Description of the Minstrels' Court and Bull-Running (A)

BL: Royal MS 18.B.x

ff 64–7v

The trewe maner, vse, and forme,
of the kinges maiesties courte of Mvsicke
Holden at Tutburie/ &c./

ffirste on the Morowe after the feaste of the Assumption of Saint Mary, All the Mvsicions dwellinge within the Honor of Tutburye (that is to saye) within The Countes of Stafford, derbie/ Nottingham, Leicester, and warwick/ doe meette altogaether, att the Bayliffes Housse in Tutburye/ where the Steward and woodmaster or his leeftenaunt meette theym/ And from ⸢thence⸣ goe to the Church to heere deuyne service, Haueinge Musicke playnge before theym/

The Kinge of they Minstrilles goeinge betwine the Steward and the Bayliffe/ And likewise they foure stewardes secondinge theym with euerye one, a White wande in His Hande, They reste of theere Companye ffollowinge, euerye one wearinge His lorde, or Masters leuery/ And aboute his Necke in A silken Riband, His lord or Masters Schochone of Armes Ingraven in siluer/

And after devine service, They offer euery one a pennye, wich is Dew to the vicar of Tutbury/.

And after They goe all in like araye from the church to the Motte Hall in Tutburye/ where the Stewarde taketh His place on the bench/ Assisted with the Bayliffe, the kinge of the Minstrilles sittinge betwine theym/ | And the woodmaster of the fforreste of Needwoode or His Leiftenant, who is to oversee that euery Minstrell, dwellinge within The Honor, and makinge defaulte, shalbe presented, and Amercied/ wich Amercment the kinge oure Soveraigne lorde shall haue/

And Then a oye yees/ is made, by one of they officers three tymes/

Then beinge derected by the Steward, geueth Notice, To all maner of Mvsicions dwellinge within the kinges Maiesties Honor of Tutburye, within the counteis of Stafforde Derbie/ Nottingham, Leicester, & warwicke/ and oewinge suete to His Highnesse courte of Musicke Heere Holden as This daye, drawe neire and geue your Attendaunce And yf anye man wilbe esoined of suete or plea, Lett Him come in and Hee shalbe Heard &c./ and God saue the king/

And then, all they Mvsicions are called by a shuete Rooll/

And then, after an Inpannill is made of xxiiijti, of the sufficiente Ministrelles and deleuered in Courte to the Steward/

Whoe being called by name, |

And apearinge to a full Iury/ The foreman is first sworne, And all they resedew of the Iurie, vppon the Holye Euangelest booke to make a trewe presentment, accordinge to such euidence as then shalbe geuen to theym/ and to punishe such offendors Within theer companye (yf anye be presented) by waye of Amercement for the better gouerment of theyre Companye/ and preseruacion of theere Aunciente liberteis as in theer Consciences, they fynde hee, or they doe desserue/ &c/./

And to steere vp theere Myndes and Consciences the better to Remember theer duetes to the kinges Maiesti, as also theere owne good The Steward then geueth theym theere charge/

ffirste comendinge, the prayse of Musicke how it is allowed and Comaunded in the Holy scriptures to be vsed in the Church, to the glorye and prayse of Almightie god, &c/

as also to proue yt to be one of the seaven liberall sciences, Alowed of in all good and godlye christian comon wealthes &c./

And also that they be very Carefull to make choice of such men to be officers in theere companye, as booth feare god, haue knoledge in theere science, As also to be of good lyffe and couersacion beseminge there office/

Wich sayed officers are then to be chosen by they sayd Iurie/ by the names aboue sayd, videlicet/ |

The head and cheiffest officer by the name of a kinge/ The other foure, by the Name of Stewardes/ wich sayed stewardes shall haue full power, and Aucthoritei, by the Stewardes Warrantes directed from the sayd Courte/ To level and distreane in anye Cittei, Towne Corperatt, or otherwise in any place within the Kinges Dominion, all such fynes and amerciamentes as are Inflicted by the sayed Iurie, vpon any Minstrill for his or theere offence committed for the breach of theere auncient orders made for the good rule and gouerment of theere sayed Companie/

All wich sayed ffynes and Amercementes are so Collected by the sayed Stewardes for the vse of our Soveraigne lorde the Kinges Maiesti, And accompted for att euery Auditt holden att Tutburye by they sayed Stewardes/ &c./

When they Iurye haue theere charge geuen theym/ The depte the courte to conferre therof/ Leauinge the Steward with the Assistantes sittinge in theere places, to make them selues merye with a bankitt, and a noise of Musicions to pleae before them &c./

And when the Iurie bringe in there verdict, They present, theere Cheiffest officer by the name of kinge:/ and ‸⸢then⸣ they olde kinge ariseth from his place, and deleuereth to the New elected kinge | a little white wande in steed of a mace, And taketh A cuppe filled with wyne, and drinketh to the New kinge praying god to send Him a Ioyfull office &c./.

And in like maner doe booth they olde Stewardes to the Newe/

And then they olde kinge ariseth, and the newe taketh his place/

And when They courte ariseth, They goe all in like araye as afforesayd, to the place where they olde stewardes Haue prepared theer dynner &c./

And duringe the tyme of dynner/ Towe of they Stewardes, Haueinge Mvsicke playeinge before theym goe into euerye House in Tutburie and theer receue there Accustomed ffee vjdelicet videlicet att euerye house ij d./ ffor wiche sayd ffee, they are to playe mvsicke euery Morninge and Eveninge throughe euery streette in the Towne duringe the tyme of there aboode/ that is to saye/ The vigell, the Daye, and the daye after the the ffeast of Saint Mary the Assumpcion/

And after, dynner all the Mvsicions Repaere theym selues, to ‸⸢the⸣ Abbie gate in Tutburye, haueng noe Maner of weapon in theere Handes/ nor aboute them/

But the greattest Nvmber of them, deuide theem selues into thendes of certayne streettes in Tutbury/ Attendinge the Turninge fforthe of a Bull oute of the Abbei gates amongest theym/ |

Wich sayd bull shall Haue the Tippes of His Hornes cutte of, His eares stoved, His tayele cutt of by the strumple/ All His bodye oyled ouer with sope and blackinge, And His Noose blowen full of peper beaten/

But before the Bull is turned fforthe A proclamacion is made, That all persons not being Mvsicions shall geue place to the beaste, And noe man to come within ffortie ffootte of Him, butt euerye one Carefullye to attende, His or theere owen saffeteis att theere perilles &c./

and proclamacion beinge ended, The sayd Bull is presentelye Turned forth amongest them/ They sayd Minstrilles, and noe other may take Him (yf they can) within the Countie of Stafford, betwixt that Hower, and Sonne settinge of the same daye./

But yf the sayd Bull doe escape from theym <..> over the Middle of the River Doue/ Then the bull is the pryors ‸⸢owen⸣ agayne/

And yf they Minstrilles can take Him, and Hold Him by force of theer strengh/ They mvste cutt of some peece of his eare, and bringe yt to the Markett ‸⸢crosse⸣ in Tutburye in token they Haue taken Him/

Wich sayd beaste beinge so taken, is then brought To the Bayliffes house in Tutburye, and theere Collered and Rooped, and so brought to the Bull ringe in the highe streette in Tutbure Theere to be beated with dogges/ |

The firste coorse for the kinges maiesti/. The seconnd for the kinges heighe Steward, and Leeftenaunt of the honor/ And the third coorsse for the Kinges of Minstrilles/ And then any man maye make his dogge payinge a ffee to they Minstrilles/

And after the Minstrilles sell the bull and deuied the Monye amongest theym/

The sayd king of Minstrilles is one yeere chosen in staffordsheere, And an other ‸⸢yere⸣ in derbishir/ And the Stewardes are alwayes chosen towe in staffordeshere, and the other towe in derbishere/ & not els wheere/.

And all they abouesayde Minstrilles are alowed grasse for theere horsses duringe the tyme of theere Continuance in Tutbury In a certaine Meadowe of the Kinges Maiesteis called the Minstrilles or steward Medowe/ wich sayd Meadowe is euer in the possession of the Bayliffe of Tutburye, for the tyme beinge/ ffor the wich, Hee payth yeerly vnto the kinges maiesti xx d./

And Moweth and maketh the haye, and carieth to the stable att the Castell of Tutburye, some iiijor or v loodes therof, to remaine theer for his Maiestes Auditor, and Receauors Horsses during the tyme of the Audit/ And the resedew of | The Haey, the sayed Bayliffe couertheth to his owne vse &c//

And the After Mathe of the sayed Meadowe is keept onelye in seuerall, for they Minstrilles to put theer Horsses into, att theere cominge to Tutburye to the sayed feast or Courte/

And noe man to put anye Cattell into the sayed meadow, but onely the Minstrilles duringe the tyme afforesayed/

And afterwarde, the sayed Meadowe lyeth forth as Comon to all they Burgesses of Tutburye to take theere comon of pasture in vntill the ffeast euen of the Purificacion of the virgin Marye then next ensveinge/:/

  • Footnotes
    • Morowe ... Mary: 16 August
    • Bayliffe/: virgule written over comma
    • Then: not in bold display hand (see endnote)
    • Stafforde ... warwicke: in display script
    • Attendaunce: 3 minims for un
    • and ... king: in display script
    • couersacion: for conuersacion; abbreviation mark missing
    • kinge: in display script
    • Dominion: 6 minims for mini in MS
    • depte: for departe; abbrevation mark missing
    • kinge: in display script
    • aboode/: virgule written over a comma
    • vigell: in display script
    • Daye: in display script
    • proclamacion: 1 minim for n
    • Doue: in display script
    • strengh: for strength
    • honor: in display script
    • alowed: al written over other letters
    • Auditor: in display script
    • Audit: in display script
    • couertheth: for conuerteth; abbreviation mark missing
  • Glossed Terms
    • altogaether adv all together
    • schochone of armes n phr escutcheon of arms
    • oye yees interj oh yes
    • countei n county
    • esoin v inf to essoin; to excuse or exonerate [OEDO essoin v 2]; esoined pa
    • shuete rooll n sheet roll (?), a record or list [OEDO roll n.1 I.1.a, b]
    • inpannill n empanel, a list of members of a jury [OEDO empanel n]
    • liberall sciences n pl liberal arts, the branches of learning forming the trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy) in medieval education [OEDO science n 3.a]
    • aucthoritei n authority
    • distreyne, distreane, distreine v inf, pr distrain, to constrain or punish a person by seizing their goods [OEDO distrain v II.7.a]
    • cittei n city
    • bankitt n banquet
    • stove v inf to stuff (?); stoved pass
    • saffetei n safety
    • beate v inf to bait; beated pass
    • coorse n course, the pursuit of game [OEDO course n 7.a]; coorsse
    • dogge n in phr make his dogge to hunt with a dog
    • haey n hay
  • Endnote

    The document containing this antiquarian description of the bull-running at Tutbury can be dated to the early years of the seventeenth century, but the original account itself is of an indeterminate but likely much earlier date. The MS of which it forms a part was styled a 'trewe copie of the antient franchisses priviledges and customs,' indicating its antiquarian intention. By the seventeenth century there was no abbey gate from which to begin the bull-running, and there was no prior whose right to the bull (if it escaped capture) is here asserted. There are some other puzzles which indicate that the writer of the document was not an eyewitness, and did not completely understand the workings of the minstrels' court. For example, the procession to the church, and hence to the moot hall, is led among others by a single steward, but four such officers are to be elected by the company; when the four have been charged with their authority the jury leaves the court, leaving 'the Steward' and his assistants in their places. Following this, 'booth' Stewards are mentioned, but below this two of the stewards are alluded to. Some of this confusion stems from the writers' failure to distinguish between the king's high steward or lieutenant of the honour of Tutbury and the four stewards of the minstrels' court. Turning to the bull-running, one wonders how, if the minstrels are completely unarmed, those who capture the bull are supposed to claim victory by cutting off some piece of his ear? Biting seems a bit needlessly cruel, as well as unhygenic and possibly dangerous.

    The first one or two words in each paragraph are given in a bold display script, with a few exceptions. Other occurrences of display script are noted in footnotes.

  • Document Description

    Record title: Description of the Minstrels' Court and Bull-Running (A)
    Repository: BL
    Shelfmark: Royal MS 18.B.x
    Repository location: London

    Contains a 'trewe copie of the antient franchisses priviledges and customs' of Tutbury, 'collected by Robert Roworth, his Maiesties poore tennant of Tutbury.' The identity of Robert Roworth, and the rationale for this collection of materials about Tutbury, are unknown.

    c 1617–30; English; paper; iii (modern) + iii (containing MS description and table of contents) + 95 (first and final 13 blank: i + 81 + 13 (blank)) + iii (modern); 275mm x 175mm; contemporary and modern foliation (latter omits ff 25 and 77 (blank), and gives 79 folios); modern BL binding, black leather spine and corners, title on spine: 'Roworth: Ancient Franchise of Tutbury.' The date, 'ultimo Aug. anno 1617,' is scribbled at the bottom of f [ii]v.

TOOLS
TOOLS
Back To Top
Footnote