The Settle market charters

Thomas Lord and Michael Slater
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

There are various references to the Settle market charter in books written about the history of Craven but it is not clear why the documents described vary in detail and length. A search for original documents and their location was therefore carried out to clarify matters.

In medieval days the right to hold markets and fairs was only acquired by royal charter. Such a right was sought by lords of manors to obtain income from tolls levied on merchants for the privilege of trading. In return, protection was given, against violence and robbery, by local summary courts and the presence of forces of the lord. Weekly markets were commonly held in the general absence of what we know as shops. Annual fairs were larger gatherings for trade in livestock for example. Dent [1972] discusses the contribution of markets and fairs to rural life in North-West Yorkshire.

The first market charter for Settle was granted in 1249 by Henry III (1216-1272) to Henry de Percy. Brayshaw and Robinson [p. 25, 1932] give some information about granting the charter as follows.

The story of the de Percy family is complex and quarrelsome. William de Percy accompanied William the Conqueror when he returned to England in 1067. William de Percy received around one hundred manors in Yorkshire, as overlord. On one line of the family, Henry, Baron de Percy, married Eleanor Plantagenet, niece of King Henry III. On a separate line of the family, Henry of Cleatop, son of Richard, became the King’s ‘cousin’ by marriage. Henry de Percy of Cleatop obtained a charter to Settle market in 1249. His father Richard looked upon Settle as a suitable inheritance for his son Henry and bought properties from Settle landowners (including Cleatop) to form a demesne. The manor of Settle held by Richard de Percy was passed to his son Henry in 1258 as recorded in Charter Rolls [CChR, 1258].

Inspeximus and confirmation of a charter, whereby Richard de Percy gave to Henry de Percy, his son, for his homage and service, his manor of Bellum Alnetum and the town of Setel in Ribblesdale, to be held by the said Henry, his heirs and assigns, from the grantor and his heirs; witnesses, Sir Godfrey de Alta Ripa, Sir Henry de Dayvill, Sir Reinbald de Montibus, Sir Henry Teutonicus, Sir William de Dayvill, knights, Master Geoffrey de Larderia, canon of, John, canon of Newborough, Ralph de Skipton, Herbert de Neweby, Robert de Stiveton, and Henry Carpenter.

Charter Rolls (started in 1199) are original grants in perpetuity of lands, privileges or other possessions. Often they are a confirmation, or ‘inspeximus’ (a sealed official copy), of earlier grants. In these cases, the earlier texts would normally be repeated in full, sometimes with the addition of further privileges. Further details of the early de Percy family history are given by Clay [1949] noting that Henry was an illegitimate son of Richard.

Eventually the manor of Settle came into the hands of the Duke of Devonshire, whose seat at Chatsworth House is where a copy of a later market charter (1708) is kept — but not the original of 1249.

Whitaker [3rd. edit., 1878] says that the original charter for the fair and market was held in Skipton castle (collection now loaned to the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society - as one might have expected since the Percy fee descended to the Cliffords) and quotes:

Henricus (IIItius) D.G. d. et c. Henrico filio Ricardi de Percy quod ipse et heredes sui hab. Mercatum singulis, septimanis per diem Martis apud manerium suum de Setel, et unam feriam singulis annis duraturam III dies, vid. In vigilia in die, et in crostino S’ti Laurentii

Teste Sim. de Monteforte com, Leicest. a. r. 33

Translated as:

Henry III by the grace of God defender (of the faith) etc. Henry son of Richard de Percy he and his heirs may have a market every week on a Tuesday at his manor of Settle and one fair in the year lasting three days, that is to say, on the day before, the day, and on the day after Saint Lawrence day.

Witness Earl Simon de Montfort of Leicester, in the 33rd year of the King’s reign (i.e. 1216+33=1249).

This appears to be an abstract lacking the usual formal opening address and full list of witnesses. The National Archives record the full confirmation document in the Charter Rolls [TNA, C53/41] and Settle Town Hall hold a photograph of it. Confirmations may include the text of earlier grants. It is in Latin with the margin note ‘De mercato et Feria(e) pro Henri de Perci’. A pencilled translation is held by the West Yorkshire Archive Service [WYAS DB24/C4]. Details are provided in the following Brayshaw note and translation [1932, p. 27].

‘Henry de Percy, son of Richard, was mesne lord of Settle. In 1249 he was granted by King Henry III the right to hold a fair and market in Settle and to receive the tolls. The charter is in Latin and has been translated as follows’.

The King, to his Archbishops greeting. Know ye that we have granted and by this our charter have confirmed to Henry de Percy, son of Richard de Percy, that he and his heirs may have for ever a market every week on Tuesday at his manor of Settle. And that they may have there a fair every year, lasting for three days, to wit, on the vigil, the day, and the morrow of St Laurence, with all liberties and customs to such market and fair belonging, unless such market and fair be to the hurt of neighbouring markets and neighbouring fairs. Wherefore we will and firmly command, for ourselves and our heirs, that the aforesaid Henry and his heirs may have for ever a market every week on Tuesday at his manor of Settle, and that they may have there a fair every year lasting for three days, to wit, on the vigil, the day, and the morrow of St Laurence, with all liberties and free customs to such market and fair appertaining, unless such market and fair be to the hurt of neighbouring markets and neighbouring fairs as is aforesaid. These being witnesses: - the venerable father, P. Bishop of Hereford; Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester; Peter de Sabandia; John Maunsel, provost of Beverley; Paul Peyver; Geoffrey Despencer; Geoffrey de Langley; Ralph de Wauney; William Gernum, and others. Given by our hand at Merton in the xii day of April XXXIII year of our reign. (12th April 1249).

St Lawrence’s day is August 10th.

For Charter Rolls after 1226 there are printed calendars (summaries), in English. The Calendar of Charter Rolls for 1249 gives the abstract [CChR, 1249].

April 12.


Grant to Henry de Percy, son of Richard de Percy, and his heirs of a weekly market on Tuesday at his manor of Setel, and of a yearly fair there on the vigil, the feast and the morrow of St. Lawrence.

The enrolled full charter was written in abbreviated Latin on sheets of parchment stitched together in a long roll for each year. Each charter is part of a long list, not on a separate sheet. The original charter is not in The National Archives as it would have been issued to the individual or corporate body to whom the grant was made. The item seen in the accompanying photograph showing Tot Lord does not have the shape or form of the enrolled version in The National Archives.

The following item noted in the Close Rolls of 15 April 1249 [CR, 1249], a few days after the charter date, is a mandate to the Sheriff of York to read the charter in full session of the county court and henceforth cause the market to be held (see last two lines of the Latin text). (The Close Rolls are private orders addressed to Sheriffs). The text is essentially that of the full charter.

15 April 1249

Pro Henrico filio Ricardi de Percy. - Rex concessit per Cartam Suam Henrico filio Ricardi de Percy, quod ipse et heredes sui imperpetuum habeant unum mercatum singulis septimanis per die (sic) Martis apud manerium suum de Setel’, et quod habeant ibidem unam feriam

singulis annis duratum per tres dies, videlicet in vigilia in die et in crostino Sancti Laurencii, cum omnibus libertatibus et liberis consuetudinibus ad hujusmodi mercatum et feriam pertinentibus, nisi mercatum illud et feria illa fuit ad nocumentum vicinorum mercatorum

et vicinarum feriarum; et mandatum est vicecomiti Eboraci quod predictum mercatum et feriam in pleno comitatu suo legi et decetero firmiter teneri faciat. Teste ut supra.

These legal documents were needed to give official approval, with shortened versions of confirmation and declaration in court in York recorded in the Calendars and Close Rolls.

Tom Lord’s grandfather Tot Lord is seen in the accompanying photograph with the charter inserted into a copy of Whitaker’s History and antiquities of the Deanery of Craven (as remembered by his grandson, Tom Lord). The Close Rolls text is much shorter and so is unlikely to be the parchment in the photograph.

At the time of this photograph Whitaker’s book was in the possession of Harry L. Bradfer-Lawrence who loaned it to Tot Lord for an exhibition in the 1960s. The Bradfer-Lawrence collection (in part) eventually passed to the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society. Neither book nor charter is in the YAHS collection. However, there is a note kept in the YAHS archives ‘relating to the Grangerized copy of the History of Craven by T.D.Whitaker in the possession of H. Bradfer-Lawrence in 1967’. A Grangerized book was bound with blank leaves, with the expectation that people would add their own prints. This sort of book is named after the 18th-century British clergyman James Granger. This Note is very revealing — it is a list of contents of ‘Dr WHITTAKER’s LIBRARY’. Dr Whitaker died in 1821 and his library was sold by Mr Sotheby in 1823. The priced catalogue shows items connected with his own studies, included in which is listed ‘no. 711 Dr Whitaker’s History of Craven, 1812, large paper, with several illustrative documents, and two letters from the Duke of Devonshire and Dr Paley. £13 5s (Rodd)’. ‘These last two volumes (a copy of History of Whalley was the second volume) were re-sold, Jany. 21st. 1864, for £77 (as recorded in Boynes Yorkshire Library, page 133.)’ A further note is ‘Grangerised items in my coloured copy of WHITAKER’S HISTORY OF CRAVEN’ and item no. 6. Page 137 is Original charter from Henry III to Henry Percy son of Richard Percy granting a market &c. at Settle. Dated 12 April, Henry III, 33’. ‘There are 5 early charters bound in the volume … In addition there are two other charters p.137. Charter of Hen III for market and fair at Settle. This came from Skipton Castle — see Whitaker, p.142.’

How did Bradfer-Lawrence come by the book containing the original 1249 charter and other important documents in his collection? He wrote in 1948 that he collected Lister family records from three distinct sources. Thomas Lister (1752-1826), later Lord Ribblesdale and MP for Clitheroe, inherited the Gisburne estate in 1761. In 1895, the then Lord Ribblesdale regained possession of the estate, but part was sold on his death in 1927. In 1943, the remaining estate was sold. The greater part of family papers came to light in a solicitor’s office during wartime paper salvage operations and Bradfer-Lawrence purchased these. Another large portion were turned over for similar use on the final break-up of the Gisburne Park estate, and a third section came from another wartime clearance from a private house, the owner of which may have been a descendant of an attorney and banker of the Lister family.

All this information is brought together in the article by Clay [1949] which shows a photograph of the 1249 charter (about 8 × 7¼ inches) and the Latin text, but not a translation. Clay says that the charter was discovered unexpectedly in Whitaker’s own copy of the second edition (1812), acquired recently by Mr H.L. Bradfer-Lawrence. The charter was facing page 137 — found in the ‘mouldering remains of the family evidences at Skipton’. The photograph of the charter shown by Clay is clearly the same as that being looked at by Tot Lord.

The YAHS say that Bradfer-Lawrence’s library was sold by his executors in 1968 at Sothebys via multiple auctions, by order of the executors.

It is certain therefore that the original charter is seen in the photograph with Tot Lord, and that it passed from Skipton Castle, to Whitaker, sold by Sothebys to someone in 1823 (sale record destroyed in WWII), then to Bradfer-Lawrence, but where it is now is not known — maybe in someone’s library?

The 1708 charter

A petition for a grant for additional markets was made on behalf of Richard Boyle, great grandson of the second Earl of Cork, who succeeded to the earldoms of Cork and Burlington in 1703, and to the lordship of the manor of Settle. The extraction of more tolls from a regulated market was sought since with the growth of Settle ‘the town and country people of their accord, without the order or consent of the Lord of the Manor and fair there, hold and observe several days and nights of meeting in the said town, and have brought in their goods and chattels to be sold there for the convenience of the country and town for many years without paying any tolls at all.’ The lengthy details of the full petition for a new charter as granted by Queen Anne on 26 May 1708 have been printed by Brayshaw and Robinson [1932, p.126].

The charter as granted is recorded in Patent Rolls [TNA C66/3464] because after 1517 the Charter Rolls were discontinued. The margin note is ‘Petition Earle of Burlington Grant’. A photograph of the four pages is held at Settle Town Hall. A copy of the new grant is held in the archives of Chatsworth House which inconsequentially differs slightly in expanding the first and last sentences. This 1708 charter is much more detailed than the grant of 1249.

In a footnote in the third edition Whitaker [1878] says: ‘There is the docket of a confirmation of a weekly market and annual fair at Settle to the earl of Burlington, dated May 24, 1708; Harl MSS. No. 2263, fol. 225’. This confirmation is printed in Speight [p.83, 1892] and can be viewed online at [Manuscripts in the Harleian Collection, 1808].

A confirmation to Richard, Earl of Burlington, and his heirs, of an antient Weekly Market on Tuesday, and a Fair yearly held for three days on the Vigil, upon the day and on the morrow of St Lawrence within the manor of Setel in the County of York. And also a grant to him and his heires of several other new Faires to be held yearly within the town of Setel in the said county on the days following, vizt. — One Fair on the Tuesday next before Palm Sunday for the buying and selling all sorts of cattle, goods, wares, and merchandizes. Another on the 15th of April for sheep, another on Tuesday next after Whitsunday, for all sorts of cattle, goods, wares, and merchandizes, another on the 23rd June for lambs, another on the 12th October for sheep, another on the Tuesday next after the 16th day of October for all sorts of cattle, goods, wares, and merchandizes, and another on Fryday in every other weeke during three months successively, yearly, to begin on Fryday before Easter, for buying and selling all sorts of cattle.

According to Her Majestie’s pleasure signified by Warrant, under Her Royal Signe Manual, countersigned by Mr Secretary Boyle, subscribed by Mr Solicitor Generall.

John Tench, Deputy to Thomas Gosling Esq.

The charter exhibits legalistic repetitive wordiness. The petition is in Latin, in a clear script, using Latin words written in full for the most part, as distinct from medieval Latin with its many short forms with word endings not given (to save space on expensive parchment). Some words are unusual — ‘vigil’ meaning ‘day before’, ‘crastino’ meaning ‘the day after’ (as in ‘procrastinate’), ‘tolnet(um)’ - toll, ‘theolon(ium)’ - toll, ‘piccag(ium)’ (low Latin) - money paid at fairs for breaking ground for booths, ‘stallag(ium)’ — the right of erecting a stall and payment for it, and ‘nundin(ae)’ meaning fair or market [Martin, 1910]. ‘Nundin(e)’ refers to the Roman practice of having a market every ninth day (novem + dies). The words ‘Cur(ia) ped(is) pulverizat’ are also used — a form of ‘curia pulverisatipedis’. This refers to a Court of Piepowders which was a special court organized by a borough on the occasion of a fair or market. These courts had unlimited jurisdiction over personal actions for events taking place in the market, including disputes between merchants, theft, and acts of violence. The name may refer to the dusty feet (in French, pieds poudrés) of travellers and vagabonds, later applied to the courts who might have dealings with such people. Since the members of courts of piepowder were not sitting on a bench, but walking around in fairs, they would often get their feet dusty. In modern French, the word pied-poudreux is still occasionally used for travelling beggars.

A proclamation was made in 1709, a copy of which is attached to the 1708 charter copy held at Chatsworth House.

17th Oct: 1709 A Coppy of ye Proclamacon for Settle Fair

17th Oct: 1709 A Coppy of ye Agreement betwe ... ...

The Rt Ho(noura)ble Richard Earle of Burlington Cork Baron Clifford Lord Boyle Baron of Youghall Bandon Viscount Kinalmeaky and Dungarvan Lord Leivetenent And Custos Rotuloris of ye West Rideing of ye County of York In his Ma(jes)ties name doth strictly charge & Comand

1st That all and every person & persons that shall Repair, resort and come into this fair and Markett, doe well and Dutifully Observe and keep his Ma(jes)ties peace Laws & Statutes made, for ye Breach of Peace in Fairs & Marketts.

2nd That No person or persons attempt or presume to Ride or goe Armed, or to Carry weare or bear, any Armour, or Weapon, within ye liberty of and during the time of ye faire & Markett here holden, Contrary to ye Same Laws & Statutes (Except such as be attending on ye Steward of ye said Faire) upon ye paine of Forfeiting Such armour or Weapon, And further to be Imprisoned & punished, according to ye Laws and Statutes in that case made & provided.

3rd That all and every person & persons doe Bargaine & Sell Sound and Lawfull Goods, Chattles, wares and Merchandize, And use Lawfull & Allowed Weights & Measures, without fraud or deceit, upon paine of Forfeiting the Same Goods & Chattles, wares and Merchandize, Or ye value thereof.

4° That noe person or persons bargaine or buy any horses, Geldings or Mares within & during the time of ye Faire aforesaid, Before true Testimony bee given of the Lawfull Owner, And thereupon be Entered in ye Toll book kept for this fair, according to ye Statute in ye case provided Nor take nor withdraw any Such Horses, Geldings or Mares or any other Goods, Chattles, Wares or Merchandize, Sold and bought within and during ye time of this faire, & Markett, before due Toll be paid for ye same, to ye Officer or Officers, appointed for ye receipt thereof, upon ye Like paine of Forfeiting ye Same, Horses, geldings, Mares, Goods, Chattles, wares, Merchandize, or ye value thereof.

5 And lastly If any person or persons have any wrong or Injury done to them by reason of any Contract, or bargaine, made within and during the time of this faire & Markett Lett ’em repaire to ye Steward thereof att his Chamber, And Informe their Cause, in Course of Law, And ye Same Shall be heard & Tried according to Law Justice & Equity.

God Save King George (Queen Anne) & the Rt Ho(noura)ble Richard Earle of Burlington &c.

Brayshaw and Robinson [1932, p128] give the same text but the proclamation made at a later time is prefaced with

The Most Noble William Duke of Devonshire, Chief Lord of this Fair, In his majesty’s Name does strictly charge and command

and finishes

God Save the King and the Most Noble William Spencer, Duke of Devonshire, The Steward, and Gentlemen attending him.

The proclamation was made at the market cross at the start of every fair.


The matter of the Settle market charter is more complicated than might at first appear and is elaborated by Clay and Brayshaw and Robinson in detail, with all its financial implications — principally the imposition of more tolls on Settle market in 1708. The finding of the 1249 charter in the Grangerized version of Whitaker’s book remains possible, but perhaps we have to accept that this is unfortunately lost. Nevertheless, we have the enrolled version in safe hands in The National Archives and we should be grateful that the parchment roll has survived for over 700 years.


The supply without charge of a copy of the 1708 charter and the attached proclamation held at Chatsworth House, in the Devonshire Manuscripts, by kind permission of the Chatsworth House Trust, archivist Aidan Haley, is gratefully acknowledged. Sothebys (Ms Kolila) and the Special Collections in the Brotherton Library at Leeds University (Dr Rebecca Bowd) have provided very helpful information. Rebecca Hill, Settle Town Council clerk was most helpful in showing what is held at the Town Hall.


  • Brayshaw, T. and Robinson, R.M., 1932. A history of the ancient parish of Giggleswick, London.
  • CChR, Calendar of Charter Rolls, 1258. 42 Henry III Edward I, vol. 2, 1257-1300pages 11 and 12, Membrane 2. Granted on June 12 at Oxford.
  • CChR, Calendar of Charter Rolls, 1249. Henry III 1226-1257, vol. 6, page 340.Membrane 4. 12 April.
  • Clay, C. T., 1949. Henry III’s charter of a market and Fair at Settle. Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, part 146, second part of vol. 37, pp. 145 — 147.
  • CR, 1249. Close Rolls of the Reign of Henry III(private orders addressed to sheriffs) 1227-1272, vol. 6, page 153. Online at, page 153.
  • Dent, G., 1972. Markets and Fairs: Their contribution to rural life in North-West Yorkshire. Journal of Ethnological Studies, vol. 10, Issue 1, pp. 5-25.
  • Manuscripts in the Harleian Collection, 1808. A catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 1808. British Museum, London. See It is item no. 197, folio 225. These docquets relate to the Office of the Privy Seal in 1707 and 1708.  Docquet books, or registers, give abstracts of all documents issued under the privy seal.
  • Martin, C.T., 1910. The record interpreter, London.
  • Speight, H., 1892. The Craven and North-West Yorkshire Highlands. London.
  • TNA C53/41 membrane 4. Charter Rolls, Hen III, 1249.
  • TNA C66/3464, 1708. Chancery and Supreme Court of Judicature: Patent Rolls Part 2.
  • West Yorkshire Archive Service, WYAS DB24/C4. Translation of 1249 charter. (Unknown author).
  • Whitaker, T.D., 1878. The history and antiquities of the Deanery of Craven, Leeds and London. See for First edition, 1805.
  • Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society, YAS/MS1305. Notes relating to the Grangerised copy of The History of Craven by T. D. Whitaker in the possession of H. Bradfer-Lawrence in 1967.

The original 1249 charter (from Clay, 1949)
Tot Lord looking at the 1249 Settle Market Charter bound into a Grangerised copy of Whitaker’s The history and antiquities of the Deanery of Craven, 2nd edition, 1812. ©Tom Lord
Settle Market

The original 1249 charter (from Clay, 1949)

Tot Lord looking at the 1249 Settle Market Charter bound into a Grangerised copy of Whitaker’s The history and antiquities of the Deanery of Craven, 2nd edition, 1812. ©Tom Lord

Settle Market