CALENDAR OF LETTER-BOOKS OF THE CITY OF LONDON.
[At the commencement are six fly-leaves, lettered A-F, on
which are entered the forms of oath taken by various officers of
the City, some being in Latin, others in French, and others in
English, written by various hands of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries The greater part of them are printed in the 'Liber
Albus' (Rolls Series)].
The Oath of the Coroner (French).
Fly leaf A.
Ye shall swear that ye will well and truly serve the King
and the City of London in the office of Coroner. And that ye
will well and honestly entreat the people that shall come
before you And that neither for gift nor for favour, for
promise nor for hate, ye shall fail (lerrez) (fn. 1) but that ye shall do
equal justice as far as in you lies to all manner of people, as
well poor as rich, denizens (privez) as well as strangers, that
shall have anything to do with you by force of your office, and
that all the things that shall be done or said before you by
force of your office ye shall truly record, and diligently cause
them to be enrolled, and copies of the said Rolls ye shall cause
to be written each year by a clerk, at the cost of the City, and
to be delivered to the Common Clerk in the Chamber of the
Guildhall, there to remain of record. And that no inquest,
abjuration, or other great matter shall ye do or record without
the presence of the Sheriffs or their substitute, according to the
custom of the City. And ready shall ye be at the command
of the Mayor and governors of the City at all times when
necessity shall arise for coming and doing your office. And
that ye suffer not to be put in inquests that shall be held before
you any suspect persons nor partisans (procurez de partie), but
good, true, and indifferent persons And that ye take nothing
whereby the King incurs a loss or his right be prejudiced.
And that the City, as far as in you lies, ye will preserve
harmless, and all the customs and liberties thereof according to
your power maintain. And in all other things to your office
appertaining ye will well and truly have you (vous auerez) So
God you help and the Saints.
(Marginal note.—Be it remembered that on 25 October,
11 Edward IV. [A.D. 1471], Richard Burton was admitted
Coroner of the City by the Court, and sworn to well and truly
observe all things in the present oath specified).
The Oath of those who are of the Common Council (Latin).
You shall swear (fn. 2) that you will be faithful to our lord the
King N and his heirs, and readily come when you shall be
summoned for the Common Council of the City (unless you be
reasonably excused), and good and faithful counsel shall you
give according to your sense and knowledge, and for favour of
none shall you uphold private good against the public and
common good of the said City, and after you shall have come
to the Common Council you shall not leave without reasonable
cause or licence of the Mayor before the Mayor and his fellows
have left, and what shall have been said in the Common
Council you will keep secret So God you help and His holy
The Oath of Wardens of Crafts (French).
The same in English.
"Ye shall swere that ye shall wele and treuly oversee the
Craft of N Whereof ye be chosen Wardeyns for the yeere
And all the goode reules and ordynaunces of the same Craft
that been approved here be the Court and noon other ye shal
kepe and doo to be kept And all the defautes that ye fynde in
the same Craft y don to the Chamberleyn of þe Citee for the
tyme beyng ye shall wele and treuly presente Sparyng noo
man for favour ne grevyng noo persone for hate Extorcion ne
wrong under colour of your Office ye shall non doo nethir to
noo thyng that shalbe a yenst thastate peas and profite of our
sovereyn lord the Kyng or to the Citee ye shall not consente
but for the tyme that ye shall be in Office in all thinges that
shalbe longyng unto the same Craft after lawes and Franchises
of the seide Citee welle and lawfully ye shall have you so helpe
you god and all seyntes &c".
The Oath of the Under-Sheriff (fn. 3) (French).
Fly leaf A dors.
Ye shall swear that ye will well and truly serve your masters
who shall be elected Sheriffs of London and of Middlesex for
the year next to come in the office of Under-Sheriff, and
that ye will not fail for gift nor for favour, for promise nor for
hate, that equal law and right you will do to all manner of
people, as well to poor as rich, denizens as well as strangers,
who shall plead before you, without making maintenance of any
quarrel. And that all the pleas that before you shall be pleaded
ye shall truly record, and use your diligence to see that the
said pleas are well and truly entered and enrolled at the suit
and prayer of the party, taking reasonably for the entry. And
no right shall ye disturb nor extortion do towards any one by
colour of your office or the office of your masters. And no
judgment shall ye delay without reasonable cause. Likewise
the franchise of the said City ye shall keep and maintain to the
best of your power, and be obedient to the Mayor and Judges
of the said City, and good counsel ye shall give to them
according to your power and discretion in all things touching
the government of the said City and the common profit of the
people, and their counsel you shall keep. And that no judgment
shall ye give against any ordinances made by the Mayor and
Common Council of the said City, unless they be by the said
Council rescinded or amended. [And that the records of all
the assizes taken before you when they have been engrossed
ye shall surrender and deliver to the Chamber of the Guildhall
of the said City yearly on the eve of St. Michael, there to remain
on record. And that ye will not let (ne lerrez) (fn. 4) nor suffer any
common attorney to answer for any one before you unless he
be first accepted and sworn before the Mayor for the time
being (fn. 5) ] And that in all other points that belong to the office
of Under-Sheriff of London ye will govern you to do well and
truly. So God you help and His Saints.
The Oath of the Secondary (fn. 6) and Keeper of the Paper (French).
Ye shall swear that ye will well and truly serve your masters
who shall be elected Sheriffs of London and of Middlesex for
the year next ensuing, and that ye will not fail (ne lerrez) for gift
nor for favour, for promise nor for hate, but that equal law and
right ye will do to all manner of people, as well to the poor as
to the rich, denizens as well as strangers, who approach before
you, without making maintenance of any quarrel. And that ye
will not suffer according to your power other people to be summoned in inquests nor sworn of them who be not good, true, and
not of affinity nor procured by party. Likewise the franchise of
the said City ye will keep and maintain to the best of your power,
and be obedient to the Mayor and Judges of the said City, and
good counsel ye shall give to them according to your discretion
and power in all things touching the government of the said
City and the common profit of the people, [and] their counsel
ye shall keep. No man shall ye amerce higher than is by the
Common Council (fn. 7) ordained, and ye shall not suffer the fermers
to take any other customs than those due and reasonable and
anciently used in the said City. And that the writs which come
to you touching the estate and franchise of the City ye will
not return before ye shall have shown them to the Mayor for
the time being and to the Council of the said City, that ye may
have advice of them. And the issues, fines, and amercements
that may come to you under the Green Wax or the Pipe (fn. 8) ye
shall cause to be truly levied, and no part of them shall ye increase, and those that have paid ye shall well and truly discharge, and not demand the same again. And that ye charge
the yeomen (vadletz) of the Serjeants by oath, who take carriage
(cariage) in the City, that they take no more carriage than they
ought to do, and grieve not the people coming to the City with
their victuals by way of carriage to have anything of theirs
(pour auoir de lour). And that all the exigents proclaimed in the
"Hustenges" (fn. 9) of the said City ye shall duly and without con
cealment enrol, and the same rolls ye shall to the Common
Clerk of the said City without delay (fn. 10) surrender and deliver.
And that in all other points that to the office of Secondary
and Keeper of the paper of the said City appertain ye do well
Fly leaf B.
The Oath of Attorneys (French).
Ye shall swear that ye shall well and truly do your office of
Attorney and well and truly examine your clients and their
quarrels without champarty, (fn. 11) and without procuring any jurors
in any inquests to embrace (en ascuns enquestes enbracer). (fn. 12) And
that ye will not change any quarrel out of its nature (fn. 13) (ne
chaungerez nulle querele hors de sa nature) wittingly (solonc votre
sen). And that ye will not plead nor allege, nor suffer to be
pleaded or alleged, by your consent any foreign release,
acquittance, payment, arbitration, full account, nor other matter
whatsoever to oust the Court of Jurisdiction except such matter
as ye shall be able to find right and true by information and
oath made by your clients, (fn. 14) and that ye shall not enform nor
enforce any man to sue falsely against any one by false or
forged action, (fn. 15) and that well and truly ye shall do all those
things that appertain to the office of attorney to do So God
you help and His Saints.
'The Oth of the Baillies of Quenhith and Billyngesgate.
'Ye shul swere that wel and treuly ye shal serve youre
mastres that are chosen Shereves of London and Middelsex for
the yer next comyng (fn. 16) in the offices of Baillie of Quenhithe and
Billyngesgate takyng of euery persone as the olde custume (fn. 17)
hath be and is write ther yn a table [and in þe bokes of yeldhalle (fn. 18) ] and no newe custume arere on peyn to paye ten sithe so
mochel half to the Chambre and half to hym at whos suyt ye
schal thereof be atteynt (fn. 19) And that wel and treuly ye shal
enfourme and do the mair to wyte of alle maner vitaille fre and
forein that cometh yn youre Baillishippe at euery tyme or hit be
put to sale° on peyne to lese your offices and make"......
The Oath of Valets of Serjeants (fn. 21) .
"Ye shull swere that ye shull be good and trewe to the
Shirreves of London and Middelsex and be colour of your office
none extorc'on doo to no persone ne take more cariage whan ye
be assigned þerto than nedyth ne noman greve þt comyth to the
Cite with vitaill be wey of cariage for to have of theire (fn. 22) And
also that ye shull no man arrest for no notable dette trespas no
none othir contracte personell but in presence of a Sergeant and
all thing that are acordynge with the Kynges pees and comune
profyt of the Cite ye shull kepe and mainteigne and that ye your
wyfes no none for yow shull selle no maner vitaill to retaill
enduryng your office but wel and treuly have yow in alle thinge
that longeth to yow so helpe yow god and holy doms.
["Ye shall swer that ye schal be good and trewe to the Cite of
London Also the cowncell of the Cite ye schall kepe and the
harme of the Cite ye schall not knowe but ye schal opyn hit to
the cowncell of the Cite And all that comyth to yor Warde as
wel recordes as oþr thynges of the Cite ye schall do yor diligence
safly to kepe.
"Ye schal schew no recordes of the Cite...... but in forme þr of
ordeynyd ye schal nat consile maliciously no personel record
neyther muniment but in alle...... ye schal wel and trewly have
yow as god yow helpe and alle the Seyntes". (fn. 23) ]
Fly leaf B dors.
The Oath of Searchers of Vintners (French).
Ye shall swear that ye will well and truly survey all the wines
cellared for sale within the franchise of the City of London, and
them prove and assay in the presence and survey of the
Serjeants to you committed and deputed by the Mayor and
Aldermen of the said City that they [i.e., the wines] be wholesome and able (ables) for man's body, (fn. 24) and what ye shall find
stinking (puantz) or unsound ye will without concealment present to the Mayor and Aldermen, to be adjudged according to
the ancient custom of the said City. And that ye will certify to
the Mayor and Aldermen the number of vessels containing old
wine lying in the cellars aforesaid, neither sparing nor aggrieving
any one for favour or hate. And that all the pots of tin (destayne) (fn. 25)
that ye shall find not sealed in taverns ye will without concealment present to the Chamber. These things aforesaid ye shall
well and truly do, so God you help and His Saints.
The Oath of Brokers (fn. 26) (French).
Ye shall swear that ye will neither buy nor sell (marchanderez),
by yourselves or any other person, any merchandise to your own
use or for your own profit. And that ye will not make any
bargain unless ye bring the vendor and purchaser together and
truly shall testify the bargain between them. And if ye receive
money from the purchaser to carry to the vendor, truly ye shall
do it, and shall make no bargain of any goods between alien and
alien. (fn. 27) And all the bargains which ye shall have to make ye
shall transact as well for the benefit of the poor (fn. 28) as the rich, and
shall not take for brokerage (correctage) more than is and shall
be ordained in the Guildhall. And all the ordinances touching
brokers (correctiers) made in the time of William Staundon,
Mayor, in the ninth year of King Henry [the Fourth], (fn. 29) ye shall
well and truly keep. And ye shall make no bargain of usury,
exchange of usury, nor contract for usury (ne ferrez null bargayn
de usure eschaunge dusure ne cheuance dusure), (fn. 30) upon pain of paying
100 livres to the Chamber, and further to incur the penalty
ordained for brokers of usury before this time. And if ye know
any man to meddle himself in any brokerage within the franchise of the said City who is not accepted by the Mayor and
Aldermen and sworn to the said City, ye shall cause it to be
known to the Mayor and Chamberlain of the said City for the
time being. These things aforesaid ye shall well and truly
observe, so God you help and His Saints.
Fly leaf C.
The oath of the Chamberlain of the Guildhall (fn. 31) (French).
The oath of the Wardens of the bridge of the City of London (fn. 32)
Fly leaf C dors.
The oath of Constables (fn. 33) (French).
The oath of "Scawageours" (fn. 34) (French).
The oath of "Bedelles" (fn. 35) (French).
Fly leaf D.
The oath of those who shall be under Frank-pledge (fn. 36) (French).
A rough copy of the oath of Brokers.
The oath of "Alekunners" (fn. 37) (French).
Fly leaf D dors.
Monday next before the Feast of St. Michael, 35 Hen III.
[A.D. 1251], there were elected Sheriffs of London by the
common counsel and assent of good men of the City, to wit,
Nicholas Bat and Laurence de "Frowich," who the same day
found pledges, to wit, Nicholas Bat [found] Geoffrey de Winchester, and Thomas Adrian, "peverer", (fn. 38) and Laurence de
"Frowik" [found] Edward Blund, and John de St. Edmund,
"parmenter," (fn. 39) under this form, viz., that the aforesaid pledges
mainprised the Sheriffs aforesaid to acquit the ferm of the City
Moreover, they will keep the City harmless of all damages and
losses which may happen by reason of the Shrievalty and of
fines (de-misericordia), if they should incur any. And each pledge
is bound for the whole (in solidum).
The oath of the Sheriffs of London (fn. 40) (French).
Fly leaf E.
Another copy of the above oath, with a final clause inserted
between the lines : "Et qe tout les ordeignances par les Maii
Audermans et comune counseill faitz bien et loialment garderes et ferres
garder, si Dieu," &c.
The Oath of the Sheriffs' Serjeants (fn. 41) (French)
Ye shall swear that ye will well and truly bear yourselves in
your office, and due execution make of things wherewith ye
shall be charged on behalf of the Mayor, Sheriffs, and Aldermen, and of judgments delivered in the Husting or in the Court
of the Sheriffs, and in inquests good men and true shall ye
return, and not men procured with your assent. And the things
which are ordained for the peace of our lord the King and also
for the common profit of the people ye shall maintain and keep
according to your wit and your power And [that ye will not
sell any manner victual by retail—to wit, bread, beer, wine, fish,
nor flesh, by yourselves, your apprentices, hired servants, nor
by any one else, nor profit shall take of any such manner victual
sold during your office, and in all other matters appertaining to
your said office to do ye shall well and truly have yourselves
So God you help and the Saints (fn. 42) ].
Fly leaf E dors.
The oath of the Mayor (fn. 43) (French).
The oath of the Recorder (fn. 44) (French).
Fly leaf F.
The oath of the Aldermen (fn. 45) (French).
Be it remembered that on the Feast of St. Gregory the Pope
[12 March], the twelfth year of the reign of our lord the King
Richard the Second [A.D. 1388-9], by assent of Monsieur
Nicholl Twyford, then Mayor, and the Aldermen, it was
ordained and agreed that the article following should be added
yearly to the aforesaid oath of the Aldermen, viz., "And that
ye shall sell no manner of victual by retail—to wit, bread,
ale, wine, fish, or flesh, by you, your apprentices, hired persons,
servants, or by any other, nor profit shall ye take of any such
manner of victual sold during your office of Aldermen".
Diceste matire veriez plus el livre des custumes le foille cciiij. (fn. 46)
Fly leaf F dors.
The Oath of Sheriffs' Clerks (fn. 47) (French)
Ye shall swear that ye will well and truly serve your masters
who are elected Sheriffs of London and of Middlesex for the year
next to come, and that you will not let for gift nor for favour,
nor for promise nor for hate, but that ye will do equal law and
justice to all manner of persons, as well to the poor as to the
rich, denizens and strangers, who shall plead before you, without
making maintenance of any quarrel. And that ye will not suffer,
according to your power, other persons to be summoned on inquests nor on juries than such as are good and true and of no
affinity to nor procured by party. And all pleas that before you
shall be pleaded ye shall truly record, and shall use your
diligence to oversee that the said pleas be well and truly
enrolled. And no right shall ye disturb and no judgment shall
ye delay without reasonable cause. Also the franchise of the
said City ye shall guard and maintain to the best of your
power, and obedient be to the Mayor and Judges of the said
City, and good counsel shall ye give to them according to your
power and wit in all things touching the government of the City
and common profit of the people, and their counsel ye shall
keep. And reasonable fines and amercements ye shall take,
having regard to the cause and the estate of the persons. And
that ye suffer not your fermors to take any customs that are not
due, reasonable, and of ancient usage in the said City. And
that the writs which come to you affecting the estate and franchise of the City ye shall not return before ye shall have shown
them to the Mayor for the time being and to the Counsel of the
City, and that from them ye shall have advice. And that ye
charge the Serjeants' yeomen (garsouns) by oath who take
carriage (cariage) in the City that they take not more carriage
than they ought to take, and that they aggrieve not the people
coming to the City with their victual by way of carriage to have
of theirs. And that in these things and in all others touching
your office ye will well and truly have and bear yourselves.
So God you help and the Saints.