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No custumal has survived from medieval Lynn. Perhaps there never was a single document of that character comparable to Ipswich's Domesday books. Lack of control over local courts in the early decades of self-government may have inhibited the compilation of a written record of customs relating to legal procedures. Although there was reference in February 1439 to a set of ordinances, made tempore Henry III, being read out to and reconfirmed by the congregation, this appears to be in the context of criticism of electoral procedures, and probably refers to one of the compositions between Bishop and borough (possibly that of 1234) on matters of self-administration. A similar reference in October of the same year to the reading out to, and confirmation by, the congregation of statutes contained "in the book with the image of the crucifix [on its cover]" leaves us none the wiser. As early as 1342 we find reference to certain statutes that had been written down, so that knowledge of them would not be distorted over the passage of time, and read out before the community at election time; but again, these appear to have been constitutional reforms rather than a comprehensive set of customs. References to the borough possessing copies of statutes of London and Oxford suggest that these were applied in Lynn. It may be that the customs of Lynn were scattered among a variety of documents.
A collection of ordinances that was begun in 1423/24 starts only with by-laws made in that year and was not continued beyond the following year. A volume in the British Museum (Add.Ms.37791) is there described as a "Custumal", but in fact is the Red Parchment Book occasionally mentioned to in other documents of the first half of the fifteenth century. This is rather a compilation of various records that would have served as the town clerk's reference tool for precedents; in that sense it is not dissimilar to the Ipswich Domesday Books, although its main difference is the absence of a formal list of town customs. However, the volume does include the constitutional ordinances referred to in 1342 (see above).
The collection that follows is a gathering together of by-laws, made at various times and presented in chronological order, which might theoretically have comprised a custumal (except that older customs would have become redundant or been superseded). Most of these come from the core records of the assembly/congregation, the legislative branch of Lynn's government: the Red Register and the Hall Books and Rolls. However, I have also included: an abstract of the key composition of 1309 between the Bishop of Norwich and the burgesses, since this was one foundation of the constitutional and legal framework of local government; an undated list of market ordinances recorded in an early 15th century town clerk's book of memoranda these would have been among the articles dealt with by the leet court. I have omitted the more ephemeral of the by-laws related to the constitutional contests which shook the borough in the fifteenth century. From the rest I have selected, from ordinances made between the beginning of the fourteenth century and mid-fifteenth century, some of those that seem mostly to have been made for long-term use (as opposed to orders for specific, time-limited actions). Some by-laws are presented as abstracts, others are more detailed renderings in modern English. My own explanatory notes or elaborations for purposes of clarity are inserted in square parentheses [ ].
I have gathered the texts for these ordinances from the original sources and from published versions of those sources, including The Making of King's Lynn, ed. Dorothy Owen, British Academy Records of Social and Economic History, New Series vol.9 (1984), a very welcome compilation of extracts (in their original language) from the medieval records of Lynn which, however, is sadly marred by a large number of errors, particularly in the dating of the extracts. My own compilation here is a mixed bag: in some cases I give a fairly full rendering of ordinances, in others an abstract only, but in all cases presenting them in (relatively) modernized English which inevitably involves taking a few liberties with the original text.
The value of these by-laws is, in part, that they reflect some of the preoccupations, concerns and issues related to borough government and society.