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towns, Rye, Winchelsea, and others of smaller note, are examples of this mutability of mundane affairs. These towns once formed a little confederacy of republics, each governed by its own customs and laws, and all banded together to resist the encroachments of external powers, whether seignorial, episcopal, or regal. Few of them now retain any outward marks of their former importance. Of most of these places the custumals and records have been preserved. In Lyon's History of Dover Castle, the custumals of Dover, Sandwich, Hastings, Hithe, and Romney, are given in English, from manuscripts of the sixteenth century. That of Romney seems to have been made from an original of an earlier date than the rest, and has been transcribed or translated by some one who did not entirely comprehend the meaning of bis text, as mistakes and obscurities occur. The Tudor period had already set in, and the old French terms were beginning to become obscure when this translation was made.
We have lately fallen upon a copy of the custumal of this town (unfortunately imperfect) in its original French. It is contained in the Registrum of Daniel Roughe, town-clerk of the jurats of Romney, from the twenty-seventh year of Edward III. (A. D. 1353) until the fourth year of the reign of Richard II., a MS. which furnishes a mass of formularies of all sorts in use in the fourteenth century. The volume containing this curious record is preserved in the library of St. Catherine's Hall, Cambridge. We propose to present our readers with a copy of as much of the custumal as is preserved, and some of the forms of procedure, which together give a lively picture of Romney in its best days, when it was a flourishing port, and a leading member of the little group of towns which once were looked upon as the guardians of England against the attacks of France.
We have endeavoured to make our translation as literal as possible, and we have placed the original French on the opposite page.
THESE are the customs of Romney, from time whereof memory runneth not, there used.
Imprimis. It is used from year to year to elect twelve
jurats to guard and govern the said town, according to
the points of their commission given to them. [Some illegible lines follow, and then comes the commission in Latin, of which only the last lines remain.]
That they be held to render to us a reasonable account of all their receipts and expenses, and we will thereupon give them a reasonable acquittance. In witness of all vhich things we have caused these present letters, which are to last for one year from the aforesaid day of making, to be sealed with the aforesaid common seal of our commonalty. Given in our full commonalty, on the day and year aforesaid.
The form of the acquittance thereupon. To all to whom these present letters shall come, the barons of Romney send greeting. Whereas A. of B., &c., our fellowbarons, were elected by us in full commonalty to govern our commonalty, but so that they should be bound to account to us for receipts and expenses, and that they should assess no new rate without the consent of the commonalty, as in the commission by us given to them is more fully contained ; and now, our aforesaid barons have rendered to us a faithful account of all receipts and expenses, according to the form of the commission given, we, willing to do justice to them, as we are bound, do absolve them for ever from rendering any further account, and from all charge, by reason of the conservation of the aforesaid commonalty, and the administration of the goods of the said commonalty, before the day of the making of these presents; and of all claim, action, and demand touching the said commonalty, we, for ourselves and our heirs, do proclaim them quit by these presents. In witness of which we have caused the seal of our commonalty to be affixed to these present letters, on the day and year, &c.
2. If any one will not serve the office of jurat. Item.—If any baron, after election by the said commonalty,
Ceux sont les usages de Romney de temps dount memorie ne court, ilukis usés.
1. In primes use est de an en an eslire XII. jurés pur
garder et governer la dite vile, solom les points de lour comission a eux fait.
Quod de omnibus receptis et expensis suis compotum racionabilem nobis reddere teneantur, et nos eisdem racionabilem acquietanciam super hoc faciemus.
In quorum omnium testimonium, presentes literas a die confectionis predicto per unum annum duraturas, sigillo comunitatis nostre predicto fecimus consignari. Datum in plenâ comunitate nostrâ die et anno supradictis.
Forma acquietancie super idem. Universis ad quos presentes litere pervenerint, Barones de R. salutem. Cum A. de B., etc., combarones nostri in plenâ comunitate per nos fuissent electi ad regendam comunitatem nostram, ita tamen quod de receptis et expensis tenerentur nobis ad compotum, et quod novum scottum non assiderent sine consensu comunitatis, prout in comissione eis per nos factâ plenius continetur, ac jam predicti barones nostri nobis fidelem compotum de omnibus receptis et expensis juxta formam comissionis facte reddiderint; nos eisdem justiciam facere volentes, ut tenemur, eos ab ulteriori compoto reddendo et ab omni onere racione conservacionis comunitatis predicte et administracionis bonorum dicte comunitatis ante diem confectionis presentium, absolvimus in perpetuum et ab omni calumpniâ, actione, et demandâ dictam comunitatem tangentibus pro nobis et heredibus nostris quietos clamamus per presentes. In cujus testimonium sigillum nostre comunitatis presentibus literis fecimus apponi, die etc., anno etc.
2. Si ascun ne voile feire le office de juré. Item.-Si ascun baron après la élection de la dite comune, ne
will not be obedient to serve the said office of jurat, the bailiff, or all the commonalty, shall go to his house, and the said disobedient person, his wife and his children, and the rest of his family, they shall oust from the house, and shall close the windows, and his (goods shall they seal up and sequestrate, and so they shall remain until he is willing to submit to do the said office of jurat.
3. Sequestration infringed. Item.—It is used, if the sequestration of the commonalty be broke by him upon whom the sequestration is made, or by any of his people, that the trespasser be attached and put in prison, without
any deliverance being made until he will submit himself, and give satisfaction to the commonalty for the infringement.
4. The jurats may distrain. Item. It is used that the jurats may, by virtue of their office, take distress and make sequestration, without bailiff, for debts due to the commonalty; and so may their sergeants, by commandment of the said jurats.
5. The jurats may make attachment. Item.—The said jurats may make attachment, without the bailiff, upon all those whom they find rebels touching the service of our lord the king, and in all other points that touch the maintenance and profit of the common freedom of the town; and the said rebels, according to the quantity of their trespass, they may punish.
6. Also they shall be sworn. Item.—It is used from year to year, that at what hour the said jurats are elected by the commonalty, they shall be sworn, each by himself, the freedom and the customs of the commonalty to maintain, and the great and the little according to their condition uniformly to guide, and the points of their commission to maintain ; and so also shall the clerk and the sergeant be sworn.
7. Common clerk and sergeant. Item. It is used that at what hour the said jurats are sworn, they may take a clerk and a sergeant, as they may agree by bargain between the said jurats, clerk, and sergeant. And also the said jurats may take in each ward two sergeants at their pleasure,
voile estre obeisaunt à fere la dite offis de juré, le bailif od tote la comune iront à sa meson et le dit desobeisant, sa femme et ces enfants et autre mayné osteront de sa meson, et fermeront ces fenestres et ces us deyvont ils aseler et sequestrer, et ci ils deyvont demurer tank il se voile justizer à fere la dite office de juré.
3. Sequestre fraint. Item.--Use est, si sequestre de la comune soit fraynt par cel sur ki la sequestre soit feit ou par ascun de siens, soit le trespasour ataché et mys en prison, sanz nule déliverance faire, tank il se voile justizer et gré fere a la comune pur la freynonce.
4. Les jurés pount destreindre. Item.— Use est ke les jurés pount par vertue de lour office prendre destresse et sequestre fere sanz bailif pur dettes dues a la comune, et ci pount lour serjants par comondement de les dits jurés.
5. Jurés pount fere attachement. Item.—Pount les dits jurés fere attachement sanz le bailif sur touts iceux quils trovont rebels, tochont le service notre Seigneur le Roy, et en touts autres poynts que tuchunt la mayntenonce et le profit de la comune franchise de la vile, et les dits rebels solom la quantité du trespas puniser.
6. Auci seront ils jurés. Item.—Use est de an en aun, a quel houre que les dits jurés sount par la comune elluz, ils deyvont estre jurés, chascun par soi, la franchise et les usages de la comune mayntener, et les grants et les petits solom lour afferont unement amener, et les poynts de lour comission mayntener, et issynt deyvont le clerk et le serjant estre juré.
7. Comune clerk et seriant. Item._ Use est qe a quele houre qe les dits jurés sont jurés, pount prendre un clerk et un seriant com ils pount par entre les dits jurés clerk et seriant acorder par bargeyn. Et auxi pount les dits jurés prendre en chescun garde ij seriants que lour