Customs Duties June 1461

Following his victory at the Battle of Towton and coronation as King of England, Edward IV had to attend to urgent matters of state. The threat of war was still very real, both against Queen Margaret and the remnant of the Lancastrian army that had now taken refuge in Northumberland and Scotland but also potentially at Calais against the French. Edward recognised the need to maintain a strong garrison at Calais and the urgency of maintenance of the port’s defences. So, in June 1461 the following letter was sent to major ports on the East Coast, requiring of them a customs duty to be paid for the upkeep of the Calais defences. 

 To the customers or collectors for the time being of customs and subsidies in the port of Gippewich. Order to deliver by indentures to the treasurer of Calais for the time being or to his attorney 13s. 4d. of every sack of wool, every 240 woolfells and every last of hides at the end of every shipment thereof in that port from 4 March last, during the time of the grant hereinafter mentioned; as 20s. upon every sack of wool, every 240 woolfells and every last of hides, parcel of the subsidy granted to the late king in the parliament holden at Redyng, 6 March, 31 Henry VI, was assigned to the treasurer and victualler of Calais for the time being for prompt payment of wages and victuals of hired soldiers and officers of the town and castle of Calais and of the marches, not stating by whose hands the money should be received, and for safeguard of the said town, castle and marches, and for such payment the late king by authority of the said parliament made order that during the said grant the money should forthwith be applied to payment of wages and victuals by the hands of the customers and collectors within the realm to the hands of the treasurer and victualler of Calais or their attorney, namely that the treasurer should from time to time receive 13s. 4d. of the 20s. aforesaid for wages of the said soldiers, and the victualler 6s. 8d. for victuals and other things needful for safe guard of the town etc., and that the customers or collectors should not withdraw, conceal or embezzle any part thereof under pain of forfeiting so much as should be found withdrawn etc., one third whereof should be applied in payment of wages to the treasurer and victualler and the residue by them upon repairs at Calais, and the indentures should be a discharge for the customers or collectors in their accounts at the exchequer, as in the act is fully contained.
Like letters patent to the customers or collectors in the following ports:
St. Botolph.
Kingston upon Hull.

‘Close Rolls, Edward IV: July 1461’, in Calendar of Close Rolls, Edward IV: Volume 1, 1461-1468, ed. W H B Bird and K H Ledward (London, 1949), pp. 7-16. British History Online [accessed 7 July 2019]

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