The Charter of King John
May 1st 1206.
John, by the grace of God, King of England,
Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Earl of Anjou. To his Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Barons, Justiciaries, Sheriffs, Provosts, Ministers, and all his Bailiffs and Lieges, Greetings.
Know ye, that we have granted and by our present Charter have confirmed to our Burgesses of Stafford that the town of Stafford shall be a free Borough for ever.
And that those Burgesses and their heirs shall have that Borough in fee-farm from us and our heirs with Soche and Sache and Toll and Team and Infangenthief, and with all other liberties and free usages, which they may have been accustomed to have of old; rendering therefor year by year to our Exchequer by their own hand, the due and ancient farm rent, to wit, one moiety at the Easter Audit and the other of that at St. Michael.
We have also granted to them and by our present Charter have confirmed that themselves and their heirs shall be quit of tolls, lading dues, passenger-task, road (or paving) tax, market stall toll, and bridge toll, throughout all our territories, save in the Liberty of the City of London.
And that they shall make no suit of the County or Hundred Court respecting their tenures within the Borough of Stafford, nor shall any of them plead or be impleaded beyond the Borough of Stafford, respecting any tenement which they may hold within the Borough of Stafford.
And concerning all their own debts which may have been contracted at Stafford and pledges made there, the please shall be held there.
And that they shall not plead or be impleaded concerning tenements which are in the aforesaid Borough by Writ of Mort d’ancester, but these shall be conveyed by the law and custom of the Borough itself.
And that it shall be lawfull for them to distrain their debtors at Stafford for debts which they have permitted those persons to contract at Stafford.
And that all those who have been accustomed to share in their liberties, both within and without the Borough, shall continue to have all the aforesaid liberties and quittances with them, so long as they take part with them in aids, assessments, talliages, and all summonings, as they were accustomed.
We also grant to them, and have confirmed all other liberties and free usages which any Free Borough of England has, save in all cases, as is said before, the Liberty of the City of London.
Wherefore we will and firmly decree that the aforesaid Borough of Stafford shall be a Free Borough for ever, and that the Burgesses of that same place shall have and shall hold the same Borough with all its appurtenances in fee-farm for ever.
And all the aforesaid liberties and quittances and free usages, well and in peace, freely and quietly, wholly and honourably: in wood and plain, in highways and bye-ways, in meadows and pastures, in moors and fens, in waters and mills, in vivaries and pools, in rivers and fisheries, within the Borough and without, and in all other places and things and with all other liberties and free usages pertaining to a Free Borough as is mentioned above.
And we forbid on pain of our forfeiture anyone in any of the particulars before mentioned to vex or molest our aforesaid Burgesses.
The Witnesses being: The Lords: John of Norwich, Peter of Winchester, Herbert of Sarum - Bishops; Geoffrey Fitz-Piers, Earl of Essex; Ralph, Earl of Chester; William, Earl of Shrewsbury; Warine Fitz-Gerold, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Peter de Stokes, Thomas de Erdington.
Given by the hand of Joceline, Lord Bishop Elect of Bath, at Windsor, on the first day in May in the seventh year of our reign.