Bridgwater Heritage Group

Bridgwater Archives
Bridgwater Archives Bridgwater Scientists Lost Bridgwater Friarn Research


List of Charters Granted to the Borough
Believed Compiled by the Town Clerk 11 August 1959

*SHC catalogue numbers added. [ ] additional material added 2012

No. SHC* Date Granted by Contents
1 - 26 June 1200 John Charter granted to William Briwere that Bridgwater be a free Borough and its men free Burgesses with a market and a fair. The original Charter appears to be lost.
2 D\B/bw/38/33 5 March 1318 Edward II Charter of conformation of the Charter granted by King John. This is a small thin parchment document in tatters. Part of the document is missing, but, from various later Charters of inspeximus, its contents are known
3 D\B/bw38/34 17 October 1371 Edward III An inspeximus of Edward II's Charter (part seal still attached).
4 G1121 9 November 1400 Henry IV An inspeximus and confirmation of Charter of Edward III - in good condition with substantial part of seal attached.
5 - 18 June 1468 Edward IV This Charter would appear to be missing but the terms of the Charter are set out in full in the Charter of Henry VIII, dated 8 March 1512. A copy of the latter Charter in the Town Clerk's possession is headed (apparently erroneously) [correctly; PEC] "King Henry VII's confirmation of King Edward IV's Charter". Edward IV's Charter authorises the election of a Mayor for the first time and two Bailiffs. It also provides for a Gild Merchant; a Court every Monday; and the election of a Recorder by the Mayor, Bailiffs and Burgesses. The Mayor and the Recorder were to be Justices of the Peace.
[5a] D\B/bw/1840 [Probably part preliminary version of Charter of 1488]
6 D\B/bw/2386 5 February 1488 Henry VII This is a Charter of inspeximus and confirmation reciting the Charter of Edward IV wherein it is stated that, owing to its then state of decay, certain liberties are granted to the town of Bridgwater with liberty to elect a Steward or Recorder. The Charter is in good condition but the great seal formerly attached to the Charter is missing.
7 - 6 October 1495 Henry VII Not available
8 - 8 March 1512 Henry VIII Not available
9 G1121 10 February 1539 Henry VIII This Charter appears to be confirmatory of letters patent granted by Edward III of 1371 reciting and confirming the earlier Charter granted by Edward II in 1318. This Charter and the seal attached are in very good condition.
10 D\B/bw/38/30 21 May 1554 Mary This Charter has a note attached to it that contains an interesting recital of Corporation property. The Charter is in very good condition but only part of the seal remains.
11 [BTC] 4 July 1587 Elizabeth This is a long Charter containing three large parchment sheets. The seal is in excellent condition. The Charter refers to the election of a Mayor and two Aldermen. This is the first provision for the election of Aldermen and John Mitchell and Robert Blake are named as the first Aldermen to be elected. A Common Council consisting of eighteen Burgesses chosen by the Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen was provided for in this Charter. Appointment of Common Clerk Prothonotary, William Sealy was constituted the first and modern Common Clerk and Prothonotary of the Borough. Power to make Freemen from the free burgesses. Constitution of Court of Record. Sheriff or other officer not to enter the Borough. The Mayor to be Clerk of the Market. Two Market days on Thursday and Saturday and three fairs. A Court of Piepowders to be holden at the times of the Fairs and Markets. Common Clerk of the Borough to be Clerk of the Peace. Inhabitants exempted from serving on County Juries etc. Confirmation of Queen Mary's Charter.
12 D\B/bw/38/29 16 February 1614 James I This Charter contains three large parchment sheets seal attached in perfect condition. The Charter grants the rights to hold St Matthew's Fair and confirms all preceding Charters.
13 D\B/bw/38/32 16 April 1628 Charles I This is a very long Charter consisting of six and a half large sheets of parchment in very good condition with a seal in a tin box in an excellent state of preservation. The Charter recites the Charters of Queen Elizabeth and King James. The Common Council is increased from eighteen to twenty-four and to be elected in the same manner as formerly. A Fair to be held within the Borough in the field without the West Gate called Matthew's Field to be yearly on the Feast-day of St Matthew the Apostle and on the two following days.
14 D\B/bw/38/31 8 December 1683 Charles II Consists of three large parchment sheets with seal attached in excellent condition, contains similar provisions to those in the Charter of Charles I but, in addition, provides for the appointment of a Receiver of Monies and a Coroner. Power given to the Mayor, Aldermen and Capital Burgesses "to choose and nominate two discreet men of the Borough aforesaid to be Burgesses of Parliament".
15 - 12 March 1764 George III Original Charter not in Council possession and there does not appear to be a copy available.

Webpage 23 August 2012. All Content © Bridgwater Heritage Group, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

Comments on the site? Queries on Bridgwater history or heritage? Contributions to the site?
Contact us here.