2. Charter of William de Newburgh

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By the middle of the twelfth century, the small military and trading community which had developed around the walls of the castle and grown into a borough, received its first charter of privileges. Sometime between 1158 and 1184, this Charter was granted from William de Newburgh, Earl of Warwick and Lord of Gower. The original of this charter no longer exists, but its text is known from an early fourteenth-century copy written in a volume known as the "Breviate of Domesday," which is in the Public Record Office in London. The date of this copy charter is not known, so we can only guess that it was made during the period during which William de Newburgh was Lord of Gower. What can be said, however, is that the borough of Swansea had been established as a centre of commerce by 1184.

Charter of William de Newburgh, Earl of Warwick, to the Burgesses of Swansea. n.d. [1158-11841 (P.R.O., Exchequer, Kingís Remembrancer, Miscellaneous Books, Series l. E. 164/1, p. 478).Translation:

The Charter of Earl William for the Burgesses of Swenesse.

William, Earl of Warwick, to all barons, burgesses, and men, as well English as Welsh and both present and future, greetings. Let it be known to you all that I have granted, and by my charter confirmed, to the burgesses of Sweynesse these customs, that is to say, to every burgess a burgage with all its appurtenances, namely, their assarts, and to every one seven acres beyond the wood and above Burlakesbrok, and pasture as far as Hackedeweye and as far as Lyu, and as far as St. Davidís ditch, and so that none may have any easement there, except myself and the aforesaid burgesses, and the woods on all sides around my borough to pasture their cattle as far as they can go in a day and return the same night to their homes, and they may have their pigs in my wood freely and quietly without custom, oak to make their houses and fences and ships, rendering for a ship twelve pence, and all other wood for their fire and for all their easement, and carrying and selling wherever they wish and can. They may have without hindrance all the wild beasts of my wood which they can catch, except the stag and the hind and the wild boar and the marten. And furthermore, I have granted to them between Pulkanan and Blakepulle all the beach upon which to make their fisheries. And if it happen that a porpoise or sturgeon be taken in any fishery, it is mine, and I shall give to him to whom the fishery belongs twelve pence or one load of corn. And if the burgesses can take fish by any means outside the pool, it may be theirs. And if they find wreck outside the pool when the tide ebbs, it may be half mine and half theirs. And if they find wreck on dry land, it shall be all mine. And wherever my men at arms shall take grass for my horses, my burgesses similarly may take with them, except in my meadows. And if I shall summon my burgesses to the army, or to any affair of mine, they shall go at their expense if it so be that they can return to their homes the same night. And if I shall lead them further away, they shall be at my expense. And if they shall enrich themselves, they shall have a half against me. I have granted to them peace in their homes, and outside their houses for the space of seven feet of the ground in front of their doors, and on their burgages an oven, brewhouse, and household goods, and all their profits, freely and quietly. And if a burgess shall make a forteiture and shall be brought into my court by view of his neighbours, and not have bail by pledges or sureties, then he shall plead in my court, and if he shall have bail by pledges and sureties before he shall be brought into my court, he shall plead in his hundred court. A burgess must not plead elsewhere than in the hundred court when he is charged with treason of my body or town. And if a burgess were charged with this treason, he shall purge himself six-handed, unless I have wished to speak beforehand. My justice shall not implead a burgess without a burgess as witness. It is not allowed for any of my household retainers to bear witness against a burgess. Whoever shall shed blood from noon on Saturday to Monday morning, forty shillings in forfeit. And from Monday morning to noon on Saturday, twelve pence in forfeit, except for premeditated assault and forestallage. No foreign merchant may cut cloths by retail, nor buy skins or hides, except from a burgess. If a burgess wishes to depart, and sells his burgage, and gives away his house, four pence to the Toll-collector, and let him be quit. And if he so wishes, he may be in occupation for one month for that toll. And if he is unable to sell his house, he may do his will with what is above ground. And if a burgess goes away on his business, he may deliver his house to someone who may render his rights, and he may go and return as he wishes, as to his own. These aforesaid privileges I have granted to my burgesses of Sweynesse and to their heirs, to hold of me and my heirs by hereditary right, each of them paying to me, each year, a rent of twelve pence. And in order that this grant be firm and inviolable, I have caused these to be witnesses: William London etc.





The View for Sunday 4 December 2000

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