1299 Charter

There had been a developing town where the River Hull met the Humber for about 100 years before the Charter. It was called Wyke and was owned by the Abbey of Meaux. In 1296 King Edward I bought Wyke, and the neighbouring settlement of Myton, from the monks of Meaux, as an investment and to provide a base for supplying by sea his troops in Scotland.

1299 Charter

By this charter, dated 1 April 1299, King Edward gave to the town a new name, Kingston upon Hull, and the status of a borough. It was to become a self governing community, with its own court, coroner, market and taxation. There was to be a Warden, subsequently the Mayor, who alone was to represent the King. No other government official was to have any jurisidiction over the borough.

The charter is written on parchment, which is treated animal skin. It is written in Latin, and is addressed to the important people of the Kingdom. To verify it it is sealed with the Great Seal of England. This shows the King seated on his throne on one side and mounted on a horse on the other.

Later Charters
Other kings and queens gave charters to Hull over the years, granting new privileges and confirming existing ones. But the 1299 charter is the oldest and began the process which led to Hull becoming the thriving City we know today.

In 1440, a further charter incorporated the town and instituted local government consisting of a mayor, a sheriff, and twelve aldermen.

Towns weren’t allowed to do any of the things listed in the Charter without royal permission. So for example a market in a town not granted one would be illegal. This was due to taxation regulation purposes.

Many of the rights and regulations were related to trade, tax regulation and England’s allies at the time – this was particularly the case under Elizabeth I and Henry III.

A selection of the rights and responsibilities outlined in Hull's Charters

Under Edward II (1272-1307), Kingston upon Hull is allowed to hold a monthly market. Kingston upon Hull was also allowed to hold a fair every year for 30 days (this became today’s Hull Fair)

Under Henry VIII (1509 – 1547), Foreigners were not allowed to buy or sell within the town of Kingston upon Hull except during the markets or fairs the King allowed.

[Henry VIII had a residence here which became a weapons store under Charles 1st]

Under Edward VI (1547-1553):

  • Hull was granted the right to have courts of justice.  He also granted the castle and blockhouses.
  • Fees from rent were to be paid to the Crown on August 1st of every year.

Under Elizabeth I (1558-1603):

  • The Mayor and citizens of Hull could buy and export grain. Customs fees would be paid to the queen on exported grains.
  • Foreigners could not buy or sell within Hull except during markets and fairs approved by the queen (salt and fish excepted).
  • Merchandise sold by or bought by citizens of Hull trading with foreigners could be seized by the queen.
  • Officers, Alderman and the Mayors of the Town of Hull would be chosen by elections.
  • The town of Hull was granted 2 markets a week in a convenient place.
  • Hull would have magistrates who will be allowed to investigate crimes.
  • Merchants of Hull could buy Herrings only from Marstrand in Scandinavia. [Elizabeth had a good relationship with Sweden and Denmark which is why salt and fish were excepted from her foreign trade limitations and why people were allowed to trade with Marstrand (in Sweden)]