Charters of the House of Tudor
The same Henry VII.
did in the 21st year of his reign, grant a very full, favorable, and important charter, which has, however, by
one of its provisions, caused much party animosity in the city; this charter instituted the office of recorder,
erected the city into a county by itself, and granted it to the citizens and commonalty (excepting the castle),
to be governed by a corporation, which he empowered them to elect in the following terms
"We will also, and give and grant for us, our heirs, and successors, to the above-named citizens and commonalty, their heirs and successors, that they and their successors for ever, have power to elect, make, and create, every successive year, twenty-four fellow citizens, of the said city aforesaid, for aldermen; as also forty other citizens of the said city, for the common council of the said city. Which twenty-four citizens so chosen and created, shall for ever henceforth have and bear the name of aldermen of the city of Chester; out of which twenty-four aldermen, one, by the unanimous consent and assent of the mayor, aldermen, sheriffs, and the other citizens of the common council aforesaid, shall be chosen and appointed recorder of the city aforesaid. We will also, and grant for us and our heirs, that the aforesaid citizens and comnionalty, their heirs and successors, shall have, wake,. and have power to chose from among themselves every successive year for ever, a mayor of the said city; and that every mayor of the said city for the time being, so soon as he shall be chosen and appointed mayor of the city, be our escheator, and clerk of the market, &c. All fellow citizens of the said city, suburbs, and hamlets, dwelling within the said city, suburbs and hamlets of the said city, who chose to be present at the election of the mayor, every year, upon Friday next, after the feast of St., Dennis, may meet together freely and without hindrance, at the Common-hall of the said city, who there being met, or the greater part of them, shall name two citizens dwelling in the said city, that are most sufficient, discreet and best able (of the number of the twenty-four aldermen) in the said city, suburbs, and villages, to be chosen in form following : - Either of them may or may not, heretofore, have been mayor or sheriffs of that city, and shall in no wise have occupied the office of sheriff, for the space of three years, next preceding the Friday after they feast of St. Dennis aforesaid; of which two so named, the greater part of the aforesaid aldermen and sheriffs then and there present, by scrutiny, shall name, chuse,. and appoint one mayor; and if it so fall out, that in the election or nomination of this one person for mayor, the, discordant voices be in number equal, then we will that the voice of the mayor for the time being, shall be taken and accounted for two; but in chusing the sheriffs of the city, this form shall be observed, viz.- That the mayor, sheriffs, aldermen, and other citizens of the said city and county, dwelling there, if they chuse to be present at the election of such sheriffs, may without contradiction, upon Friday next, after the feast of St. Dennis, yearly assemble and meet together; when the mayor, sheriffs, and aldermen for the time being, or the greater part of them then and there personally being, shall the same day freely chuse an able and sufficient person for one sheriff of the city; and the other said fellow citizens, then and there present, or the greater part of them, one ether able and sufficient person for the other sheriff of the said city; which two, so chosen sheriffs of the said county and city, shall from the aforesaid Friday next, after the feast of St. Dennis, for one whole yea; be and remain," &e.
This charter provides, that the sheriffs shall hold weekly courts to determine all pleas and assizes, by plaint, (without writ) coming before them, concerning all contracts and cases arising within the city aforesaid. It empowers the mayor of this city and his successors, to have their sword carried before them with the point upwards (in the absence of the king and his heirs) in the presence of all the nobles and lords of the realm of England. And that the serjeants at mace of the mayor and sheriffs of the city, and their successors, for the time being, may bear their maces gilt, or silver, or silvered, and adorned with the escutcheon and royal arms, as well in the presence of the king and his heirs, as in the presence of his consort, his mother ; and heirs and successors aforesaid, within the said city. - The mayor and his successors may chuse two citizens, to act as coroner for the king within the liberties. Also the mayor and citizens and their successors may every year elect two citizens to be overseers of the walls of the city, called murengers, and that they, thus chosen, may every year collect and receive a certain custom or subsidy, called murage, towards the maintenance and building of the walls, as of old it hath been levied in the said city. No king's officers to intermeddle in the affairs of the city. The aforesaid mayor ; aldermen, and sheriffs, may in case of need and for the good of the citizens, make bye laws, with the assent of the forty other fellow citizens yearly chosen , in the manner before directed, as to them may seen' expedient, so that, however ; these ordinances be profitable to the king and his people, and agreeable to good faith and reason as aforesaid
It grants the Northgate tower to the mayor and sheriffs for a prison, as in time
past it had been used. Also grants the fishery of the Dee to the citizens, and its custody, from the use of unlawful
nets and other devices for the destruction of young fish, or in case of any violation of any statute already or
hereafter to be enacted, to the mayor or sheriffs of the city. Also that the mayor and recorder of the city, and
their successors for ever, and those aldermen who have been mayors of the city, as also those who hereafter shall
sustain that burden, shall so long as they shall be alderman there,' jointly and severally be keepers of the peace,
within and through the liberties of the city, without any other commission to be given them, than these letters
patent, &c. &c.
Also that the citizens be not in any way restrained of any privileges or ancient customs of the same city, but that they and their heirs and successors keep all their liberties and free customs perfect, and inviolate as at any time heretofore they have done. That the aforesaid mayor and citizens, &c. have and hold the city hamlets and suburbs of the same, with all lands, tenements, profits, commodities, escheats, forfeits, deodands, amerciaments fines, and a certain custom called murage, with all other rights and things aforesaid, howsoever belonging or appertaining to the city, &c. due to the king and his heirs the earls of Chester, as fee farm of him, his heirs an successors, the earls of Chester, paying the aforesaid earls yearly, at the Exchequer of Chester, for the tenure of the premises, twenty pounds of silver, and no more, at the feast of Easter, and St. Michael the Archangel, by equal portions. Also the mayor and citizens may build upon all the void places, and make the most, and reap' the benefit thereof. "In witness whereof, we have caused these our letters to be made patent, witness ourself at Chester, the sixth day of April, the twenty-first year of our reign."
This charter of Henry VII. has only the great seal of the county palatine affixed.
King Henry VIII.
directed his letters in parchment, under his privy seal, to the mayor of the city, charging that the inhabitants
should remain within the same for the defence thereof; and not suffer any person by virtue of any of his letters,
to take away any men in the city, without they mentioned the revocation of the said letters so directed to the
The same King Henry VIII. by an act passed in the 27th year of his reign, the preamble to which states, that justice had not been equally dealt in the county of Chester, (or in the several counties of Wales) as in other parts of the realm, enacted that for the future, justices of the peace should be appointed in Cheshire and Wales, as in other parts of the kingdom.
The county palatine of Chester having in former times had a parliament of its own, sent no representatives to the parliament of the realm, but having been abridged of some ancient privileges, the inhabitants petitioned that they might be allowed to send their knights and burgesses to parliament, in consequence of which petition it was enacted, in the 32nd year of the said king, that in future two knights should be returned to parliament for the county palatine, and two burgesses for the city of Chester.
The same king, by an act in the 33rd year of his reign, removed the sanctuary from Manchester to Chester. The act reserved a power to the king, that if it should appear that Chester was not a fit place for a sanctuary, he might, by his proclamation, appoint some other town or place in its stead. On the passing of this act, Hugh Aldersey, the mayor in 1541-2, accompanied by Mr. Foulk Dutton, went up with a petition to the king, and represented to his majesty that Chester being a port-town, and situated on the borders of Wales, was a very unfit place for a sanctuary for malefactors, and that it would be attended with great inconvenience to the merchants and inhabitants; the king acceded to their petition, and by proclamation removed the sanctuary from Chester to Stafford.
Queen Elizabeth did by her letters
patent, dated at Westminster, April the 8th, in the 5th year of her reign, confirm the charter of her grandfather
king Henry VII. The mayor and citizens having in due form surrendered absolutely the above letters patent, confirmatory
of the charter of Henry VII.
The same Queen Elizabeth did on the 14th of June, in the 16th year of her reign, grant other letters patent under the great seal of England, and did confirm and recapitulate verbatim the above mentioned charter of king Henry VII. her grandfather, and did ordain that the same be taken and accepted for the city charter, and moreover did add to the same, "that so oft as it shall fall out that the mayor or sheriffs of the city aforesaid, or any of them do die within the year of their offices, that the aldermen, citizens, and commonalty, who wish to be present at the new election, may assemble and gather themselves together in the Common-hall of the city, on the Friday next after the death of the mayor or sheriffs, deceased, and then and there they may, and must chase and appoint some one of the most discreet and fit person in the number of the twenty-four aldermen, in such manner and form as in the yearly election of the mayor of the city aforesaid they are accustom to do; which mayor so chosen and made, shall before all the aldermen present, take that oath which the mayors of the city before were wont to take. And if the mayor so chosen and made be not present at the election, then on the Friday next after his coming home, he shall take his oath before the aforesaid aldermen, or at least four of them in the Common hall aforesaid; and after the death of every sheriff, deceasing as aforesaid, they shall elect and name one, out of the forty who are the common council of the city aforesaid, for sheriff in such manner and form as in the yearly election of sheriffs in the year aforesaid, they accustom to do ; which sheriff so chosen, shall take his oath before the mayor then being, and the sheriffs so chosen shall continue in their offices from the day and time of the election aforesaid, until the Friday next after the feast of
St. Dennis, when they are wont to chuse new officers." - This same charter goes on to give power to the mayor and citizens to hold lands, &c. to a certain amount; also it provides for the safe custody of the goods of orphans (as in the city of London) by the mayor and citizens; it grants a pardon to the mayor and citizens, with acquitance from all fines and forfeits for any improper exercise of their liberties, franchises, jurisdiction, &c.-'This charter has the great seal of England, is dated 14th June, in the 16th year of Elizabeth, and signed by the queen herself, with the authority of parliament.