A comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales and the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Murage Home
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Waterford petitioned for a grant of murage in 1375.

March 30. 1375. Westminster. 49 Edward III
Commission to Stephen, bishop of Meath in Ireland, John Keppok, justice appointed to hold pleas following the justiciary of Ireland, and William Ilger, escheator of
Ireland, to make inquisition in the counties of Tipperary and Waterford touching a petition exhibited to the king and council by the mayor and citizens of Waterford, which the king sends them under his seal, and touching the state of the said city.
And be it remembered that the petition is as follows:—
Petition to the king and council from the mayor and citizens of Waterford shewing that, because by divers slaughters lately made by the king's enemies, to wit, of the mayor, bailiffs, sheriff, coroner, clerk and 26 of the better men of the city as well as 80 men of England from Covyntre, Dartmouth, Bristowe and other parts of England, and six weeks afterwards of 24 of the better men of the city, the country round is despoiled, burned and destroyed up to the walls and the ships and the goods therein are taken at sea so that there are no ships or barges in the city where there used to be more than elsewhere throughout Ireland, and also because of the great tribute of 100 marks which they bring yearly to the king, and their great costs in making their belfry of the Blessed Trinity, (which has now been thrown to earth for a year to the great comfort of their enemies), repairing the ancient walls of the city, which were fallen through their weight, and defending the king's rights by a plea between their city and the town of Rosse which has lasted long and is still pending before the king in the Chancery of England, they are become so poor that they cannot bear the said charges or stay there longer unless they be relieved; and praying the king to grant them the issues of a custom called 'coket' for t9 or 10 years, or to pardon them 16l. 13s. 4d. yearly of their said farm for the said term, according to the discretion of his council, having regard to the fact that they have no mills, rents or other things to aid them among all the cities of Ireland except the profits of the ships, which are of little or no value because of the war; also to have regard to the fact that if all the king's land of Ireland were gained by his enemies, it could be better regained by means of their city, which only contains 7 acres of land within the walls, like a little castle, than by any other city in Ireland; the truth of which will be certified by the bishops of Meath and Cloyne, the chancellor of Ireland and Sir Robert Holywod, baron of the Exchequer there, and other messengers from Ireland. French.

Details of the murage grant which resulted from this petition can be seen at this link. Click Here
Primary Sources
National Archive C47/10/23, no.26
Mac Niocaill, G., 1964, Na Buirgeisi Vol. 2 p. 469 no.75
Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1374-77) Vol. 16 p. 145 view online copy
Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1924, _Calendar of Fine Rolls Edward III (1368-77) Vol. 8 p. 344, 346 view online copy

Secondary Sources
Thomas, A., 1992, The Walled Towns of Ireland Vol. 2 (Irish Academic Press) p. 200-10
Lydon, J.F., 1979, 'The city of Waterford in the later Middle Ages' Decies Vol. 12 p. 5-15 view online

the twin problems of danger from the land and sea are referred to, and possibly exaggerated, in subsequent petitions for help (Lydon 1979). That these were not to be taken at face value is shown by the 1399 report to Council which stated that, despite many grants, 'little is done' to improve the city's defences (IND 68). (Thomas)
In March 1375 the Mayor and citizens told King Edward - ''if all your said land of Ireland should be gained by your enemies, which God forbid, it would be regained better and more quickly by your said city than by any other city throughout your said land of Ireland". It seem that the reason why this should be so, according to the Mayor, was that the city contained only "seven acres of land within the walls, like a little castle". We must therefore get our scale right in viewing medieval Waterford: if it was the second city in Ireland, it was In truth a small place within its walls. Not only that, the same petition of 1375 depicts a situation so desperate that, we are forced to conclude that the city was not only small, but poor as well. It told of "divers slaughters recently made by the enemies of those parts" - on one occasion the Mayor, Bailiffs, the Sheriff, Coroner and twenty six of the better men of the city, together with eighty loyal Englishmen from Coventry, Dartmouth, Bristol and other places were slaughtered: six weeks later another twenty four men of Waterford were slain; they were aggrieved because the country around was robbed, burned and destroyed right up to the walls; ships were taken at sea, so that now there were no ships or barges in the city where there used to be more than elsewhere in Ireland; they complained of their great costs in repairing the belfry of the Church of Blessed Trinity, which had been blown down by a tempest, to the great comfort of their enemies; that they bad to pay for the repair of the ancient walls of the city, which had fallen through their weight; and also of the great coats which they bear in defending the King's rights and inheritance through litigation with the town of Ross, which had lasted long and was still pending before the King in the chancery of England - all of which had made them so poor that they cannot stay there any longer without royal aid.
It is not to, be believed that the Mayor and his leading citizens were preparing to pull out of Waterford, or that the situation was quite as desperate as depicted in the petition. Irish towns in the later middle ages were more than adept at putting on the poor mouth when it suited them and on this occasion the Mayor was looking for a grant of the custon known as the coket for nine or ten years and the reduction of the annual farm of the city from 100 to 75 marks. It is noteworthy, too, that this was a time of great disturbance in Munster aad that the government of the day, headed by William of Windsor, was not only proving singularly ineffective in restoring order (at least according to its critics), but was also attempting to raise money by means of taxation, to which Waterford, like other towns, would have to contribute. (Lydon p. 5-6)
See MI357

Record created by Philip Davis. This record created 07/04/2009. Last updated on 29/05/2012. First published online 6/01/2013.

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact