A little while back, when money wasn’t quite so tight as it is now, I splurged out $30 in a specialist second hand book shop on The White and Black Books of the Cinq Ports (1966). Some years before this, I picked up from our (then) local library By the Kilo sale Acts of Court of the Mercers’ Company 1453-1527 (1936). The Cinq Ports book had once been owned by a Lieutenant Commander William Swan (one presumes in the RN). His bookplate reads “descendant of many of the SWANS herein before the accession of Henry VIII 1509 AD”. He also wrote his name above this. Indeed, throughout the book, any occurrence of the name Swan is circled in lead pencil.
On the inside front cover and facing pages, Lt-Cmdr Swan pasted in a copy each of the best known portraits of Richard III and Edward IV. Under Richard’s portrait is the following, typed on two slips of paper and pasted in:
“Richard III of England at whose coronation Sunday 6th July 1483 Baron Swan of Sandwich, with other Barons, carried the silken canopy over the new king. See p 641.”
“The last of the English kings. Popularly known as DICKON, Richard III was killed, aged 33, at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 while charging (wearing his crown) the ‘rebel’ army led by Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, who then became Henry VII.”
And under Edward:
“King Edward IV of England, reigned 1461-83, who stayed at John Swan’s house when he visited Sandwich in March 1462 to settle a quarrel between the Barons and the Shipmen.”
On the inside back cover is pasted a map of southeastern England with the Cinq Ports marked: Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, Romney and Hastings.
Under the back flap of the dust cover is cellotaped a newspaper cutting from the Daily Telegraph dated August 1 1980. The headline is Bosworth Avenged and it’s about the statue of Richard unveiled by the duchess of Gloucester.
I’m assuming that Lt-Cmdr Swan passed away sometime after 1980 and perhaps his immediate family didn’t share his fascination for those distant seafaring Swans. The book wouldn’t be in my possession if they did.
The Mercers’ Company book is much tamer, having been a library book all its life.
These books offer a tiny glimpse into the official life of Warwick [Lord Warden]. For most of these entries I have very little idea of what they’re talking about. I shall attempt at some stage to work out where Warwick was and what else was going on at the time.
I was going to include the Mercer’s Company records here as well, but I think I’ll save that for another time.
Warwick in the White Book
Special Brodhull held at Romney on Tuesday 26 January 1461/2 — 2. Mayors, bailiffs, jurats and barons shall attend at Shepway on 27 February to see Richard earl of Warwick, warden of the Cinque Ports, take his oath and receive his gift of 100 marks, William Kennet of Sandwich is chosen to ‘give him his charge’.
General Brodhull held at Romney on Tuesday 27 April 1462 — 5. William Norton and William Barbour of Faversham and others are to appear before the Lord Warden or his lieutenant at St James’ church, Dover to answer causes. A ‘gentle’ letter shall be sent to the lieutenant that he should not suffer such warrants to pass nor vex these or any other persons since the warrants were ‘neyther of course nor of use but onely to the Lesyon of the fraunches’.
General Brodhull held at Romney on Tuesday 27 July 1462 — 4. Complaint of John Grene of Sandwich ‘mekelye besecheth your worships your poore brother… of your Ayde and comforte upon dyverse mysprisyons and wronges done to hym by William Kennet… of the which I complayned to your masterships at London at the parlyament tyme. And at dyverse Brodhulls’. Thomas Thunder, Thomas Bayon, John Chenewe, John Joseph and Thomas Gore were appointed to go to Sandwich and hear and determine ‘upon an impertynent accompt’ made by Johne Grene to certain auditors. The auditors cast on him charges which ‘he nor none for him was never receyved nor by vertue of his sayd offce of mayralltye ought to be accomptant’. All this is set out in a bill before the House.
Recites [as of f.30] the cause of the dispute and the efforts of Grene to obtain a copy of the account from Kennett both at the Brodhull in January 1461/2 and then at the Shepway when Kennett promised to deliver such a copy on his return home. Although Grene ‘sued and cryed for the copye every day, he could not have it’ and he therefore went to the Brodhull when the mayor and ‘the copye was readye Long ago, And for I wold not paye for the wrytinge thereof to one John Archer…he wold not delyver it to me, whereof the contrary is soth. For I wyst not that John Archer had i-wrytt it’. After the Brodhull Kennett showed the account which was not ready and after it was completed Grene paid for the writing and then found variances in the account and prayed Kennett to examine it better after which Kennett refused to return Grene’s copy and caused damages to Grene of 100 li. Therefore he seeks a remedy and a testimonial under the seal of Romney that he has always been ready to fulfil his part of the bargain, he also asks the right to sue and to have a letter sent to the Lord Warden to have the case in traverse at the court of St James Church, Dover, bearing in mind that he cannot take action in Sandwich where it is an accio popularis neither can he sue before a ‘foreign’ judge. Agreed that the mayor of Sandwich provide Grene with a copy of the bill of account and that Otewell Worsley, lieutenant of Dover Castle and John Oynden of Wingham determine the case.
Special Brodhull held at Romney on Wednesday 12 September 1464 — 2. If the Lord Warden come to Sandwich or Dover or any other Port, all the mayors and bailiffs are to be warned to meet him at an appointed place to make suit for the confirmation of their charter, and if he comes not down then four men appointed at the last Brodhull are to act.
Quick detour to Elizabeth Wydeville:
General Brodhull held at Romney on Tuesday 23 July 1465 — 3. ‘… the pall, Belles and staves that were borne over quene Elizabeth at her Coronacion’ were delivered to Sandwich and Hythe to be ‘departed’ between them, according to an act made in the 9th year of King Henry VI ‘late kyng of Englonde in dede but not o ryght’.
General Brodhull held at Romney on Tuesday 15 April 1466 — 2. Writs of sub poena have been sent to Pevensey who should hold anyone delivering such writs to answer why he infringed the liberties of the Ports. A letter is to be sent to the Lord Warden to ask him to request the Lord Chancellor to cease such writs.
General Brodhull held at Romney on Tuesday 26 April 1468 — 6. Robert Cokke of Sandwich, Robert Martyne of Faversham and Thomas Bayan shall consult with the barons appointed to the parliament to be held at Reading or Westminster, how best to reply to the Lord Warden for the warrants ‘that dayly come into the v portes… in all poyntes concernynge the Chartre’. The barons are to take 100s ie Hastings, Winchelsea and Rye 33s 4d, Romney and Dover 33s 4d, and Sandwich and Hythe 33s 4d. No town is to fail on pain etc.
General Brodhull held at Romney on Tuesday 24 July 1470 — 3. William earl of Arundel at his admission as Lord Warden is to receive ‘a cuppe of sylver and of gylte’ of the value of 20 li. with the arms of the Ports thereon. John Westclyf of Sandwich is to labour for the cup and to have 20s for his pains. The 20 li shall be paid at Shepway. Thomas Hexstall of Dover is to give the charge to the Lord Warden.
Arundel was appointed by Edward IV after Warwick’s departure for Calais.
Brodhull means roughly ‘brotherhood’.
accio popularis (actio popularis) ‘action to obtain remedy by a person or a group in the name of the collective interest’. Wiktionary definition.