A transcription of two versions of the custumal was published in The Black Book of the Admiralty or Monumenta Juridica, ed. Travers Twiss. Vol.II: "Le Domesday de Gipewyz." Rolls Series, no. 55 (1873). One version, in French (British Museum Add.Ms.25012), is from a copy made in the early fourteenth century (possibly 1309) and still in use as a reference tool ca. 1350. The second was an English translation (British Museum Add.Ms.25011) made in the fifteenth century. These versions list 83 chapters, although whether all were in the reconstitution of the custumal in 1291 cannot be said with certainty; the English version's numbering of the chapters goes from 1-80, because of errors in counting (double use was made of two numbers in the sequence). That reconstruction of the customs took place from memory, through the work of a committee several of whose members were past or present bailiffs or portmen, and as such dealing with the application of local law, while others were wealthy citizens whose business activities would also have given them experience of the courts. Several of the chapters read almost as though notes of a committee discussion. There would be nothing unnatural in the committee having taken the opportunity to update the customs; e.g. the enrolment of testaments (cap. 15) is not evidenced before 1281. If any of the first 83 chapters represent outright additions to the original custumal, however, it is most likely to be the later ones; see notes to caps. 75, 78 and 81, which surely post-date the theft of the original. Certainly the older version shows several hands were involved in copying the chapters, which may also suggest compilation over a period of time.
My aim here is to provide an abstract in modern English (technical terms excepted) and to add to the core of the custumal abstracts of later ordinances recorded, in various copies of the Domesday, as though extensions of the custumal these are not to be found in Twiss. I preface the list of customs with a modern English abstract of the rationale of their redrafting in 1291. I have inserted explanatory notes or elaborations for purposes of clarity in square parentheses [ ].
Twiss' edition of the custumal added, after the 83 chapters, a list of fees payable to porters of merchandize and extensive lists of tolls due on merchandize sold in the various town markets these tolls being part of the fee farm. These are not strictly speaking part of the custumal, although one town clerk in the fifteenth century decided to extend the English version of the custumal by adding to them the chapter numbers 81-91 (again a double use of one number meant that the numbering should properly have extended to 92). This version of the custumal also has, as its cap.81, a chapter that Twiss omitted entirely. It is a curious chapter since, from its date, it appears to be a continuation of the chronicle of the setting up of Ipswich's government, and later in the volume is repeated in that context. It states that on 19 October 1200 the bailiffs had an inquisition made by 12 men to determine which ecclesiastic landowners in the countryside around Ipswich ought to be quit of toll in the town; the results of the inquisition, naming the ecclesiastics, are given.
At some point in the fifteenth century, two sets of ordinances one enacted by the borough government in 1429 and the other in 1474 were treated as if extensions of the custumal, by the addition of chapter numbers and titles (as marginalia) to the individual ordinances. The 1429 ordinances appear in Add.Ms. 25011, but are not treated there as part of the custumal. It is in the White Domesday (so-called because of its white leather cover), a fifteenth-century version held among the archives of the borough of Ipswich, that both sets are numbered as if a continuation of the custumal. This was evidently an afterthought. The earlier set of ordinances are on folios 17-19, the original custumal on ff.20-49, and the later set of ordinances on ff.74-77. The numbers and titles were added in a later hand than either of these sets of ordinances. Other important ordinances in the same book, from the late 13th and mid-14th century, were ignored by the clerk who perceived the later ordinances as part of the custumal, suggesting that they were too out-dated to be of interest although the fifteenth century ones clearly were still in force.
I include these later additions to the custumal for interest in comparing thirteenth and fifteenth century preoccupations; I give in some cases just a brief indication of the theme of a chapter and in others a fuller abstract of the Latin original. The ordinances of 1429 are capitula 84-89 and those of 1474 are capitula 90-101. It is evident that cap.93-100 are an artificial division of what is really one ordinance dealing with treatment of outsiders as defendants in the borough court.
This is the Domesday of the laws and usages of the town of Ipswich.
The old Domesday of the laws and ancient usages of the town, along with other rolls and memoranda, were illegally carried off by a deceitful Common Clerk of the town. After which, the customs were often altered from their original tenor, through the perversion of justice; as a result of which some folk have been harmed, to the disgrace of the town. The community of the town, wishing to remedy this situation and ensure that the laws are correctly known, unanimously ordained in the 19th year of King Edward son of King Henry, in the time when John Clement and Vivian Silvester were bailiffs, that as soon as the correct form of the laws and usages could be determined, they should be recorded in a Domesday and sealed with the common seal. In that way the bailiffs and burgesses, both present and future, may have certain knowledge of the customs. To accomplish this task the community chose 24 of the wisest townsmen who were most knowledgable about the town's laws and usages; viz. Philip Harneys, John Clement, Vivian Silvester, Thomas Aylred, John de Causton, John Harneys, Laurence Haraud, Hugh Haraud, John Leu, Richard Leu, Thomas Stace, John de Whatefeld, Thomas le Rente, Thomas le Mayster, Laurence Cobbe, Arnold le Pelleter, Thomas dil Stone, Nicholas le Clerk, William le Mayden, Elias le Keu, Richard Clement, Gilbert Robert, Alexander Margaret, and John de Bresete.