ORB: On-line Reference Book for Medieval Studies

Encyclopedia | Library | Reference | Teaching | General | Links | About ORB | HOME

TOLLS AND CUSTOMS Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval Winchester tolls customs carts hardware dye guilds dyers tanners shoemakers fees

Subject: Tolls collected at the Winchester gates
Original source: Winchester College archives, custumal of Winchester
Transcription in: J. S. Furley, City Government of Winchester from the Records of the XIV & XV Centuries, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923, pp.173-74.
Original language: French
Location: Winchester
Date: ca. 1270s


It is at the gates of Winchester, where the town bailiffs levy customs from those outside of the franchise from whom it is due, that each cart carrying grain for sale owes a halfpenny as custom each time that it comes; and a farthing for a horseload.

Each cart carrying iron or steel, 2d.; and 1d. for a horseload.

Each cart carrying new seats for carts, harnesses, reins or traces owes 2d. as custom; and 1d. for a horseload.

Each cart loaded with millstones, 4d.; and each cart carrying grindstones, 2d.

Each cart carrying tin or lead for sale, 4d.; and 2d. for a horseload.

Each cart carrying archil for dyeing wool, 2d.; and 1d. for a horseload.

1d. custom is due for sickles and scythes coming by cart, and a halfpenny for a horseload.

Each cart carrying tanned hides for sale owes 2d.; and 1d. for a horseload.

For madder coming by cart for sale, 2d.; and 1d. for a horseload.

Each cart carrying woad for sale, 4d.; and 1d. [sic] for a horseload.

Each country-dweller who brings into the city ashes which are applied with woad owes 6d. a year to the king's custom, and 1d. to the clerk for enrolling his name, unless he comes only once a year.

It is customary for the dyer's gild of the city to elect by common agreement two reputable and reliable men to be sworn to assess [the value of] the woad brought by outsider merchants for sale in the town, and reliably perform the assessment for [purposes of] selling and buying.

Each tanner who has a stall in the high street of Winchester owes 2s. per year for [the part of] the road that he occupies, and 1d. to the clerk by way of tangable. Each woman selling suet or lard by retail owes 1d. on the eve of Easter [Monday?], by way of smergable.

Each shoemaker who makes shoes from new cowhide owes the town 2d. by way of scogable. These usages apply to those who are of the franchise as well as to others.


The final entries in this section of the custumal are not strictly part of the list of tolls, but have an indirect relationship. Three are rather cases of trading licences, although in the first case the licence fees are stated as being put towards the revenue from customs. The fourth relates to a method of determining the value of imported merchandize, although probably rather for the purpose of a market price than the amount of toll (which was determined by quantity, not quality).



A purple or violet dye; korc in the original.

A red dye.

A blue dye.

Ashes (for which we would today use the term potash) were used to clean cloth prior to dyeing.

The term here translated as "stall" is in the original bord, suggesting the very basic nature of such a stall; it may even connote boards attached below street-level windows of houses in the street.

"tangable" "smergable"
Tangable was a customary fee due from tanners, while smergable was a similar fee due from sellers of fatty or greasy products such as lard, tallow, suet, butter, cheese, etc. (use of the term venderesse indicating that this was a trade typically practised by women).

Presumably a license fee related to shoemaking.

main menu

Created: August 18, 2001. Last update: December 22, 2002 © Stephen Alsford, 2001-2003

Encyclopedia | Library | Reference | Teaching | General | Links | Search | About ORB | HOME

The contents of ORB are copyright © 2003 Kathryn M. Talarico except as otherwise indicated herein.