Statute of Edward I (A.D. 1297)

Of the Council of Ireland by the magnates of all that island.

The Justiciar here, with the common council of the lord the King in this land, in order to establish peace more firmly, ordained and appointed a general parliament here at this day. And it was commanded to the Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, and Priors, whose presence seems to be hereunto necessary, also to the Earls, Barons, and other chief persons of this land, to wit, to each of them severally, that they should be here at this day, &c. And likewise it was commanded to the sheriffs of Dublin, Louth, Kildare, Waterford, Tipperary, Cork, Limerick, Kerry, Connaught, and Roscommon, and also to the seneschals of the liberties of Meath, Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny, and Ulster, that each of them by himself, to wit, the sheriff in hid full county court, and the seneschal in his full court of the liberty, by the assent of his county or liberty, should cause to be elected two of the most honest and discreet knights of the several counties and liberties, that they should now be present here, having full power from the whole community of the county and liberty, &c., to do and to receive, &c., that each sheriff and seneschal should be here in their proper persons, &c. And Thomas bishop of Meath, Nicholas bishop of Leighlin, &c., and Richard de Burgo earl of Ulster, now come, and in like manner Richard Taff sheriff of Dublin, William de Hacche sheriff of Louth, &c., Walter Trouman seneschal of Trim, &c., likewise come, and their writs returned, and Walter de la Haye and Eustace lo Poer, elected by the community of the liberty of Kilkenny, George de Rupe, elected by the community of the county of Limerick, &c., came. And Nicholas archbishop of Armagh and the others, excusing their absence, sent here their proctors or attorneys, to wit, the said Archbishop I. and N., &c., but William archbishop of Tuam, &c., came not. And in like manner Hugh de Leis, one of those elected by the county of Limerick, &c., came not. Therefore they in mercy. And in presence of the aforesaid Bishops of Meath and Leighlin and the Earl and Barons, and other chief persons here appearing of the common council of the lord the King in this land, certain provisions were made and by all unanimously agreed to and granted, saving the right of the lord the King, &c..

I. Firstly, whereas it is seen that the county of Dublin is too much scattered, and the parts thereof too far removed from each other and dispersed, as well Ulster and Meath, and then Leinster with the vale of Dublin, &c., whereby it less competently obeys the lord the King in his precepts and those of his court, and also his people is less adequately ruled or governed. It is agreed that henceforward there be a sheriff in Ulster, as well of the crosses of Ulster, as to carry out executions in the liberty of Ulster, when default is found in the seneschal of the aforesaid liberty, and that the sheriff of Dublin intermeddle not henceforth in Ulster. It is also agreed that Meath be a county by itself, to wit, as well the land of the liberty of Trim as the land of Theobald de Verdon, and all the lands of the crosses being within the precinct of Meath, and that there be henceforth a sheriff there, and that he hold his county court at Kells on each Thursday after the county court of Dublin, and he shall make executions in tbe aforesaid liberty of Trim when default is found, &c. And the aforesaid Theobald de Verdon, for himself and Almaric de Saint Amand his tenant and their heirs, granted that they will henceforth do suit at the said county court of Meath aforesaid, so that they be absolved from the suits which they owe at the county court of Dublin, and it is granted unto them. Moreover that the county of Kildare, which was formerly a liberty intentive to the county of Dublin, be henceforth a county by itself, together with the Cross lands and other lands of the parceners of the lordship of Leinster, contained within the precinct of the same, totally discharged from the jurisdiction of the sheriff of Dublin. And that a sheriff be there as now is, &c..

II. Likewise whereas some great persons and others who have divers lands in the marches near the Irish, and other lands in a land of peace, remain and dwell in their manors in a land of peace, their lands in the marches being left waste and uncultivated and without a guard; and Irish felons by means of such waste lands in their marches, pass freely through to perpetrate robberies, homicides, and other mischiefs upon the English, and return through them without arrest, hue-and-cry, or hindrance; whereby very many marches are either altogether destroyed or are for the greater part ruinous, and the English inhabitants either obey felons or are driven as it were into exile. It is agreed that tenants of this kind, of whatever authority or condition they be, place and have wards in their lands in the march, according to the quantity of those lands, lest malefactors pass through those lands unpunished or not pursued, and as often as it shall be necessary, tenants of this kind may be distrained thereunto, by taking their lands into the hand of the lord the King, and by other methods which the court of the lord the King shall see most expedient.

III. Frequently also it happens that felons escape with their booty, sometimes taken in a land of peace, because the country people have not armed horse to pursue them as would be expedient. Wherefore it is agreed and granted that every tenant holding xx. librates of land, whether in the march or in land of peace, of whatsoever condition he be, have a horse suitably caparisoned together with the other arms which hereunto pertain, constantly ready in his dwelling. And that other tenants have hobbies and other horses unarmed according to their abilities. And as often as default shall be found in any one, that the defaulter be distrained and punished, according to the discretion of the Justice, sheriff, and seneschal. The magnates also and others who reside in England or elsewhere out of this land, who cause the profits of their land to be transmitted to them from this land, leaving nothing here to protect their tenements or the tenants thereof, shall from henceforth permit a competent portion to remain at least in the hands of their bailiffs, whereby their own lands may be sufficiently saved and defended, if it happen that war or disturbance of peace should be excited there by any persons. And that when it shall be necessary they shall be effectually distrained by the sheriff or the seneschal to do this.

IV. Frequently also felons escape with their spoils, by reason that the country people do not rise together with them [those plundered], but some of them, as if exulting in the damage and ruin of their neighbour, at which they ought justly to grieve, feign and conceal themselves, permitting such felons to pass unhurt with their spoils.
Wherefore it is agreed and granted that when thieves or lobbers shall come into any country to take spoils or to any other mischief, all the country people, as soon as their approach can come to their knowledge, rise together and effectually pursue them. And whosoever of those country people can be convicted of having been negligent or remiss in rising or in pursuing them shall be heavily Penalty, punished towards the lord the King, and shall restore to the injured party a proportion of the property lost, according to the criminality of his negligence or remissness, and according to the discretion of the Justice assigned to hear such complaint.

V. Because also the commonalty of this land was hitherto much aggrieved by armies, which great men have led without warrant through the midst of a land of peace and of marches where there was no war. It is agreed and granted that from henceforth it shall not be lawful to anyone to lead an army out of his own land, unless he shall have had a licence for this from the Chief Justiciar, or a special mandate, and then all, as many as he shall have led, shall receive their wages from their leader, that they may be reasonably supported on their expedition.
And he who shall contravene this ordinance shall be heavily punished towards the lord the King, and restore to the injured their damages to be assessed by a competent [jury of] the neighbourhood.

VI. The same commonalty has also on many occasions been aggrieved by magnates and others having kernes, continually living at other people’s expense, as well in the marches as in land of peace, whereby the people is excessively impoverished. Whereupon it is agreed and granted that no person henceforward, of whatsoever authority or condition he be, keep kernes or idle men more or other than he himself can and will, out of his own resources, support; nor shall any of such idle men henceforth take anything from any neighbour of his lord or other, against the unconstrained will of the giver ; which if it be done henceforward, he who shall have kept such idle men shall be heavily punished by the Justice, sheriff and seneschal, and indemnify the injured, and that such idle man be taken and imprisoned until he shall have deserved to obtain grace from the court of the lord the King; nor shall he be discharged from prison without bail for his good behaviour in future.

VII. Frequently also Irish felons are better enabled to perpetrate crimes by this means, namely, that when they happen to be at war, or intend to destroy any person, they demand truces or armistices to be given to them by some of the English of their neighbours for a certain time, that they may be more completely and securely at leisure to destroy their other neighbours, whom, when they have destroyed, it often happens that the same Irishmen within the time of the truce or armistice attack those whose friends they had before pretended to be, and destroy and burn their forcelets and manors. Therefore lest such a danger occur hereafter, it is agreed and granted that it shall not be lawful to any person henceforth to have or to hold truces or armistices with the Irish, being at war or out of the peace, unless that truce or armistice be universal and equal towards all, none of the lieges being excepted or left out; and that he who otherwise shall have taken or granted a truce or armistice to Irishmen being out of the peace, shall be punished towards the lord the King as a partaker of the guilt of such Irishmen, and shall restore to the injured party a proportion of the property lost, as is above said of a countryman not willing to rise with his neighbour against a felon.

VIII. Frequently also the Irish are stirred up to war hereby, that when they are at peace or have had a general truce or armistice for a certain time, or tuition of the peace has been granted to them by the Court of the lord the King, some led by covetousness, others from motives of revenge, envy, or of taking pledges, lying in wait for them, rush suddenly or by night upon them, enter their lands, carry off spoils or take and lead away their cattle or the men found in their marches, who at least in the meantime are committing no mischief against any person; whereby those Irish, as they are excitable, rush instantly to war, and wherever the country is believed to be weakest there they plunder, as well those who were in nothing partakers of the wrong done them, nor did they know thereof or consent to it, as the friends and kin of such transgressors, whereby the countries are devastated in many places and so much the sooner, because it rarely happens that such transgressors interfere loyally to support the peace of the marches. Therefore to avoid such mischief hereafter, it is agreed and granted that it shall not be lawful to any person in future for any cause or pretence to invade or attack any Irishmen being at peace, or having a fixed truce or armistice, during the time of the truce or armistice or during the time of the tuition of the peace granted to them, provided those Irishmen shall have kept the peace during such time, nor to seize or take anything from them against their unconstrained will ; which if any person shall presume to contravene, he shall be heavily punished towards the lord the King as a disturber of his peace, and shall also restore to the Irish so injured, their damages to be assessed by a competent [jury of] the neighbourhood.

IX. Frequently also it happens that when the Irish have betaken themselves suddenly or unexpectedly to war, the Chief Justiciar acting then in remote parts, few or none are found who can resist and repress or interrupt their ravages; whereby the lands of the marches are very often extensively devastated. To obviate which danger in future, it is agreed and granted that as soon as the Irish by homicides or burnings or plunderings shall have set themselves to war, all persons dwelling in the county or liberty where those Irish are remaining, and also their neighbours on the confine of their marches, shall with one accord and jointly rise upon the Irish and maintain war upon them at their own expense, until those Irishmen shall have rendered themselves to peace or obtained truces or armistices from the magnates of that land, hereunto deputed, or the Chief Justiciar shall have determined to order anything else therein. And that he who is not obedient to this ordinance shall also by the Justice, sheriff or seneschal be distrained and punished for his rebellion according to the deserts of his crime.

X. Likewise, the Irish confiding in the thickness of the woods and the depth of the adjacent bogs become more rapidly daring in doing mischief, especially when the King’s highway in very many places is now so closed up and obstructed by the thickness of quickly growing wood, that scarcely any person, even on foot, can pass through them, whereby when the Irish returning after their misdeeds can reach a wood of this kind or a bog, although the country people in a body should wish to pursue them, and do pursue them, they often escape without hurt, whereas if access were open, they would be caught by those who pursue them. Whereupon it is ordained and granted that the lords of the woods through the midst whereof the King’s highway anciently was, shall with their tenants cause passes, where the King’s highway should be, to be cut and cleared low down, close to the ground, and sufficiently wide, at their own expense, and that of their tenants, so that a road of a sufficient width may be opened, and totally cleared from briars and trees as well standing as lying. But if the lord and his tenants of the place where the pass should be cut, cannot without great loss support the costs necessary for such cutting, then that the lord the King or the Chief Justiciar do cause them to have aid from the whole adjacent country. And if that lord with his tenants shall have neglected so to do, that he be distrained by the sheriff to do the same, or the Chief Justiciar may cause it to be done at their expense, and that they nevertheless be heavily punished towards the lord the King. That bridges also and causeways be repaired in their places as they ought and used to be, and where either bridges or causeways shall be broken and demolished, and he who is bound to repair them is not sufficient for such great expense, that the districts for whose benefit they shall be raised shall find means in common to rebuild them, and that when rebuilt he who is bound shall maintain them, and that nevertheless when ability shall serve him he shall restore to every person what he has paid. And that the Chief Justiciar Penalty, heavily punish those whom he shall find adverse or rebellious to this ordinance. Also that the whole community of Leinster, which formerly was one liberty, shall together levy, together contribute to, together maintain, war against the Irish, be led by a common counsel, and that the refractory and discordant be heavily punished.

XI. Englishmen also as degenerate in modern times, attire themselves in Irish garments and having their heads half shaven, grow and extend the hairs from the back of the head and call them Culan, conforming themselves to the Irish, as well in garb as in countenance, whereby it frequently happens that some Englishmen reputed as Irishmen are slain, although the killing of Englishmen and of Irishmen requires different modes of punishment. And by such killing matter of enmity and rancour is generated amongst many. The kindred also, as well of the slayer as of the slain, are often by turns struck down as enemies. And therefore it is agreed and granted that all Englishmen in this land wear, at least in that part of the head which presents itself most to view, the mode and tonsure of Englishmen, nor longer presume to turn their hair in the Culan, which if they shall do, that the Justice, sheriff, seneschal of liberties, and also the lords in whose lordship such Englishmen may be found, and their seneschal distrain and compel those Englishmen by their lands and chattels, and also, if it shall be necessary, by arrest of their body and imprisonment, to relinquish the Irish dress at least in the head or hair, and that there be no further answer made to an Englishman having his head transformed in the fashion of an Irishman, than would be made to an Irishman if he should complain in the like case.

XII. That there be henceforth assigned in every county and every liberty where the Irish are inhabitants, two magnates, who when the Chief Justiciar happen to be in remote parts, when the Irish of those parts may lawfully treat for the good of peace with those placing themselves in a state of war; and if the common advantage demand, may grant them, for some short space of time, a general truce or armistice, under good security to be given hereupon, and shall immediately send to the Chief Justiciar what is done hereupon, distinctly and openly, that the Justiciar himself may cause a sufficient remedy to be ordained hereupon.

Source: Internet Archive