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Help and advice for Bideford: Charter (1575)

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Charter of Bideford - 4th Sept 1575

Transcribed by David Carter

And first the said maior, aldermen, and burgesses of the burrough and town of Bydeford, do covenant and grant, for themselves and their successors, to and with the said Richard Grenvile, his heirs and assigns, by these presents: That the said Richard Grenvile, his heirs and assigns, shall and may peaceably and quietly have, hold, occupie, and enjoy, all and singular such revenues, issues, profits, and commodityes within the said manour, town, and burrough of Bydeford, as the said Richard before the making of the said letters patents, hath lawfully occupied and enjoyed, or of right, of might, have occupied or enjoyed, the said letters patents, or any thing or things therein conteyned notwithstanding, saving and always expected, one yearly rent of ten shillings and sixpence, which the burgesses or inhabitants of the said burrough of Bydeford, by the hands of the portreeve there, have heretofore payd to the said Richard Grenvile, together with the office of a portreeve; which yearly rent of ten shillings and sixpence, together with the office of the title of a portreeve, the said Richard Grenvile, for him and his heirs, doth by these presents give grant and release to the said maior, aldermen, and burgesses of the burrough and town of Bydeford, and to their successors, for ever - And also the said maior, aldermen, and burgesses, do covenant and grant, for themselves and their successors, to and with the said Richard Grenville, his heirs and assigns, that if any revenues, issues, profits, or commodityes, do at any tyme or tymes hereafter arise to the said maior, aldermen, and burgesses, by reason of the said markets, fairs, or of any of the liberties or franchises to them granted by our soveraigne Lady, by her Grace's letters patents, as shall happen to be imployed and bestowed by the said maior, aldermen, and burgesses, as well in reasonable wages and fees, as also in such other matters and things, whereby they, in the right of their corporation, shall be charged, that then the said Richard Grenvile, his heirs and assigns, shall yearly, hereafter for ever, receave and enjoy the moiety of all and singular the said revenues, issues, profits, and commodityes, to his and their only use and behoof. And for the true levying the revenues etc, aforesaid, according to the intent and meaning of these patents, the maior of the said town of Bydeford for the time being, with the assent of the said Richard, his heirs and assigns, shall yearly at the law court, to be holden within the said burrough and town of Bydeford the Munday next before the feast of Simon and Jude, nominate and appoint one sufficient man to be receavor within the said town and burrough, which said receavor shall take a corporal oath to receave the issues and profits arising within the said town and burrough and rightfully belonging to the said maior, aldermen and burgesses, by reason of the letters patents aforesaid, and thereof to make a true accompt before the maior of the said town for the time being. And that the said Richard Grenvile, his heirs and assigns, shall and may from time to time nominate and appoint one honest person to be present and hear the accompt of the said receavor and receavors, if the said Richard, his heirs or assigns, shall so think meet and convenient.
And further, the said maior, aldermen, and burgesses do covenant and grant, for themselves and their successors, to and with the said Richard Grenvile, his heirs and assigns, by these presents, that the maior, aldermen, and burgesses, shall not erect any house, messuage, nor other building, in or upon the premises for or concerning the sayd market or fayres, ro shall grant to paie any wager or other thing touching the said corporation without the assent, advise, or agreement of the said Richard, his heirs or assigns, first had and obtained. And the said Richard Grenvile doth covenant and grant for himself, his heirs and assigns, to and with the said maior, aldermen, and burgesses of the burrough and town of Bydeford, and their successors, by these presents, that the said maior, aldermen, and burgesses, and their successors, for picage, stallage, and standings only concerning the said fayres and markets, for the use of their guildhall, prison, or other convenient room for any prison, or other convenient purpose concerning the corporation, shall and may have the use of a certain house in Bydeford, commonly called the Chappell, being neer the west part of the bridge end there, and of certain land and ground in Bydeford aforesaid, whereon certain lymekilns sometimes stood, and where a key, or wharfe, is now latelie builded; and also of all the streets, lanes, ways, and waste soyle within the said manour, burrough, and town of Bydeford, without any molestation, lett, trouble, suit in law, or vexation of the said Richard Grenvile, his heirs or assings, etc, etc.

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In consequence of this favour from the crown, Bideford rose so rapidly as to become a port of importance at the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's reign. It derived also very considerable benefits from the support of Sir Richard Granville, the active settler of Virginia. That spirited adventurer fixed his residence at Bideford after his return from his expedition, and brought with him an Indian, who was baptized in Bideford church, by the name of Rawleigh, in honour of the brave Sir Walter Rawleigh, Sir Richard Granville's kinsman and companion, on Sunday March 26, 1588. This Indian, however, did not live much above a year after, for he was buried in Bideford churchyard April 7, 1589. He is entered in the parish register as a native of Wynganditoia.

[Taken from: An essay towards a history of Bideford in the County of Devon, by John Watkins, 1792, in Bodlean Library, Oxford]