Medieval baker's oven
Medieval Baker's oven

Abbot Hugh's Charter
setting up
The Guild of Bakers 1166x1180

Translated from the Latin original


Abbot Hugh ruled the abbey of St Edmund from 1157 to 1180. This is an interesting charter granted by him during the period of 1166 to 1180, to the Guild of Bakers. It was printed in 1932 in Douglas's Feudal Documents, and contains the earliest known reference to a trade guild in Bury.

The Guild of Bakers was to receive the privilege of an hereditary aldermanship, the first one being William, son of Ingered, and his successors.

There were fines of ten shillings for anyone who baked bread and was not a member. If members broke guild rules they paid a fine to the guild of ten shillings and they also had to pay the same sum as a fine to the Sacrist.

Bury St Edmunds: A Charter setting up or formalising the Bakers' Guild at St Edmund's Bury.

Granted by Abbot Hugh probably between 1166 and 1180

1Abbot's salutations

Hugh by the Grace of God Abbot of St Edmund's, to all honestly Liege men of St Edmund, health.

2The Bakers Guild is formally set up

Know you that I here granted to the bakers of the villa of St Edmund their guild to hold well in peace

3Only Guild members will be allowed to bake bread or give permission for baking

so that no one except he should be brother of their Guild presume to make bread to be baked unless with the consent of the brothers of the guild

4Penalty for illicit bread making

and I prohibit this to be under the inspection of 20 shillings and if the inspection shall have happened the half of the inspection shall be to the sacrist and half to the brothers of the same guild

5William is named as the Guild's hereditary Alderman

I here granted at their common request to William the Son of Ingard and his heirs to the Alderman of that Guild

6Guild members must bake bread according to the Rule of the Guild

and if anyone of the Brothers of the aforesaid Guild shall be disgraced in the making of his bread contrary to the crown assize of corn of that guild he shall pay as a forfeiture 20 shillings half to the sacrist and half to the brothers of that guild

7Penalty of expulsion for failing members

and if he will not do this he shall leave them in (the manner in?) which bakers had in the time of King Henry

8Abbot retains some oversight for the good of the church and town

I will therefore and strictly command that the aforesaid William, his heirs, and the bakers ? the beforesaid L and they hold it lo? and ? so long as they legally exercise their employment to the advantage of the church and of the whole villa of St Edmund.

9Witnesses to the Charter

To this my grant are witness Philip de Herthig, Robert son of Hum?, Henry my brother, Gaufrid de Meles Helgay the Baller, Hugh de Burford, Hugh de Columbariis, Waburh the clerk of the abbot


Punctuation is by the translator in most cases.

The headings and breaking into numbered clauses are the author's insertions.


Original source: Douglas 1932:149
(Professor D C Douglas published his "Feudal Documents of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds", in 1932)

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