Statute Merchant bonds registered at Nottingham

The higher credit market and the urban centre



The administrative framework

By 23 Henry VIII c.6, statute merchant bonds became available to all types of creditors and debtors. Hitherto, under the statutes of Acton Burnell (1283) and de Mercatoribus (1285), this instrument had been restricted to the commercial arrangements of merchants. Nottingham, like some other incorporated boroughs, had acquired the privilege of registering statute merchant bonds, originally as an integral part of commercial activity. Through the extension of the statutes merchant in 1532, the borough developed into an institution for the administration of local credit arrangements for higher amounts. In particular, the gentry families availed themselves of this facility for registering their credit arrangements. This local registration provided security which was enhanced by the statutory requirement that obligations not satisfied had to be certified into Chancery by the mayor. The certificates of those referred statutes merchant are contained in The National Archives C241. A memorandum of the certification was also entered in the local record. Only a small number of the statutes were certified into Chancery, so the locally registered statutes provide a much wider perception of the organization of local credit for higher amounts.

The obligations were registered before the mayor and the Clerk for Statutes Merchant and inscribed in the 'mayor's books' and then the 'hall books' each year. From c.1608, the Clerk for Statutes began to record notes about his knowledge of the defeasance which contained the conditions of the bond. These notes are included here. The Clerk also noted the fees, which are not reproduced here, but basically extended from 2s to 12s6d, depending on the complexity of the arrangements (including correspondence) and the amount of the obligation.

In due course, the analysis will comprise: