Staplers (a designation that MLD includes in the Craft field) were a special group of merchants given exclusive right by the crown to purchase English wool for export through and to appointed markets (or staples). Most of the staples on the continent were in the Low Countries; the best known and longest serving staple was at Calais.
No medieval list of English members of the various continental staples survives, so Sutton has compiled this list of Mercer-Staplers chiefly from their activities in the overseas customs accounts for wool exports (TNA E122) and secondly from lists of wool export licenses and general pardons granted to the staplers in the national records. Her main aim was creating material to use in her book, The Mercery of London : Trade, Goods and People, 1130-1578 (Routledge, 2005) to which users are directed for further details. The last addition made by Sutton to the list was August 2004, so sources published since then are not included.
Abbreviations used in Sutton’s list of the Mercer-Staplers:
|Years||Years in which the stapler appeared in the London overseas customs accounts (TNA E122). Most of the accounts from the late fourteenth century onwards have been transcribed by Stuart Jenks and are available online; see the London TNA E122 accounts. To match the year Sutton gives to the corresponding account, see this Table of London Customs Accounts. For TNA E122 London wool accounts before 1382, see this TNA search list.|
|stac||List of staplers in the Star Chamber proceedings who were also Merchant Adventurers active at the time of a dispute in 1511 (TNA STAC2/9, f. 21). Includes some who may have been deceased by the time the list was made. See Sutton, The Mercery, pp. 338-41 for context.|
|1372||CFR 1369-77, pp. 149-51 (Haithi Trust only). Royal license to merchants (c. 40 named for London) to export a specific number of wool sacks each to the staple in Middelburgh in Zeeland (Dec. 1471-Jan. 1472)|
|1470CPR||CPR 1467-77, pp. 212-13; list of 28 merchants of the staple of Calais (c. 5 from London) given a general pardon for all offences (25 August 1470).|
|1472CPR||CPR 1467-77, pp. 315-16; list of 24 merchants of the staple of Calais (c. 9 from London) given a general pardon for all offence at staple (18 Jan. 1472)|
|1472SC1||List of staplers in the fellowship at Calais 'before this date' submitted to Chancery in July 1472 (TNA SC1/57/111). Written in 6 columns with most names illegible. T. H. Lloyd (English Wool Trade, p. 283) says there are a total of 257 with repeats and 22 Mercers, but incorrectly cites the document as SC1/57/80. Alisoin Hanham (The Celys, pp. 242-3) notes the 21 legible names.|
|1480pardon||Mercers who exported wool who were granted a general pardon in May 1480 (CPR 1477-87, pp. 243-44) some of whom, but not all as the Calendar rather implies, are specified as a stapler. For context of customs evasion, see Sutton, The Mercery, p. 313 and Cobb, ed., Overseas Trade of London, xxx-xxxiii,|
Merchant Adventurers (a designation that MLD includes in the Craft field) were members of a regulated trading company who exported English cloth in exchange for foreign imports, mainly in northern Europe. The London company received a royal charter in 1407, but smaller companies of merchant adventurers also formed in other ports, such as Bristol and York. The London Mercers who dominated the company focused most of their trade in the fifteenth and early sixteenth century on Antwerp and the cloth fairs in the Low Countries. In later centuries it came to focus more on Hamburg.
Abbreviations used in Sutton’s list of the Mercer-Merchant Adventurers. Note that some men with the same name may be under one entry—these need to be amended by reference to date of death. Date of the man follows his name — taken from source(s) used. If he was a Mercer, the name is followed ‘m.’ ‘Stapler’ alone means of Calais, but Westminster (Westm) is specified when meant.
|E122||Commodities shipped: C= cloth exports of all kinds; L= linen imports; lead= lead exports; M = other mercery, small goods and haberdashery, mostly imports, and incl. large cloth, scarlet etc if they represent all the shipment (import or export to be judged by the type of goods); misc = other goods such as woad, madder, onions etc.; T = tin/pewter exports; W = worsted, Welsh = Welsh goodes or frieze, exports|
|Antwerp1421||Was present at Merchant Adventurers’ meeting there|
|Ex1439||Involved in case before Exchequer for trading in the Low Countries in time of ban.|
|STAC||List of Merchant Adventurers in the Star Chamber proceedings who were also Staplers active at the time of a dispute in 1511 (TNA STAC2/9, f. 21). Includes some who may have been deceased by the time the list was made. See Sutton, The Mercery, pp. 338-41 for context.|
|m||Was a Mercer|
|1461int||Payment of expenses of representatives to conference to prorogue intercourse (Acts of Court of the Mercers’ Company 1453-1527, pp. 51-53)|
|1480||Mercers who exported wool granted a general pardon in May 1480 (CPR 1477-87, pp. 243-44) some of whom, but not all as the Calendar rather implies, are specified as a stapler. For context of customs evasio , see Sutton, The Mercery, p. 313 and H. S. Cobb, ed., Overseas Trade of London, xxx-xxxiii|
|1500||Indenture of 26 Jan. 1500 between collectors of tunnage and poundage and wardens of Mercers listing 84 men [recte 68, because 16 are duplicates] expecting to pay this customs duty.|
|1502||Pardon of 16 June 1502 for trade offences, membership of madvs/staplers not specified, CPR 1494-1509, pp. 282-84, and original petition for certain 49 mercers for pardon, offences not specified, 30 June 1502 [sic], Mercer Company Archives, 4/F1/2058, given as 1502ii.|
|Jan 1516||List of Merchant Adventurers at Gen Ct, when John Clifford replaced as governor; (Acts of Court of the Mercers’ Company 1453-1527, pp. 432-34).|
|1565||In a list of 48 Mercer-Merchant Adventurer taken from Bennell thesis on this account (TNA E 190/3/2).|
|1571||Notes only taken from May of this long account.|
|*||?in trade with Portugal/Spain|
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