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The Charter of Henry de Lacy

Know all men present and future that we Henry Lacy, earl of Lincoln and constable of Chester, have given conceded and by this our present charter confirmed for us and our heirs to the free burgesses of Congleton that the aforesaid town shall be a free borough and that our burgesses of the same town have for evermore a merchant gild with all liberties and free customs to a gild of this kind belonging, they shall also have common pasture for all their animals and heards everywhere in the territory of Congleton, and digging, drying, and taking turves and peats everywhere in the turbary of Congleton, and they shall be quit of pannage, however many pigs they may have within the bounds of Congleton, and that, by virtue of a charter of grant and confirmation of liberties to our boroughs which we have from our lord the king, they are absolved for ever through all places of Cheshire whether by land or by water under the guard and protection of us and our heirs with all their merchandise from toll, stallage, passage, pontage, lastage and murage, and from all other impediments which will affect merchandise except from reasonable fines if they do transgress, and that they shall not be impleaded nor judged for any pleas concerning their lands or tenements nor concerning any plea for trespass done within the limits of the town aforesaid without their own proper borough, and that if any of them incur an amercement before judgement by default, twelve pence shall not be exceeded, and, after judgement, a reasonable amercement according to the extent of the offence, and that they grind their corn at our mill of Congleton, on payment of the twentieth grain, so long as the mill is sufficient, and that our burgesses aforesaid may elect for themselves henceforth a mayor and catchpoll and ale-tasters and shall present them in the sitting of our great court on the Tuesday next after the feast of St. Michael and our bailiff shall administer to them an oath of faithful service to their lord and community, also we will and concede for us and our heirs and assigns that the aforesaid burgesses and their heirs and assigns may have and hold peacefully and quietly for even their burgages and the land belonging to their burgages and also the lands which can be approved and let at rent within the lordship aforesaid by the oath of the aforesaid burgesses without damage to their liberties and thier right of common aforesaid, namely, sixpence for each burgage and twelvepence for each acre at the usual rent terms of the said town, and that they make three appearances at our court yearly at fixed times but that if a writ of right is current in our court they shall make suit from fortnight to fortnight for all other services and demands, and that they lawfully sell, give and mortgage, or in anyway alienate at their will their burgages and land aforesaid except to men of religion, and that if the bailifs of the said town take any felon they shall if they will keep him in the stocks for three days and afterwards they shall deliver him to our castle of Halton with the chattles found on him saving to them the fee pertaining to the sergeancy.

And we the aforesaid Henry and our heirs will warrant acquite and defend forever all the aforesaid liberties burgages lands and tenants with the appurtenances and with free usages of the town to the aforesaid burgesses their heirs and their assigns against all men. In witness thereof to this charter we have appended our seal.

John Deyville, William de Vavasour, Robert de Stokeport, Geffry de Chedle, knights, Ranulph de Rode, Gralam de Tibeby, Bertram de Saxby, Vincent de Wombwell, Gervase the clerk, and others.

A copy of the original charter can be found at Congleton town hall.