The Bailiffs' Minute Book of Dunwich, 1404-1430

September 1992
1 line illustrations
159 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Suffolk Records Society
ISBN: 9780851153063
Format: Hardback
Suffolk Records Society
Boydell Press

The Bailiffs' Minute Book of Dunwich, 1404-1430

Edited by Mark Bailey

An important 15th century source throws light on the organisation of what was one of medieval England's wealthiest ports.
In 1200 the Suffolk town of Dunwich was one of medieval England's wealthiest ports. However, a succession of marine inundations in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries drastically reduced its size and importance. Evocative descriptions of Dunwich's long struggle against the sea abound, but little has been written about the medieval town itself.
The Bailiffs' Minute Book of 1404-30 is the single most substantial and informative document to have survived from the borough's medieval archive. It provides new insights into the town's bitter legal dispute with neighbouring Walberswick, its system of government and the men who administered and financed the town. Of even greater importance are the many references to the fortunes and organisation of the fishing industry. Additionally, the Minute Book contains a number of detailed tax assessments, thus revealing how local communities shared the burden of royal lay subsidies. These assessments are among the first of their kind to be published.

Mark Bailey is High Master of St Paul's School, and Professor of Later Medieval History at the University of East Anglia.


An unambigous example of urban decay... The editor's introduction, which discussed the topography, customs, government and economy of Dunwich in the light of wider debates about the period, is a most valuable contribution to urban history... it is pleasing to have to hand such a source of detail about the practices and problems of a small fifteenth-century town. RICARDIAN [R.H. Britnell]

This volume of Suffolk history is so skilfully organized that one can only admire Mark Bailey's attention to detail and understanding the work of an editor...imaginative and endlessly instructive. ALBION 25/3 [Elaine Clark]

Valuable information on borough decisions, MPs, freemen, royal tax apportionment, conflicts with Blythburgh and Walberswick, and much else its particular value lies in its full information on the port's fishing activities... a major source for Dunwich and for the fishing industry. HISTORY

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