Keywords: medieval Yarmouth charter rights commerce competition fishing trade disputes market fish fairs prices investigations ports law forestalling hosting monopolization Cinque Ports feuds
Subject: Contests between rival towns for control of commerce
Original source: 1. Public Record Office, Miscellaneous Inquisitions (Chancery) 2. Public Record Office, Statute Roll, m.13
Transcription in: 1, Henry Swinden, The History and Antiquities of the ancient burgh of Great Yarmouth, Norwich, 1772, 266-74. 2. Owen Ruffhead, ed. The Statutes at Large, London, 1758, vol.1, 294-99.
Original language: 1. Latin. 2. French
Location: Great Yarmouth
Date: 14th century


[1. Legal dispute over the freedom of commerce in the port of Yarmouth, 1331]

On this matter on the day [assigned], before the king's chancellor and others of the king's council, the earl and his men and tenants [appear] by John de Oxwik, attorney, and also the community [of Great Yarmouth] by William de Gaysele, its attorney. The community argues that from the record and the process it is evident that all great wares brought to or passing through that port – such as masts, iron, etc. – ought to be unloaded and sold in the town of Great Yarmouth, and that any ship with a cargo of that sort of great wares, no matter where it anchors in the port, ought to pay the customs due to Yarmouth. Therefore, they argue, even allowing that the earl may have been a party to what he claims proves [his case] – that is, that at the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston there have, from time immemorial, been a fair and a market, and ships have been mooring there and buying and selling all kinds of saleable goods – this [evidence] should not be admissible. And they argue that not only the aforesaid great wares but also all other petty goods whatsoever that are brought by ships or boats into the port ought to be unloaded and sold in the town of Great Yarmouth, on the grounds of that charter [of liberties] which the earl is attempting to annul. Of which liberties the community has been endowed, by virtue of the charter granted to it; viz. that all kinds of merchandize and wares brought into the port, as much by the ships of the earl's men and tenants of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston as those of anyone else, be unloaded, exposed for sale, and sold at Great Yarmouth, according to the tenor of the aforesaid charter. And this they are ready to prove.

And the earl, on behalf of himself, his men and tenants, argues that the said record and process includes that all fishermen may go where they wish and may legally sell their fish wherever they wish without [paying] customs and without anyone preventing them. He requests judgement [on those grounds], arguing that anything else contained in that record and process ought not to injure [their case], because the men of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston were not summoned to that inquest, nor anyone in their name, and that Roger fitz Osbert was warden of Lothingland for only a five-year term and could not be a party to determining the right in the matter. And he argues that before and after the issue of the said charter, they were always seised of a fair, a market, and [the right of] ships to unload; and he requests that an inquest be taken on that. Upon which the date of 5 September next is assigned to the parties [to appear] before the king in chancery, wherever he shall then be.

Meanwhile the king wishes to be informed by the men of the counties of both Norfolk and Suffolk what has been the practice in the past as to such loading and unloading and as to other relevant items of dispute in this matter; in regard to which an order and constraint is issued, as previously. The tenor of the writ sent to the sheriffs in this regard [being]:

"The king to the sheriffs of Norfolk and Suffolk, greetings. We order you to cause to come before us in our chancery, at Norwich on 5 June [1331] next, 24 reputable men of the county of Norfolk and 24 reputable men of Suffolk – both knights and others – who have no affiliation in any way with either John de Britannia the Earl of Richmond or his men and tenants of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, nor with the community of Great Yarmouth, to inform us in chancery, under oath, what fishing-boats and other ships, and in what manner, have been coming into the port of Yarmouth, from time immemorial up to the issue of a certain charter to the burgesses of Great Yarmouth by our grandfather Edward, late king of England, on 22 July 1306, [granting] that merchandize and wares brought into the port of the town of Great Yarmouth should be unloaded there, and nowhere else – that is, customarily loaded and unloaded at that town of Great Yarmouth – and what, how, and in what manner at the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston. And whether there have been at the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, from time immemorial, a market, a fair, docking of ships loaded with any kind of wares, and buying and selling of any kind of saleable goods by merchants opting to load or unload there, as the earl and his men and tenants allege.

Also whether all merchandize and wares – whether fish or other items – brought into the port of Yarmouth to be sold – both in ships of those men and tenants of the said earl of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, and in ships of anyone else – have, since the time of the issue of the said charter gone to Great Yarmouth to unload and have there sold [their wares], as specified in the charter and as the community alleges. Or if, at their own free will, those owning and bringing merchandize and wares [have had the option to go] either to the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston or to the town of Great Yarmouth, as the earl's men and tenants allege.

Also whether the waterway leading from the high sea between the towns of Great Yarmouth, Little Yarmouth, and Gorleston, is a single port that belongs solely to the town of Great Yarmouth; or two ports of which the half of the waterway on the side of the town of Yarmouth, as far as mid-flow of that waterway, belongs to the town of Great Yarmouth, while the other half on the side of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, as far as that mid-flow, belongs to those same towns. And also, at the same time, to inform us in regard to other relevant items of dispute touching on this matter.

And you will take the names of the twenty-four men of the county of Norfolk and the twenty-four men of the county of Suffolk, [to return] with this writ."

On the authority of which writ, an inquisition was held in chancery, in the following manner:

"Inquisition held at Norwich before the reverend father the Bishop of Winchester, the king's chancellor, on 11 June 1331 by [24 named jurors] who state under oath that before the issue of the charter of King Edward, grandfather of the present king of England – on 2 July 1306, to the burgesses of Great Yarmouth, that is – all ships arriving in the port of Yarmouth with any kind of merchandize or wares were unloaded and sold either in the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston or in the town of Great Yarmouth, as the arriving merchants wished. But indeed, they say, after the issue of the charter of the king's grandfather, in regard to great merchandize and wares of fish and all other victuals, the burgesses of Great Yarmouth appropriated, as much as they were able, all kinds of ships arriving in the port loaded with whatever merchandize, and have enforced their privilege of loading and unloading; that is, as to all men willing to come to them, and to some who did not wish to. Despite this, the men of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston – in order to maintain their claim to a market in the town of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, which they base on custom – have attracted to themselves, as best they could, whatever ships in the port were willing to come to their side and load or unload.

They state that a market is, and ought to be, [held] there on Thursdays, and that there is no specific date for a fair. But they say that at the time of the fairs at Great Yarmouth the men of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston have been accustomed to have there booths with English woollen and linen cloths and other wares – grain, horses, cattle, sheep, and other livestock, fishing-nets, rope, and other petty goods; and from time immemorial have taken tolls and customs on all things sold in those towns, during the time of the fairs at Great Yarmouth.

As to the waterway leading from the high sea between the towns of Great Yarmouth and of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, they state that it is one body of water and not divided, but that the course of the water leads from the sea as far as Beccles and Bungay and is the dividing line between the two counties of Norfolk and Suffolk; and that it provides access for ships both to the Little Yarmouth and Gorleston side and to the side of Great Yarmouth, as stated above.

Also, asked whether, after the grant of the said charter, the men of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston took their own ships to Great Yarmouth to load and unload there, they state that this was the case. Asked if they did so to conform with the charter or to pursue their own benefit just like other merchants, they say that they only came to benefit themselves, not to conform to the charter, but always objected to the charter. Asked whether ships should dock at Great Yarmouth and load and unload there, and nowhere else, as the charter appears to say – whether this is to the common benefit of the populace or not – they say that it would be very detrimental to the populace.

In testimony to which the jurors have affixed their seals to [the record of] this inquisition."

Afterwards on that same date, the date of 6 October next was assigned to the parties [to appear] in chancery.

On which date those parties appearing – viz. the earl, his men and tenants of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston by Richard de Oxwik, his attorney, and the community of the town of Great Yarmouth by William de Gaysele, its attorney – they were asked by the king's council if they wished to present any new arguments in this case, beyond what had already been presented. Which parties had nothing further to say beyond what they had previously.

Given that certain of the men and tenants of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston and certain men of the town of Great Yarmouth had, on an earlier occasion, submitted themselves to an award of those of the king's council to whom the king wished to depute the making of a final determination in the dispute between the parties, those deputies, by virtue of that submission, issued ordinances on the matter between the parties. And [given that] the said men and tenants of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston have been restricted because less able to load and unload their ships at those towns, by reason of the charter of the grandfather of the present king, and yet it was ascertained by inquisition, and by other means, that those men and tenants were accustomed, at all times in the past, to load and unload their ships at the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston and to display their goods and merchandize there for sale, it is the judgement of the king and his council that the earl and his heirs, as well as the men and tenants of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, and their heirs and successors, may load and unload their own ships with goods and merchandize to be stored in those ships – whether herring or other fish, and any kinds of goods and merchandize whatever – at the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, and display for sale there those goods and merchandize, or otherwise make profit thereof at their own free will, paying on the same the due and usual customs to those whom the king or his heirs depute for that purpose, the said submission, award, or charter of the present king's grandfather notwithstanding. On condition that their ships [with cargoes] of wool, hides, or woolfells, on which the great custom ought to be paid, should be loaded in that same port in the location where are the king's trone and his seal called the coket, and nowhere else.

It is the wish and intention of the king and his council that the said charter of the grandfather of the present king, issued to the burgesses of the town of Great Yarmouth, shall not as a result of this judgement be in any other way amended, but that it shall remain in place and in effect in all stipulations and in regard to all persons, both denizens and foreigners, with the exception of the same earl, men, and tenants of the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, their heirs and successors, as specified above, saving the rights of the citizens of the cities of London and Norwich, the barons of the Cinque Ports, and any others who may have charters or any other kind [of grant] bearing on this matter which pre-date the charter of the grandfather of the present king.

And the king and his council declare, and by their declaration prohibit, that the earl, men, and tenants of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston, under penalty of a heavy fine from the king, not use any means to entice to the towns of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston ships belonging to others; nor carry out any commerce with anyone on the waters of the port which is restricted by the charter of the grandfather of the present king; nor create any impediment through which the burgesses are diminished in their beneficial use or exercise of the force and effect of the articles of the charter of the grandfather of the present king, in regard to others.

It is also declared and prohibited that both the said community and the said men and tenants of Little Yarmouth and Gorleston not dare to attempt anything contrary to the above judgement and prohibition, under penalty of a fine.

[2. The Statute of Herring, 1357]

The Commons of the English realm, at the parliament held at Westminster on 16 April 1357, have complained to the king that the folk of Great Yarmouth intercept fishermen bringing herring to that town at the time of the fair, and they buy and forestall the herring before it reaches the town, and also that the hosts of the same town, who provide lodgings for the fishermen coming there with their herring, will not allow those fishermen to sell their herring, nor involve themselves in the sale, but sell them at their own will at as high a price as they wish, giving the fishermen whatever [share of the profit] it suits them; as a consequence of which the fishermen are reluctant to come there, and thus herring are set at a much higher [price] than ever before, to the great harm of the king, his lords, and all the people.

For which reason the king, seeing the mischief arising from this, with the assent of the great men and all the Commons has ordained and put in place a remedy for those mischiefs, in the following form.

First, that no herring may be bought at sea, [but not] until the fishermen have come into the haven with their herring and have affixed their ship's cable to the shore.

Item, that fishermen are to be free to sell their herring to all people who come to the Yarmouth fair, without any interference from their hosts or anyone else. When those fishermen wish to sell their merchandize in the port they may, if they wish, have their hosts with them there, and in their presence and the presence of other merchants shall openly sell their merchandize to whomever shall be there. If other merchants present wish to have a share in that merchandize, each one so wishing may have his share for the price agreed [by the original parties to the deal]. Such sales may be made between sunrise and sunset, and not earlier or later, under penalty of forfeiture of the merchandize. The said fishermen are to be free to buy their victuals and other necessaries wherever they please.

No host nor anyone else may conspire or use other [fraudulent] method to buy herring to hang in his house for higher [price] than forty shillings the last, but less if he well can, according to what agreement he can reach with the seller. No host nor his servant, nor anyone else whatever his status, coming to the fair may go by land or by sea to forestall herring, whether openly or secretly; but herring are to come freely into the haven, before being sold.

No renner may buy fresh herring within the haven of Yarmouth between Michaelmas and Martinmas, under penalty of imprisonment at the king's pleasure and of forfeiture of all the herring thus bought. And no vessel called a pyker, from London or any other location, may enter the haven with the purpose of pushing up prices at the fair, to the damage of the populace, under penalty of forfeiture of their vessels and all their possessions therein.

All hosts are to take an oath before the wardens of the fair, committing them (under penalty of heavy fine to the king) to receive their guests welcomingly and politely and to assist and facilitate them [in their business] within reason, taking for every last that is sold to merchants (other than the said hosts) 40d. Of herring sold to the hosts to hang in their houses, the hosts are to take nothing – this being because of the profits they shall make from victuals sold to their guests, and advantages they have over others from the curing of herring they can buy and hang in their houses. Hosts may not, because of this ordinance, turn away guests, but should receive them and treat them in a welcoming and friendly manner, as they have done in the past. And, for the benefit of the 40d. per last, they are to guarantee payment for all herring sold to anyone with their consent.

A hundred[weight] of herring is to be reckoned as 120, and a last as 10,000. The merchants of Yarmouth, London, and elsewhere are to sell a thousand herring to people based on the rate assessed for the price of a last. Two lasts of fresh shotten herring are to be sold for the same price assessed for the purchase of one last of complete herring. The folk of Yarmouth are to sell a last of dried herring, bought fresh for 40s. or less, for a profit of 6s.8d and no more. And Londoners at the fair, for [the expense of] transporting a last from Yarmouth to London [may sell] for a profit of 13s.4d. and no more. Also, two lasts of fresh shotten herring may be sold for the price assessed for the purchase of a last of complete herring, more or less. And two lasts of dried shotten herring may be sold for 13s.4d. more than one last of dried complete herring – this being because the curing of a last of shotten herring costs as much as a last of complete herring, more or less.

Ships called pykers may freely buy fresh herring and any other merchandize from fishermen at Kirkley or elsewhere along the sea-coast, without impediment or interference from their Yarmouth hosts or anyone else; always under the conditions: that no more herring be unloaded from fishing vessels at Kirkley Road than is reasonable and sufficient to load the pykers that come there for that purpose; that the fishermen be obliged to bring the remainder of their herring to the fair to sell there; and that no-one hang herring at any location within seven leagues of the Yarmouth haven, except in the three towns of Yarmouth – that is, Easton, Weston, and Southton – if they have not fished those herring themselves.

It is the king's wish that the barons of the Cinque Ports arrange for the keeping and administration of the said fair, as per the composition formerly made between them and the people of the town of Yarmouth, confirmed by the king's grandfather. And that those barons and the bailiffs of Great Yarmouth ensure these present ordinances be upheld in all regards, and be publicly proclaimed each Sunday between Michaelmas and Martinmas, under penalty of loss of their franchises and punishment as the king sees fit. The people of Yarmouth are to allow the barons of the Cinque Ports to administer and govern the fair, according to the terms of the composition, under the penalty previously mentioned.

These ordinances as to the rights of buying and selling herring are to be applicable in all towns of England where herring is taken for sale, under the penalties given above.

Item, it is agreed by the king, the great men, and all the Commons in this parliament that the chancellor and treasurer, assisted by such justices and others of the king's council who seem [best] to them, have the power to ordain remedies concerning the buying and selling of stockfish of Boston, salmon of Berwick, and wines and fish of Bristol and elsewhere; the intent being that the king and the people be better served and have better market [in those goods] than has been the case in the past, and that the ordinances made by them in this regard be firmly upheld.


Great Yarmouth's economy in the Middle Ages was heavily dependent on maritime commerce, and particularly commerce in fish. This was because of its very close relationship with the sea, the town often being described as founded on a sandbank. The generally accepted view is that millions of years ago, when East Anglia emerged from the sea, its river system gradually developed, and some of these rivers converged into a broad estuary leading out to the sea for some distance on either side of the area where Yarmouth now stands. The build-up of deposits of sand, clay, and gravel in this estuary slowly formed a long spit across the estuary, later breached by run-off from the Yare, Waveney, and Bure valleys, and still later reforming, to give shape to the estuary of the last millennium.

This spit is believed to have attracted fishermen from other parts of the English coast, initially to temporary camps during the fishing season, but later as permanent settlers, perhaps as early as Late Roman times, but more likely by around 1000 A.D. – when, archaeological evidence suggests, a settlement was destroyed by fire. Despite that setback, by the time of Domesday Book Yarmouth was a small royal town with a population of perhaps 400, including a number of residents explicitly identified as fishermen. At this period the herring fishery was largely a coastal affair; not until the fifteenth century were fishing-boats venturing far out into the North Sea. Some fish could be caught in the spring, but the main fishing season was from mid-September into mid-November, when the herring shoals arrived off the coast to spawn. By the opening of the fourteenth century herring was the cheapest source of protein in the English diet – something that changed over the course of the century as fish stocks shrank, costs of doing business increased, and Yarmouth merchants attempted to monopolize profits from the industry – and was not only an important source of nutrition for the common man, but also important to the king for provisioning his armies; in 1338, for example, Edward III required 40 lasts of herring for the use of an army bound for France.

Yarmouth was the main focal point for the herring trade, supplying not only much of the English demand, but also foreign needs. The fishing season was paralleled by a herring fair, held in Yarmouth's large marketplace from Michaelmas (29 September) to Martinmas (11 November), which attracted buyers from London, France, Flanders, and as far afield as Lombardy. Swinden [p.94] tells us, based on his analysis of a Yarmouth murage roll, that over the course of five days during the1344 season 60 foreign ships entered the town's harbour to acquire herring, and other evidence suggests hundreds of ships and boats, English and foreign, visited over the course of the season.

More important participants were the townsmen of the fishing communities of the Cinque Ports, a confederation bound together in part by their common interest in the herring fishery. As part of their reward for naval service to the Crown, they were granted the right to run the herring fair, though we do not know precisely what rights this entailed prior to 1277 (when they were reduced). The competition was resented by the burgesses of Yarmouth; in 1198 the reeve of Yarmouth was claiming the authority to run a fair court, but whether this was a challenge to Ports rights at the fair is not clear. The resentment expressed itself in obstructionism, efforts to gain greater influence over trading (such as through the institution of hosting, an advantage almost monopolized by leading Yarmouth businessmen and jealously protected), and violent conflict ranging from the killing of one of the Cinque Ports bailiffs by a Yarmouth bailiff (who was hung in consequence), to outbursts of open warfare. The feuding seems to have begun in the reign of John, whose charter (1209) to Yarmouth granted basic self-government and approved a merchant gild, yet who in 1215 granted, or confirmed, that the Cinque Ports could have a court at the fair to deal with any legal disputes involving residents of their member towns. This set the scene for two rival authorities to clash: those of Yarmouth trying to assert their new jurisdictional autonomy, while the Ports sought to uphold the privileges they had obtained during fair-time.

It was not in interest of the king – particularly when he needed to unite his subjects against foreign enemies – to have his towns so at odds with each other that the peace of the realm was threatened; This was especially true when those towns were had crucial roles in supplying the realm with affordable fish and the Crown with ships. Royal efforts were made to settle the long-standing disputes between the Portsmen and the burgesses of Yarmouth, but without so disadvantaging one party that it would become unable to maintain the aforementioned roles; the parties could usually be brought to an uneasy truce, though the underlying rancour was not to be effectively dispelled. In 1277, as part of a settlement award, Edward I tried to strike a balance. He confirmed customary rights of toll-free 'den and strond', which allowed Ports fishermen to beach their boats (or otherwise moor them) and to dry and mend their nets on the Yarmouth Denes, and fixed them in a charter to the Ports the following year. The Ports retained their administration of the fair, including the employment of four sergeants to help keep the peace, and Yarmouth was prohibited from placing guards aboard ships, who could obstruct sales taking place there. But the fair court, administering merchant law, was to be presided over jointly by the wardens appointed by the Ports and by Yarmouth bailiffs, and profits from the court were to be shared (depending on the origins of the party from which taken), while a penny toll levied per ship was also to be divided, with the Ports taking a fixed amount and anything beyond that going to Yarmouth. Neither party was to take any exaction from minstrels or prostitutes servicing the fair.

However, the Ports were hardly likely to be content with a diminution of their rights, nor the Yarmouth burgesses satisfied with their gains; both sides sought to frustrate the other. In 1290 a new peace accord had to be negotiated and pardons issues, after an incident off the coast of Brittany resulted in deaths. Then in 1297, as Edward was overseeing his navy landing troops onto the Flanders coast at the mouth of the Zwin, the crews of the Cinque Ports contingent attacked those of the Yarmouth ships, killing many and setting fire to over twenty of their ships. A few years later Edward tried for a new accord, his ordinance of 1304, confirming the earlier settlement with modifications. The national political disturbances during the reign of Edward II, weakening the control of the central government, provided scope for more lawless group behaviour by Yarmouth against various rivals, while it has been suggested that assaults on two Yarmouth bailiffs in 1314 may have been the work of Portsmen, a Ports petition to parliament that year accusing Yarmouth authorities of blocking their administration of the fair. By 1316 both sides were equipping fleets to attack one another. Things seem to have been quieter during the reign of Edward III, partly because distracted by the naval dimension of the war with France, but also because the Cinque Ports turned their competitive attentions towards Southampton.

In part, the Statute of Herring marks a further effort in this process, but at a time when the supply of fish was declining and prices were rising alarmingly. The extraordinary concern to ensure adequate provision of a staple of the English diet is seen not only in that statute, but in a two others issuing from the same parliament. One statute, covering a range of topics, included a chapter prohibiting fishmongers and other victuallers of London from interfering with the right of anyone bringing victuals into the city to sell them freely to whomever they wished, and requiring the mayor and aldermen to supervise the city victualling trades in much the way they administered the assizes of bread, ale, and wine, notwithstanding any charters of privilege obtained by the victualling companies in the past.

More substantive was the other legislation, known as the Statute for Salt Fish. It was prompted by a complaint that salted fish from the northern Norfolk port of Blakeney (where there was also a fish fair), and its adjacent coasts, were being sold at excessively high prices. The statute specified that:

  • Vessels known as doggers and lodeships based at Blakeney or at other communities along that coast between Blakeney and Cromer were to unload their catches only at Blakeney, and none of the cargo was to be removed to any private house until deals had been finalized during daylight hours.
  • That no-one was to examine or interfere with the fish except for the buyer.
  • That the quality of lob, ling, and cod put up for sale be as good (apparently in terms of size) as in the past.
  • Prices of fish sold at the fair were to be set, through agreement between fishermen and merchants, at the beginning of the fair, and were to hold throughout the duration of the fair; there were to be no private sales (i.e. outside of the fair).
  • No ship-owner, sailor, or anyone else was to store fish in their homes, holding them back to retail after the fair was over (in the hope of getting a higher price than that set for the fair).
  • No-one in Norfolk other than the owners, masters, or crew of ships engaged in fishing were to buy nets, hooks, or other fishing equipment.

There was an effort to enforce the Statute of Herring at the herring fair of that year, when complaints by Londoners prompted investigations that led to confiscations of herring from a number of Yarmouth hosts. But in the longer-term the statute seems to have been ineffective, judging from later reiterations, and from complaints that Yarmouth hosts were ignoring its terms.

The Ordinance of Herring in 1360 recognized that the statute had cause more problems than it solved. By encouraging free trade it only pushed prices up, through enabling greater participation and competitiveness in the haggling process; while the introduction of a larger number of purchasers to each lot of herring increased the time and cost involved in the seller obtaining payments. The restriction of trading to between sunrise and sunset had proved detrimental to fishermen whose boats got back into port late in the day, forcing them to wait until the morrow (when they should have gone back out fishing) to sell their catch. Amendments were made so that a deal had to be reached between seller and first interested buyer before others could get involved until a price was fixed between that pair. And fishermen were permitted to send their catch to market whenever they arrived back at port. Still later, the effort to control prices was dropped. In the fifteenth century Yarmouth attempted self-regulation, but this was aimed at preserving the dominant role of local men and excluding outsiders from the curing industry, reinforcing the institution of hosting, while excluding alien residents from it, yet at the same time assuring the community a share of the herring catch.

Hostilities between Great Yarmouth and the Cinque Ports diminished somewhat as poorer returns from the fishery (particularly evident from the 1380s onwards), and the decline in the fortunes of the Ports communities, prompted them gradually to reduce their presence at the fair, and in the seventeenth century to abandon it altogether.

But Yarmouth's prosperity was not exclusively dependent on the fishery, it was also one of the most important of England's east coast ports, and because of that it became a centre for ship-owning and thus one of the leading sources of vessels for transporting armies and their supplies, combatting enemy fleets, and policing coastal waters. Yarmouth's decline in the Late Middle Ages would have much to do with losses to its shipping – both temporary, through prolonged periods of arrest, and permanent, through capture or destruction – during wartime, together with the high costs of maintaining an accessible harbour and the defences needed by a frontier port. In preserving its role in maritime commerce, its merchants also had to worry about rivals that were closer to home and year-round.

On the far (western) bank of the Yare, opposite Great Yarmouth, sat Little Yarmouth, also known as Southtown, and Gorleston (probably named after the Yare), accessed from Great Yarmouth by a ferry service until a bridge was built in 1417. These hamlets may have existed earlier than a permanent settlement at Great Yarmouth; the fishermen mentioned in the Domesday entry for Yarmouth actually belonged to Gorleston, which was then royal demesne. They later became annexed to a longer swath of territory known as Lothingland, in Domesday a royal manor with the status of a half-hundred.

Bounded by the sea and Lake Lothing on two sides, and the rivers Yare and Waveney on the others, Lothingland was effectively an island stretching some ten miles in length along the most north-easterly stretch of Suffolk coast. It encompassed a number of hamlets, but no market town until Lowestoft attained that status. The market that the lord of Lothingland claimed, in the legal battle with Great Yarmouth, to have by ancient right may have been that located at Lowestoft, or one at Gorleston; there is no documentary evidence of the latter until 1274/75, although we hear ca.1211 of the men of Lothingland having a market. The annexation of Gorleston to the half-hundred, probably in the early years of Edward II, may have provided a basis for the earl's officials to renew a challenge to Great Yarmouth's efforts to monopolize commercial traffic entering the haven between Great Yarmouth and Little Yarmouth/Gorleston.

This contest seems to have begun in 1228, when the warden of Lothingland, Roger fitz Osbert incensed the men of Great Yarmouth by collecting customs from ships using the haven – perhaps only those mooring off Gorleston and selling wares from on board, which was the basis of the claim of right put forward in a later court hearing. The town complained to the king that its liberties, under John's charter, had been infringed and that fitz Osbert had instituted a new market that was damaging to Great Yarmouth's, not least because he was enticing ships to unload there. The king had an enquiry held at Yarmouth in March. Its findings were that the whole haven belonged to Great Yarmouth and all great wares should be landed there, but that importers of petty goods had the option of unloading at Lothingland if they wished; it also found that the Lothingland market was not new, though its site had been changed when at threat from erosion by the sea. That same year Henry III granted the manor of Lothingland to John de Balliol, whose son, after having been nominated by Edward I as king of Scotland, made an alliance against Edward and so forfeited his English possessions. Edward gave Lothingland (1306) to his nephew John de Bretaigne, Earl of Richmond.

The judgement of 1228 may not have satisfied Great Yarmouth's burgesses, since it left its neighbours across the water with a potential market for victuals, including fish, which could cut into Great Yarmouth's revenues. In 1256 they obtained from the king a new charter granting that all goods, including fish, brought into the haven should be sold in Great Yarmouth's market, and without the intervention of any brokers (possibly meaning middlemen from Gorleston and Little Yarmouth). Yarmouth took the opportunity of the change in the lordship of Lothingland in 1306 to seek from the king clarification of its charter-given rights over collecting tolls in the haven, and the royal explication included the specification that fish were among the wares that, once brought into the haven, had to be sold at Great Yarmouth, without any intervention from broker or forestaller. A series of disputes ensued, and efforts by both parties to enforce what they considered their rights to collect tolls from commercial vessels that anchored on their side of the haven; London too objected (in the first parliament of 1327), for some of their citizens had established warehouses at Little Yarmouth and Gorleston. Great Yarmouth complained that force was used to persuade arriving ships to dock on the Gorleston side, and there are occasional documented incidents of intimidation and violence; for example, in the period 1327-30 two Yarmouth merchants, Richard Rose and Henry Randolf, were independently suing groups of Gorleston men, on allegations the latter had assaulted their servants and used force to carry off their merchandize and even Rose's boat. John Elys brought a similar charge against a Gorleston group in 1331, and the same year a death resulted from one of these acts of aggression. To an extent these kinds of self-help behaviours were a characteristic of the relative lawlessness of a frontier society; the sheriff had difficulty laying hands on any of those accused in these and other such complaints, and at times the bailiffs of Great Yarmouth themselves seem to have been deliberately obstructive to the king's justice.

In 1328 the Earl of Richmond requested the king recognize his right – which, it was subsequently dubiously alleged (dubiously but difficult to disprove), hearked back to the days of Canute and Harold – to half the waters of the haven, the right to take tolls on cargoes loaded or unloaded in that half, and the right of his tenants to trade freely through market and fair there. The burgesses responded by pointing to the explication of 1306, an inquisition held in the same year and another in 1325/26 whose decisions had favoured Great Yarmouth. The document given above was part of the subsequent drawn out court battle, whose final judgement was embodied in royal letters patent issued in July 1332, which thereafter left Great Yarmouth virtually unchallenged in its own port.

Mid-century, however, problems with that harbour silting up led Yarmouth's burgesses to petition the king to annex to the town a stretch of shoreline nearer the mouth of the haven, known as Kirkely Road, to be used for ships to unload and tolls and customs to be collected there. This was not without opposition from Lowestoft, which had benefited from ships using that landing-point to avoid customs collected at Yarmouth; the Waveney entered the sea at a point between Lowestoft and Kirkley. Lowestoft had, since the time of Domesday, grown into a thriving fishing centre that represented another threat to Yarmouth's hold on the fishery; by 1526 it would have a fishing fleet of twenty vessels and the greater part of the male population were employed by the industry. In 1372, the king acceded to the lobbying by Yarmouth and Kirkley Road was united to Yarmouth in return for a ten percent increase to the fee farm. The charter grant reiterated principles previously established: that no ships should unload cargoes of herring or other goods at anywhere within seven leagues of Great Yarmouth (now extended to include Kirkley Road), except any whose cargo belonged to the ship-owner (thus protecting Gorleston's rights), and that during the herring fair no other fair could be held anywhere within seven leagues, with revocation of any grant to the contrary made to Lowestoft (which lay within the specified radius). Within a generation the Kirkley Road location would itself be experiencing silting problems.

But Yarmouth's influence with those who governed the kingdom was already waning as its ability to meet the Crown's need for ships diminished. An enquiry in 1348 found that since 1335 Yarmouth men had lost 40 ships in naval service (both from combat and from storms), and that now only 24 ships were left in local ownership, apart from ones too old or deteriorated to be serviceable. This was a symptom and cause of the community's declining share of maritime commerce; by contrast, Lynn had largely managed to avoid its ships becoming embroiled in royal service, and the fortunes of its merchants were improving at this period. During most years of the 1340s about half the town's fleet was in the king's service for six months or more, and so inaccessible to the merchant owners [Graham Cushway, Edward III and the War at Sea: The English Navy, 1327-1377. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2011, p.188]; nor did the king generally compensate merchants for loss of their ships when in service. A further enquiry, in 1378, found Yarmouth impoverished and depopulated, its defences and other infrastructure in a state of disrepair, and over the next century or so the townsmen repeatedly requested financial relief from the king, sometimes citing herring trade competition from Lowestoft, Gorleston, and the Cinque Ports among reasons for its decline.

The Statute of Herring gave advance warning of a growing effort by interests opposed to Yarmouth's dominance of the fishery. This effort reached a peak at the Good Parliament of 1376 and those of the following years. At the former a leading Yarmouth merchant, William Elys,, was accused of a number of charges, including illegally extorting payments from ships of Scotland and other countries which storms forced into the sheltered waters off Kirkley Road. Two of those who gave evidence against him were John Botild and William Cooper, who had been among a group of Lowestoft men indicted for wilfully ignoring the altered status of Kirkley Road; this pair had acted as sureties for the payment demanded from the Scottish ship. Botild, a fish merchant, had previously been accused by Lyons (see below) of customs evasion (1374-76) and obstruction of collection of customs at Kirkley Road, but defended that he had paid the due customs to Elys. During his impeachment Elys counter-claimed that Botild and Cooper had tried to ambush and kill him as he was carrying to Westminster money collected as customs, though the members of his party had been able to fight them off. The accused retorted that when Elys had originally brought this charge, and secured their imprisonment on it, it was only to prevent them giving evidence before parliament, Elys having sent a message ahead to his associate, George Felbrigge, in London to have the pair arrested as soon as they arrived.

This little drama played itself out in the context of a broader political attack on the financial corruption of the caretaker government of John of Gaunt. It was almost a foregone conclusion that Elys, too closely linked with the Gaunt administration, would be found guilty. While his accusers were awarded a sum in damages, Elys languished in the Tower for some six months, until Gaunt regained some of his influence and began to reverse the accomplishments of the Good Parliament. Elys was released on the surety of ten men, of whom eight were Londoners, but was not issued a pardon and restored to his customs post until 1377, following more thorough investigations into the various charges against him.

While ostensibly the attack on Elys was fall-out from the impeachment of customs farmer Richard Lyons, of whom Elys was for a while deputy as a collector of wool customs, it can also be seen as part of the campaign to break Yarmouth's hold on the herring fishery. Following a public outcry due to a national shortage of herring, it was complained in the 1376 parliament, through a petition submitted by nine counties of eastern, southern, and midland England that Yarmouth's annexation of Kirkley Road was counter to the best interests of the realm; Yarmouth's opponents were able to force the repeal of the royal charter of 1372 and to have its herring fair discontinued, with much of the business transferring to Lowestoft and other locations. They argued that centralizing the herring trade on Yarmouth had been detrimental, because local merchants' control over sales had discouraged many foreign fishermen from bringing their catches to Yarmouth, and that the town was not a good distribution centre for the rest of the country because the rivers encompassing Yarmouth were a hindrance to pedlars, carts, and packhorses coming from southern and Midlands counties to buy herring to provision their home localities; all of which Yarmouth denied.

A royal commission to look at the whole matter more closely lapsed with Edward III's death, but was revived in early 1378, under Gaunt's caretaker government. Lowestoft and Yarmouth subsequently presented their cases to the king's council and, at the parliament of 1378, Yarmouth followed up with a petition. This argued that, as a coastal community on a very confined site, it relied on the herring trade for revenues to maintain itself as a fortified coastal defence and to pay its fee-farm and taxes; and that the cancellation of Yarmouth's privileged role in the trade had only pushed prices higher and curing quality lower. This position was supported by the report of a commssion of enquiry headed by the earl of Suffolk. Despite unfavourable sentiment in the parliament to both Yarmouth and Gaunt, the latter had the repeal reversed; when the news was proclaimed at Lowestoft there was a riot. The matter continued to be a political football until Richard II's charter to Yarmouth (1385) reconfirmed Yarmouth's advantages, and a chancery battle early in Henry IV's reign persuaded the men of Lowestoft to give up a lost cause.

Great Yarmouth's struggle against various rival groups to defend and enforce its commercial advantages was a recurrent issue to be addressed by the royal justice system and by parliament. To the historian, for whom the passage of time too often appears compressed, it seems that Yarmouth's various problems – not just the rivalries, but its decaying defences, the periodic need to relocate its harbour, its shrinking fleet, its growing complaints of inability to pay its financial dues, and piratic acts committed by or against its ships – together with popular resentment over the town's influence on the herring market, must have made it something of a nuisance. If so, there is little sign in the official record of royal exasperation. Except when matters were caught up in larger political contests, the king made some effort to strike a balance between the various interests at stake. But compromises did not satisfy any of the contesting parties, which were often prepared to resort to extra-legal means to uphold what they saw as their rights.



"on the day"
The date of the writ of venire facias sent to the sheriffs was 12 May 1331, and it was dated at Havering-atte-Bower in Essex (not far outside London), so that is presumably where the attorneys appeared before the king.

"the earl"
John de Dreux, son of Edward I's sister and of the Duke of Brittany, was invested with his father's title of Earl of Richmond in 1306. Among his services to the Crown was the role of Guardian of Scotland following Baliol's abandonment of Edward I. He did not join the opposition to Edward II until 1325, whereupon his English lands were confiscated. They were restored after Edward III came to the throne, but John had already retired to his estates in Brittany, where he died childless in 1334, a nephew succeeding. He was thus not directly involved in the Yarmouth dispute.

"William de Gaysele"
A resident of (or at least property-holder in) Great Yarmouth, there is no indication he was involved in commerce and he appears in the records usually when acting as attorney on the town's behalf in some legal dispute, or as its representative at twenty parliaments between 1319 and 1338. It is conceivable he was employed as the town clerk or the official borough attorney for some of that period – two roles that often went hand-in-hand or sometimes one segued into the other. His extended absences from the town on such business would have made it inconvenient for him to carry on the duties of town clerk unless he had a capable assistant; but perhaps he did in Henry Talifer, who seems to have been the town clerk by the early 1340s, and perhaps earlier, and who was one of the executors of Gaysele (d.1340). Talifer also operated as an attorney, both for the borough and for private clients.

"Roger fitz Osbert"
A knight of this name was lord of Somerleyton (part of Lothingland) died in 1306, but the reference is evidently to his ancestor of the same name, warden of Lothingland in 1228.

The original has shopas, but we cannot imagine that these were shops in the modern sense of permanent structures.

cordis might refer to fishing-lines or to ship's ropes. Herring were mainly caught with nets, while line-fishing was used to catch cod.

This was the name of the seal used by customs officials to certify a warrant issued to an exporter; the warrant, once sealed, was proof that due customs had been paid on the shipment. It was required that the coket (or cocket as now spelled) seal be kept securely, to prevent it falling into unauthorized hands. At some point in time, as a guard against fraudulent use of the seal by an official, it was divided into two pieces, with one half being held by the customs collectors, and the other half by the customs controller. There is some evidence that sealed parchment cockets were preceded by stamped lead tokens [John Schofield and Alan Vince, Medieval Towns, 2nd. ed. London: Continuum, 2003, 161-62].

The original uses hostilers, but it is clear from the text that the institution of hosting is meant, rather than operators of hostelries, although in many cases hosts assigned may have been hostelers.

"their victuals"
That is, a quantity for their personal consumption.

"hang in his house"
A reference to curing-houses? Preserving herring (for long-distance distribution) in the fourteenth century involved gutting the freshly-caught fish, sprinkling them with salt (which had a drying effect), and layering them in barrels for storage. Salt was obtained locally by evaporating sea-water in troughs placed in huts called salterns. Later, salting might be done in tanks filled with brine, and curing proceeded by drying the fish in sunlight or by smoking them over a prolonged period. A special type of building was developed for the curing process: tall, narrow structures that, in addition to facilities for salting, hanging, and smoking herring, may possibly have included some basic accommodation space for fishermen. It is also possible that some fishmongers had outbuildings on their residential property that served as smoke-houses. The development of the salt industry in England was prompted largely by the need for a food preservative, particularly for fish.

This has been interpreted, and the interpretation widely accepted, rightly or wrongly, as referring to the same small fishing vessels, known as pykers, mentioned later in the clause. It seems likely that renner bears some relation to external fishermen, as the intent of the clause seems to be to prevent fishermen buying up fish supplies during the core of the fishing season, which would potentially push up prices for middlemen who provisioned local markets.

There were ties between some of the London fishmongers and their Yarmouth counterparts; a few families had branches or footholds in both towns.

The original has coriage, which might mean carriage. Curage makes sense in the context, although the initial method of curing by salting is generally attributed to a Fleming active in the late fourteenth century. The statute's reference to hanging herring in houses would seem to suggest some method of drying was being used by mid-fourteenth century.

"guarantee payment"
This perhaps means that the host was expected to stand as surety for the debt of any purchaser of whom he explicitly approved, while protecting him from the risk of standing surety for any buyer whose reputation was unknown to him, or of whom he might have doubts. This was, after all, one of the fundamental roles of a host: to steer their guests towards creditable buyers or sellers.

"shotten herring"
The term is usually applied to herring that had already spawned before being caught, which made them less desirable a food. It can also be applied to gutted fish.

"no-one hang"
The original has nul ne pende but it is possible pende is an error for vende (sell); this clause has usually been interpreted as prohibiting any herring market within seven miles, but it might equally be a restriction on the drying of herring.

In the Middle Ages also known as Little Yarmouth. It was united with Great Yarmouth in the seventeenth century and Southtown still exists as a locality there.

"generally accepted view"
An alternative argument to the estuary/sandbank theory is that at the end of the Ice Age, the receding ice left deposits – later augmented by wind-blown sand and soil imported by humans – that would become the site of Yarmouth, and that this area was later penetrated by rivers caused by the flow of ice-melt. The case is argued by Mark Rumble at (last visited 31 December 2013). Almost certainly deliberate land reclamation, in association with construction and periodic replacement of quayside, was a factor in encroachment on the river separating Yarmouth from the mainland, and along with silting a cause of the ongoing problems the townspeople had with their harbour becoming inaccessible to ships.

"almost monopolized"
Lesser townsmen might be assigned a foreign fisherman or two to host in a season, but most guests were hosted by a couple of dozen prominent families (many of which also owned fishing boats, ships, and/or curing-houses), and thus the suspicion could arise that they were manipulating the herring trade – a suspicion that gave rise to an investigation preceding the Statute of Herring.

"merchant gild"
Unfortunately the surviving documentation related to this is almost entirely post-medieval, and cannot be relied on to present a picture of gild privileges and activities before the fifteenth century. The close integration of borough government and gild in the sixteenth century is unlikely to have been ancient, nor necessarily was the privilege of members to priority in bargaining for newly-arrived cargoes. The partial conversion of the gild to a socio-religious purpose (or perhaps its amalgamation with an existing socio-religious gild) may date to the later fourteenth century, but probably no earlier.

"been suggested"
A.R. Saul, Great Yarmouth in the 14th Century. PhD thesis: Oxford University, 1975, p.151.

The rivalry between the Cinque Ports and Southampton, which had an important role in maritime commerce, particularly the wine import trade, had been playing out since mid-thirteenth century. Southampton was aggrieved at Cinque Ports meddling with cargoes landed at Portsmouth, a port the burgesses of Southampton were farming from the king; the Cinque Ports men took advantage of the civil war to launch an attack on Portsmouth. This dispute came to the surface again in 1321 when 30 Winchelsea ships made a raid on Southampton, where they burned a number of ships the found on the beach. This feud, like that with Yarmouth, was never really resolved during the medieval period.

"fishing equipment"
This restriction may have been targeted at one or both of two related growing practices: one being for merchants to hire and equip fishing boats and crews on a seasonal basis, with profits being divided out in shares (or doles) between the various participants, and the other being a contract whereby in return for a host equipping a guest fisherman's boat for the herring season, the host had the right to purchase all the fish caught during that period. Both such practices are documented at Yarmouth from the late thirteenth century, and by the fifteenth century the borough itself had become involved by claiming its own dole from each fishing venture.

The documents refer to them as ville, the same term applied to Great Yarmouth. But this was something of a catch-all, covering settlements ranging in status from villages to boroughs. Although I have here translated the term as "town", there is no indication they had the kinds of urban privileges associated with boroughs, and even the market was subject to challenge. In 1325 Great Yarmouth's attorney argued in Chancery that the men of Little Yarmouth should not be allowed to plead as a group in court, because they had no real community with corporate characteristics (such as a common seal). It will be noted that the legal record of the dispute of the 1330s refers only to Great Yarmouth as a community.

In Domesday the name of the place (then just a village) takes the form Lothnwistoft, which might point to a more ancient connection with Lothingland.

"John de Balliol"
Earlier a loyal supporter of Henry III during the civil war. He and his wife were co-founders of the Oxford college of that name. According to Charles Palmer [The History of Great Yarmouth by Henry Manship, Yarmouth, 1854, p.322], the king's grant of Lothingland was to the wife.

"Henry Randolf"
In August 1328 he was one of the town representatives sent to receive instructions from the king regarding the disputes with Little Yarmouth and Gorleston; in 1333 he was elected one of the bailiffs of the borough, and the same year saw him appointed joint admiral (with fellow townsman John Perbroun) for a royal fleet heading for Scotland. His personal losses did not prevent him from going on to become one of the wealthier burgesses judging from his 1332 tax assessment. A ship-owner, he acted as host to foreign fishermen, and dealt in herring, wine, and wool. During the 1330s he acquired six tenements and four rents in town. In 1328 he was accused of piracy, and in 1340 his ship was involved with others in a raid on a Flemish ship for which the king had to pay a large compensatory settlement. In 1341 he was among a group accused by the Earl of Suffolk of stealing his goods from the house of his Yarmouth agent, and in 1343 of participating in a group that plundered ships of Sir Robert de Morle when docked at Lowestoft and Yarmouth. In 1344 he purchased a pardon for what was described as various serious breaches of the peace. Some of these may have related to a fine of 1,000 marks imposed on him and other burgesses in 1342 for unspecified transgressions on the sea coast; in 1354 he was ordered arrested for failing to pay his share. At some point in the 1340s his ship was lost to a storm.

"court battle"
The process is described in some detail by Swinden [Section X] and by Charles Parkin, An essay towards a topographical history of the county of Norfolk, London, 1810, vol.11, pp.281-86.

"virtually unchallenged"
Except by Norwich, another long-time rival, whose merchants, situated further inland along the same river system, resented having to access the sea through Yarmouth's haven and rely on its port facilities for ships too large to navigate all the way to Norwich; the fifteenth century would see a legal dispute over cranage fees demanded by Yarmouth officials in regard to cargoes belonging to Norwich merchants.

"William Elys"
A member of one of the most powerful families of Great Yarmouth during the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. He was the son of a John Elys, perhaps the merchant/ship-owner/host of that name who had complained against Gorleston men in 1331, who was a town bailiff 1335/36, and a deputy of the customs farmers of 1344-45 (although the 1356 will of the twice-married John mentions only daughters, this is not firm proof he had no sons). William is first mentioned in 1344, when among a group of 314 Yarmouth men pardoned for having ridden "with banner displayed" i n Suffolk, kidnapped and held to ransom some individuals, killed others, committed arsons and other disturbances of the peace; in this we can see organized aggression, led by the town's mercantile elite, probably targeting regional competitors. He traded in wool primarily – he kept sheep on his country estates – but also in cloth, wine, ale, malt, grain, and salt, though no trade in herring is evidenced; he had links with London merchants, perhaps was a supplier of the household of John of Gaunt [Saul, op.cit., p.161], and owned at least one ship. He had trading links with France, Flanders, and Germany, as well as Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the Cotswolds. His commercial activities (perhaps particularly involvement in the wool trade) naturally drew him into the customs service; from 1362 to 1382 he and a member of the local gentry, George Felbrigge, also a sometime business partner of Elys, jointly farmed the collection of petty customs and subsidies on cloth at Yarmouth, and for much of the same period William was deputy butler there. He served seven terms as one of the borough's bailiffs between 1359 and 1380, and was sent as its representative to several parliaments, probably including the one at which he was impeached. It may be that those charges against him were motivated by vigorous action to combat customs evasion; in February 1276 he and Felbrigge had just obtained a judicial commission to investigate smuggling. But we cannot ignore the possibility he may have been guilty of extortionate behaviour in the collection of customs, or that he was himself involved in smuggling and/or embezzlement of customs proceeds. When taking up the customs farm in 1362, he and Felbrigge were prepared to offer an annual payment that was substantially higher than the amount the cloth custom had generated in 1361, though this might have been because they believed they could clamp down on smuggling. In 1374/75 Elys was personally licensed to export up to 500 sacks of wool, yet the total recorded exports of denizen wool in that period amounted only to 297 sacks. In 1382, following the Peasants' Revolt, he complained that malefactors had broken into his houses in Norfolk and Suffolk and carried off, in addition to livestock and personal valuables, the money he had collected as customs. While possibly true, he may simply have been capitalizing on stories of other acts by the rebels, attacking and plundering houses of hated officials, to disguise his own embezzlement of the money. Yet it may not be coincidence that, after such a setback, he relinquished his share in the customs farm around August 1382, and died at some point within the next twelve months. After his death the sheriff of Norfolk was ordered to seize all of Elys' possessions that could be found, as he had not yet accounted for the proceeds of his customs collection.

"their cases"
Arguments and counter-arguments are documented in I.S. Leadam and J.F. Baldwin, eds. Select cases before the King's Council, 1243-1482, Selden Society vol. 35 (1918), pp. 60-71.

"political football"
This included, during the Peasants' Revolt (1381), which was anti-Gaunt, a band of rebels marching on Yarmouth, forcing the surrender of the charter in question and cutting it into pieces.

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Created: October 28, 2014. Last update: January 8, 2019 © Stephen Alsford, 2014-2019