Laudable Customs of LONDON.63

Laudable Customs of LONDON.

of his Treatise of wise Ulysses his Adventures, remembring his Travel into sundry Nations and Cities:

Die mihi Musa virum captæ post tempora Troiæ,
Qui mores hominum multorum vidit & urbes.

The Sense whereof may be well expressed in English, without Rhime, thus:

All Travellers do gladly report great Praise of Ulysses:
For that he knew many Mens Manners, and saw many Cities.

Which Opinion of their Policy and Experience conceived and approved by the noble Princes of this Land in all Ages, doth evidently appear by the Manner of their Government; whereat Strangers do no less envy than admire, seeing so populous a City, containing by true Estimation, more than 500 Thousands of all Sorts of Inhabitants, managed not by cruel Viceroys, as is Naples or Milain, neither by proud Podestà, as be most Cities in Italy, or insolent Lieutenants or Presidents, as are sundry Cities in France, ( whose Presidents are Noblemen or Captains, having their Persons environed with a Guard of Soldiers, and holding their Cities possessed with a Garrison, as well in the quietest Calm of Peace, as in the hottest Combustion of War:) But by a Man of Trade, or a meer Merchant; who notwithstanding, during the Time of his Magistracy, carrieth himself with that honourable Magnificence in his Port, and Ensigns of Estate, that the Consuls, Tribunes, or Pretors of Rome, namely, when the same was reduced to a Monarchy, much less the Podestà of any City in Italy, never bear the like Representation of Dignity: And that, not only in peaceable Seasons, but in Time of greatest War: For such Credit the Princes of this Land have still reposed in their Fidelity and wise Direction, that we have few Examples in any Chronicle, of any Nobleman or other, appointed to assist the Lord Maior in his Government; much less to be sole Ruler or Lieutenant for the Time, were the State never so troublesome, and the Affairs of never so great Consequence and Importance.

Lord Maiors.

And to add a little more in Proof of the singular good Conceit had of their Service to the Commonwealth: and that the same hath in all Ages from the Conquest, given them Prerogative above other Cities of this Land, we read in the seventh Year of Henry the Sixth, that in a nativo habendo, brought by the Lord to recover his Villain, it was adjudged a good Return made by the Sheriff of London, that such was the Custom of London, that a Villain having remained there the Space of one whole Year and a Day, could not be fetched or removed out thence. For so great is the Prerogative of that Place, that it giveth Protection to the Villain or Bondman against his Lord, while the said Bondman shall be resiant there. Likewise it was taken for a good Custom in the City of London, that no Attaint should be maintained for a supposed false Verdict given in that City. In the which Case, the Sheriff of London made Return upon a Writ of Attaint, sued against a Londoner, that such was, and had been always the Custom of the City, that no Attaint sued against any Commoner, or other Citizen of the same; for which Cause, he might not salvis Libertatibus, without Impeachment of their Liberties, serve or execute the Writ. Then was there a Writ directed out of the Chancery to the Justices of the King's Bench, with express Commandment to allow to the Maior, Sheriffs, and Citizens, all their Liberties, Immunities, and Customs; and farther, out of that Writ was a Venire facias, directed to the Maior and Sheriffs, whereby was Day given them to come and make Declaration of their Custom. At which Day the Parties, Plaintiff and Defendant, being present, the Maior and Sheriffs had full Allowance of their Customs: The Sheriffs were holden excused for their Return, and the Parties Writ was abated, and himself punished by Imprisonment for his Vexation. I have here at large remembered this Case, to the End it may appear both what Credit, and Opinion of Conscience and Truth the Law ascribed to the Citizens of London; and also how careful and vigilant the Maior and Sheriffs have always been to preserve and uphold their Customs, although sithence that only Custom was for especial Causes abrogated by the Statute of 11. H. 7. and an Attaint given in London. Moreover, we find it recorded in M. 2. E. 3. That whereas a Citizen of London brought an Appeal of Robbery, and the Defendant would have tryed his Innocency by Battaile, as he may in semblable Case against another Man, Wilby, then Justice, answered him, that he was not to have Allowance of Battle in an Appeal commenced by a Citizen of London: For that by Custom of their City, they were exempted from it. The like Appeal was sued P. 20. E. 3. wherein the Defendant made Offer of the same Trial. And although he that sued the Appeal would have joined Battaile, without Regard of this Franchise, the Lord Maior, with the rest of the Corporation, sued a Writ out of the Chancery, reciting their Custom or Franchise, and prayed Allowance of it, in Disturbance of the Battaile, 20. E. 3. Coron. 125.

Honour of London.

7 H. 6. 32.

7 H. 6. 32.

And the same Case was adjudged in 2 E. 3.

11 H. 7. c. 21.

M. 2. E. 3. cor. pl. 157.

P. 20. E. 3. cor. pl. 125.

If a Freeman or Freewoman of London be committed to Ludgate, they are to be excused from the Ignominy of Irons, if they can find Sureties to be true Prisoners, and if the Sum be not above an hundred Pounds. Upon the like Reason is that Custom established for the liberal and midle Imprisonment of the Citizens in Ludgate, whereby they have Indulgence and Favour to go Abroad into any Place by Baston, as we term it, under the Guard and Superintendency of their Keeper, with whom they must return again to the Prison at Night: A Custom verily, tho' quarrelled with by some, and supposed to be the Hinderance and Delay of Justice, and oftentimes a Means to defraud Men of their true Debts and Executions, yet the Ground thereof being well examined, it wanteth not a sound Maintenance in the Course of Reason (as I think.) For the Prescription or Custom is but a Mitigation of the Extremity of their Imprisonment, serving rather for the Expedition of their Discharge, and speedy Satisfaction of their Creidtors, than for any other Purpose: So that this Scope and Licence, in proper Construction and Sense of the Law, cannot be termed an Enlargement or Liberty. For to remain in the material Prison in the Night, and to go forth out of the same in the Day, under the Restraint and Controul of a continual Keeper, is always an Imprisonment, tho' exercised with greater Mildness and Lenity. And divers Causes there are to warrant the same in London rather than in other Places: The one is, for that the City of London standeth chiefly upon the Traffique and Intercourse of Merchants, and the Use of buying and selling of their sundry Commodities, which is not always performed by themselves, but by their Factors and Servants; and oftentimes one Factor or Agent serveth the Turn of many Merchants, whereby he is pressed to sundry and several Accounts. Wherefore, to the End the Prisoners may inform themselves, upon their mutual Reckonings, both what they owe, and