The Royal Charter
Hull was given 35 royal charters between 1299 and 1688, which the Corporation possesses; There may be another five charters, which, appear to have been granted, but the Corporation does not possess the originals nor copies. The date of the latest of these is 1597.
This is the first of those Charters.
Edward, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine, to all Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Priors, Earls, Barons, Justices, Sheriffs, and Provosts, greetings.
“Know ye, that to the melioration, betterness, and increase of our town of Kingston upon Hull, and to the further utility and profit of our men of the same, we will and grant, for us and our heirs, that our town aforesaid from henceforth be a free borough, and the men of the town be free burgesses, and have all the liberties, privileges, and free customs belonging to a free borough, for ever; so that the said borough be kept, by some faithful man, by us and our heirs successively to be chosen, who shall be called the Warden of the said borough, and shall take, before the burgesses of the same, a corporal oath upon the Holy Gospels of God that he will most faithfully keep all the liberties, privileges, and immunities, by us to the said borough and burgesses granted, without blame, and will diligently and faithfully perform, and do all those things which to the office of a Warden of the said borough do belong.
“We grant also for us and our heirs, to the said burgesses and their heirs and successors for ever, that the lands and tenements which from henceforth they shall have in the said borough, they may, in their last wills and testaments, dispose of to whomsoever they please.
“That they shall have the return of all writs whatsoever happening in the said, borough, and that no Sheriff, or other our Bailiff or Minister, may enter into the said borough there to execute any writ, brief, or office, upon any of the inhabitants of the said free borough, but in defect of the Warden; and that they shall not impede or be impeded in any other place than the said borough, before the Warden of the same, of any tenures, trespasses, transgressions, or contracts, within the said borough made.
“And also that they the said burgesses and their heirs (by our writs out of Chancery) may and shall choose a Coroner out of themselves, and him shall present to the Warden, before whom he shall take his corporal oath that he will faithfully do and perform those things, to the office of a Coroner in the said borough do belong.
“And moreover we will and grant, for us and our heirs, that a prison be had and made in our said borough, for the safe keeping and chastisement of malefactors, either therein or thereunto taken, upon whom the Warden may give judgment.
“We moreover will and grant, for us and our heirs, that the said burgesses and their heirs, throughout the whole kingdom of our dominions, be for ever quit and free it of all portage, passage, pennage, murage, and all other tolls and customs whatsoever; and that they, the burgesses of the said borough, shall for ever peaceably enjoy all the liberties, customs, and freedoms, so often as the said town shall happen to be taxed.
“We also grant, for us and our heirs, to the aforesaid burgesses, that they and their heirs for ever shall have two markets in a week, within the town aforesaid, to be kept in the places by us to be named and appointed, the one to be held upon every Tuesday, and the other upon every Friday; with one fair every year, to continue thirty days, to wit, from the day of St. Austin, after Easter, by twenty-nine days next following, unless that those markets and this fair happen to be to the prejudice of any of the neighboring markets or fairs.
“And do further add, will, and command, for us and our heirs, that our town aforesaid, from henceforth for ever, be a free borough, and the men of the same, free burgesses; and have all the liberties, privileges, and free customs belonging to a free borough for ever.”
This charter was signed by the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, the Earl of Lincoln, and other nobles. And thus did Hull become a free borough. In the same year that the charter was granted, the harbor was finished, or rendered more perfect for the reception of ships.