Thursday, 21 May 2015

Salford Charter

In the year 1230, during the reign of King Henry III, Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester and 1st Earl of Lincoln [1], signed the Charter below, making Salford a free borough. For nearly six hundred years, until 1791, the borough was administered under the provisions of this Charter.

The Salford Charter 


Ranulf, Earl of Chester and of Lincoln, to all now present, and to those who shall hereafter inspect or hear of this present Charter, gives salutation:
(i)      Be it known that I have given, granted, and by this present Charter have confirmed, that the Town of Salford may be a Free Borough and that the Burgesses dwelling therein may have and hold all these Liberties underwritten:
(ii)     First, that every Burgess may hold One Acre of Land with his Burgage, and shall pay for each Burgage Twelve Pence per year, for all rents pertaining to the said Burgage.
(iii)    If the Reeve of the Town challenge any Burgess concerning any plea, and the party challenged shall not appear at the day appointed, nor any other for him, in the Laghemoot, he shall forfeit to me Twelve Pence. 
(iv)    If any Burgess shall sue another Burgess for any debt, and he has acknowledged the debt, the Reeve may appoint a day for him to appear (in court), viz., the Eight; and if he comes not, he shall pay me Twelve Pence for forfeiture of the day, and pay the debt, and the Reeve Four Pence.
(v)      If any Burgess shall in anger strike or beat any other Burgess within the Borough without shedding blood, he may make peace for himself in view of the Burgesses, saving my right, viz., Twelve Pence.
(vi)     And if any one shall be sued within the Borough concerning any Plea, he shall not answer, if a Burgess to a Bondman, or to any other, save in his own Portmannemoot, that is, concerning a Plea which appertains to the Borough.
(vii)    If any Burgess or other person accuse another Burgess of Theft, the Prefect shall summon him to answer and to stand Judgement in the Portmannemoot, saving my right.
(viii)    If any one shall be sued by his neighbour, or by any other person, concerning any matter which appertains to the Borough, and the compainant makes no appearance for three days, if the defendant shall have the testimony of the Reeve and of his Neighbours that his Adversary has failed to appear during those three days, he need give no answer to that plea, and the other shall be at the mercy (of the Lord of the Borough).
(ix)      Also no Burgess ought to bake Bread which is for sale except at my Bakehouse, according to the reasonable Customs (of the Burrough).
(x)       If I shall have a Mill there, the Burgesses may grind at such Mill to the Twentieth bushel; and if I shall have no Mill there, they may grind wheresoever they wish.
(xi)       Likewise the said Burgesses can choose the Reeve from themselves, whom they wish, and remove him at the end of the year.
(xii)     Also when any Burgesses shall wish to grant mortgage, or sell his Burgage, he may do so to anyone, unless the Heirs wish to buy it, and then the nearest shall have the preference, saving my service, and so that it shall not be sold to Religion.
(xiii)    Moreover, the Burgesses may arrest their debtors for debts contracted in the Borough, if the debtor acknowledge the debt, unless they hold a Tenement in the Borough. 
(xiv)    The Chattels of the Burgesses may not be detained for any other debts than their own.
(xv)     The aforesaid Burgesses also and all theirs, of whomsoever they may buy or sell, and wheresoever they may be within my lordships, whether at Fairs or Markets, shall be free from Toll, except the Salt Toll. 
(xvi)    Whosoever shall break the Assize, whether of Bread or of Beer, shall suffer a forteiture of Twelve Pence three times; and the fourth time he shall perform the Assize of the town.
(xvii)   Also the said Burgesses shall have Common Free Pasture in the Wood, in the Plain, and in all the Pastures belonging to the Town of Salford; and shall be free from pannage in the same Wood of the Town of Salford.
(xviii) The same Burgesses may take reasonably in the aforesaid Wood all necessaries for building and for burning.
(xix)    Any one may also implead for his wife and for his family, and the wife of any person can pay his fine, to be made to the Reeve as he ought, and to follow the Plea for her husband, if he himself chance to be elsewhere.
(xx)     A Burgess, if he have no heir, can leave his Burgage and his Chattels, whensoever he dies, to whom he pleases, saving my right, viz., Four Pence, and saving the service pertaining to the said Burgage; so however that the Burgage be not alienated in Religion.
(xxi)    When a Burgess dies his Widow shall remain in the House with the Heir and there have necessaries so long as she remains without a husband, and from the time she may wish to be married again, she may depart freely, without dower, and the Heir as lord shall remain in the House.
(xxii)   Also when a Burgess dies, his Heir shall give no other Relief to me, except Arms, viz., of this kind -- a Sword, a Bow, or a Lance. 
 (xxiii)  No one within the Wapentake of Salford, as a Shoemaker, Currier, Fuller, or any such, may exercise his calling, except in the Borough; saving the Liberties of the Barony.
(xxiv) The aforesaid Burgesses, moreover, shall pay my Rent for the Burgages at four periods of the year, viz., the Nativity of Our Lord, Three Pence; Midlent, Three Pence; the Feast of the Blessed John the Baptist, Three Pence; and the Feast of the Blessed Michael, Three Pence.
(xxv)  All the above Pleas shall be decided before the Bailiffs of the lord the Earl, upon view of the Burgesses.
(xxvi) Whoever may wish to sell his Burgage, except to Religion, and to leave the Town, shall pay me Four Pence, and go freely wheresoever he wishes, with all his Chattels.
I, RANULF and my heirs, will guarantee all the aforesaid Liberties and Customs to the said Burgesses and their heirs against all men for ever, saving to me and to my heirs reasonable Tallage, except when the lord King impose a Tallage on his Boroughs throughout England.
In memory whereof to this present page I have affixed my Seal: Before these Witnesses

Sir William, Justiciar of Chester 
Seal of Ranulf de Blondeville
Simon de Montfort
Pagan de Chauworth 
Fulc, fitz Warren                                   
Gilbert de Segrave
Walkel de Arderne
Richard de Vernon
Roger Gernet
Roger de Derby
Geoffrey de Bury
Hugh de Biron
Simon, and
John, Scribes
        an many others.

Notes on the translation:

1882 : Thomas Naylor Morton (1816-1898), antiquary and paleographer
Previous treatments of the document are discussed in The Palatine note-book, v. 2 (1882) pp. 146ff. ; pp. 160ff.  See also: British Borough Charters, 1216-1307, which was reprinted in a separate booklet entitled The First Charter of Salford, co. Lancaster. By John Ellington Bailey, F.S.A. Reprinted, with additions, &c, from the Palatine Note-Book for July and August, 1882. Manchester: Printed by A. Ireland and Co. 1882. Not published. 4to, 10 pp.

Text of the Salford Charter published in:
Salford celebrated the 700th anniversary of the Charter in 1930. A programme of the celebrations was published. A further festival was held in 1980 to mark the 750th anniversary. The book, Salford à la Carte, by Patrick Trodden and Sybil Norcott was published by the Salford Festival (1980).

Postmark of Salford Festival

Festival Brochure
Designed by the Graphics / Advertising Section
Salford College of Technology

Inside brochure

You can read the souvenir programme here.

[1] Also rendered as Ranulph / Blundeville. See recent publication: Ranulf de Blondeville: The First English Hero.  

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