THE CITY OF CANTERBURY
The arms of the City
Is situated in the eastern part of the county of Kent,
fifty-six miles distant from London, south-eastward,
and sixteen miles from Dover and the sea-shore, (fn. 1)
the great high-road from London leading through
it. Its geographical situation is in latitude 51 degrees,
17 minutes north, longitude 1 degree, 15 minutes
east, from Greenwich observatory. It adjoins westward to the hundred of Westgate, northward to the
jurisdiction of Fordwich, and towards the south and
east, to the hundred of Bridge and Petham.
It was called by the Romans, Durovernum, either
from the British word Dour, which signifies water, or
as Camden supposes, from the British Durwhern, a rapid river; both words, however, well adapted to the
situation of it. (fn. 2) Bede, and others, call it Dorovernia,
and Dorobernia, which is said to be its old name. The
Saxons called Kent, Cant-guar-landt, that is, the country of the Kentish men; and this city, Cant-wara byrg,
i. e. the Kentish men's city, (fn. 3) a name agreeing with
that of Caer, Kent, (the city of Kent) as Nennius and
the Britons called it from the Saxon name. The Latinists afterwards modelled it to Cantuaria, and the
English to its present name of Canterbury, by which
it has been in general called, from about the time of
the Norman conquest. (fn. 4)
The origin of the city is said by Jeffry of Monmouth, the author of the British History, to be much
older, even than Rome itself; for he writes, that one
Rud-hudibras, or Lud-hudibras, a king of the Britons, founded this city almost nine hundred years before our Saviour's incarnation; (fn. 5) but as this writer is
exploded, and his story deemed fabulous by most of
our antiquaries, and especially by Camden, I shall pass
on to more probable evidence, that Canterbury existed at the time the Roman empire first extended itself into Britain, which appears by their continuing the
name by which they found it called by the Britons, the
Roman Durovernum being, seemingly, no other than
the Latin rendering of the British Durwhern; that it
existed in the time of the Roman empire here, is plain
from the mention of it in the Itinerary of Antoninus,
now more than 1500 years old, corroborated by the
present remains of those roads leading from two of
their noted havens, Dover and Limne, to this city;
by their workmanship and materials in the churches,
walls, and gates of it; and the number of coins, earthen ware, utensils and tesselated pavements, found
from time to time within the city and the near neighbourhood of it. What the general state or condition
of it was in the times of either the Britons or Romans,
is not known; as there is no history or record to shew
it; but no doubt it was then of considerable account;
for even at the beginning of the Saxon heptarchy, it
was esteemed the head or chief city of the kingdom of
Kent, and the king's residence; (fn. 6) thus Venerable Bede
calls it the chief city of king Ethelbert. (fn. 7) Another writer stiles it the head of the empire; (fn. 8) and in the close of
a charter of Kenulph, king of Mercia, in the year 810,
it is dated in the famous city, which of antient name
was called Dorovernia. (fn. 9) Canterbury continued the
royal residence of king Ethelbert, till about the year
596, when having embraced Christianity by the persuasions of St. Augustine, he gave him his palace here,
as a residence for him and his successors, and retired
himself to Reculver, where he built another palace for
that purpose; but the king continued possessed of the
city in demesne, excepting as to that part, and certain
privileges, which he had granted to St. Augustine, in
which manner the crown afterwards continued possessed
of it; (fn. 10) and in king Edward the Confessor's time,
though in divers other parts of it, several privileges
had been granted to religious as well as lay persons, yet
the royalty and chief seignory of it continued in the
crown, and did so at the Norman conquest, as appears
by the following entry of it in the survey of Domesday,
taken in the year 1080, being the 15th year of the
Conqueror's reign, in which the state of it, as well in
the reign of king Edward as at that time, is thus accurately described:
In Civitate Cantuariæ habuit Rex Edward, 50 & 1
burgens reddentes gablu' & alios 200 & 12. Sup' quos
habebat saca' & soca' & 3 molend de 40 sol. modo burgens' gablu' reddentes sunt 19. De 32obs. aliis qui fuerant, sunt vastati 11 in sossato Civitatis. & Archieps ht.
ex eis 7. & abb S. Augustini alios 14 p exabio Castelli.
& adhunc sunt 200 & 12 burgs. sup quos ht rex saca' &
soca' & 3 molend reddt 100 & 8 sol. & theolonium' redd
68. sol. Ibi 8 acræ pti quæ solebant e' e'. legator; regis.
mo. reddt de Censu 15 sol. & mille acre silvæ infructuosæ.
de qua exeunt 24. solidi' Int totu. T. R. E. valuit 51
lib. & tntd qdo Haimo Vicec. recep & mo' 50 lib. appciat'. Tam' qui ten' bc' reddit 30. lib. arsas & pensatas.
& 24. lib ad numeru' Sup h' oma' ht vicecom' 100 &
Duos dom' duor; burgsiu' una' foris alia' int' civitate.
qda monachus œccliœ cantuar abstulit. Hœ erant positœ
in calle regis.
Burgses habuer' 45. mansur' ext' civitate' de' qbs ipst
habet' gablu' & csetud, rex aut' hab saca & soca. Ipst
qque' burg' ses habebant de rege 33. acs træ in gilda' sua'
Has dom & hanc tra' ten' Rannulf de Colubels. Habet
etiam qt. 20. acs træ sup' hæc. quas tenebant burgens' in
alodia de rege. Tenet quoq; 5. acs træ juste ptinent
uni æccliæ. De his omibz revocat isde Rannuls ad ptectore' epm. Baiocensem.
Radulf de Curbespine ht. 4. mansuras in Civitate quas
teuuit quæda' ccubina Heraldi, de quibz' est saca & soca
regis. sed usq; ne' non habuit.
Isae Radulf ten alias 11. masuras de epo baioc in ipsa
civitate quæ fuer Sbern biga & reddt 11. solid & 2 den
& 1 obolu.
Per tota civitate cantuariæ ht. rex saca & soca, excepta tra æccliæ S. Trin & S. Augustini, & Eddevæ reginæ & Alnod Cild & Esber Biga & Siret de Cilleha.
Concordatu est de rectis Callibs quæ habent p. civitate
introitu' & exitu' quicunq; in illis forisfecerit, regi emdabit. Similit' de Callibz' rectis extra civitate' usq; ad
una leuga' & 3 partrias & 3 pedes. Si qs ergo infra has
publicas vias intus civitate, vel' ext' foderit vel palu'
fixerit, sequit' illu' pposit regis ubicunq; abierit & emenda'
accipiet ad opus regis.
Archieps. calu' niat' forisfactura' in vijs ext civitate'
ex utq; parte ubi terra sua e'. Quida pposit Brumann'
noe T. R. E. capit c'suetudines de extraneis mercatorib;
in tra S. Trinitatis & S. Augustini, Qui postea T. R. W.
ante archiepm Lanfranc & epm. Baiocense' recognovit se
injuste accepissie & sacramto facto' juravit qd ipsæ æcclæ
suas co' suetudines qetas habuer R. E. tepore. Et exinde
utraq; æccliæ in sua tra habuer' cosuetud' suas, judicio baronu regis qi placitu tenuer.
Which is: In the city of Canterbury, king Edward has
51 burgesses, (fn. 11) yielding rent; and other two hundred and
twelve, on which he had sac and soc; and three mills of
forty shillings; now the burgesses yielding rent are nineteen. Of thirty-two others, which were, eleven are destroyed in the ditch of the city, and the archbishop has of
them seven, and the abbot of St. Augustine other fourteen, by exchange of the castle, and as yet there are two
hundred and twelve burgesses, on which the king has sac
and soc, and three mills yielding one hundred and eight
shillings, and toll yielding sixty eight shillings. There are
eight acres of meadow, (fn. 12) which used to be of the king's officers, now yielding of rent fifteen shillings, and a thousand
acres of wood yielding no pannage, from which there
is payable twenty-four shillings. In the whole, in the time
of king Edward the Confessor, it was worth fifty one
pounds, and as much when Hamo the sheriff received it,
and now it is valued at fifty pounds, yet he who now has
it pays thirty pounds, tried and weighed, and twenty four
pounds numbered; of all these the sheriff has one hundrea
and ten shillings.
Two houses of two burgesses, one without, the other
within the city, a certain monk of the church of Canterbury took away. These were placed in the king's
The burgesses had forty-five mansions without the city,
of which they had rent and custom; but the king bad sac
and soc. Those burgesses also had of the king thirtythree acres of land in his guild. These houses and this
land Ranulf de Columbels holds. He has also four times
twenty acres of land more than these, which the burgesses
held in fee simple of the king. He holds likewise five
acres of land, which of right belong to a certain church;
of all these the same Rannulf vouches the bishop of Baieux
as his protector.
Radulf de Curbespine has four mansions in the city,
which a certain concubine of Herald held, from which
there is sac and soc of the king, but to this time he had
The same Radulf holds other eleven mansions of the
bishop of Baieux in the city itself, which were Sbern Biga's, (fn. 13) and yield eleven shillings and two-pence and one
Through the whole city of Canterbury the king has
sac and soc, except the land of the church of the Holy
Trinity, and of St. Augustine, and of queen Eddeve, and
of Alnod Cilt, and Esber Biga, and Siret de Cilleha.
It is agreed concerning the highways which have entrance and exit through the city, whoever shall commit an
offence in them, shall make a fine to the king; in like
manner of the highways without the city, as far as one
league, and three perches, and three feet. If any one
therefore, within these public ways within the city or
without, shall dig or put down a post, the king's reeve
shall follow him wherever he shall go, and receive the
fine to the king's use.
The archbishop claims forfeitures in the ways without
the city on both sides, where the land is his; a certain
reeve, named Bruman, in the time of king Edward, took
the customs of the foreign merchants in the land of the
Holy Trinity, and of St. Augustine, who afterwards, in
the time of king William, before archbishop Lanfranc and
the bishop of Baieux, acknowledged that he had received
them unjustly, and swore upon his oath, that those churches
possessed them quietly in the time of king Edward, and
from that time both churches had those customs by judgment of the king's barons, who held pleas.
At this time, it appears by the same book, the archbishop had possessions in Canterbury, which are thus
entered in it, under the general title of his lands.
In civitate Cantuariæ habet Archieps. 12. burgenses,
& 32 mansuras, quas tenent clerici de villa in gilda sua,
& reddunt 35. sol. & un mold de 5 sol.
Which is: In the city of Canterbury, the archbishop
has twelve burgesses and thirty two mansions, which the
clerks of the ville hold in their guild, and they pay thirtyfive shillings, and one mill of five shillings.
It appears by the above record, that the sheriff of the
county of Kent was intrusted with and managed the king's
interest here, the same as he did the other manors and
demesnes of the king, and accounted yearly for the
profits of it, (fn. 14) as did afterwards the king's præfects and
bailiffs of the city, as will be further noticed hereafter;
in which state the city continued, till Henry III. in his
18th year, granted it to the citizens, (fn. 15) to hold to them
and their successors for ever, at the yearly rent of sixty
pounds in see ferm; (fn. 16) by which tenure it has continued
to be held ever since. (fn. 17)