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A large Charter granted by K. Edward the 4 in the second yere of his reigne, to the marchants of England resident especially in the Netherland, for their chusing of a master and governor among themselves, which governement was first appointed unto one William Obray: with expresse mention, what authoritie he should have.

EDWARD by the grace of God king of France, & of England, & lord of Ireland, to al those which shal see or heare these letters, sendeth greeting, & good wil.
Know ye, that whereas we have understood, as well by the report of our loving and faithfull Counsellors, as by the common complaint and report of all men, that many vexations, griefs, debates, discords, annoyes, dissentions, & damages, have heretofore bene done, moved, committed, and happened, and do daily fal out and happen among the common marchants & mariners, our subjects of our realmes of France & England, & our lordships of Ireland and Wales, & of other our dominions, seigneuries, and territories, because that good discretion and authority hath not bin observed among our saide subjects, which abide, frequent, converse, remain, inhabit, & passe, aswel by sea as by land, into ye parts of Brabant , Flanders, Henault, Holland , Zeland, and divers other countreis & seigneuries belonging aswell to the high and mighty prince, our most deere and loving cousin ye Duke of Burgoine, of Brabant , earle of Flanders, &c. as being in the obedience & dominion of other lords, which are in friendship, alliance, & good wil with us: and that it is to be doubted that through the saide inconvenience and occasion, many discommodities may ensue & fal out in time to come (which God forbid) unles we should provide convenient remedie in this behalfe for our subjects aforesaid: wherefore we desiring most effectually and heartily to avoide the mischiefe of the saide inconveniences & to provide convenient remedy for the same, to the end that the said common marchants and mariners and others our subjects of our said realms & dominions, which at this present & hereafter shal haunt and frequent ye said countreis, may be justly & lawfully ruled, governed, and intreated by right & equity in the countreis aforesaid, and that equity, reason, & justice may be ministred unto them and every of them, according as the cases shal require, we being wel assured and having ful confidence, in the discretion, faithfulnes, wisdome, experience, & good diligence of our most deare & wellbeloved subject Will. Obray our servant, & in regard of the good, faithfull, and acceptable services, which he hath done us in our realm & among our subjects in times past, & hoping that he wil do also hereafter, we have made, ordained, constituted, committed, and established, and by the tenour of these presents, of our special grace, ful power, & authority royall, we ordaine, appoint, commit, and establish, (during our pleasure) to be governor, judge, warden of justice, and the appurtenances & appendances therof, which we have or may have over our said common subjects the marchants travailing hereafter as wel by sea as by land, and abiding in the said countries of Brabant , Flanders, Henault, Holland , Zeland, and other countreis beyond the sea, as is aforesaide, together with the wages, rights, profits, and emoluments heretofore accustomed, & as the said Will. Obray at other times hath had and received of our said subjects, when he had, used, and exercised the said office of governor, and also with other such rights and profits, as hereafter shal more plainly be declared. And furthermore for our parts we have given him, and by these presents do give him, as much as in us lieth, during our pleasure, ful power, authority, and special commandement, to governe, rule, and cause to be governed and ruled with good justice by himselfe, or by his sufficient lieuetenants or deputies, all and every our foresaid subjects the common marchants & mariners comming, remaining, frequenting, passing, & repairing from henceforth into the said countreis of Brabant , Flanders, Henault, Holland , Zeland, and other countreyes beyond the sea, as it is said, and to keep and cause to be kept, to exercise and maintein, for us and in our place, the said office of governour, and to doe all such things which a faithfull governour ought to do, and to take knowledge and administration of the causes of the said common marchants and mariners, our subjects, and of every of them, and of their causes and quarels moved, or hereafter to be moved in the countreis aforesaid, or within the limits & borders therof, and to doe them full & speedy justice. And to reforme, cause reformation, governe, appease, and pacifie all contentions, discords, questions, or debates between those our said subjects moved, or to be moved: and to right, redresse, repaire, restore, and amend all transgressions, domages, enterprises, outrages, violences and injuries committed, or to be committed: and likewise to require, to aske, demand, and receive, restitutions, reparations, restaurations, and amends of our said subjects the common marchants & mariners, or of their factors in the countreis aforesaid. And that, whensoever and as often as it shal please the said governor or his deputies, they may in some convenient and honest place within the said countreis make or cause to be made, somon, and hold in our name jurisdictions, courts, and assemblies: and in our said name take administration and knowledge of causes, as it is aforesaide, and to hold and keepe pleas, for and in our behalfe, and to make agreements, mediatours, and umpires, to judge, to make decrees, and to minister justice, to ordaine, appoint, censure, and constraine our saide subjects to sweare and take all kind of oathes, which order of justice and custome require and affoorde, and to enjoy our authoritie, and to use, execute and accomplish, by way of equitie and justice, and to doe, or cause to be done all execution and exercise of law and justice; and to ordain, appoint, & establish sixe sergeants or under, to doe the executions & arrests of our said court, by the commandement of the said governour or of his deputies, or at the request of the partie or otherwise, according as the case shall require by their advise, and to discharge and displace the said sergeants, as shall seeme good unto him, as often and whensoever as it shall please him, and change them, and appoint and set others in their roomes, and to require returne and answere of the court, whensoever need shal be, of all causes, quarels, and businesses in regard of the said office belonging unto us and to our said subjects the common marchants and mariners at all times, and as often as the case shall permit and require: and generally and specially to doe as much for us and in our stead, in the cases before mentioned, and which hereafter shalbe declared, as we could doe or cause to be done, could say or require, if we were there present in our owne person. Moreover wee will, and by the tenour of these presents wee give and graunt unto the saide governour, and to our saide subjects the common marchants and mariners, that as oft and whensoever it please them, they may meet and assemble in some honest and convenient place, and by the consent of the saide governour to choose and appoynt among them at their pleasure, freely and without danger, certaine sufficient and fit persons to the number of twelve or under, which we wil have to be named Justicers, unto the which Justicers so elected by the saide governour and our saide subjects, as it is said, and to everie of them, we give and graunt especiall power and authoritie to sitte and assist in court, with the said governour or his lieutenants, for their aide and assistance, and to heare the griefs, complaints, and demands of our said subjects their suites, pleas, and the state of their causes and quarels whatsoever moved or to be moved unto the ende of their cause, and at the request of the saide governour, his lieutenants, or any of them, to say, propound, and plainely to expresse and declare their opinions, according to right and conscience, upon the causes brought before them and by the parties uttered and declared, and well, lawfully, and faithfully to counsell and advise the saide governour or his lieutenants, to order and censure, judge and determine, and ende the same justly and equally, according as the case shall permit and require. And furthermore we wil, that all just and reasonable statutes, lawes, ordinances, decrees, and constitutions made and established, or to be made and established, in the countreys aforesaide, by the consent of the said governour, and of the said Justicers, shalbe corrected, amended, and made, as they shall see to bee expedient in this behalfe, for the better government of the estate of the common marchants and mariners our saide subjects, and shalbe held as ratified, firme, acceptable and approved; and from henceforth we accept, admit, allow and approve them for ratified and confirmed, there to be firmely and inviolably observed, kept and obeyed. And also, of our farther favour and grace wee will and we grant, that by the consent of our said governour, our said subjects the common marchants and mariners may make and set downe in the said countreis, by their common consent, as often as they shall thinke good for their better government and estate, such just and reasonable lawes, statutes, ordinances, decrees, constitutions, and customes, as they shal thinke expedient in this behalfe: which we command to be kept as ratified, confirmed, allowed, & approved, available, and established. Provided alwaies, that they do not nor seeke any thing prejudicial to this present power and authoritie given and graunted by us to the saide governour, in any poynt or article heerein comprised, by any meanes or way whatsoever: in which case if they shoulde doe any thing, or ought should happen, we wil that it shal take no place, force, vigour, strength, nor vertue: neither that it shalbe of any effect, but it shalbe abolished, disanulled, and utterly frustrate; and as abolished, disanulled, and utterly frustrated, from this time forward, wee holde and take it, and will hereafter hold and take the same. And so to doe, and put in execution in our name, we have and doe give full and absolute power, & speciall authority to our said servant William Obray, & to his said lieutenants And likewise, to the end that ye course of marchandise may be kept in good estate, and that by order of justice a firme and constant rule may be set downe among those our said subjects and marchants, we have ordained and do ordaine, have consented & doe consent, and by these presents have given & do give ful power & especiall authority to our said servant Will. Obray governour aforesaid, that at al time and times when he shal think good, he may ordaine, elect, chuse, and appoint, in the countreis aforesaid, such ministers, officers, and servitours as hereafter shalbe named, and such others as he shal think necessary, and to discharge them, and to change them, & set others in their roomes, at his good will and pleasure, unto such a number as he shall thinke good and reasonable for the time being to be employed: as namely correctors or brokers as many as he shal thinke good, to make and to witnes the bargaines which are made or to be made, betweene our said subjects and others with whom they shal have to do or to deale in the foresaid countreis: and also as many alnagers to alner and measure al kinds of marchandises which they shal buy or sel by the yard: and also as many weighers to weigh the marchandise which shalbe sold or bought by weight: and also so many folders to fold their clothes, and so many packers to pack their packs, and to make their fardels, maunds, and baskets, and other things needefull for the defence & preservation of their marchandize. Al which ministers, officers, and servitors, so chosen, elected, charged, admitted, and established by the saide governour, as is saide, may take their wages for their paines & attendances upon the said marchants, according to the custome of the said countreis, and as they have bene accustomed to take of the said marchants before these presents by us given and graunted. And hereupon we have given and doe give expresse charge and commandement by us and in our names to all our said subjects common marchants and mariners, and to every of them which shall frequent, come, remaine, passe, repaire, or inhabite within the countreis aforesaid, that they shall not make contract or bargaine, sell or buy, nor shall not cause any contract or bargaine to be made, nor in the said countreis sell or buy any maner of wares, goods, or marchandises, secretley nor openly, by way of fraude, barat, or deceite whatsoever, with any person or persons, of what estate, countrey, or condition soever they be, without he hath some of the said brokers at the bargain making, to present, report, and to testifie the said contracts or bargains before the said governor or others, if need require, and strife or contention should grow therof betweene them: nor to packe or cause to be packed any goods or marchandises belonging unto them, in packs, bales, or fardels, coffers, chests, maunds, dryfats, or rowles, without having some deputy present thereat: nor to take or cause to be taken or set on worke in the said countreis, any other brokers, alnagers, weighers, folders, or packers, then the aforesaid so chosen, admitted, established, and ordained by the saide governor, & hereto authorized in our name, as it is said, under paine of falling into, and incurring of our displeasure, and of forfeiture, and confiscation of all such goods, wares, and marchandises, which shalbe found to have passed by other hands or order, then that or those which are before mentioned: the fourth part of which forfeitures and confiscations shall be imployed to the repairing and maintenance of two chappels founded to the honour of Saint Thomas of Canterburie by our saide subjects, in the townes of Bruges in Flanders, and of Middleborough in Zeland; the other fourth part to us, & our use; the third fourth part to our said cousin of Burgundie, or the natural Lord of the countrey wherein the saide goods shall be found; and the fourth fourth part to him or them, which shall discover, detect, or finde out the saide fraude. And also that none of our said subjects shall unlade or cause to be unladen, under any colour nor otherwise, nor unpacke, in the countreis abovesaide, no kind of wares, goods, nor marchandises whatsoever, which they shall bring or cause to bee brought into the countreyes aforesaide, comming out of our countreyes, dominions, or obeysance, without first and beforehand they make the governour or his deputies acquainted with their arrivall, and crave leave, and deliver, shewe, and declare their cockets, that it may duely appeare, that the saide goods and marchandises have truly and lawfully payde unto us our rights and customes, and not to unpacke them but in the presence of the saide governour, his lieutenants or deputies, upon paine of forfaiture, and confiscation of the saide goods, in maner and forme before declared in the foresaide article. And if it bee found by the visitation of the saide governor, his lieuetenants or deputies, that any goods, wares, or marchandises whatsoever be arrived and discharged in the countreis aforesaid, belonging to our saide subjectes, not lawfully customed and acquited towarde us of our right and custome, for which they cannot nor are not able to make any due proofe of our letters of coquet, as is metioned, or if they finde any other fraud: we will, we ordaine, and we grant, that the sayd governour, his lieutenants or deputies may seaze upon the sayd goods on our behalfe, and may confiscate and forfeit the same, distributing the same into foure parts in maner aforesayd. And also wee will, that every one of the sayd packes, fardels, baskets, maunds, cofers, tunnes, bales, roules, and other furnitures and geare, wherein the sayd marchandises shalbe packed, to be sent out of the said countreis, shall not be laden upon ships, carts, nor horses, to come into our dominion, without being first sealed with a seale ordayned by us and given by the sayd governour, upon paine to be forfayted, applyed, and confiscated to us and into our hand, if they be found unsigned and not sealed with the seale. And for every piece of marchandise which shall be sealed with the sayd seale, they shall pay to the sayd sealer two pence of grosse money of Flanders, which shall goe to the profite of the sayd governour. And forasmuch as according to right and conscience, we ought not to use the labour, travels, nor service of any man, without waging, paying, and fully contenting him according to reason and equity, especially when we doe appoint any person or persons to doe or cause to be done so great travels, labours, busines, and executions, as these which are contayned in this present charter, aswell for the benefit and profit of us and our selves, as for the holesome, perfect, & good government of our sayd subjects: we by the good advise and deliberation of the sayd lords of our privie counsell, have granted and given, and as before, doe grant and give, of our sayd grace, to the sayd William Obray our sayd servant and governour abovenamed, during our pleasure, for part of his wages and fee of the sayd office, one pennie of our money of England of the value of a liver of grosse money of Flanders, upon al and singuler the goods, wares and marchandises of our sayd subjects frequenting the sayd countreis, to be levyed, gathered, received, and payed unto the sayd William Obray, or to his deputies, upon the sayd wares and marchandises belonging unto our sayd subjects buying and selling, or which they shall cause to sell, buy, put away, trucke or exchange in the countreys abovesaid, aswell of the goods and marchandises which they shall bring or cause to be brought into the sayd countries, as of all other goods which they shall lade and carie, or cause to bee caried and conveyed out of those countreis into our dominion or elsewhere into any other part whatsoever. And to cause the same to be gathered, received, leavied and payed, we have given, and by these presents doe give full power and speciall authoritie unto the sayd William Obray, and to his lieutenants and deputies aforesayd, to leavy, gather, and cause to bee leavied and received the sayd money, in forme and maner above mentioned, to his profite and use, during our pleasure: and to enjoy and use the same as his proper goods, without any contradiction, constraining and arresting if neede bee, as well on land, as on the water, our said subjects, their sayd goods, and every of them, by way of law and justice, and to cause them to yeelde and pay the sayd money, upon the said goods and marchandises, as is aforesayd. For such is our pleasure, and so will we have it done without contradiction or impeachment to him and his, during our pleasure. And also we will that the sayd William Obray, over and above that which is sayd, shall take, gather, and receive of our sayd subjects from henceforth yearely, during our pleasure, all such and like wages and profits, as he had and received of our sayd subjects, in the yeare 1458, when hee held and exercised the said office of governour, without diminishing or rebating any thing thereof, notwithstanding this present augmentation made, increased, and done unto him, of our grace and favour: and that hee shall gather, take, and receive the same in such forme and manner, as the other money above mentioned is to be gathered. And to the ende that the sayd William Obray may have and take possession, season, and enterance of the said office of governour in our name we have and doe place him, by the delivery of these presents, in possession, season, and entrance of the said office, and of the rights, profits, stipends, wages, and moneis aforesayd, to begin to exercise the sayd office of governour in our name, the first day of May next ensuing after the date of these presents, for the sayd William Obray to hold and exercise, practise and use the same, during our pleasure, with the sayd wages, moneys, rights, and profites above mentioned, without any contradiction or impeachment. And all and singular our subjects the common marchants and mariners, which shall be contrary, rebellious, and disobedient to the said governour so ordayned by us, to his said lieutenants, to the sayd justicers so chosen, or to any of them, or to any of the statutes, lawes, decrees, sentences, ordinances, and customes, offices, gifts, and grants abovesayd, let them grievously be punished by the sayd governour or his lieutenants, in this behalfe, according to the quantity of their offences, and the exigencie of the cases. We doe sommon, commaund, straitly and expresly enjoine by these presents all and every our saide subjects, that unto the sayd governour so by us ordained, to his lieutenants, attorneis, or deputies, and also to the said justicers, officers, and ministers, in all and everie the things aforesaid, and others any waie concerning in this behalfe our said ordinances, their government and rule, the circumstances and dependances theron that they give their attendance, counsayle, comfort, obedience, and aide, diligently without fault or difficulty, surely, safely, fully and peaceably: without doing, inferring, or inflicting, or suffering to be done, inferred, or inflicted to them or any of them in body or goods, any disturbance or impeachment, in any maner whatsoever: but rather if any thing bee done unto them contrary and to the prejudice of these presents, they shall remove and cause the same to be remooved, and that which shall be hindered they shall set at free deliverance, upon payne to fall into and to incurre our high displeasure. For such is our pleasure and so will wee have it, notwithstanding anie letters falsely crept in, obtayned, or to be obtayned contrary hereunto. And you our subjects, the common marchants and mariners, so behave your selves, that you may receive commendation of us for your good obedience, knowing that such as shall be found doing or to have done the contrary, we will see them so punished without redemption, that they shall bee an example to all rebellious persons. We pray and most instantly require in the ayde of equitie, all others our friends, allies, and well-willers, aswell princes and potentates, as their justicers, officers, lieutenants, deputies, commissaries, and subjects, and every of them, in regard of equitie; that they would vouchsafe, and that it would please them to give, doe, and lend comfort, ayde, assistance, and prisons if neede require, to our sayd governour, his lieutenants, commissaries, deputies, justicers, & others our officers and ministers aforesayd: and herein wee pray them on our behalfe, and in our owne name. And it may please them herein to doe so much, that we may have occasion to thanke them, and to accompt our selves beholding for the same: and as they would that we should do for them in the like matter, or in a greater: which we will willingly doe, if we be required thereunto by them. In witnesse whereof we have caused these our letters to bee made patents. Witness our selves at Westminster , the sixteenth of April, in the second yere our reigne.

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