|TOLLS AND CUSTOMS|
|Subject:||Grant of murage to Northampton, itemizing the tolls to be collected|
|Original source:||Public Record Office, Patent Roll, 29 Edward I, m.6|
|Transcription in:||Christopher Markham, ed. The Records of the Borough of Northampton, (Northampton, 1898), vol.1, 58-59.|
The king to the mayor, bailiffs and good men of his town of Northampton, greetings. Know that we have granted to you, to help with enclosing the town for the security and protection of the town and neighbouring parts, that for five years from the date of issue of this document you may collect in the town the customs indicated below, viz:
Murage was much in vogue during the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries as a way for towns to finance the heavy expenses of expanding and maintaining their fortifications. Northampton's central position, geographically, in England also often made it one focus of twelfth- and thirteenth-century power-struggles between national factions. In 1216 much of the town had been burned to the ground. In 1224 a grant in the name of Henry III (then in his minority) was made allowing Northampton to finance wall-building by collecting for three years special tolls on goods being brought to the weekly market; specification focused on livestock, with a generic clause to cover other merchandize. This murage grant was reissued in 1252 for a two-year term; its list was more detailed than that of 1224, but not as extensive as in the 1301 grant, and the only items of note covered in 1252 that one might be surprised to find missing in 1301 were salted meat and flax. Permission to collect special tolls for purposes of paving the town was given in 1282.
The 1301 murage seems to have been directly targeted at extending the walls to incorporate suburbs, notably a church and some open land associated with the town fair, one of the more important ones in England. Since most, if not all, of the items listed here would already have been subject to local tolls, for purpose of the revenues needed for the fee farm, it must be assumed that the levies listed took the form of a surtax. That practically every item includes the words "for sale" is a reminder that these tolls were on goods being brought for retail or wholesale in the town market, and were not imposed on goods being brought for personal or household use.
|Created: August 18, 2001. Last update: December 22, 2002||© Stephen Alsford, 2001-2003|