In an article available on the Kent Archeological web site (Archæologia Cantiana) there is an explanation of the privileges offered to townsfolk of Faversham who carried letters patent.
Faversham was a corporate member of the Cinque Ports confederation, and by virtue of that fact its townsmen—or combarons—enjoyed numerous privileges, not only in their own town but also throughout the country. A combaron who was likely to require to transact business in other parts of the country found it convenient to obtain a letter from his Mayor setting out the privileges to which he was entitled.
The following is a transcript of such a letter granted to Giles Hilton in 1803. Whether he fully understood the nature of all the privileges recorded—and indeed whether the clerk who wrote the document understood them—is arguable:
Faversham to wit. To ALL CHRISTIAN People to whom these presents shall come William Kemp Esqr. Mayor of the Town of Faversham and the Jurats of the same Town Barons of the Cinque ports send Greeting in our Lord God everlasting your favour and descretion we require concerning Giles Hilton the Bearer hereof our Combaron of the Town aforesaid of whom we have laudable and faithfull Testimony when he shall come into your parts with his Goods either to buy or sell or shall pass by you or stay with you or apply himself with you THAT you do admit him amongst you as our Combaron free of all Customs That you do not by any Means trouble molest or restrain or suffer to be troubled molested or restrained any of his Goods or Merchandizes contrary to the Liberties and Quittances to us and our Successors by divers late Kings of England by their Letters patent Granted Confirmed and Ratifyed AND that he have amongst us as well the Combarons of the Cinque ports have and time out of Mind have been accustomed to have all their Liberties and Quittances with Sock and Sack Theel and Them And that he be Cope-free Love-cope-free Them-free Witt-free and Lastage-free AND that he have Denne and Strand at Yarmouth and all his Findals in the Sea and land And that he be quit of all Tolls and all Customs, that is to say, of Lastage, Tallage, Passage, Kayage, Pontage, Murage, Spissage, Tonnage, Horngilt, and of all Wreck, and of all Chaffer buying and selling And that none upon such his Chaffer Buying and Selling do take part with him without his License Assent and good Will AND that he be not put in any Assizes Juries or Recognizances by reason of his Foreign Tenure against his Will CONSIDERING moreover that by the Charters of divers late Kings of England upon the Grants and Confirmations of all and singular the Liberties and Quittances aforesaid it is granted and forbidden that no man unjustly disturb us or him or any other our Combarons of the Cinque Ports upon the aforesaid Quittances and Liberties or their Market upon forfeiture of ten pounds to the King And that you do unto the said Giles Hilton upon the premises (if he so require, as you would find us ready and favourable unto you and yours in the like or greater Case IN WITNESS whereof we have made unto the said Giles Hilton these our Letters patent Sealed with our Seal of Office of Mayoralty of the said Town of Faversham Dated at Faversham the seventh day of June in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and three and in the forty-third year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God of the united Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland king Defender of the Faith.
Translation of technical words contained in the Mayor’s Letters Patent.
Sock and Sack. Rights of jurisdiction, with the right to retain the profits.
Theel. The right to take toll, or to be free of toll. The word was sometimes used to mean the right to tallage, or tax, one’s villeins.
Them. Usually taken to mean the right to have one’s villeins with their sequela and goods— “all the generations of your Villains, with their Suits and Cattel” as Rastell expresses it (Termes de la Ley). This interpretation was almost universally accepted from the thirteenth century onwards, but Maitland has pointed out that it was a mistaken interpretation, and that the original meaning was the right to enforce a “foreign voucher”.
Love-cope-free, alias locofry. Freedom of trade, unhindered by any monopoly, patent or company, or guild of merchants.
Cope-free. Presumably introduced here because of its verbal similarity to love-cope-free. Cope was a customary payment due to the King, or to the lord of the soil, out of certain lead-mines in Derbyshire. It seems improbable that the combarons of the Cinque Ports deliberately intended to claim quittance of this custom.
Witt-free. Freedom from amercement of fine. How far this exemption would in fact extend is doubtful.
Lastage-free. Probably freedom from the obligation imposed by Richard II to carry stones as lastage, i.e. ballast or lading, for “the repair of the Beacons, the place called Paradise, and other decayed places in Calice”. The men of London enjoyed a similar freedom. For another explanation, see Archæologia Cantiana IX, p. lxiv.
Denne and Strand. The right formerly exercised by the fishermen of the Cinque Ports to land at Yarmouth to mend their nets and sell their catch.
Tallage. A subsidy granted to the King by Parliament. Faversham could claim exemption on two grounds — as a member of the Cinque Ports, who were exempt from the payment of subsidies because of their duty to perform ship-service for the King, and as a manor held in ancient demesne, i.e. a manor in the possession of the Crown at the time of Edward the Confessor. The King however claimed the right to tallage lands held in ancient demesne without the intervention of Parliament.
Passage. Payments for passing to or fro of persons or goods in common shores or landing places.
Kayage. Toll at common quays.
Pontage. Contributions collected for the repair of a bridge.
Murage. A toll levied for the building or repair of public walls.
Spissage, or sponsage. A payment for passing over a bridge.
Tonnage. An imposition on goods carried out of or brought into the country in tuns.
Horngilt. A tax payable within the King’s Forest on horned beasts.
Wreck. “Wreck ……… is, where a Ship is perished on the Sea, and no man escapes alive out of it, and the Ship, or part of it so perished, or the Goods of the Ship, come to the Land of any Lord, the Lord shall have that as a Wreck of the Sea. But if a Man, or a Dog, or a Cat, escape alive, so that the party to whom the goods belong, come within a year and a day, and prove the Goods to be his, he shall have them again.” (Rastell.)
Reproduced from Two Faversham documents. Frank W. Jessup, B.A.,LL.B.
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