The Monastery of St. PETER.7

The Monastery of St. PETER.
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Westminster Abbey
  Westminster Abbey ]

anciently writ Estaple, and comes from the French Word Estape, which signifies a Mart or Market. There are five Staple Merchandizes of England, saith the Lord Coke, viz. Wool, Woolfels, Leather, Lead, and Tin. There was a Maior of the Staple, and there was a Court of the Maior of the Staple, wherein Merchants of the Staple did sue by Law-Merchant; so there was a Statute, That Merchants, Strangers, might sue before the Maior of the Staple, according to the Law-Merchant, or at the Common Law. And this Court was holden at Wool Staple in Westminster. This Court, tho' it were far more ancient, was strengthened and warranted by Act of Parliament, 27th Edward the Third.

Maior of the Staple.

36 Ed. 3. Cap. 7.

The Bounds of the Staple at Westminster began at Temple-Bar, and extended to Tut-Hill.]

The Bounds of the Staple, 28 Ed. 3. Cap. 15.

Touching the Wool-Staple I read, That in the Reign of King Edward the First, the Staple being at Westminster, the Parishioners of St. Margaret, and Merchants of the Staple, builded of new the said Church, the great Chancel excepted, which was lately before new builded by the Abbot of Westminster.

T. Clifford.

Moreover, that Edward the Third, in the 17th of his Reign, decreed, That no Silver be carried out of the Realm, on Pain of Death: And that whosoever transported Wool, should bring over, for every Sack, four Nobles of Silver Bullion.


No Silver to be transported.

In the 25th of his Reign, he appointed the Staple of Wool to be kept only at Canterbury, for the Honour of St. Thomas. Moreover, in the 27th of the same King Edward, the Staple of Wool, before kept at Bruges in Flanders, was ordained (by Parliament) to be kept in divers Places of England, Wales, and Ireland; as at Newcastle, York, Lincoln, Canterbury, Norwich, Westminster, Chichester, Winchester, Excester, Bristow, Caermarden, &c. to the great Benefit of the King, and Loss unto Strangers and Merchants. For there grew unto the King by this Means (as it was said) the Sum of a thousand an hundred and two Pounds by the Year, more than any his Predecessors before had received: The Staple at Westminster, at that Time, began on the next Morrow after the Feast of St. Peter ad Vincula.

Wool-Staple at Westminster.

The next Year was granted to the King by Parliament, towards the Recovery of his Title in France, 50 Shillings of every Sack of Wool transported over Seas, for the Space of six Years next ensuing: By Means whereof, the King might dispend daily, during those Years, more than a thousand Marks Sterling: For by the common Opinion, there were more than an hundred Sacks of Wool yearly transported into foreign Lands; so that during six Years, the said Grant extended to fifteen hundred thousand Pound Sterling.

Robert de Amesbury.

In the 37th of Edward the Third, it was granted unto him for two Years, to take six and twenty Shillings eight Pence upon every Sack of Wool transported: And the same Year, the Staple of Wool (notwithstanding the King's Oath, and other great Estates) was ordained to be kept at Calais, and six and twenty Merchants, the best and the wealthiest of all England, to be Farmers there, both of the Town and Staple, for three Years, every Merchant to have six Men of Arms, and four Archers, at the King's Cost. He ordained there also two Maiors, one for the Town, and one for the Staple, and he took for mala capta, commonly called Maltorth, (I think Custom) 20 Shillings, and of the said Merchants, Guardians of the Town, forty Pence upon every Sack of Wool.

Staple at Calais let to Farm.

Two Maiors at Calais.

In the 44th of Edward the Third, Quinborough, Kingston upon Hull and Boston, were made Staples of Wool: Which Matter so much offended some, that in the fiftieth of his Reign, in a Parliament at London, it was complained, That the Staple of Wool was so removed from Calais to divers Towns in England, contrary to the Statute, appointing, That Citizens and Merchants should keep it there, and that the King might have the Profits and Customs, with the Exchange of Gold and Silver that was there made, by all the Merchants in Christendom (esteemed to amount to eight thousand Pound by Year the Exchange only.) And the Citizens and Merchants so ordered the Matter, that the King spent nothing upon Soldiers; neither upon Defence of the Town against Enemies; whereas now he spent eight thousand Pound by Year.

Staple removed.


In the fifty first of Edward the Third, when the Staple was settled at Calais, the Maior of the Staple did furnish the Captain of the Town, upon any Rode, with an hundred Bill-men, two hundred Archers, of Merchants and their Servants, without any Wages.

In the Year 1388, the twelfth of Richard the Second, in a Parliament at Cambridge, it was ordained, That the Staple of Wool should be brought from Middleborough in Holland to Calais.

Wool-Staples at Middleborough. M. S. French.

In the fourteenth of his Reign, there was granted forty Shillings upon every Sack of Wool, and in the one and twentieth, was granted fifty Shillings upon every Sack transported by English-men, and three Pounds by Strangers, &c.

It seemeth, that the Merchants of this Staple be the most ancient Merchants of this Realm, and that all Commodities of the Realm are Staple Merchandizes by Law and Charter, as Wools, Leather, Wool-fells, Lead, Tin, Cloth, &c.

Staple-Merchants the most ancientest of this Realm.

King Henry the Sixth had six Wool-houses within the Staple at Westminster; those he granted to the Dean and Canons of St. Stephen at Westminster, and confirmed it the 21st of his Reign. Thus much for the Staple have I shortly noted.

And now to pass to the famous Monastery of Westminster: At the very Entrance of the Close thereof is a Lane that leadeth toward the West, called Thieving-Lane, for that Thieves were led that Way to the Gatehouse, while the Sanctuary continued in Force,

Thieving Lane.



THis Monastery was founded and builded by Sebert, King of the East Saxons, [that began his Reign Anno 603] upon the Perswasion of Ethelbert King of Kent; who having imbraced Christianity, and being baptized by Melitus, Bishop of London, immediately (to shew himself a Christian indeed) built a Church to the Honour of God and St. Peter, on the West Side of the City of London, in a Place (which because it was overgrown with Thorns, and environed with Water) the Saxons called Thorney, and now of the Monastery and West Situation thereof, is called Westminster. In this Place (saith Sulcardus) long before was a Temple of Apollo; which being overthrowm, King Lucius built therein a Church of Christianity. What farther I read, concerning the Foundation of this Church, followeth in this Manner:

Foundation thereof by Sebert, a Christian King, not only in Word, but in Deed.

Temple of Apollo here, First Edit.

A. M.

When the Church of God first began to grow in Great-Britain at such Time (saith Sulcardus) as Antoninus Pius was Emperor of Rome, the Temple of Apollo, which was then seated on the West-side of the City of London, where now Westminster standeth, fell down by the Violence of an Earthquake. Of the Ruins whereof, Lucius (who was King of the Britains, and reigned here by Permission of the Romans) built a small Church to the Ho-

Ex Sulcard.

The Temple of Apollo overthrown by an Earthquake.