The Science Work
Site is for sale:
Category: History

Court of Star chamber in England: cases of dealers in grain (on the example of process of 1631)





UDC 942,055

court of STAR CHAMBER IN ENGLAND: CASES OF DEALERS in GRAIN (on the example of PROCESS of 1631)

© V.P. MITROFANOV Penza state pedagogical university of V.G. Belinsky, department of ancient history, Middle Ages and archeology of e-mail:

V.P. Mitrofanov - Court of star chamber in England: cases of dealers in grain (on the example of process of 1631)//PGPU News of V.G. Belinsky. 2009. No. 11 (15). Page 121-125. - Article is devoted to studying several cases of trial in court of Star chamber about violations of dealers in grain who were accused of buying up of grain in large numbers with the subsequent its resale in the grain markets of various counties. The common law operating at that time qualified it as one of types of crime. However on the content of action of dealers in grain in essence were usual business. Materials of article demonstrate to how the feudal court and the legislation were in a conflict with the growing capitalist business in trade grain.

Mitrophanov V. P. - Court of the Star chamber in England: corn trader&s cases (on the example of 1631 investigation)//Izv. Penz. gos. pedagog. univ. im. V. G. Belinskogo. 2009. No. 11 (15). P. 121-125. - The article is devoted to the research of some cases brought by the Star Chamber against corn traders found guilty of having engrossed corn on a large scale with its subsequent resale in grain markets through the country. Common law which was in effect in those times qualified this venture as misdemeanor. However in its essence the corn engrossers& working was nothing more than undertaking. The article provides facts testifying that feudal court and law came to be conflicting with ever growing capitalist enterprise in corn trade. Keywords: Star Chamber, corn, markets, price, fine, misdemeanor, common law, famine, engrosser.

The history of England of the eve of bourgeois revolution of the middle of the 17th century is rather not bad studied by domestic and foreign authors in the social and economic plan. Fundamental works are available also on political and religious history. All this allows modern historians to be engaged as development of traditional questions, and new.

In recent years a number of new scientific works on various aspects of history of England of this period is published [2 - 5]. All this demonstrates steady attention of domestic and foreign authors to problems of the English history of the eve of bourgeois revolution of the middle of the 17th century. At the same time it is possible to note still insufficient readiness of a question of food supply of the English kingdom of this period. Almost not studied is also a question of activities of royal ships for investigation of cases of violation of common law in trade grain.

It is known that in England of early Modern times there was no such concept as & #34; economic преступления" and only three categories of crimes were distinguished

under terms & #34; find fault тризн" (high treason), & #34; фелония" (robbery, large theft, etc.) and & #34; мисди-минор" (small thefts, etc.). U. Garrison in the treatise written in 1577 gave rather detailed description of lists of each of these three types of crime [7; 187-195]. The analysis of this treatise in this its part is already given by the author of the real lines [1; 120-126]. However on the nature of acts & #34; экономические" crimes in fact, naturally, took place and according to the operating common law entered category & #34; мисдиминор". The crimes connected with buying up and resale of various grain and other food belonged to their number. In this work we will try to track keeping and the nature of some such crimes and their investigation in one of the supreme courts of the English kingdom - court of Star chamber.

without pressing in the detailed description of a social and economic situation in England the 1620-1630th, we will note only that in 1630 in a number of regions of the kingdom there was a crop failure on grain crops and as a result of it increase in prices for them, the shortage of bread for many needy people and even hunger. In these conditions pra-

Charles I Stewart's vitelstvo took certain measures for stabilization of the situation in the grain markets. As usual, in such situation two royal leaflets (of June 13 and on September 28, 1630 - V.M.) in which it was in detail painted what measures have to undertake local authorities for this purpose were published. Except the whole complex of administrative measures which sheriffs, magistrates, mayors had to apply the constables were, etc. provided also measures of legal character which were carried out by traveling royal judges and also the supreme courts of the kingdom [9; 352].

At our disposal there are in many respects unique materials, namely court records of Star chamber for 1631 on which it is possible to track several cases of trials on affairs of the dealers in grain who violated the royal law in this sphere [8; 43-49; 82-89].

The first case of trade in grain was considered on charge of a certain dealer Archer from Essex. And the second - business of seven dealers from Norfolk. If Archer from Essex was, most likely, the typical representative of the trade bourgeoisie, then from seven violators from Norfolk one was a yeoman, and one gentleman, i.e. the representative of the new nobility. They got to court of Star chamber on representation of traveling royal judges who considered previously their violations at the quarter sessions of traveling courts in counties.

Brought to Archer from Essex charge that, trading in one of the grain markets of the county at the price of 7 shillings (further for short: sewed.) for rye bushel (1 bushel = 35.2 liters.), it raised the price up to 9 sewed. He denied it, claiming that he sold for poor people wheat on 7 and 8 sewed. for bushel, and & #34; in the end of the year on 5 sewed. & #34; it sold a rye on 7 and 6 sewed. and & #34; even on 3 sewed. for бушель". Besides, he said to judges that it had the following reserve of grain: 8 quarters of wheat (1 quarter = to 8 bushels or 281-290 liters), 60 quarters of a rye, 100 quarters of oats. All this grain it & #34; stored to июня". He said and that his family consists of two people, i.e. him and his wife moreover two servants [8; 43-45]. Archer showed in court that he did not trade in grain in the market of the town of Rochford where he also lived or if traded, then it is not enough. However he recognized that the count Uorvik ordered it to trade in grain in this market. he said to judges that royal officials did not examine its granary as it was recommended to them by the royal law. Therefore remarks from the authorities on violation of royal leaflets and statutes were not made it by it on regulation of trade in bread. Archer said that he sold a considerable part of the grain stocks in London and in Chelmetford and that bought for itself seed grain out of the market [8; 46-47]. Actually, he already showed all this during trial in quarter court in the county and in court of Star chamber only once again confirmed it.

Thus, he firmly adhered to the initial version in indications that was quite logical and looked quite plausibly.

As usual, the prosecutor insisted on guilt of this dealer and referred at the same time to a precedent which took place in court of Star chamber in 1587-1588. Then a certain Framminham condemned for 500 pounds sterling (further for short: pounds) that it & #34; destroyed agriculture of the holders by construction of cottages for the farm laborers and buying up of grain in the markets, with its subsequent sale in the markets on overestimated цене". It is interesting that besides such large penalty in favor of the queen it still had to pay 40 pounds in favor of poor people and stay on a shameful bench in Chipsayda with an inscription about structure of its crime. Besides, the court then obliged him to lease the cottages constructed by it at reasonable prices [8; 46-47].

Apparently, the precedent was chosen not really successfully as except speculation in bread of Fram-minham accused mainly for elimination of arable fields of the peasants and construction of the cottages on them for farm laborers leased by it besides at inflated price.

In a judicial debate on Archer's business five members of the court of Star chamber spoke. Records of their performances are very indicative and interesting in terms of understanding of a position of the authorities and a situation in the grain markets of the kingdom. So, the judge Garvey noted that though in last year (i.e. 1630 - the good harvest on grain crops was V.M.), but nevertheless prices of corn grew. He also told that he discussed this situation with other judges at the last session of quarter court in Gerefordshire, namely that the authorities can undertake for reduction of prices of bread. The judge noticed that, having punished Archer, they will make more than if publish at the quarter sessions of courts a set of orders about grain trade. According to him, Archer committed a significant crime and it should be fined 100 brands in favor of the king and 10 pounds in favor of the poor. Besides, it has to be exposed at a pillory for a period of one hour serially in the markets of a landkholl, Chipsayda and Chems-ford with the poster on which the structure of its crimes will be written.

The second acted judge Thomas Richardson, confirmed the opinion expressed by the prosecutor that Archer made violation of common law as he violated the royal leaflet and other orders, as well as a number of statutes as he contained bread in the storage and did not supply it to the markets, waiting for increase in prices for it. He concluded that Archer is guilty of large speculation in grain as he bought seed grain out of the market, but itself did not supply grain to the market from the stocks. Therefore he agrees that it is necessary to impose a fine at a rate of 100 brands in favor of the king on it, and 100 more pounds in favor of the poor [8; 46-47].

Then the bishop of London acted. His performance was quite extensive. He also called

Archer's act & #34; the most disgusting crime condemned in the Scripture...". He noticed and about violation by Archer not only moral standards of the kind Christian, but also about violation of common law by it. He spoke about God's wisdom, insight of church, etc. in providing the population with bread. The bishop told also that Archer the act created a bad example for other persons and suggested to fine it 100 brands in favor of the king and 10 pounds in favor of the poor too, having kept also the rest of the punishment offered by judges (i.e. exposure at a pillory - V.M.).

Fourth acted the columns Dorset noted in the speech good work of traveling judges, in particular, of the judge Vayron in the matter of this Archer. It is interesting that the count noticed also that Archer is the only violator of the grain legislation from this county (i.e. from Essex - V.M.) which matter was brought to Court of Star chamber. He also spoke about violation by the defendant of common law, etc. and that he, certainly, is guilty of increase in prices for bread. Moreover, he even made generalization, having told that in general increase in prices for bread happened in the country & #34; not at God's will, and on fault людей". He noticed also, as in Queen's Bench the similar types of crime were considered also the persons who made them were punished. he even told that distribution of false rumors & #34 was punished as crime; in connection with big war for морем" (i.e. 30-summer war - V.M.) because of what too there was increase in prices for wool and cloth. He also noticed that this Archer violated statutes of the kingdom and royal leaflets still of times of the Tudor dynasty and James I Stewart. Therefore he agreed that Archer's actions are identical to a precedent with Frammin-gemom and that similar sentences on the basis of a precedent took place and in court of the General lawsuits. He agreed with the charges stated above and the offered Archer's punishment, having added that he should be imprisoned, & #34; from where it and доставили" in court [8; 47-48].

Though the verdict of court is on this case unknown, but it is possible to believe that it was such what was offered by the prosecutor and judges. Certainly, the penalty in 100 brands, i.e. about about 67 pounds moreover in favor of poor 10 pounds is the very large sum for the dealer in bread of average scales. So, for example, even the total cost of property of dealers in grain then was from 30 pounds to 90 pounds and is rare who had more [6; 489].

Seven dealers in grain from Norfolk were connected to another similar matter. Earlier case of each of them was considered in traveling quarter courts too.

as usual, all of them were serially interviewed by judges of Star chamber. The first of them, a certain William Tauler was accused of illegal buying up of grain out of the market and & #34; not to delivery of the зерна" (barley - V.M.) on the market as that was demanded by the royal legislation which as members of the court found out, it knew. It transferred 30 quarters of barley to malt, and sent 40 quarters of barley to Newcastle in exchange for

coal. Actually it and everything that was incriminated to it [8; 82-83].

a certain Toby Pedder who confirmed too that he knew about existence of royal leaflets and orders concerning trade in grain was

the Second defendant. During the poll of the judge established what was available for it: 40 quarters of wheat, 10 quarters of a rye, 260 quarters of barley. The defendant showed that he bought wheat as seed grain and did not sell it in the market. It also bought 25 quarters of barley as seed grain, and 30 quarters - for malting. Though in the market he did not sell grain from the stocks, but sold 100 quarters of barley nobody the dealer from Peterborough, and sold 50 quarters itself in the market of this city small parts, & #34; since last Rozhdestva" [8; 83].

As we see, this dealer had much more considerable reserves of various grain, namely 310 quarters, and sold it both wholesale and retail.

The third defendant, a certain John Tobias, confirmed in court too that he was familiar with the royal legislation on trade in bread. he said to judges that he had the following reserves of grain: 30 quarters of wheat, 5 or 6 hundred & #34; коум" (combes) of barley, 15 hundred & #34; коум" neigh. He said to judges that he though bought all this grain, but in the market sold only 100 & #34; коум" barley & #34; from hands in руки" i.e. out of the market.

Thus, this Tobias did not report to judges exact data on the most part of the reserves of grain, having resorted to a trick in grain measures, namely in the measures which are seldom used then called & #34; коу-мы" instead of usual and quite exact measures - quarters. Though it is known that one & #34; коума" made 4 bushels or 141 liters [8; 83].

It is interesting that a certain nobleman Nikolos Brown was the fourth defendant. During the poll he showed that bought seed grain and that had the license for production of malt from barley. He also admitted to local bakers sale of the grain directly from the house (the town of Uolsinham - V.M.). However, as Brown said, he sold a number of grain to poor people at the price of 1 sewed. for barrel (1 barrel =163.6 liters). On malting at it 30 quarters from its stocks left, and it sold a number to Yorkshire. It spent 16 quarters for needs of the family. During the poll it became clear that as it did not buy grain in the markets, it was not assessed with market duties. somehow this gentleman managed not to report to judges about the exact sizes of the grain stocks, and judges wonderfully and did not insist on it [8; 83].

The fifth defendant was a certain yeoman Robert of Manya who said during judicial proceedings that he did not buy up grain, but spent all the grain, except a part which left for needs of the family and a number sold to the farm laborers. At the same time he nevertheless recognized that he sold 60 & #34; коум" barley to a certain person from Ipswich. And, as he noticed, this buyer had permission to grain purchase though Manya learned about it from his words, but did not see

text of permission. Further he showed to judges that stored a part of grain at home, and sent a part to London where he sold it at the good price. Manya said also that judges of his one hundred allowed it to sell the grain in London as their area was well provided with grain [8; 83-84].

We will notice, as this defendant did not call exact amount of grain in the barns and too used reception with the measures called & #34; коумы". But, the most important, he tried to justify himself, referring to permission of local authorities to take out grain for sale to London. Judges did not find out the size of its general reserve of grain.

A certain John Bolte who showed during trial what last year was available for it 50 & #34 was the sixth defendant; коум" barley, 30 & #34; коум" wheat and 9 & #34; коум" peas. And he recognized that he bought 160 & #34; коум" barley and the most part transferred it to malt, and a part (what, he did not call - V.M.) & #34; stored for бедняков". The judge found out that he, probably, had the arrangement with local authorities on supply of grain to the market, but this part of grain unexpectedly bought up in bulk directly at it certain Dottie at home. Bolte also proved to judges that did not supply grain to the market because a certain sir of Hammond le Strendge (probably, one of magistrates - V.M.) allowed it to dispose freely of the grain and not to pay market duties [8; 84].

As we see, and this defendant began to adhere to tactics of two previous defendants. However unlike the last judges nevertheless forced it to call total number of the reserves of grain at least and in notorious & #34; коумах".

At last, a certain Henry Conger was the seventh defendant. During interrogation he showed to judges what had 100 & #34; коум" neigh, 20 & #34; коум" wheat, 20 & #34; коум" barley. From all this stock it sold some part (did not give exact number - V.M.) to the London citizens, namely some & #34; to the grocer and пекарю". The baker, according to him, had permission from the mayor and aldermen of the city on purchase of bread for needs of the city. He also said that he bought a number of grain as seed, but did not bring on the local market the grain for sale [8; 84].

Further accusatory speech of the chief prosecutor who said that all seven defendants were large owners of grain stocks, but did not sell the grain in the local markets, and & #34 followed; poor people just needed in хлебе". He noticed that everywhere in the kingdom the authorities take measures for providing the population with food by establishing regular supply of grain to the markets. the king publishes the corresponding orders in which, at least, four names of food which defendants had are mentioned. The prosecutor noted that all defendants lived next to each other in places near Uolsinham, Uellis and Barnel in the County of Norfolk. It reported violation of the statute of 1563 by them about grain trade. References of defendants allegedly on received

the prosecutor considered permissions from local authorities to the right to dispose freely of the grain stocks them insolvent because royal orders it is more important, than orders of local authorities and therefore they and should be executed first of all [8; 85-86].

According to the prosecutor, their most important violation was that they did not supply bread to the markets that, in turn, resulted in its deficiency and increase in prices, hunger among the population. He at the same time noted that all of them, of course, could buy for themselves seed grain, but then they had to supply grains to the market as much. They sold grain out of the markets. Thus, according to him, they violated common law.

Then judges, obviously, gave the chance to defendants to respond to the charge presented by the prosecutor. During further trial it became clear that some of these seven defendants allegedly for the first time made similar violation of laws, and some claimed that they made it besides own will. Others said that not to supply bread to the markets was a commonplace, referring at the same time to permission of local authorities and this circumstance & #34; softens them вину" if to consider that that in general took place [8; 86-87].

Judges referred to a precedent with Fram-minham again, believing that it is chosen correctly and quite is suitable for the investigated business. In response to the argument of the accused dealers that they had permission of local authorities not to supply bread to the markets judges noted that Norfolk cannot be separated from laws of all kingdom in respect of the fact that dealers of this county can not supply bread to the markets. It is interesting that during trial of the judge rejected also an argument that one of defendants carried out the trade to the edition of royal leaflets about grain trade. It is interesting also that defendants referred to custom of the area, according to which, if within 16 miles grain providing the population normal, then owners of grain stocks can dispose of them at discretion. One of defendants (Maunie) said to judges that the precedent given by them with a certain Framminham does not approach their business because the last was condemned as a matter of fact for enclosing of arable lands. However judges again insisted that the precedent is chosen correctly and that Framminham was condemned just for increase in prices for bread that is incriminated also to them [8; 87-88].

As a result the court found all seven dealers guilty of large violation of royal orders and common law. At the same time it was noted what specifically they broke laws of the kingdom, namely as last statutes of times of Elizabeth I Tudor and James I Stewart, and the current legislation of Charles I Stewart. Thus, they were found court guilty of increase in prices for bread and its deficiency because of what, according to judges, and hunger among poor people extended. As a result each of them was fined on

100 pounds. At the same time the court noted that & #34; such verdict will be an example for similar affairs in quarter судах" [8; 88-89]. It is interesting that during trial there was an attempt from one of members of the court to soften a sentence concerning Maunie on the ground that the last did not buy up bread, but only sold it out of the market. However other judges did not begin to do an exception for it in the verdict.

Thus, in this case all seven defendants, despite some differences in their trade in grain received identical punishment. The court did not begin to press in specifics of their acts and violations of the grain legislation. Most likely, such verdict had indicative character for all dealers in bakery products in the kingdom.

These cases of investigations of cases of violations of the royal legislation in trade in grain demonstrate that not always local authorities and traveling royal judges brought the matters to the supreme courts of the kingdom. At the same time it is possible to see that those cases of violations of the grain legislation which got to court of Star chamber were considered in it in many respects prejudicedly and with obviously accusatory bias, and penalties were imposed too high for dealers in grain. Actually they were punished a large penalty only that they sought to sell most favourably for themselves grain. Similar verdicts of court of Star chamber in the spirit of feudal law inevitably incited against it, so and the royalty of dealers in bread as from among rural producers of grain, and city population groups. As a result all this could not

not to influence arrangement of social forces in England of the eve of bourgeois revolution of the middle of the 17th century and liquidation of the given court in 1641 according to the decision of the Long Parliament.


1. V.P. Mitrofanov. Crimes and punishments in England the 16th century//Current problems of historical science and creative heritage of S.I. Arkhangelsky: The XIV readings memory of the corresponding member of Academy of Sciences of the USSR S.I. Arkhangelsky, on February 25-26, 2005. Part I. N. Novgorod: NGPU, 2005. Page 120-126.
2. Fedorov S.E. Rannestyuartovskaya aristocracy (1603-1629). SPb.: Aleteya, 2005. 525 pages
3. Hill Kr. English Bible and revolution of the 17th century / transl. from English T. Pavlova. M.: IVI RAS, 1998. 490 pages
4. Horoshev A.V. Charles I Stewart and parliament//Modern and contemporary history. 2005, No. 1. Page 172-193.
5. J. Aylmer. Revolt or revolution? England 16401660/transl. from English A.A. Palamarchuk and S.E. Fedorov. SPb.: Aleteya, 2004. 264 pages
6. Everitt A. The Marketing of Agricultural Produce//The Agrarian History Of England and Walse. Vol. IV. / Ed. J. Thisk., Cambridge: University Press, 1967. 919 pp.
7. Harrison W. The Description of England/Ed. By G. Eldelen. N. - Y.: Cornell University Press, 1968. 512 pp.
8. Reports of Cases in the Court of Star Chamber and High Commission/Ed. by S. R. Gardiner//Camden Society. Publications. Third series. Vol. XXXIX. L.: Office Society, 1886. 316 p.p
9. Stuart Royal Proclamations. Vol. II / Ed. J. F. Larkin and P. L. Hughas. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1983. 1089 pp.
Nilsen Karina
Other scientific works: