Cloth Seal, Norwich Weavers' Company Seal, Wardens

Norwich Mayor's Court Book, folio 139v

Certain Norwich cloth seals show letters in a well known style as follows:- 'NO / RWI / CH' or variants with differing numbers of letters on different lines and on the other side the surname initials of the 12 wardens of Norwich and Norfolk for that particular year e.g. 'PR / RMTB / HSPB / PC'

Information taken from Geoff Egan, No.82, Fig.21 'Lead Cloth Seals and Related Items in the British Museum' Occasional Paper 93.
"The initials are those of the wardens for 1670: Robert Phillipe, William Rix, James Rigg, Thomas March, Sebast Tawerneare[*], Thomas Browne, William Hunt, Tho Selth, Robert Pecke, Thomas Browne, John Porter, Greg Claxton (Mayor's Court Book, folio 139/139v), i.e. giving on the stamp:
There is a parallel in the Cuming Museum."

Below is page 139v from the Mayor's Court Book showing six wardens and fifteen assistants for the County of Norfolk in 1670. (Page 139 shows six wardens and fifteen assistants for the City of Norwich for 1670.) The original document is deposited in the Norfolk Record office under reference: NCR Case 16a/24.

The wardens for the County of Norfolk on the page shown here match the last six in Egan's list above. A near complete list of the wardens from 1657 - 1705 can be found in Provenanced Leaden Seals, Geoffrey Egan, Department of Medieval Archaelogy, University College,University of London, 1987.

*Mrs F.M. Wilkins-Jones, Senior Archivist (Local Authority and Public Records), Norfolk Record Office has communicated the following to me, "Folio 139r of the Mayor's Court Book (NCR Case 16a/24) lists the officers of 'the Company of Worstedwevers of the City of Norwich' and folio 139v lists the officers of 'the Company of Worstedwevers for the County of Norfolk'. I have not checked all Mr Egan's transcriptions of the names but I think that he has made a mistake with one of them: 'Sebast Tawerneare' should be 'Sebast[ian] Taveneare'. He is probably the Sebastian Taverniers of Norwich whose will was proved in 1690 (ANW will register 1690, 1692 f.181 no. 146)."

Statutes that enforced this regulation:-
Charles II, 1662 An Act for regulating the making of Stuffs in Norfolke and Norwich. (from British History Online) "Whereas divers abuses and deceipts have of late yeares beene used in the making of Worsteds and other Stuffs comonly called Norwich Stuffs and in the reeling of Yarns whereof the said Stuffs are either wholly or in parte made which tends to the debasing of the said Manufacture unto the prejudice of the Publique which said Trade of weaveing of Stuffs hath of late times beene very much encreased and great variety of new sorts of Stuffs have beene invented so that the Power given by the Statute of the Seaventh of Edward the Fourth[*] Chapter the First is not sufficient for the regulateing of the same And that the number of the Wardens by the same Act appointed being but Eight are to few for the governeing and ordering the same Trade ... there shall be Twelve Wardens and thirty Assistants all which are to be Master Weavers within the County of the Citty of Norwich and County of Norfolk six of which said Wardens and fifteen of the said Assistants shall be chosen the first Monday after Pentecost in the Yeare of our Lord God One thousand six hundred sixty and two and from thence forth yearely and every yeare on the next Monday after Pentecost at some publique place by the Master Weavers or the greater part of them present of the said City and County of Norwich and the other six Wardens and fifteene Assistants shall be chosen upon the same day yearely ... hereby have Power and Authority from time to time so often as need shall require to make and ordaine By-lawes Rules and Ordinances for and concerning the regulation of the said WorstedStuffs and other Stuffs nowe made and which hereafter shall be made within the said City and County of the City of Norwich and County of Norfolk and in either of them both in length breadth and goodnesse and of such other particulars as shall by the said Wardens and Assistants soe met or the greater number of them from time to time be judged requisite for the better regulateing the said Trade and Manufacture and the Artificers of the same in the due execution of this Act (and to make Seales from time to time for the sealing of the same Stuffs) which By-Lawes Rules and Ordinances being ratified and confirmed by the Maior and two Justices of Peace of the said City and County of Norwich for the time being and three other Justices of the Peace of the said County of Norfolke (whereof one to be of the Quo[rum]) shall be published foure times in the yeare at the least att foure Publique Assemblies for the said Trade and Manufacture and shall be obeyed and kept by the severall persons within and under the said Regulation ... And it is hereby further enacted That all sorts of Stuffs whether woven of Woollen only or of Wool and other Materials within the City and County of Norwich and the County of Norfolke and the Makers and Weavers of the same Stuffs shall be under the power goverment and regulation of the said Wardens & Assistants in such manner as by this and other Acts of Parliament and the By Lawes made and to be made by vertue thereof are or shall be established (except such Stuffs as are under the regulation of the Wardens and Fellowshipp of the mystery of Russell Sattens, Sattens, Reverses and Fustians of Norwich making within the City of Norwich) And that all Stuffs made or to be made under the Regulation aforesaid before the same shall be offered or put to sale shall be brought to Weavers Hall for the time being within the County of the City of Norwich to be veiwed and searched by the said Wardens or any two of them And if the same shall be found to be well and sufficiently made and wrought according to the Rules and Ordinances of the said Trade then all such Stuffs shall bee by the Wardens or any two of them sealed and allowed accordingly without any sum of money paid or to be paid for the same And if upon search and veiw thereof any such Stuffs shall be found and appeare to be defective contrary to the Rules and Ordinances of the said Wardens and Assistants then all such defective Stuffs shall be seized ... And that every Person under the said Regulation shall weave his proper Stuff Mark into every peice of Stuff which he shall weave or cause to bee woven." This acts also mentions penalties for wardens putting seals on defective cloth, for buying unsealed cloth, for counterfeiting seals and for continuing to weave during harvest time! There is also a proviso to disallow this act being used to compel the weavers of Great Yarmouth and Lyn in the County of Norfolk to bring there produce to Norwich to be sealed.

*Original statute of Edward IV taken from (British History Online) An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: volume 3, Chapter XX: The History of the City and County of Norwich, Francis Blomefield 1806, "In 1467, was an act made for the true making of worsteds in Norwich and Norfolk, by which the men of the craft, that is, the worsted weavers, were authorised every Whitsun-Monday to choose four wardens of the same craft living in the city, and the artificers of the same craft in the county of Norfolk; the same day to choose four wardens of the craft in the county; all which wardens shall come on the Monday next after Corpus Christi, and be sworn before the mayor of the city, and the steward of the dutchy of Lancaster, if he be in the county and present, else before the mayor only; and all the said wardens, or else the greatest part of them, as well within the city as without, shall have full power, for a year next following, to survey all the worsteds made, and make such rules and ordinances as they shall think meet, for the good of the craft. The wardens have full power to search all worsteds in Norwich, Suffolk, and Cambridge, as well in the looms as out, and to convene any persons that are faulty or disobedient to their ordinances, before the mayor or steward, who shall punish them at their discretions; and every man shall put his proper mark on every piece, under pain of forfeiture. The wardens shall assign a certain place or two in the city, and others in the county, and certain days every week, when every piece shall be brought and searched by them, and if approved, they shall fix their token or seal thereto, without fee or reward; and all mayors, sheriffs, and bailiffs, when the wardens require them, shall be attending, aiding, and supporting them in their search. And in 1468, this statute was extended to Essex."


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