Charter of Bideford - c.1204 (undated)
Transcribed by David Carter
Let all men that are present and to come, know that I Richard the son of Richard of GRENVILE, have granted and confirmed, for me and my heirs forever, the writing of Richard of GRENVILLE, my grandfather, made to the Burgesses of Bideford, in these words: Let all men that are present and to come, know, that I Richard de GRENVILE have granted, and by this my present writing confirmed, to all those who do or shall hold a burgage within the town of Bideford, as well as on the east part of the water of the Torridge, as on the west part, all liberties of Britolia, as far as in my power doth lie, to defend to them and to whomever they shall assign, to be holden and had of me, and of my heirs for ever; that is to say, in such manner, that every one holding one messuage or a garden with six acres of land abroad of my lordship, shall pay for the same on the feast of St. Michael, to me or my bailiff, in the town of Bideford, twelve pence; and he that holds one messuage with an orchard only, shall yield to me for the same sixpence the same day, for all services and exactions, excepting only homage. And if it happen that any of the aforesaid burgesses shall make default, or offend in any thing in my court, they shall for sixpence be clearly discharged thereof. And if they will wage law, they shall do it with their hands. And I have also granted to the said burgesses common of pasture with their beasts throughout, one on the west part of the river Torridge, where, in the time of Richard my father, they were wont to common: And that every one may give or sell his burgage, or otherwise alienate, saving to me and my heirs the rent of assize of every such burgage: And that every one for his or their burgage against me and my heirs, shall pay for a release twelve pence and no more. And I have also granted to the aforesaid burgesses of Bideford, toward the enlarging of the liberties aforesaid, that they shall do suit to my court from month to month, or for a shorter time, upon reasonable warning, on Tuesday: And that the portreeve of the town be at the court to shew forth the attachments and plaints belonging to the lord, as it hath been used and accustomed. And I have also granted that all the burgesses of Bideford, and every of them, in fairs and markets throughout all my lands, town, and waters, they shall be quiet and free from all toll, custom, censary, or stallage, to be given to me or to any of mine. And on the Tuesday next after the feast of St. Michael, all the aforesaid burgesses shall come to my aforesaid court (except those of whom it shall be faithfully testified that they are beyond the sea, or on pilgrimage, or in doing their affairs and merchandizing without the country): And then they shall chuse one burgess to be head officer; and the same head officer shall have, throughout the year, toll and censary of the town by land and water, to the year's end for ten shillings to me to be paid, saving to me and my heirs the toll of my market on the Monday. And for this my grant and confirmation, the aforesaid burgesses of Bideford have given to me four marks of silver. And this my present writing, with the impression or print of my own seal I have made effectual for ever, these being witnesses, Sir Richard COFFIN, Richard of SPEKCOT, knights, Peter of Halsberry, Richard SNELLARD, Wellan DAKE, Osbert of Bury, Richard of Kokematon, and many others.
To this charter is appended a circular seal in green wax on which is a heater-shaped shield charged with the GRANVILLE arms, the inscription surrounding it being "SIGIL RIC DE GRENVILE."
[This undated Charter originally written in Latin, is translated and transcribed in full in Rev. GRANVILLE’s History of the GRENVILLE family (pages 32 & 33), published 1895].