The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset
by John Hutchins:

(3rd Edition published 1868)

Transcribed by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester - May 2010



The Charters of Dorchester
Confirming the liberties and privileges granted to the burgesses of the town
Pages 349-350

"A Charter", of confirmation of their liberties and privileges was granted to the burgesses 2 Rich. III.(1) [Note:- John Hutchins does not give the actual date or any other details of this charter but the 2nd year of the reign of Richard III ran from 26th June 1484 to 25 June 1485].

1 Hen. VII. (2) the fee-farm of this borough was directed to be paid into the Exchequer towards the expenses of the royal wardrobe.(3)

Certain liberties and fairs were granted 1 Eliz (4 & 5)

Sept. 1, 8 James I.(6) (1610) the manor and borough were granted to Henry Prince of Wales. The King had previously, in the same year, 1610, June 26th, granted letters patent regulating the government of the borough, and appointing two bailiffs and fifteen burgesses, styled the capital burgesses and councellors of the borough, out of which the bailiffs were to be chosen; and gave them power to choose a recorder, who was allowed to have a deputy. The magistrates were John Gold, sen., Bernard Toup, bailiffs; Lodowick Duke of Richmond, steward; Sir Francis Ashley, recorder; Henry Whittle, Richard Blachford, John Spicer, Nicholas Vauter, John Perkins, William Whiteway, Edmund Dashwood, Richard Bushrod, William Joliff, Dennis Bond, John Hill, John Blachford.(7)

King Charles I. in the fifth year of his reign (1629) granted them a new charter, declaring them a free borough, and body corporate and politic, by the name of the mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses of the borough of Dorchester, to be capable of purchasing and receiving lands, &c. of pleading and being impleaded in any court, and to have a common seal; one of the burgesses to be chosen mayor, two burgesses bailiffs, six burgesses aldermen, and also six other burgesses inhabitants within the borough, which fifteen shall be called capital burgesses, who shall choose, from time to time, as many burgesses freemen, inhabiting or not inhabiting the borough; the bailiffs, aldermen, and capital burgesses shall be called the common council, and be assistant to the mayor; the mayor, &c. or the major part of them, whereof the mayor, or his predecessor, shall be one, may make laws, let lands, impose fines, &c.; Francis Ashley, knt. John Gould, Richard Blachford, John Perkins, William Whiteway, sen. Edmund Dashwood, William Jolyff, Bernard Toop, Dennis Bond, John Hill, John Blachford, James Gould, William Whiteway, jun.. William Derby, Richard Savage, inhabitants and freemen, to be the first fifteen capital burgesses during their lives, unless in the mean time they shall be removed for ill behaviour, or for not inhabiting within the said borough; John Perkins to be the first mayor; William Jolyff and William Derby the two first bailiffs; John Gould, Richard Blachford, John Perkins, William Whiteway, sen. Edmund Dashwood, and William Jolliff the first aldermen, during their lives, unless in. the mean time they shall be removed for ill behaviour, or for not inhabiting within the said borough; the mayor, bailiffs, &c. shall yearly, on Monday after St. Michael's day, in the townhall, &c. choose another of the capital burgesses to be mayor for the next year; two capital burgesses to be chosen, in like manner, bailiffs for one year; if the mayor die, or be removed in the year, the bailiffs, aldermen, and capital burgesses, or the major part, shall elect another capital burgess into that office; if a bailiff, alderman, or capital burgess die, or be removed, the mayor, &c. shall have power to choose another as before; if any be elected mayor, &c. and refuse to take upon him the office, the mayor, &c. shall commit him to the prison of the borough, and fine him; Francis Ashley, knt. serjeant at law, to be the first recorder; on his death, or removal, the mayor, &c. to choose another, during pleasure; William Derby to be the first common clerk; on his death, or removal, another to be chosen, during pleasure; a court of record be held every three weeks, on Monday, before the mayor, recorder, common clerk, &c. to hold pleas, &c. not exceeding £40 to arrest persons, &c.; the mayor, his last predecessor, the recorder, the bailiffs, and one of the capital burgesses, to be nominated by the mayor, &c. justices of the peace; no justice of peace of the county, or labourer, or artificer, to act within the borough; they were to have a prison, and two serjeants at mace, with maces gilt, or silver, adorned with the arms of England; no merchant, artificer, &c. unless he be a free burgess or inhabitant, shall exercise any art, nor shall have any shop or standing, to vend any wares, &c. except at fairs or markets, on pain of forfeiture, &c.; the mayor. &c. to have to their proper use, goods and chattels of felons, &c. ; all forfeitures, fines, and tolls of the market in the borough, shall belong to the mayor; the inhabitants of the borough are constituted a body corporate or politic, by the name of the governor, assistants, and freemen, who shall be capable of purchasing and receiving lands in fee, goods, &c. granting and assigning the same, pleading, and being impleaded in any court; to have a common seal; to constitute a governor of the freemen; and twenty-four of the freemen to be chosen, called the common council of the freemen, to be assistants to the governor touching their commerce; the governor and four assistants to be chosen out of the twenty-four by the freemen, and five other assistants by the mayor out of the capital burgesses; to hold four courts yearly, to admit any men to the liberty of the borough, and four other courts yearly to consult concerning the markets; the governor and assistants to make laws for the good government of the markets, and all societies of arts, mysteries, and of all merchants and artificers, &c. to fine delinquents, .&e.; the governor to be chosen yearly, on the Monday after Michaelmas Day, by the freemen; John Long to be the first; Robert Coker, William Perkins, John Long, Henry Derby, Edward Dashwood, Richard Bury, Thomas Blachford, Robert Napier, &c. the first twenty-four of the common council, during life; the governor, &c. to choose a clerk, a receiver, and one or two beadles; all liberties, privileges, lands, &c. ever enjoyed by their predecessors, by former charters, or by any right of prescription, though disused, or forfeited, are confirmed; all markets, fairs, liberties, &c. granted to the mayor, &c.

Mr. Coker, speaking of this charter, says, "Of late they have purchased a corporation, which, for want of renewing, was long sithence lost, and are governed by fifteen capital burgesses, whereof one mayor, one justice, two bailiffs, were chosen out of men who were precedents for severe government and administring justice, but are not free from many censures for it to this day."(8)

14 James I. (9) the borough and fee-farm rent of 20 per annum thence were granted to Prince Charles; and the same year the manor and vill were granted to Francis Bacon, knt. &c. In Hutchins's time the manor of the borough, and toll of the markets and fairs, on the payment of the old fee-farm rent of £20 was vested in the corporation, which rent was granted to Philip Lord Hardwicke afterwards Viscount Royston and Earl of Hardwicke, and is enjoyed by his descendant the present Earl of Hardwicke. The bailiffs of this borough for time immemorial before, and the mayors since the charter of 5 Charles I. were accustomed to exercise the office of coroner within the borough, and sometimes the corporation elected a person to execute the office; the corporation had also the service, execution, and return of all the King's writs, processes, and precepts, and the fees for arrests, bails, executions, &c. and the summonses, extracts, and precepts of the Exchequer within the borough, which was granted and confirmed to them by that charter. The bailiffs of the borough were first chosen in the time of Edward II.
Sources from Hutchins, and Genealogical Notes:-
(1). Carta confirmationis libertatum et privileg' burgensibus vill. de Dorchest'. Original. 2 R. III. rot. 28, 29.
(2). The 2nd year of the riegn of Henry VII ran from 22 Aug 1486 to 21 Aug 1487
(3). Rot. Parl. vi. 304.
(4). Libertates et ferræ concessæ, 3 pars Original. 1 Eliz. rot. 124.
(5). The first year of the reign of Elizabeth I ran from17 Nov 1558 to 16 Nov 1559
(6). The 8th year of the reign of James I ran from 24 March 1609/10 to 23 March 1610/11
(7). Willis, Notit. Parl. vol. ii, p. 414
(8). Pp. 69,70
(9). 14th year of the reign of James I ran from 24 march 1615/6 to 23 March 1616/17

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