest market town in the interior of the wool-producing region of Hampshire, although with the advantage of being on a major route between London and the West Country, Andover looked primarily to Southampton as the shipping point for its produce; so it was important for it to ensure its exemption from toll was respected there.



A fee for transporting goods through or past a town (as opposed to bringing them into the town for sale there).

"his charter"
On the Pipe Roll for 1175-76 the burgesses of Andover paid 10 marks for the right to have a gild. This suggests that their exemption from tolls had also been granted by or about that date.

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Created: August 18, 2001. Last update: September 3, 2003 © Stephen Alsford, 2001-2003