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A Translation of Wolverhampton's Original Market Charter of 985AD

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. When the gracious creator of the world, after driving out the ancient inhabitants of Paradise, had delivered up the ambit of the scattered land for our forefather to exercise with his labours, to the intent that the land far and wide might flourish green for the companies of the offspring of our fathers as they should be born, lest fierce hunger should strike mortals whom the false horned serpent had driven in miserable flight from the immortal rest of paradise. He granted separate monarchies of nations to be governed by various rulers; he preordaned also by his omnipotent will that the sceptres of the vast world should be ruled over by famous kings, in order that they may freely grant to those who are sober and devotedly obedient to them to enjoy the insignia of chief men and satraps, but may punish according to their deserts with the troubles of this passing life those who are disaffected and perniciously mock at them with the avaricious cunning of this age, and may gain for themselves also the tireless and sweetest joys of the contemplative life where they may feast themselves upon honeyed sweetness, and instead of the very small things of this temporal life, may, by the grace of justice and the offering of gifts to Christ and his servants, ascend to the summits of the kingdom of the skies, and may together with the inhabitants of heaven, be enriched with the imperishable and golden crown of an eternal home. Wherefore, casting off the lowest things as though scouring off filth, and choosing the highest things after the fashion of most precious necklaces, and fixing the mind on everlasting joys in order to obtain the compassion of honeyed sweetness and to enjoy the felicity of infinite happiness,

I, Ethelred, King of the Angles, by the right hand of the accomplisher of all things raised to the seat of the kingdom of the whole of Britain, grant to a certain lady of the name of Wulfrun certain portions of lands, that is to say ten hives separated in two places, that is: nine in the place that is called - et heantune - and in like manor one dwelling in that place which in English is called et treselcotum - for a eternal inheritance, to the intent that she may well enjoy and possess them forever, as long as she passes unharmed through the course of this passing life and the spirit of life dwells in her corruptible flesh, and that after her departure from this life she may have free power of granting them to whatsoever heir it may please her. Now if it shall have happened at any time that any man openly produce any book to the annihilation of these letters, let him be altogether condemned by all sorts of men and destroyed by every diligence of truth, in whichever of the kings' my predecessors' time it shall have been prescribed. Let then the aforesaid lands be free from every worldly hindrance, together with all things which are discerned to belong to these places as well in great as in small things, fields, pastures, meadows, woods and water courses. Three things expected, military service, construction of bridges and fortification of castles. Finally, if against my wishes, any persons weighed down by the envy of avarice shall have busied themselves in violating this charter of freedom let them together with the forces of black darkness fall down and hear the voice of the judge at the great day of judgement saying to them "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire," where, together with devils they may be tortured with hot irons in cruel punishment, unless before death they shall have made amends for this with worthy penitence. The aforesaid land is seen to be surrounded by these boundaries:

First from the goose-brook shot onto Saeffan Moor, thence against the stream from seven springs brook, from the brook to one spring, from the spring to the other spring, from the spring into the dike along the dike to one boundary mark, from the boundary mark to the boundaries of Bilston, thence to the boundary of Sedgley, so to the Scurf's moor, from the moor to the hill brook, along the brook so to wet Lea, from wet Lea up to the Snows, from the Snows straight over the plain till it comes to where the path shoots onto the street that lies from Byrngyth's Stone, along the path so to the Gallows Tree, from the Tree to the Broad Street till it comes to the Meadow, thence along the Meadow sitch till it comes to Tresel, up along Tresel, so again to the Goose-Brook shot onto Saeffan Moor.

In the year of Our Lord's Incarnation DCCCC.LXXXV this charter was passed, the thirteenth indiction, these witnesses consenting whose names are inscribed below:

I Etherald, king, of the Angles, holding the summit of the whole kingdom, have willingly granted the freedom of this gift.
I Dunstan, Archbishop of the church of Canterbury have confirmed the freedom of the same with the sign of the holy cross.
I Oswald, Archbishop of the church of York, have noted the donation of the same with the symbol of the cross.
I Elfstan, Bishop, have confirmed.
I Ethelgar, Bishop, have countersigned.
I Elfheah, Bishop, have consolidated.
I Escwig, Bishop, have agreed.
I Sigar, Bishop, have concluded.
I Athulf, Bishop, have subscribed.
I Elfric, Bishop, have not refused.
I Ethelsige, Bishop, have acquiesced.
I Ethelwine, Ealdorman.
I Byrhtnoth, Ealdorman.
I Ethelweard, Ealdorman.
I Elfric, Ealdorman.
I Thureth, Ealdorman.
I Ordbriht, Eardorman.
I Siric, Ealdorman.
I Leofric, Ealdorman.
I Elfhere, abbot.
I Elfweard, abbot.
I Elfsige, kings thegn.
I Wulfsige, kings thegn.
I Elfgar, kings thegn.
I Ethelsige, kings thegn.
I Elfric, kings thegn.
I Leofric, kings thegn.
I Elfhelon, kings thegn.
I Leofstan, kings thegn.
I Wulfric, kings thegn.
I Ethelmer.

 



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Copyright © 2004 Wolverhampton City Council - Page reviewed 08 April 2004