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Author Topic: Rochester City Charters  (Read 4618 times)

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Offline Far away

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Re: Rochester City Charters
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2012, 12:03:24 »
When applied to contracts it can mean 'cancelling the previous state of affairs' - hence by 'cancelling' the contract, the pre-contract state becomes invalid and the contract state becomes valid. Contract 'completion' can have a similar meaning - the process of completing the ink-on-paper contract by signing it as opposed to completing-the-subject-matter of the contract.

You don't see completion and cancelling used that way these days because of the potential for confusion - but translators from other countries translating contracts into English sometimes use them since their legal-term translation dictionaries tend to lack much in the way of indicating context.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Rochester City Charters
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2012, 15:46:16 »
Charles I was executed in1649, the Monarchy was abolished and Cromwell’s Commonwealth began. The Royal Charters were cancelled and it seems that council members were required to swear allegiance to Parliament, as indicated by the following council records after the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660:
5th August 1662: Council members were to continue to hold office as if they had been elected according to previous Royal Charters.
15th August 1662: Council members declare that the requirement to swear an oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth was illegal, and that consequently they were not bound by it.
10th September 1662: Council members recognise  the ‘Sovereign Lord  King Charles II’, as the lawful head of state.

1st June 1664: It was agreed that ‘endeavours’ should be made to have the Charters confirmed by the King, and that the money necessary for this should be paid out of the ‘Chamber of the City’.
Then it  seems that the Council went to sleep for 5 years, because:
2nd October 1669: It was ordered that enquiries should be made about donations which had been collected to fund the confirmations, and that the persons who had received them should be called upon to account for them. If it was discovered that the Charter had not been confirmed the matter should be further proceeded upon. (Note - From Parliamentary records it appeared that Charles II had made a grant continuing the citizens ‘right of free choice of municipal officers’, but this document was not among the City records).
There is no explanation in the book of the outcome.

James II succeeded to the throne on 6th February 1685.

27th December 1685: The Council was to consider renewing the Charter in the name of the new King, and a committee was formed to make recommendations.
It looks as if this was not done, because:
20th January 1687: The Town Clerk was to appear at the King’s Court at Westminster to “show by what warrant the Mayor and citizens openly used divers liberties in the City”.
9th February 1687: The above appearance occurred and as a result it was decided to suspend the Charter.
Attached to the document of surrender was the following note (as printed in the book):
“Memo. That this surrender was delivered the 11th day of Feb. 1687 to his Majesty, and at the same tyme he delivered it back to Mr. Mayor, and restored the Citty to all their privileges. And on the 18th of the same Feb. it was cancelled by Mr. Mayor, in the sight of a great many of the Freemen.”

Subsequently the Council passed a resolution that an address be presented to the King, expressing the “gratitude of the citizens for the generous and entire restitution of their liberties and franchises when surrendered into his royal hands”.

Does this mean that the King was annoyed because the City had been acting without his permission, but relented after due contrition had been shown? Then why should the City reject the Charter (if that’s what the last sentence of the Memo actually means - or did 'cancel' have a different meaning then?), but follow this with a ‘thank you’? Perhaps there is a clue in that James II was a catholic with a son who was heir to the throne and therefore unpopular, and the Council didn’t want to be tainted by association. Whatever the case, James II fled to France in 1688 and Parliament invited William of Orange (William III) to take the throne. A declaration of loyalty to the new King was signed by over 1700 Rochester citizens (a large part of the population), so presumably he saw fit to renew the 1629 Charter.

Thus did the same form of government of the City continue until the Municipal Corporation Act of 1835. On 20th January 1834 the City joined with Norwich to resist what they called their ‘ancient charters, franchises, and liberties’ being taken from them. After some compromises the Act came into force, local government took the form that we know today, and the Charters passed into history.


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Offline peterchall

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Re: Rochester City Charters
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2012, 17:01:13 »
The charters referred to in this thread gave certain rights to Rochester in the days before such rights were universal and have nothing to do with its status as a city. Wikepedia states that it became a City in 1211 and, on checking 'History of Rochester', I find that the Charter of 1189 refers to it as a town. So my calling it a 'City' in 1189 in my opening post was wrong, and I have corrected it.
 
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Offline Lyn L

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Re: Rochester City Charters
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2012, 16:03:57 »
Here's another one in total agreement with you as well. I've lived in Rochester nearly all my married life (48yrs this year ) and have never agreed with a city of Medway, that's a river  :)
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Offline pr1uk

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Re: Rochester City Charters
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2012, 15:25:04 »
The City Charter was dropped my the medway council on purpose even though they were sent reminders it was the councils plan to get a city of medway instead and i am glad myself this plan backfired. To me and a lot of people who live in the medway towns Rochester will always be the City Of Rochester.
As an ex Rochester resident, I fully agree with you.

A lot of people agree it was disgusting that the council got away with it they did away with it to set up the Medway council and make all the towns and the City of Rochester all one place. They have applied twice now for city of Medway status and have missed out and as saidIi for one am glad as I could never see a city of Medway. I was born in Chatham but Medway was always Chatham, Gillingham and the City of Rochester, two towns and one city, it was never all the towns lumped into one.

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Offline Mike S

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Re: Rochester City Charters
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2012, 14:50:25 »
The City Charter was dropped my the medway council on purpose even though they were sent reminders it was the councils plan to get a city of medway instead and i am glad myself this plan backfired. To me and a lot of people who live in the medway towns Rochester will always be the City Of Rochester.
As an ex Rochester resident, I fully agree with you.

Offline pr1uk

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Re: Rochester City Charters
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2012, 12:57:49 »
The City Charter was dropped by the Medway council on purpose even though they were sent reminders it was the council`s plan to get a city of Medway instead and I am glad myself this plan backfired. To me and a lot of people who live in the Medway Towns, Rochester will always be the City of Rochester.
To be contented in life you must learn the difference between what you want and what you need
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Rochester City Charters
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2012, 11:39:36 »
It was the practice for a new Monarch to renew the various Charters and this seems to have been the case with the Charters granted to Rochester between 1460 and 1629, without any material alteration.

It is interesting to consider the 1629 Charter in some detail.
A petition was presented to Charles I on 30th May 1629 as follows: “To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, this most humble petition of the Mayor and citizens of Rochester humbly showeth to your most excellent Majesty…[a reminder followed of existing charters and how the City had dutifully performed its obligations (including the phrase ‘and is now a ship harbour of your Majesty’s Royal Navy and much frequented by sailors who many times are apt to be disordered’), leading to a request for additional powers of law enforcement. There were requests for renewal of the existing charter and for revisions to the city boundaries”]. In the language of the times, the last sentence  of the petition took 68 words, without a single punctuation, to ask the King to tell someone to write the Charter for him to sign!

The King replied: “His Majesty is graciously pleased to grant the Petitioners’ requests and Mr. Attorney General is to prepare a Bill of the same Petition for his Royal signature as is in such cases used”.

The Charter was dated 7th August 1629 and, in modern English, declared that:
“The City of Rochester should henceforth be a free city and that the Mayor and citizens and their successors should for ever be one body, corporate and politic, by the name of ‘Mayor and Citizens of the City of Rochester’, and by the same name to have perpetual succession”.

“In their name as Mayor and Citizens they shall be persons fit to have and purchase land and hereditaments in perpetuity, also to grant, let and assign the same. They shall be able to plead and defend in courts. They shall have a Common Seal to serve for the doing of their cause and business.”

“One of the more honest and discreet Citizens is to be elected Mayor, eleven of the honest and discreet Citizens are to be elected Aldermen, and twelve of the honest and discreet Citizens are to be elected Assistants of the City, all to be called the ‘Common Council’. The Common Council has full power to make reasonable laws and ordinances for the good ruling and governance of the citizens, merchants, artificers and inhabitants of the City, with power to impose penalties and punishments upon delinquents and to have the fines for the use of the City, provided that the laws are not contrary to the laws, customs, and rights of the Kingdom”.

“Anthony Allen shall be the first and Modern Mayor. [Then follows the names of the first Aldermen and Assistants]. Then yearly on the Monday before the Feast of St Matthew, the Mayor and citizens shall assemble in the Guildhall to elect one of the Aldermen, who may be a victualler or innkeeper, to be Mayor, he to take the oath on the Monday after the Feast of St Michael, to hold office for one year. [The procedure for filling unplanned vacancies was described]”

“The City may have one discreet man, learned in the laws of England, as Recorder of the City, to hold office during the good pleasure of the Mayor and Aldermen. The Mayor and two Aldermen shall form the Court of Portmote to hear civil cases, and the Mayor, Recorder, the previous Mayor, and the ‘most ancient Aldermen’ shall be Justices of the Peace for the trial of criminal cases”

“[The City boundaries were again defined, and other rights given by previous Charters were re-affirmed]”

The Charter cost the City a fee of £6 13s 4d.
Here is a picture of it:


The Mayor, Recorder, and Common Council met on 24th August 1629 to be sworn under the terms of the Charter. Here are their signatures:


To be continued

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Offline peterchall

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Rochester City Charters
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2012, 16:43:50 »
From ‘History of Rochester’ by F.F. Smith, with the proviso that many sources referred to in the book are quoted in the original style of the day, so my translations and abridgments are not guaranteed absolutely accurate, and I’m happy to be corrected.

Municipal corporations of the sort that we have today began to be formed early in Norman times, and the first charters for municipalities tended to formalise rights and duties that already existed by custom (Common Law). In these charters, towns sought to regain some of the Common Law that had been absorbed by Norman legislation. They wanted freedom from servile duties to the Crown, freedom to trade, the right to own the land in the town, to have local courts, to choose their own councils, and to raise their own taxes.

Charters applicable to Rochester were in 1189, 1227, 1265, 1330, 1378, 1438, 1446, 1460, 1510, 1547, 1558, 1608, and 1629. In the following account it may be taken that any charter not mentioned in detail was one granted by each new Monarch that simply re-affirmed earlier charters, or was one making minor amendments to earlier charters.

Charter of 1189 (Richard I): Rochester had levied a toll of 1d on each horseman and 1/2d on each footman passing through the town on the way to the Crusades. In order not to discourage men from the Crusades, this charter forbade the collection of this toll and replaced it with compensation from the Exchequer. Accordingly, and as an example, in 1192 the town claimed for the passage of 84 horsemen and 520 footmen; in 1193 it was for 142 and 860 respectively.

Charter of 1265 (Henry III): The land of Rochester, like all other land in the country, belonged to the King, who collected a rent of £25/year in 2 instalments but, “in consideration of faithful services by the citizens” this was reduced to £12/year. (In 1688 the Earl of Romney was granted the freedom of the City and the  right to collect this money, and it was still being paid to the current Earl when the book was published in 1928!).
•   The City was granted the right to a Foremarket whereby freemen had the right to sell goods first in the market, and the citizens had the first right to be served, after which the market became ‘open’.
•   No authority outside the City could “intermeddle” with the rights of citizens except via the City authorities.
•   The City was granted a ‘Guild Merchant’ and a ‘Court of Port Mote’.

A Guild Merchant was a society for the aid and  protection of trade. It could enact local trading laws, regulate the quality of goods and services offered, and deal with trade offences. Membership was in effect a guarantee of quality and its members could trade with the other c150 towns having a Guild Merchant.

A ‘Court of Port Mote’ was a court having sole authority to deal with actions for debt and trespass in the City
.

Charter of 1446 (Henry VI): Allowed an innkeeper to be appointed as Bailiff and required the qualifications of the Coroner (who in those days decided on whether prosecutions should be brought) to be raised.

Charter of 1460 (Edward IV): This noted that since time immemorial Rochester had elected its own Bailiff (henceforth to be known as the Mayor) and this was made an established right.
•   The election of the Mayor to be on the Monday following Michaelmas Day, and a Coroner and two citizens to be Constables were to be elected at the same time.
•   All citizens were given the right to purchase land and to plead in any court.
•   People residing in the City were free of all tolls in the rest of England.
•   The Mayor was to receive the income from all fines
•   The City to have the goods of outlaws, self-murderers, and felons.
•   The Mayor and a person learned in the law were to be Justices of the Peace to deal with cases of crime.
•   Residents of the City not to be put on juries against their will out of the City
•   The City was to have a Court of Pipe Powder.
•   A fair to be called St Dunstan’s Fair was to begin on 19th May and to continue for 3 days, the first being for the sale of cattle. (This may have replaced an earlier fair held on St Andrew's Day)

The charter defined the City boundaries: The River Medway and all its creeks from Sheerness to Burham, the parishes of St Nicholas and St Margaret, the Cathedral Precincts, that part of Chatham known as ‘Chatham Intra’, and parts of Strood and Frindsbury. By having the river included in its boundaries, the City had the rights over wrecks and to control fishing.

The Court of Pipe Powder, Py-Powder, or Pie-Poudre was held at a place called ‘The Boley’, or Boley Hill. When any difference arose concerning a sale in the market or fair the Mayor could take with him two “discreet citizens” to Boley Hill to decide the merits of the case. It was sometimes called the 'Court of Dusty Foot' because many of its cases involved travelling pedlars. It was held under an elm tree opposite No11 Boley Hill – when the tree was cut down in 1831 a plaque was put on the spot marked “C.R. Boley Hill 1831” (Is it still there?).

To be continued
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

 

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