6. A Royal Charter

Up ] Reading about the Port of Swansea ] Swansea Harbour in 1771 ] Swansea's South Dock (c.1870s) ] Swansea's South Dock (c. 1880s) ] Swansea Docks in 1881 ] Brunel's report for Swansea Docks 1846 ] 2. Charter of William de Newburgh ] [ 6. A Royal Charter ] 9. Trade In The Early Port ] 10. A port Indenture of 1135 ] 11. Salt A vital commodity ] 12. Swansea's Layer Keeper ] 12a. Early Quays and Docks ] 14. The Uncrowned King Of Swansea ] 15. Swansea in the 1790s ] 16. After Gabriel ] 17. 1790s Swansea;The Time For Change ] More about Swansea in the 1790s ] 17a. Smuggling in Swansea and Gower ] 18. The Harbour Act and the Mumbles Lighthouse ] 19. Port Tennant ] Port Tennant in 1827 ] 20. port Development. A Chronology ] 21. The South Wales ports ] 22. Joseph Rutter's pamphlet of 1843 ] 25. Thomas Page's report of 1846. ] 27. John Henry Vivian ] 29. The East Dock ] 30. The Prince of Wales opens the East Dock ] The Helwick Lightvessel ] Jack's World: Swansea North Dock in the 1880s ] James Harris Seascape Painter ] Mr Padley of Swansea ] Plan of the Prince of Wales Dock ] Who put the 'Sweyn' in Swansea? ] Swansea's first tugs ] The Victorian port of Swansea ]

A Royal Charter

Because of their legal and royal significance, royal charters have a very distinctive format which has remained largely unchanged over the years. Below is the basic structure that most charters will contain. Opposite is a basic charter form Swansea’s past that illustrates how the structure fits together.

1. The Initial Protocol

Superscription e.g. 'Henry by the Grace of God king of England Lord of Ireland and Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine'

Address e.g.. 'To the Archbishops Bishops Abbots Priors Earls Barons Justices Sheriffs and all his bailiffs and faithful'

Salutation 'Greeting'

2. Text

Notification 'Know That'

Exposition e.g.. 'For the good and loyal service that our dear and faithful [Your name here] has done for us' or 'We have inspected the charter of ... in these words'

Disposition 'we have given and by this our charter confirmed ...'

Final Clauses 'Therefore we wish and firmly enjoin', provisos etc.

3. The Final Protocol

Testimonium 'These being witnesses...'

Date 'Given by our hand at ... the twelfth day of May in the twelfth year or our reign...'


Charter of King John to the Burgesses of Swansea, 5 May 1215 (P.RO., Chancery, Charter Rolls. C.53/12. m.2.).


Translation from Latin.


John, by the grace of God, King of England etc. Know that we have granted, and by this our charter have confirmed to our burgesses of Sweyneshe that they may go and come through all our land, with all their merchandise buying and selling and trading, well and in peace freely and quietly and honourably and that they may be quit of toll passage pontage stallage and lastage and all other customs saving in all things the liberties of our city of London Wherefore we will and firmly command that our aforesaid burgesses of Sweyneshe and their heirs be quit forever from us and our heirs throughout all our land of the aforesaid customs and that they go through all our land buying and selling and trading as is aforesaid

Witnesses: the Lord Peter, Bishop of Winchester, William Mareschal, Earl of Pembroke, William, Earl of Warrenne, William, Earl of Salisbury, William Brewer, Peter fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, and Philip de Albini. Given by the hand of Master Richard de Marsh, our Chancellor, at Reading, the fifth day of May in the sixteenth year of our reign.


This charter is an abridged version of the actual document. The burgesses of Swansea wanted to improve their trading position by asking for exemption from payment of various tolls. King John agreed to their request- with the exception of the City of London. Such charters were often granted by the king in exchange for financial benefit. Note the large number of witnesses, often considered necessary if there was doubt over the honesty or validity of the charter. Sometimes these lists were very long indeed.




The View for Sunday 4 December 2000

If you want to navigate the site come to the Home Page  © Swansea History Web 2000

Up ]

The History Web Bookshop    Search the Site  Contact us   The Swansea History Web CD ROM