John, King of England:
Charter of Privileges Granted to Men of Dunwich, 1200
Grants of charters made by King John of England were very common, although the
privileges contained therein were not equally wide. The citizens of Dunwich appear to have
acquired a very good charter but they did not get the right to trade in the French ports
belonging to England. The charter makes reference to a merchant gild already in existence,
conceding to it its customary privileges.
John, by the grace of God, etc. Know that we have conceded, and confirmed by this
charter, to our citizens of Dunwich, that the borough of Dunwich be our free borough, and
have soc and sac and toll and team and infangentheof,
and that they be quit of thelony and lestage and passage and pontage and stallage and of leve and of Danegeld and of ewage, of wreck and lagan, and of all other customs
throughout all our land, saving the liberties of our citizens of London, and that they pay
the lawful and customary ferm at our exchequer by their own hand; and that they make no
plea before the shire court or the hundred court except in the presence of our justices;
and when they are summoned into the presence of our justices let them send twelve lawful
men from their borough to answer for all of them; and if, by chance, they ought to be
amerced, let them be amerced by six honest men of their own borough and six honest men
from outside their borough.
We have also conceded to them that they may marry their sons and daughters freely
wherever they wish throughout our whole land, and widows likewise on the advice of their
friends, and that they may give or sell or do as they wish with their possessions in lands
and buildings, and whenever they wish. We have also conceded to them a hanse and gild
merchant just as they have been accustomed to have. Therefore we wish and firmly command
that our said burgesses may have and hold the said liberties and free customs freely,
peacefully, and wholly, without hindrance.
From: William Stubbs & H. W. C. Davis, eds., Select Charters of English
Constitutional History, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), p. 308, reprinted in Roy C.
Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee:
The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, September 1998