Proof against Scottishness

In Highways & Byways of the Borders, Newcastle was described as being the Bridle of the Scots, but border conflict reached further south, as York was the ancient military centre against the northern perils. This is from Highways & Byways in Yorkshire:

How shall we, who look on Scots as our fellow countrymen, understand what York and England thought of them? Here is an old document which tells us clearly; and I make no apology for quoting it, since no one can understand the part which York and Yorkshireman played on the great field into which were re going without a knowledge of the mutual feeling between Scot and Englishman.

“To all thew Cristen people this present wrytynge seeing, redyng or heryng, George th’ Grey of Chelvingham in the Countie of Northumberland, Knyght, Sir Richard Brown, Vicar of Heddon… grettynge in our Lord God Everlasting. Unto whom it apperteighneth due and humble recommendacioun. Be it known to your universities that whereas we be  informed yt ono Bertram Dawson of the Citie of York, draper, is sinisterly defamed that he should be a Scottyshjman borne, whereby he is grievously hurt in his name and goodes; and for so much as meretory and medal it is to record and testyfie ye truth in every matter duely required, that for the concealment thereof prejudice be not engineered to the innocent; we, therefore, testified and records yt the same Bertram Dawson was gotten and borne in the towne of Warden in the Parishe of Bamburg… Wherefore we besech and desyre youe and ychge ono of your to admit repute and take the said Bertram as an Ynglesman, not yeving credence to such defame and detraction…”

Consider this document. It must have cost money. Knights and Abbots did not testify for the advantage of a draper out of sheer love of justice. Bertram must have paid heavily and it is clear, therefore that he wanted the document badly. Thus the suspicion of being a Scot had involved him in some serious trouble at the hands of his fellow townsmen, from which he could escape only by proving the suspicion groundless. In plain words, what their document shows us is the fierce and unquenchable hatred which burnt between Scotland and England in all the middle ages, and which in this loud old city, head and centre of the greatest of the 6 northern counties, never waned till the union of the two countries into one government took their occupation from the border raiders, and let the old feuds die away into oblivion.”

Hm…. Arthur H. Norway seems to be making a few too many assumptions here. In order to trade in a city such as York, a man had to become a burgess, which required him to be either born there, or to marry the daughter of a burgess or to have served his apprenticeship with a burgess there. The fact that he is apparently allowed to take means he has been accepted by the local guild. Its there was a problem with his qualifications, then they should have had the documents to deal with it. what this suggests is that this may be merely a document required to establish his right to purchase hid freedom of the city to become a rider there, which would require proof of his birth, which seems to be the above document. This is not, I think a matter of anti Scots bias, but a need to protect local traders, which in a wealthy city such as York was of huge importance

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s