Haddington 700 – The Charter

Confirmation Charter by Robert the Bruce

The document that inspired this year of celebration is a 1318 Charter by Robert the Bruce to the Town of Haddington. It is the oldest document held by East Lothian Council archives. By 1318 Haddington had been a burgh for almost 200 years but unfortunately it original charter granted by King David I had been lost or destroyed. This document confirms the towns right to hold a market, collect customs etc.

The Charter is written in Latin on vellum and the seal of Robert the Bruce is appended to the bottom. The charter and the seal have both been conserved by specialist conservators at the National Records of Scotland. Though only a portion of the original seal remains, you can make out the seated figure of Robert dressed in robes sitting on his throne. We’ve added an image of what the seal looked like complete so you can compare.

Robert, By the Grace of God, King of Scots – To all good men of his land, Greeting. Know ye that we have given and granted, and by this our present charter have confirmed to our Burgh of Haddington and our burgesses dwelling in that our Burgh all rights, liberties and privileges which our same burgesses in our time or any times of any of our ancestors until now had or possessed or ought to have, with all burghal rights as freely as any other burghs commonly within our kingdom freely and quietly hold and possess from us. We grant also to our burgesses of Haddington that those who may be in the said burgh shall be free for ever from all toll and custom on their different goods throughout all our Kingdom of Scotland. Wherefore we firmly prohibit any one to dare, against this our grant, to vex them unjustly by exacting from them toll or custom on their different goods. We forbid, also, anyone within our Sheriffdom of Haddington to buy wool or skins or to trade in merchandise or to make broad cloth dyed or shorn except our burgesses of Haddington. Also that no other merchant within the said Sheriffdom of Haddington or in our Burgh shall buy any except from our burgesses of Haddington under our heavy displeasure. If, nevertheless, any merchant be found within our said Sheriffdom of Haddington buying wool or skins, or acting as a trader in any such way, his person shall be seized by our burgesses of Haddington: the goods thus bought shall be carried to our said Burgh of Haddington, and forfeited to our said burgesses. The person, however, of the said buyer shall be detained until we decree our will concerning him. All those conveying timber or merchandise to supply our said Burgh of Haddington, from whatever wood or whatever barony they may be, shall have our firm peace and protection. Anyone daring to poind goods or to annoy them unjustly on our highway in going to the said town of Haddington or in returning shall incur our heavy displeasure. We will that our said burgesses of Haddington shall as freely have and possess all common rights and common pasturage in moors, in peat mosses, turbaries and in all other easements rightly pertaining to the said town of Haddington, as in anytime the aforementioned burgesses or any of their ancestors had or possessed by all the true marches and boundaries, or have been used by them up until this time. In witness of which we have ordered our seal to be affixed to this our present charter. Witnesses – Bernard, Abbot of Arbroath, our Chancellor. William of Lindesay, our chamberlain. Thomas Ranulph, Earl of Moray and Lord of Man, our dearest nephew. Walter, our Steward of Scotland. John of Menteith. James Lord of Douglas. Gilbert of Hay, our Constable of Scotland, and Robert of Keith, our marshal of knights. At Scone, 6th December, thirteenth year of our Reign.