Transcribing a few pages of York’s Wardmote Court Book every morning is my daily treat (sad, I know!) The bulk of the surviving 16th-century records run from 1575 to 1586, and now that I’m picking up speed, I’ve made it as far as 1583. I’ve just finished working through the records from the Walmgate ward court held in April that year, and they offer – I think – a fascinating snapshot of life in the city then. Here are a few of the entries to give a flavour of what was going on in York early in 1583.
A widow (uxor) Brayton and Richard Long were both fined 20s for keeping aiding ‘evell company’ and vagabonds in their houses.
Cuthbert Robinson was fined 10s for ‘harboring naughty persons in his house’.
Alderman Beckwith (Hawise’s master in Time’s Echo) and three other men were fined for leaving tar barrels lying around in the street.
John Browning was fined 10s for shooting a gun and killing pigeons. (The only mention of a gun in these records – I’m sure there’s a story here!)
Four women in Swinegate were had up for buying up ‘butter, eggs and chese and such like victualls’ in the market and then selling them on.
Cuthbert Vause, Charles Wilcock and Leonard Robinson were fined 5s each for putting dead horses in Noghtgale Lane, which was a great nuisance to everyone.
Henry Smyth, Mrs Cartmell, William Nicholson, Robert Palliser and all the inhabitants living near Trinity Hall (now better known as the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall) had been blocking the Foss with ‘filth and dong’.
William Plowman was told to clean the gutter that ran through his house in Jubbergate before Midsummer. He had also been putting ‘dog dong’ at his back door, which he was was to take away or face a 6s 8d fine.
Miles Fell (another familiar name from Time’s Echo) and Ralph Burton were ordered to get rid of the timber they had lying in Fishergate.
Robert Thomson, Richard Newby, the merchant William Scott, William Fresby, Marmaduke Wyman and Robert Clark had all been trapping doves, and were told to pull down their traps or face a 10s fine.
William Webster was to pave in front of his house before Lammas, while the widow Spencer, ‘dwelling in a part of the same house’ was told to mend the pentice, or canopy, over her window by the same time.