WAKEFIELD WASN’T LIKE your average medieval town. Most towns simply belonged to the
Lord of the Manor so the Manor Court was your one stop to settle disputes or adjudicate
crimes. Boroughs, or burghs, were different - these were fortified towns, often in
border country - with their own charter in which the townsfolk were given the privilege
of running their own burgess courts.
Stealing wood from the Lord of the Manor’s barn - this was a crime for the Manor
Wakefield never had fortifications around it, just bars at the end of Kirkgate, Westgate
and Northgate - the three main thoroughfares - to prevent cattle wandering into town
but the Lord of the Manor sold off a proportion of the town as burgess plots, presumably
to raise money. The town had no charter but the plot holders, known as burgesses
or burghers, had the privilege of holding their own court.
However, the Burgess Court soon started taking on additional powers, claiming the
right to appoint the minister for the parish church (now the cathedral). Burgess
officials would also turn up at the Manor Court and demand that cases involving a
burgess plot holder or cases where the incident took place within the town, should
be tried in the Burgess Court.
Roughing it Out
These drawings are my latest roughs for Walks in Robin Hood’s Yorkshire, which is
coming together as I plan my historical comic strip pages. They’re pretty basic,
not to say crude, sketches at the moment but I’m so intent to get the whole story
on paper before becoming absorbed in producing intricate drawings. That would be
a dangerous thing to do at present.