Legislation

Regarding the supplication given in to our sovereign lord and the three estates of parliament by the commissioners of burghs of this realm, making mention that, through circumvention of our said sovereign lord now in his less-age, there was an alleged contract made by Alexander Muir and Sir James Coates regarding the staple of merchants of this realm to be had in the town of Middelburg, which is expressly against the common welfare of this realm and devastation, harm and destruction of the burghs and merchants of the same, as is openly known to our said sovereign lord and estates; and by similar circumvention there is a confirmation made of the said contract under the great seal, with other writings under the said seal, as at more length is contained in the same; desiring, therefore, that our said sovereign lord and three estates foresaid declare in this present parliament if they consented to the said confirmation and letters given thereupon or not, and to consider the great damage and harm that might fall to his realm and lieges through occasion of the said staple at the said town of Middelburg, as is contained in the said supplication at more length. Our sovereign lord and three estates foresaid, after long disputation, argument and reasons produced and shown in the said matter, and understanding that the said contract and confirmation reflects without equivocation to his grace's dishonour, the great hurt of his realm, merchants and burghs of the same, and willing them to enjoy all liberty and freedom unconstrainedly or unforced in his time as they have enjoyed in the time of his most noble progenitors of good mind, whom God absolve, therefore, his highness, with the advice and consent of his three estates as is said, has annulled and discharged, and annuls, discharges and declares the said contracts made by the said Alexander Muir and Sir James Coates with the people of Middelburg, binding the staple and residence of the merchants of Scotland to be at the said town, with confirmation and all that followed thereupon, to be of no value, force nor effect in time to come for these reasons following. In the first, the said contracts allegedly made by the said Alexander and Sir James were and are of no value because the commission granted to them thereto, if they had any, was given by John [Stewart], duke of Albany, then governor of this realm, without the advice of the three estates, which might not restrain our sovereign lord or his realm in no manner of way and at the furthest, except during the time of his governance, which contract in that time never came to effect or to execution following hereupon and, therefore, is of no value. Secondly, the said contract restrains our sovereign lord, his lieges and their goods to [Charles V, the Holy Roman] Emperor's jurisdiction, although our sovereign lord and his most noble progenitors have ever been free and emperors within themselves, not subject to any earthly creature under God in their temporality. Thirdly, the said contract obliges the merchants, masters and mariners to come with their ships and goods to the harbour and port of Middelburg under the pain of forfeiture of their ships and all their goods, supposing that by storm of weather or trouble of men of war the said ships may in emergencies be driven or chased to other ports, and so might lose their ships and goods by all reason and conscience. Fourthly, the said contract bears that of the ships and goods so escheated, the third part thereof shall pertain to our sovereign lord and ordains him by his procurators to pursue his own lieges for the same before the emperor's private or great council, which is a great derogation to his honour and prejudice to his grace and realm. And finally, the said contract is clearly understood to be contrary to the honour of our said sovereign lord, the freedom and privilege of his crown, the common welfare of his realm, burghs, lieges and merchants and, therefore, declares the same from the beginning and in time to come, with the confirmation and all that followed thereupon, to be of no value, strength or vigour, and with the authority of parliament grants full licence, freedom and liberty to all merchants of this realm to pass with their ships and goods in merchandise where they think most profitable and can be best traded in all times coming, and letters of proclamation to be directed hereupon in such form as is appropriate.

Item, because of the great repair in Edinburgh through the restoring of our sovereign lord, his lieges and other strangers, and it is necessary that they be provided with bread, of good and sufficient quality, therefore it is statue and ordained that there be three market days weekly for selling bread within the said town, that is to say Monday, Wednesday and Friday weekly, upon which days it shall be lawful for all our sovereign lord's lieges, both in burgh and to land, to come upon the said market days to the said town and sell their bread for ready money without trouble or injuries to be done to the persons coming with their bread to the effect foresaid.

Item, it is statute and ordained similarly that there be three market days weekly in the said town [of Edinburgh] for selling butcher-meat, that is to say Sunday, Monday and Thursday weekly. All manner of persons, both to burgh and to land, shall be free to come and sell butcher-meat for ready money for the furnishing of our sovereign lord and his lieges and others repairing to the said town.

Item, forasmuch as it was statute and ordained of before that no tallow should be had out of the realm for the eschewing of dearth of the same, nonetheless the tallow is carried out in great quantity, which has raised excessive dearth in the country, putting the stone of tallow to double the price it was before or above; therefore, it is statute and ordained in this present parliament that no person or persons take upon hand in time to come to carry any tallow out of the realm under the pain of forfeiture of all their goods movable who come in contrary hereof, and that all customs officers at every port of the realm where ships are freighted appoint searchers to search and seek all ships, and where any tallow is shipped or brought to the ships to be carried out of the realm, to escheat the same, that is to say, the one half to their own use who apprehends the tallow and the other half to our sovereign lord's use; and that the customs officers make account yearly hereupon in the exchequer and also that they advertise our sovereign lord's treasurer of the owners of such tallow escheated so that he may bring in the rest of their goods movable to our sovereign lord's use for their contempt; and similarly, that no manner of man, butcher or others to burgh or to land take upon hand to rind, melt or barrel tallow under the pain of forfeiture of all their goods.

Item, forasmuch as diverse wicked, ill-inclined persons forge and counterfeit our sovereign lord's money, which may return to the great damage of this realm unless remedy thereof be provided in time, therefore it is statute and ordained that all provosts, aldermen, bailies and burgh officers search and seek upon all market days and other times necessary all persons that can be apprehended having false money or counterfeits the king's coining irons, and bring or send them to our sovereign lord's justice to be justified for their demerits after the form of the laws of the realm made against false coiners.

Item, regarding the article given in by the burgh commissioners making mention of the great inconvenients committed by Henry Bardner, indweller in Leith, by way of piracy and as a sea thief, and what trouble may fall to the merchants of this realm for his deeds, of which he is convicted by an assize, it is devised, statute and ordained by the estates temporal in this present parliament that the provost and bailies of Edinburgh execute justice upon the said Henry after the form of the doom given against him as an example to others who commit such inconvenients.

Item, it is statute and ordained in this present parliament that justice ayres be held universally through the realm for the staunching of inconvenients and punishing of trespassers so that our sovereign lord's true lieges may live in peace and tranquility in time to come, and to begin in Fife on 14 January next to come, and from there to Dundee, Kincardine, Aberdeen and so north through every shire to Inverness, and thereafter to begin on this side of the water of Forth at such parts as shall be seen most expedient by our sovereign lord and the lords being with him for the time, and to pass through every shire of the realm for the welfare of the same; and presently discharges all commissions of justiciary granted and given to whomsoever persons within the realm for that, all criminal causes which are to be decided before our sovereign's justice having passage before him and his deputies and in no other way; and that our sovereign lord be personally present at the holding of the said justice ayres if it please his grace; and that [James Stewart], earl of Moray be justice general in all the bounds of his lieutenantry and with all profits granted to him in his commission with the advice of the treasurer; and that no justice ayres be held in any part unless our sovereign lord and his justice be present.

  1. NAS, PA2/8, I, f.44r-45r.
  2. NAS, PA2/8, I, f.45r.
  3. NAS, PA2/8, I, f.45r.
  4. NAS, PA2/8, I, f.45r-45v.
  5. NAS, PA2/8, I, f.45v.
  6. NAS, PA2/8, I, f.45v.
  7. NAS, PA2/8, I, f.45v-46r.