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 1247 Romford

Keywords: Romford river crossings boundaries liberties manors villages urban attributes royal demesne tolls exemption taxation self-government paupers hospitals priory royal residences construction market competition fairs topography churches streets marketplace economy animal husbandry cloth industry leather crafts occupations colliers merchants London migrantion Colchester wards

The name 'Rumford' points to a spacious (roomy) ford across a modest southbound river, tributary of the Thames, that later took its name from the place; the oldest record of the place is from 1153/54, when a royal document was drawn up there, then again from 1177, when we hear of a chapel there dedicated to St. Andrew, as was its mother-church at Hornchurch . Today the largest town and a conservation area within the Greater London borough of Havering, Romford's greatest asset in the Middle Ages was its proximity to London, some twelve miles distant. The River Rom marked the boundary between Barking and Havering and its earliest recorded name, le Markediche referred to that role. Romford's association with the royal manor – or liberty, as often called by the close of the Middle Ages, and as early as 1269 (while it could even be accounted, for peace-keeping purposes, a hundred in the disturbed times of Edward II's reign) – of Havering was of long standing; a deed of 1398 speaks of Romford as a hamlet of Havering, which lay on a road leading from Romford marketplace to London [National Archives, C 146/3509]. The manorial territory also formed the large and ancient parish of Hornchurch (until Romford became a parish in its own right in 1849, prior to which it was just a chapelry, though with some independence). Romford had a central position within this territory. Henry II founded in Hornchurch ca. 1159 a pauper's hospital and granted it lands in Havering and elsewhere, as well as Havering's church, with which came Romford's chapel; in 1253, in the context of a manorial redevelopment project, Henry III confirmed the grant of lands in Havering, for a small increase in rent in lieu of the priory owing suit to the manorial court. But this priory did not attract many other donations of land, was (when the king was at Havering) burdened with providing occasional accommodations to royal officials, and was in serious financial difficulties by 1315. It is unlikely to have been a significant employer or consumer in the area.

Greater impact is likely to have been had by a royal residence, probably originating as a hunting-lodge, which existed from around the eleventh century on higher ground in the village of Havering-atte-Bower, at the northern, quieter extremity of the manor; 'bower' derives from an Old English term for dwelling. Henry III had it enlarged to palatial dimensions, before giving it to his queen, but it seems to have hosted mostly brief visits by Norman and Plantagenet kings (although Edward III passed much of the first half of May 1331 there, two weeks in the summer of 1341, and more than a week in April 1343) – as well as lodging occasional VIP visitors to England. Henry III's investment in improving it, and his relatively frequent presence there, is partly explicable by his disinclination to follow the extensive cross-country itineraries that were traditional for monarchs, preferring instead to develop a select number of favoured residences.

Havering's palace probably did not generate large amounts of regular business for Romford; it kept on hand stocks of foodstuffs, but some, notably wine, tended to be brought in from the cellars of the Tower or elsewhere, and were more likely to be sold than bought locally – for occasionally Henry III authorized a sell-off of older wines kept at Havering, and this could even (as it did in 1249/50) pre-empt any other wholesale wine transactions in the region. The quantities of salted hams we hear of at the palace in 1235 might have been sourced from local farmers, but the manor had its own herd of pigs. Romford's market may have been useful for re-stocking the king's manor; in 1251, for example, following an apparent murrain, Havering's bailiff, Thomas le Rus – first having been ordered to purchase hay for the animals in the royal park, then to clear away and bury all rotting corpses of animals – was provided with a sum of money to purchase replacement livestock. Employment on building at the palace seems to have been undertaken mainly by artisans already in the king's service, although later maintenance may have provided some local artisans with work; between 1362 and 1365, for example, the king required six carpenters, three masons, four tilers and other unspecified workmen be hired to carry out repairs, but those taken on could have been recruited anywhere in the county. Furthermore, when Henry III felt the need, at his Havering residence, for a couple of chairs on which he could sit to put on and take off his shoes, he did not commission them locally, but sent instructions to one of his officials at Westminster to have them made, presumably in London.

Much of the land surrounding Havering-atte-Bower was given over to parkland for pasture and hunting, so the village had limited potential for population growth. Yet population grew nonetheless, partly thanks to forest clearance and assarting, more intensive farming (allowing subdivision of existing holdings), and renting out of small parcels of demesne land; the hundredal investigations of 1275/76 brought forth complaints that many encroachments had been made in the manor by licence of Henry III, to generate new rents. The second half of the thirteenth century saw much of the remaining woodland at and around Romford cleared. With Havering focused on agriculture, Romford, to the south, was developed as the market settlement of the liberty (a role it retains in the modern Borough of Havering), and perhaps as its administrative base.

There was evidently a market there before – though not necessarily long before – Henry III confirmed that fact in 1247 by ordering the sheriff of Essex to have it announced publicly in his county court and in all hundred courts that a market would be held weekly each Wednesday, with all the customary liberties pertaining to it, and to see that no resistance was offered to its occurrence. Three years later a similar order was issued the sheriff in regard to a fair lasting the entire week of Pentecost (occurring late May to mid-June). These were hardly licences, for no grantee was identified, no provisos protecting nearby markets are specified, no payments charged, and the record was entered into the Close rather than the Charter Rolls. In fact the market settlement of Romford makes no significant appearance in the Charter Rolls, nor indeed has it much presence in other principal series of royal enrolments, and even Havering appears therein mainly because of matters related to the king's house, deer park, fishpond, and woods there; similarly Romford barely registers in the Feet of Fines, giving a false impression that land transactions in Havering were largely limited to the period, during the reigns of John and Henry III, when it was being developed into a royal residence. This absence from the records is partly because Havering had become, from the thirteenth century, one of the dower properties assigned to queens of England, some of whom were occasionally in residence there. Normally the list of dower properties mentions only the manor of Havering, but in 1457 goes on to specify jurisdictions and revenues of the manor, including fairs and markets – presumably referring (if not merely a generic statement) to those at Romford; a similar statement was made in 1421, when the manor was committed to the keeping of John Burgh, appointed one of the royal bailiffs there. As in the case of Rayleigh and Rochford, Havering was one of the royal manors whose incomes were assigned, during Edward IV's latter years, to covering the costs of staffing the Tower of London.

Romford was clearly, from the king's perspective at least, a lesser component of the manor of Havering, despite it becoming the market centre thereof. Rather than licences, the two mandates concerning market and fair represent the king's grants to himself – and that regarding the fair was rationalized on the grounds simply that the king wanted a fair in his manor of Romford. This was presumably to foster its commercial vitality and its ability to service his residence at Havering. In support of the first point, we may note that in 1226/27 King Henry gave Havering more time to pay the £15 due as tallage, while in 1234 he instructed his tallagers of royal demesne in Essex to assess the taxes owed by Havering men very conscientiously, so as not to overburden them, and he pardoned the community of 10 marks (one-third) of its assessment; while the former occasion could have something to do with Henry, having just taken up the reins of power, being desirous to begin with gestures of generosity, the latter might suggest that any commercial activity at Havering was not giving rise to rampant prosperity! In support of the second point, it is notable that the market grant was issued on the same day that the king ordered his bailiffs of Havering to take as much timber from his park and woods there as was needed for the works he had instructed them to carry out on repairs and renovations to his residence and ancillary buildings there – a project underway since at least 1243 (when the king ordered his wardrobe there enlarged and a private chamber added for the queen). Delays and financial irregularities were exasperating the king, who in 1252 dismissed the bailiff supervising the project, having the previous year intervened directly in the work to order the production of charcoal for the builders; but the queen's chapel was still under construction in 1260. King Henry also paid a visit to Havering in 1251, presumably to inspect the progress of improvements to his property there and see what remained to be done; he would also spend some days there during his final illness in 1272. Some of Henry's officials and artisans acquired property in the vicinity. A subordinate manor within Romford (and usually referred to by that name) was held by the earls of Norfolk throughout the thirteenth century and beyond, and other sub-manors in Havering came, during Yorkist rule, into the hands of Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex.

Henry III was likely already thinking of expanding his pied-à-terre at Havering, and perhaps of adding a market component, in 1236, when he appointed Walter de Burgh (possibly the father, or some other kinsman, of Hubert de Burgh) to carry out an enquiry into Havering – as well as several other royal manors in Essex, most possessing markets and being, or in process of becoming, boroughs – to ascertain the annual value of the demesne lands and the services associated, and whether any parcels of those lands had been alienated. The king's interest in developing this manor was likely so as to furnish his occasional residence with supplies and services, as well as to increase the manor's profitability and the comfort and convenience of his accommodations there. Just a few years after the market and fair grants, in 1251, he appointed a commission, comprising the abbot of Pershore (a local landowner) and Richard le Rus, brother of the king's bailiff of the manor, to investigate revenue-generating royal rights at Havering that might have been withdrawn or alienated in the past; a survey of the manorial assets was compiled. The manor's fiscal and material resources were important to the king not least because he could call on them directly to pay debts and salaries or to make gifts.

For Havering was on ancient demesne of the Crown. Or so it was declared at various times, including in 1465 when a royal charter confirmed the consequent special privileges that its residents had long held, which included tenurial conditions amounting virtually to freehold, and exemption from tolls throughout the realm. This exemption was evidently hard to uphold, for royal mandates affirming it had to be issued in 1368, 1383-85, 1443 (when copied into a London Letter-Book), and 1505, while the hundredal investigations of 1275/76 produced a complaint that the constable of John de Rivers' castle at Ongar was ignoring – presumably at the market at Chipping Ongar – a royal order of 1257/58 prohibiting the taking of toll from royal tenants of Havering. The 1465 charter also granted a three-day fair in late June at Havering proper to the king's tenants and the residents, almost corporately – although formal incorporation of the community was not to come until 1588. Such a fair would have complemented rather than competed with that at Romford. From 1230 to 1246 this community answered directly to the Exchequer for manorial revenues, just one of a series of farmers of the manor during the Middle Ages. This was a similar privilege to that held by burgess communities – as was the degree of judicial and administrative independence within the manor, with the tenants having the power to select from among the more qualified of their number a man to assist the king's steward in presiding over the manorial courts, and a steward to preside over the fair court. Indeed, the 1465 charter reads somewhat like a borough charter.

Yet Havering shows no sign of having, or pursuing, borough status, and after 1246 the manor became part of the queen's dower properties for the remaining part of the medieval period, though often farmed out. No transactions involving landless messuages are known for Romford, nor is there other evidence suggestive of burgage tenure. On the other hand, the privileges of the king's tenants included personal freedom, relatively loose tenurial conditions (although not absolute freedom of alienation), and fixed rents, so burgage tenure or borough status may have been felt unnecessary. The 1465 charter does not mention Romford or confirm its market or fair, but the market was regulated through Havering's manorial court. The extra-hundredal liberty's courthouse and gaol stood, in the nineteenth century, on one side of Romford's marketplace – the gaol had been in Romford since at least the mid-thirteenth century – and its marketplace had stocks and perhaps other instruments for punishing petty offenders, while a gallows stood on Romford Common. A list of commissions of gaol delivery in 1489 includes Romford's as the sole non-urban facility, suggesting that by this time Romford may well have been perceived as a town, or as a component of a town, if we imagine that the 1465 charter of liberties had the effect of making Havering a virtual borough.

Romford's location made it one of the Essex markets closest to the capital, although a market at Barking interposed itself between the two, while that of Brentwood lay between Romford and Colchester; in 1338 a London gang robbed a pair of Florentine merchants of 160 florins and other possessions on the stretch of highway between Romford and Brentwood, an indication of the international commerce that at least occasionally used that route. South of Romford, a market at Rainham, a small port – closer to the Thames and to a ferry across to Kent – would be licensed in 1270, enabling it better to compete with Romford in regard to the shipping of goods, livestock, and passengers from Rainham Creek to London or to the continent. To the west of Rainham, Romford's river reached the Thames (though that section of the Rom was known as the Beam) and in that vicinity was, by 1247, a landing facility on another tributary known as Haverings Hythe. Also south or west of Romford, a chain of markets close to the Thames had been, or would be, licensed: at West Thurrock (1207), Fobbing (1227), South Ockendon (1254) and West Tilbury (1257); those at Thurrock, Fobbing and Tilbury were Wednesday events, and those at Rainham and Ockendon were held on Tuesdays, yet none of these apparent conflicts with Romford's market-day are known to have led to legal challenges.

Also contributing to the competitive environments were markets more inland at Orsett (1355), Horndon on the Hill (by 1280), and Bowers Gifford (1292). The close association of the liberty of Havering, including Romford, with the Crown helps explain why no legal challenges arose over competition with other markets in the vicinity. As for fairs held at the same places, where they existed, there was no conflict in timing that created competition with that at Romford, with the possible exception of one at Fobbing, though this was only for three of the days of Whitsun week and was not instituted until 1318, by which time Romford's fair must have been well-established within mercantile itineraries. The fair granted Havering in 1465 would, in terms of timing, been more competitive, but again the charter omitted an anti-competition proviso.

If Romford had no dominance of commerce using the Thames, it had the benefit of being on the Roman road connecting London and Colchester (via Chelmsford), which retained its importance through the Middle Ages. The Romans are thought, principally on the basis of the Antonine Itinerary, to have built a staging-post near the site of Romford, which was probably near where the road forded the tributary. Little archaeological evidence of pre-Roman presence there has yet been found – conflict between British tribes over this region may have inhibited civilian settlement – but finds suggest some Roman settlers, engaging in agricultural and industrial pursuits, at Havering-atte-Bower. Romford finds no place in Domesday Book, but Havering was held by Earl Harold, and so perhaps by the previous king, Edward the Confessor, who is connected to Havering by a dubious local tradition, but more plausibly by the royal residence and by Henry III's particular devotion to that saint. After the Conquest the manor passed to the Conqueror. Havering was already a productive and prosperous manor, recorded as having enough woodland in 1086 to support 160 pigs (a large number, if well down from the 1066 figure) – though much of the woodland was converted to arable over the centuries that followed – and flocks of sheep estimated at 269 animals, twice as many as neighbouring Barking. In 1222 – when the king first granted his manor to the men of Havering at farm, although it is not clear how long this situation endured – the manor's livestock comprised 163 sheep, 99 pigs, and a handful of cows, the stock-taking not having included the park with its deer, nor the fishpond.

Growth in prosperity following the market grant may be suggested by records of tallage assessments in 1248/49 and 1260/61, Havering's being, respectively, the same or a little higher than Colchester's and three times that of Hertford, though whether this amount was typical is hard to say, as it was almost halved in the tallage of ca.1268; in 1290, the king's interest in Colchester was valued at £85 and Havering at £130, though we should not read too much into these differences, nor do we know how much Romford contributed to the valuation of Havering. In 1222 the farm was set at £110; in practice the collection of revenues that contributed to the farm was handled by the king's bailiffs, in whose selection the residents of Havering appear to have had no say. Taxation records of 1524 show 40‰ of Havering's taxable wealth in Romford [Marjorie Keniston McIntosh, Autonomy and Community: The Royal Manor of Havering, 1200-1500, Cambridge: University Press, 1986, p.159].

The original chapel at Romford was built just east of the river, at the junction of South Street and Oldchurch Road, but by the fifteenth century the extension of Romford's population along the London-Colchester road necessitated a new chapel. St. Andrew's had become abandoned, partly due to periodic flooding of the river – although the king's approval (1406) of the transfer of religious activity blamed not only that "continual trouble" [Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1405-08, p. 175], but also that St. Andrew's was half a mile outside the town, in a now isolated location that made it difficult for the old and feeble to attend services, and vulnerable to break-ins. The new chapel was erected (ca. 1410) on unoccupied common land in the northeast corner of the crossroads at one end of the marketplace and was dedicated to the Confessor, perhaps in echo of the aforementioned tradition. A cemetery was allowed it, something that had been fruitlessly sought in 1236 for St. Andrew's, suggesting some population pressure at that time, or a coalescing community confident enough to speak with one voice; the king deferred a decision on the matter, and one cannot help wonder if this might be because, as indicated above, he was already formulating developmental plans for the locality. Further restless ambition within the manorial community may be indicated by the royal enquiry of 1251 into feudal rights that had been usurped by the community over the course of the previous half-century – something that would have made the manor less profitable to the king.

The 1410 initiative to build a new chapel at Romford was supported financially by London merchant Robert Chichele, who was able to call on his brother, a bishop of St. David's, to consecrate it. Robert was holder of one of the lesser manors that had come into being within Romford and which, a generation earlier, had been in the hands of London saddler William Baldwin, while in 1452 it was bought by draper Thomas Cooke, who later became the city's mayor. This exemplifies the growth of interest of wealthy London traders in Romford property as business investments or as country retreats to enhance their social status – a trend that increased in the post-medieval period; just so, Havering was to the king such a retreat, of recreational value, and a set of assets, both financial and material. Another of Romford's minor manors was owned by London mercers John Organ and his son in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, before later passing into the hands of the earls of Northumberland, while one in Hornchurch was, during the same period, held successively by city mercers John Fresshe and William Walderne. As early as 1339 a London draper was alienating land held in Havering..

The site of St. Andrew's chapel may represent an ancient focus of settlement at Romford, a neighbourhood still known as Oldchurch, but the site of the new chapel illustrates a shift southwards to the marketplace at the east end of Romford. This long rectangular area was a stretch of the through-road (now entering the east end of the marketplace under the name Main Road), widened on both sides, but narrowing again at the west end, at a crossroads with what is today North Street/South Street, then continuing as the High Street, heading Londonwards. The route of the London-Colchester road may have been diverted just east of Romford to bring it through the marketplace, with the High Street rejoining the original line of the road to the west of Romford; this could have happened at the same time the road was widened to host a market, presumably roughly contemporary with the market grant. South Street connected to Hornchurch and Rainham, North Street to Havering-atte-Bower; any shops were confined to the Market Place and High Street until the modern era. At the west end of the marketplace, across from St. Edward's chapel, stood the courthouse and gaol of the liberty, although from what period is uncertain.

Romford did not until much later grow beyond the size of a small market town in a rural area; its topography remained for some time largely based on the crossroads and marketplace. Although it would not formally become a borough until 1937, its prosperous market, combined with the liberties enjoyed by its residents, give it something of a proto-urban character. In the post-medieval period, the busy coaching trade along the London-Colchester route, associated building of numerous inns (the earliest mentioned in the fifteenth century, but of post-medieval fabric) along that through-road, and industrial growth in the areas of leatherwares, metalworking, cloth-making and, still later, brewing, fed Romford's economy until the advent of the railway linked it even more closely with London. As a place where livestock were an important item of trade, it is likely that the leather industries were long established in Romford, although it is not until 1468 that we hear of a tanner of Romford parish, pardoned in relation to a trespass. Statements that the market originated to provide an outlet for local leather products, or with a monopoly on the sale of sheep within the area of a day's sheep-drive away, seem unfounded, the latter perhaps stemming from misinterpretation of Bracton. Trade in sheep, however, is evidenced by the case (1394) of a London butcher who purchased 12 lambs at Romford's market from an Orsett farmer, but subsequently failed to pay for them. Professor McIntosh [op. cit., pp.158-59] notes that other London butchers, as well as those from Brentwood and Barking, were users of Romford's market – in 1392 resentful locals accused the Londoners of forestalling livestock en route to the marketplace – while in the 1380s a London vintner sold wine there.

Romford became renowned for its large livestock (especially cattle) market well into the twentieth century, regularly serving Essex sellers and London buyers, and even today is one of the largest street markets in the region, with some 150 stalls doing business on the original Wednesday as well as two other days of the week. That commercial provision of pasturage on the manor – pannage and herbage revenues – were often farmed out separately from the manor or its park reflects the commercial use of Havering land to fatten livestock, many of which would help feed London. Privately-held or rented pastureland, however, was fairly plentiful in marshy Essex, encouraging animal husbandry as a cost-efficient use of land, even among small farmers or artisans/retailers. In 1373 a member of a gang of highwaymen, turning approver, admitted that one of the horses they had stolen had been sold at Romford, though whether in the context of the market is not specified. Another possible, though oblique, indication of the livestock market is in a record of 1451 when a London butcher, due to set out for France with a military contingent tasked with protecting and re-victualling Bordeaux, had his royal protection revoked because he was tarrying at Romford; much the same occurred in 1462 when a London poulterer involved in victualling Calais was spending too much time at Romford before setting out.

An annual fair at Romford also seems to have persisted, down to 1877, though reduced to a single day. Romford's position on the London-Colchester road could be expected to have drawn it into the cloth trade. From the 1270s we have evidence – in association with Romford, Havering, or Hornchurch – of a handful of weavers, dyers, and fullers, and of two tailors, while a draper is seen later in the century; a Romford place-name documented in the 1230s, Fuller's Field, might point to where some cloth-finishing activity took place, and this may have had more of a role in Romford than the production of unfinished cloth. Similarly, involvement in the coastal trade in coal, or (more probably) in charcoal burning, is suggested by the name Collier Row given to one of the five wards of which Romford was composed – another of those wards being simply known as Town; the charcoal production industry may well have had commissions from kings or queens (Edward III's queen, for example, is documented as using Havering as a source of timber and charcoal). Wood, for fuel or building, was probably another commodity bound for London markets, whereas grain crops were raised mainly to meet local consumption needs. It may be that the formal recognition of Romford's market in 1247, and possible associated attraction of craftsmen to settle there, provided some stimulus to modest cloth-making activity, but the industrial output may again have been aimed mainly at meeting local needs.

Pardons of outlawries, incurred by individuals failing repeatedly to defend in pleas – usually of debt – brought against them in royal courts, can sometimes give fragmentary reflections of commercial or industrial activities within the outlaws' communities. Between 1309 and 1472 the Patent Rolls record 17 entries (most from the fifteenth century) of such cases involving Havering or, less commonly, Romford residents – who are usually the debtors rather than creditors (3 cases); the entries do not specify reasons for the debts, so we cannot be certain they were commercial transactions, though many likely were. This small number of instances does not shine much of a light on the economy of the community, and such light as there is does not suggest particularly vibrant commercial activity. When the occupation of the outlaws is specified, the majority are farmers. However, one of the Romford debtors was a hosier, owing 45s. 2d., another a tailor from whom a substantial debt of £40 was being demanded by an Oxford college, and a third a tanner, accused of trespass rather than debt. More striking is the number of creditors who were Londoners, they comprising a mason, skinner, woolmonger, fuller, two drapers, a tailor, and another tailor's widow. In a separate case (1376), in which a Havering man obtained the pardon before the legal process had reached the stage of him being outlawed, the creditor was a London ironmonger, and the debt 40s., the minimum amount that could be pursued in greater courts; a few years earlier that ironmonger had to obtain his own pardon, for acquiring substantial property in Havering in hindrance of its reversion to the king. In 1324 one Havering man acknowledged owing £60 to a Genoese merchant who had become a citizen of London. John Annore, alternately described as of Havering and of Romford, acknowledged a debt of £10 to a London plumber (1331) and two debts to London draper John Somer (£10 in 1339, £60 in 1345). Then there was Thomas Dencourt, who conducted his business affairs under several variant spellings of that name, represented himself as a gentleman, variously claimed to be from Havering, Hornchurch or other places in Essex, and who in 1458 was pardoned of several outlawries in regard to debts claimed by two grocers and a draper of London, among others.

Other indications of occupational structure in Havering/Romford are equally meagre. In 1246 there is reference to a merchant who had once held a small property in Havering, while in 1270 a partial list of Havering rent-payers included one Walter Wolmongere (N.B. these give no appearance of being burgage rents). In 1445, Thomas Staunton of Romford, chapman, was involved with a tailor and a mercer of London in a pair of transactions that were probably some kind of mortgage. Men engaged in the construction industries are little seen, although there was some potential for periodic employment on the royal complex; a Havering carpenter is glimpsed in 1373, and the surnames le Wright and Chynglere (shingle-maker?) are in evidence at the same period, though this is rather late for them to be likely indicators of occupation. The huge influx of refugees from the Low Countries in 1436 saw one, a cordwainer, settle at Havering; one Holland man settled at Romford, but his occupation is not specified.

While we can draw from the above evidence little by way of firm conclusions about the development of the economy at Romford and Havering, it is clear that, as we should expect, farming underlay commercial and industrial activity to a good extent, drawing residents into occupations processing wool and leather. Cloth-making does not seem to have been a major activity, though leather-working may have been (as it was in the post-medieval period). This notwithstanding a scarcity of references to butchers, though some are known from the manorial court rolls: McIntosh [op.cit. pp.157-58] gives the example of John Aldewyn who, despite coming from a family of landholders and tailors, in the late fourteenth century expanded his activities beyond butchering to sell other foodstuffs in the market and from his shop, as well as taking agricultural produce, wood and livestock into London, enhancing on the way his local status so that he often was chosen as one of Havering's capital pledges.

There is, on the whole, little sign within the community of a native element engaging in mercantile wholesale ventures, perhaps because of the proximity of London; for Romford was closely tied to London through the territorial and business interests of that city's merchants. Records of the Court of Common Bench [Jonathan Mackman and Matthew Stevens, Court of Common Pleas: the National Archives, Cp40 1399-1500, London: Centre for Metropolitan History, 2010, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/common-pleas/1399-1500/, last accessed 9 October 2017] support the impression of the close involvement of Londoners with Havering men, and the appearance that most of the latter tended to be farmers, although in one lawsuit in 1466 we also encounter a Havering butcher, sued by a London draper. By contrast, there does not seem to have been as close a relationship between Havering and Colchester, with no evidence of business dealings and only two known cases of Havering-born men migrating to Colchester and acquiring citizenship there. However, the surname Havering, or Uphavering (a neighbourhood within Havering) was held by a small number of individuals documented as London residents, albeit none of the aldermannic class; one, merchant Luke de Havering, was prominent enough to serve as sheriff in 1300/01 and as the city's chamberlain ten years later, while others included a tanner to whom a currier acknowledged a debt (1307), a cornmonger (1312), a saddler admitted to citizenship in 1311 after some years as a resident, a man admitted in the same year after completing his seven-year apprenticeship to a bureller, a girdler (fl. 1336-45), and a skinner who was master of the skinners' gild (1440/41). Again we notice that the cloth and leather industries predominate. The surname Romford, on the other hand, is all but absent from medieval London records.

A post-plague manorial survey (1352/53) made reference to population decline, and a consequent reduction of interest in assarts, but abandoned tenements are not in evidence, and any properties left tenantless must have been quickly taken up by members of families already resident, Havering perhaps being a little overcrowded pre-plague. Recurrences of plague had further detrimental effect and we begin to hear more of empty tenancies; the farm of the manor came to be granted out with a proviso that farmers could not claim allowance, when accounting at the Exchequer, for properties generating no rent due to lack of tenants. Despite an influx of new settlers (or at least land purchasers) around the turn of the century, many of them Londoners, population level continued to fluctuate during the fifteenth century [McIntosh, op.cit., pp.127-33]. But there is no sign that Romford's market ceased operation at any period.

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Created: December 31, 2018. Last update: June 30, 2019
© Stephen Alsford, 2018-2019