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Item of the month - December 2016

Basset's Grant - the Uxbridge Market charter

Basset's Grant is the most important document in our collection.

In the twelfth century Uxbridge was a small hamlet in the manor of Colham, the lord of which was Gilbert Basset, and which itself was part of the much larger Honor of Wallingford. In about the year 1180 he issued a charter proclaiming his grant from the king (Henry II) to hold a market at Uxbridge. The charter, in medieval Latin, reads:

Gilbert Basset to all Barons of the Honor of Wallingford, and his neighbours and friends, greeting. Know ye that our Lord Henry, King of England, hath granted to me [liberty] to make a Market in my town of Wxebrugge with all Customs, which I may there lay down, as beneficial; and I will establish that, whosoever holds one acre in the town shall be quit of Toll, and of all other Customs, paying by year Two Shillings; and he who holdeth half an acre shall have the same Liberty; paying 12d and the tenement which he shall there make in Building, or in any other thing, shall be his own, to be given to his son, or to a stranger, whosoever he will, and wheresoever he will, to be considered as his own proper Chattel, unless for Alms; and if he shall find it necessary, he may sell his Houses with the land, but not for Alms, saving my service above-named; the Houses may be removed by him within the Borough; and I appoint a Market to be kept on Thursday, and my Burgesses shall have Toll of the Merchandises, that shall be sold within their Houses; of the Forfeitures also, which shall be made within their Houses, they shall be themselves Justices, and they shall have the amends thereof. These Customs and Quittances and Liberties, and all other Things whatsoever, which may be found better or more free in any other borough, to them I grant and confirm, and will they shall have and hold firmly. The Forfeitures made on the Market day are mine, wheresoever they shall be in my Borough.

These are the witnesses: Basset's Grant

  • Henry de Druvall
  • Fulk Basset
  • Walter the Chaplain
  • Bartholomew the Clerk
  • William, the Chaplain, Turstin
  • Walter the son of Turg
  • Philipp de Coule
  • William de Estfield
  • John Cabus
  • Young William
  • And the whole Halimote of Colham (another name for the Court Baron, which was responsible for all local administration and of which all adult free men were members)

The original document measures 24 x 13cm. Its seal, in a cloth bag, is now little more than powder.

The rights granted by it - the free sale of property and exemption from tolls - gave Uxbridge's inhabitants some freedom from manorial control, though Gilbert Basset probably saw a successful market as in his own long term interests. Uxbridge soon developed into a prosperous market town.

When Lady Alice, lord of Colham, Countess of Derby, sought to acquire Uxbridge's market tolls in the 1630s, the townspeople used Basset's Grant to contest this. She won her case, but used the monies collected charitably. In 1695 George Pitt sold the lordship of the manor to eight Uxbridge men whose descendants formed the Lords of the Manor in Trust in 1729. This and other local trusts merged in 1902 to form the Uxbridge United Charities.

Basset's Grant was preserved by the Lords of the Manor in Trust and deposited on loan with the Local Studies, Archives and Museum service in 1946.

 

 

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 09 Jan 2017 at 11:51