England in the Fifteenth Century

By W. Denton | Go to book overview

NOTE B.
THE STATUTE OF LABOURERS.

(At pages 219, 239.)

Wages were regulated, and the price at which goods might be sold was settled in the manor court or by the assize of towns before parliament interfered with their adjustment. The copy of the ordinance or act of parliament of the twenty-second year of Edward III., as it stands in the statutes of the realm, was sent by the king to the sheriff of Kent, and is addressed to "William, by the grace of God Archbishop of Canterbury." This name in the old printed copies of the statute, or by whatsoever name it may be called, merely reads "W. Archiepō Cantuarie," which in the Record edition is expanded into "William," but as no one named "William" was seated in the chair of Canterbury for 112 years before the death of Islip in April, 1366, and no archbishop named "William" until about twenty years after, before which acts and ordinances in confirmation of their statutes had been in operation, it is clear that neither in one case nor in the other could William be the right Christian name of the archbishop to whom it was addressed. It is true that thirtyfive years before the Black Death raged, and in the previous reign, "Walter," Bishop of Worcester, had been translated to the archbishopric, and that seventeen years after the date of the Black Death William Edington had been nominated in succession to Simon Islip; but as Islip did not die until 1366, and as even then Edington, who was within a few weeks of his own death, refused to be translated to Canterbury, neither of these could have been meant. Since the address to "William, Archbishop of Canterbury," is within brackets, as though no part of the original draft of proclamation, it has been conjectured that this is in its operative part an ordinance of Fitz Ailwine, who was mayor or bailiff of London in the time of Richard I., and that this ordinance, which at first had force only in the city, when adopted by the king was extended to the whole kingdom. When, in 1349, it first appears as a statute or ordinance for regulating the wages of labourers, this distinction between an act of parliament and a royal proclamation was not generally recognized, and this ordinance is clearly a royal proclamation, not a statute of the legislature. It is addressed to the archbishop or to the sheriffs of counties who were "bidden to have it publicly proclaimed in the cities, boroughs, market towns, seaports, and other places within their bailiwicks."

There was a necessity for this variation in what is now the constitutional arrangement as to bills before parliament. The writs for the summoning of parliament had appointed the first day of January, 1349,

-311-

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England in the Fifteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I 127
  • Chapter II 197
  • Chapter III 257
  • Note A. Weight of Cattle, Etc 309
  • Note B. the Statute of Labourers 311
  • Note C. Allowance of Food for Farm Servants 317
  • Note D 318
  • Index 321
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