THE 1356 CHARTER OF THE BOROUGH OF KIDWELLY
The 1356 charter to the burgesses of Kidwelly was granted by Henry Duke of Lancaster and recited and confirmed one granted by his father Henry Earl of Lancaster (died 1345) and his mother Maud de Chaworth. The original charter has not survived but a translation was printed in Archoeologia Cambrensis 3rd series ii (1856) by T. 0. Morgan, which was reproduced by Alcuin Evans (N.L.W. 123677), by D. D. Jones in his History of Kidwelly (1908) and summarised by M. Weinbaum (ed.) in British Borough Charters, 1307—1660 (Cambridge, 1943). The translator of the Arch Camb. version is not known. There is however in the Devon Record Office (Exeter) a translation, given below, by John Hooker the antiquary and Chamberlain of the city of Exeter from 1556 until his death in 1601. There are two copies in his own handwriting one of which is an unfinished draft. Hooker’s translation clears up the lacunae and obscurities of the Arch. Camb. version which was produced by two clerks in 1792 copying from a copy. In particular, it makes it evident that the date of the charter of Henry and Maud was in the eleventh year of the reign of Edward II (1317) and not the second of the reign (1309) as the Arch. Camb. text seems to indicate.A photocopy is now in Carmarthen Record Office: DX/128/1.
Kidwelly W. H. MORRIS, M.A.
THE CHARTER OF THE LIBERTIES OF THE BOROUGH OR TOWN OF KEDWELLYE
To all men who shall see or hear this writing Henry Duke of Lancaster Earl of Derby Lincoln and Leicester and High Steward of England. Sendeth greetings in the Lord. Know you that we have seen the charter of our dear father Henry Earl of Lancaster and of our most dear mother Maud¹ his wife whose souls God pardon in these words: To all those who shall see or hear this writing Henry of Lancaster Lord of Monemowe Kedwellye and Carnewalthan and Maud our dear wife send greetings in our Lord. Know you that we have found by the report of the good people and such as are of the parties of Kedwellye that the burgesses of our borough of Kedwellye have a freedom and were wont time out of mind to have a courte and all the franchises and free customs here under written: First that all burgesses of our said Borough and their heirs and assigns ought to pay by the year unto us and to our heirs for every burgage in the said borough xiid. sterling at two terms of the year that is to say at the feast of St. Michael vid. and at the feast of Easter vid. saving and excepting all such rents as are within our own hands and whereof we are seized: And that all the foresaid burgesses their heirs and assigns who shall be within our borough when summons shall be given to come to our hundred court of Kedwellye from xv days to xv days upon the summons of one night before the sun be set before such as shall be appointed to keep our hundred court under our letters patent and before no other only he be specially assigned and appointed by us or our steward for the same: And that none of the aforesaid burgesses their heirs and assigns shall be amerced for any trespass above xiid. excepting in cases touching ourselves our heirs or our disinheritors or the meynepaste of us or of our heirs for forestalling homesocke felony pontebruch, disseisin, redisseisin hue and cry and bloodshed which if the said burgesses their heirs and assigns be attainted by the award and judgement of the four benches that then he so attainted shall be amerced at a higher sum and value according. to the quality of the trespass: All which amercements shall be taxed and assessed in our said hundred court saving in cases of thefts or robberies seisins and disseisins with force and arms all and every of which shall be determined by fine or fines to be taxed by ourselves and before our heirs and before no other except it be by our special commandment: And the heirs of every of our said burgesses their heirs and assigns of what age soever he be shall receive the entry and seison of and in to the tenement whereof his ancestor was seized without giving anything unto us or to our heirs for the said seison and entry And that the said heir shall be only distrained to pay his fine for his entry saving to every other man his right: And that the aforesaid burgesses their heirs and assigns shall have peaceably for ever common of pasture as much as in us lies for all their beasts as well hogs and goats as all others without paying for pannage or any other customs in and throughout our whole lordship or seigneury of Kedwellye and Carnwathlan, as well within the forests as without: saving and excepting our forests of Pencoyde, Kevengorard, Keshlynsaghe and our woods and groves of Walkendan and Wenholte and our pasture of Glyn yearly from the feast of our Lady until the feast of St. Andrew and our corn fields and meadows and demesnes of Kedwellye Carnwathlan St. Ismell and of Cradock² paying and yielding for the same as they ought and were wont to pay:And also that we and our heirs may make our best profit and advantage of our waste lands saving of so much waste as lies within one league throughout about our said borough and saving also unto the said burgesses their heirs and assigns sufficient pasture with free coming and going to and from the said pastures with all their beasts aforesaid at their will and pleasure in manner aforesaid so far as they may go to pasture and to return again with their said beasts from the rising of the sun until the sun sets saving the places beforesaid: And also that the foresaid burgesses their heirs and assigns shall have forever housebote and shipbote in all our woods of Kedwellye and Carnewalthan by the view and deliverance of our forestser: saving in our forests and our woods aforesaid: Also they shall have firebote and haybote in our wood of Glynston of the dead and underwood as much as may or shall be there found of any such dead wood without any delivery thereof but for housebote and shipbot they shall have in the same wood so much as shall be of sufficient and good timber by the view and deliverance of our foresters and of no others: And the shiphote shall be delivered by the view of our seneschal of Kedewllye to serve for our borough aforesaid: And that they shall not sell any ship or boat nor timber out of our said borough nor fraudently eloyne or convey the same away to the hurt and damage of us and of our heirs: Also they shall have stonecole³ for housebot and turves in all our forests and without in all our waste lands of Kedwe!lye and Carnwathlan where stonecole and turves may be found saving in the places aforesaid: Also they shall have in time of mastage their hogs or porkes quit from payment to be made for pannage or mastage in all our woods of Kedwellye and Carnwathlan saving our forests and groves aforesaid: Also they shall have free fishing in all our waters of Kedwellye and Carnwathlan in all such places whereof they were wont and might by custom lawfully fish saving in our weirs and several fishings: And also if the aforesaid burgesses or their heirs and assigns or any of their servants shall do any trespass within our forest or without in our foreign lands and for which they are to make amends at the gate or porter’s lodge of our castle of Kedwellye by any inquest of six freeholders or frankelings and of six burgesses of our said borough or by the oath of our said foresters there that the trespasses shall be amerced and punished according to the quantity of the said trespass And that none of the said burgesses their heirs nor assigns shall remain or be kept in the ward or lodge of our castle or Kedwellye for any trespass by them done so that they do and can find sufficient bail and mainprise to answer unto the law: except in such cases as are not bailable nor replivable: Also the said burgesses their heirs and assigns shall from year to year chose at the hundred court next after the feast of St. Michaeol a provost of our said borough and such a one as for whom they will answer for all such things as shall appertain unto his offices which said provost shall serve in all the affairs of the said borough and receive and gather the attachments tolls rents and amerciaments there and shall obey our commandments as much as shall appertain unto his office within our said borough and that he shall not be charged with any other office: Also if the servants of any of the foresaid burgesses their heirs and assigns shall have in his hands any of his masters goods and do commit any felony for the which his proper goods shall be forefeit yet his said master shall not forefeit or lose his goods for the forfeiture and offence of his servant though it be found in the custody of the said servant or in the custody of any other man if he can reasonably prove that the said goods be his own proper goods and that he has made claim and challenge unto the same within the year and day and also can acquit himself that the said felony was not done by his commandment nor by his aid or assent: Also if any of the foresaid burgesses their heirs and assigns do die intestate and without any testament made that his son and next heir shall have the goods of his father or ancestor so deceased without any disturbance or challenge of us or of our heirs: Also if any of the foresaid burgesses their heirs and assigns do buy anything in the open daylight before six of the neighbours of Kedwellye and after the same goods and merchandise be challenged as stolen and bought of a thief that he shall not lose any thing but only the goods so bought if that he duly and reasonably acquit himself that he did not (nor was present) know that the goods he brought were stolen: Also the foresaid burgesses their heirs and assigns shall if need so require go or ride with us and our heirs in hosting throughout in all the precincts of Wales and shall have for us and for our heirs reasonable wages after the first night that he is gone out of our said borough Also if any do go with our Seneschal of Kedwellye for to meet with us within or our heirs shall come towards the said town and then if need be done go through and within the precincts of Wales he shall have our reasonable charges in manner beforesaid: And shall also go with our said seneschal within our own lordship and seigneury of Kedwellye and Carnwathlan when need shall require in the time of wars but if the said seneschal will and do go out of the bounds and limits of our said lordship and seigneury that they then shall go with him so far as that they may return again unto the said seigneury the same night and no further unless it be for their own voluntary and good will: And if whosoever shall so go to meet us or our heirs shall be at our reasonable charges and wages as is aforesaid: Also the said seneschal and burgesses of our said borough shall choose and appoint such men of the said borough who shall be most meet and sufficient to go in the foresaid hosting and not any other men nor any others who are not meet and serviceable: provided always that our said borough be sufficiently guarded and furnished with people of the said borough: Also that all covenants contracts and trespasses which shall be made and done within the franchise of our said borough shall be tried and determined in our hundred of Kedwellye in manner and form as is beforesaid : Also if we and our heirs or any of us do take or cause to be taken anything of the foresaid burgesses their heirs and assigns of their goods chattels or any such things as shall be sold but of no other thing only it be with their own good will and thereof a price be made that then they shall be paid thereof within four days and if payment be not duly made within the same time that they shall not take nor cause to be taken any more of any of their goods before and until that their goods before sold be fully contracted and paid. Wherefore we the foresaid Henry and Maud all the foresaid franchises liberties and customs so found by the foresaid inquest do grant and confirm as much as in us lies unto the foresaid burgesses of our foresaid borough of Kedwellye in manner and form aforesaid: And furthermore do grant for us and our heirs all their good laws and customs which they have and were wont to have according unto reason In witness whereof we have put our seals unto this our present writing by the testimony and witnessing of Sir Thomas of blounde, Sir William of Cantelou Richard Ryvers our Seneschal of Kedwellye, Philyp of Skenfryth, Richard of Penres, John of Domniere[?], Geoffrey Downe, Cadogan ap Gryffith, David Malefant and others. Given at our Castle of Kedwellye in the feast of the Assumption of our Lady in the reign of King Edward the son of King Edward the xi anno 1317 all which franchises grants confirmations laws usages and customs beforesaid and also the charter of our said most honourable father and mother We the foresaid Henry Duke of Lancaster do grant ratify confirm and allow for us and for our heirs unto the foresaid burgesses of the said borough of Kedwellye and to their heirs and assigns in all points for ever in manner and form aforesaid And if the said burgesses or their ancestors have not used the franchises aforesaid yet we will and do grant for us and for our heirs that the said burgesses their heirs and assigns shall and may freely use the same freely form henceforth evermore And we the foresaid Henry Duke and our heirs all the foresaid franchises confirmations laws usages and customs unto the said burgesses their heirs and assigns shall for ever warrant and defend: In witness whereof we have set our seal unto this our present writing Given at our castle of Leicester the Monday next after the feast of the Annunciation of our Lady in the year of the reign of King Edward the third after the conquest the 30th anno 1356.
1 Daughter and heiress of Sir Patrick de Chaworth (died 1283) who held the lordships of Kidwelly, Carnwyllion and Ogmore. Henry of Lancaster, a nephew of Edward I, married her before 2nd March 1296—7 (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1292—1301, p. 239) and thus later held in her right the above lordships. She bore him five daughters and one son Henry, born at Grosmont, who became Duke of Lancaster in 1351. Maud died before 3rd December 1322 (Cal. Close Rolls, 1318—23, p. 687) and was buried at Mottisfont Priory in Hampshire of which she was patron.
2 Possibly a misreading of Caldecote. (no! not Caldecote - but Cadock as in St. Cadoc)
3 The anthracite coal of the Gwendraeth Fawr valley. Arch. Camb. has the incomprehensible "scontol". John Leland who passed through the area between 1536 and 1539 distinguished between the bituminous coal of the Llanelli district and the anthracite of the Gwendraeth Fawr valley.