CONSTITUTION Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval York charter expenditures account lawyers
Subject: Incidental costs involved in obtaining a charter
Original source: York City Archives, Memorandum Book E20A, ff.93-94
Transcription in: Joyce Percy, ed. York Memorandum Book. Surtees Society, vol.186 (1973), 130-31.
Original language: Latin (English translation is Percy's; I have made minor amendments)
Location: York
Date: ca. 1441/42

Firstly, in various expenses incurred this year by Thomas Ridley and William Girlyngton, Aldermen of this city, at the king's parliament held in London, in the writing, conception and making of various bills and supplications presented to the king for confirmation and augmentation of the charter of the city's liberties. 30s.0d
In the expenses of John Shirwod on two journeys to London for obtaining the said charter, in going, staying there and returning, for 29 days in May and June this year. [no sum stated]
As a gratuity to Peter Erden for his advice, favour and work in the said matter. 13s.4d
As a gratuity to Nicholas Girlyngton, lawyer, for the above reason 6s.8d
As a gratuity to James Hopwod, lawyer, for the same reason. 3s.4d
In the expenses of Peter Erden in sailing from London to Chelsea to converse with the Cardinal of York about the matter. 1s.4d
In wine, cherries and other things bought and given to the said lawyers for their advice. 2s.0d
For a gift to the doorkeeper at the king's Chancery for allowing Peter Erden to enter. 4d.
Item, paid for engrossing the charter anew. 35s.4d
Item, paid for the enrolment of the charter in the king's rolls. 20s.0d
In one silk cord bought for the charter. 1s.8d
Item, paid to the king for the fine of the grant and confirmation of the charter together with certain additions and clauses newly granted and confirmed this year. £13.6s.8d
Item, the fee paid for sealing the new charter. £8.9s.0d
Item, paid to the scribe's clerk for his assiduous and speedy work in examining the charter. 2s.0d
For a wooden box for keeping the charter in. 4d.


This list of expenditures was perhaps copied from a chamberlains roll not now extant, or (since the roll of February 1442 to February 1443 has survived but does not contain this information) from a separately compiled account specific to this business – probably one presented by Ridley and Girlyngton. Percy concluded, probably correctly, that the business was to obtain the royal charter of confirmation of April 1442. While the largest expenditure was the payment to the king, it was necessary to grease the bureaucratic wheels; the advice of lawyers accustomed to dealing with the central bureaucracy, and the fees or gifts to bureaucrats were all part of this. First the ear of the king had to be obtained. Once the terms of the charter were negotiated, the document to be taken to York had to be drawn up (in this case, basically the copying of earlier charters, with some additions), the king's seal had to be applied to the document validate it, and a copy had to be made on the charter rolls that remained at Westminster as a reference tool and a check against future fraud or forgery.



"Thomas Ridley and William Girlyngton"
Both recent mayors, these men were the representatives of York at parliament; it made sense that they would be mandated to negotiate for a new charter while in London – in fact, they may have been selected for parliament because it was desired to send leading townsmen to obtain the charter.

"John Shirwod"
It was common at this period to employ the town clerk on this type of business since it required someone trustworthy and capable, with legal ability. John Shirwood is usually stated (without authority) as having been appointed to that post in February 1442, but I suspect he may have held it since 1437. He remained in the post almost continuously until 1470.

"Peter Erden"
Peter Erden, or Arden, was one of the lawyers retained annually by the city.

"Nicholas Girlyngton"
Girlyngton was one of the city lawyers from the mid-1450s into the 1460s. Likely a relative of William Girlyngton, at the time of the above document he may conceivably have been apprenticing in the law in London.

"James Hopwod"
Hopwood was perhaps a London-based lawyer.

"Cardinal of York"
York's archbishop, John Kempe, had been appointed a cardinal in 1439.

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Created: August 18, 2001. Last update: November 15, 2002 © Stephen Alsford, 2001-2003