Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed and Online Primary Sources for the Middle Ages

Source Details

Durrant, William and Thomas Ross, eds., "Notices of Hastings and its Municipal Rights: Custumal." (Sussex Archaeological Collections 14, pp. 72-80) Read this source online

Text name(s): 

Number of pages of primary source text: 9


Dates: 1356 - 1356

Archival Reference: Manuscript is lost.

Original Language(s): 

  • Anglo-Norman


  • Translated into English.

Translation Comments: 

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • England

County/Region: Hastings; Rye; East Sussex

Record Types: 

  • Law - Local Ordinances
  • Custumal

Subject Headings: 

  • Law - Secular
  • Law - Crime
  • Government
  • Family / Children
  • Economy - Trade
  • Towns / Cities
  • Women / Gender


  • Index
  • Introduction


Borough custumals recorded the local, or ‘customary,’ laws of a town. They were compiled for a practical purpose: to guide, and even educate, successive generations of civic officials tasked with keeping law and order within their boroughs. Custumals may have been modified to reflect the changing needs of the community, but they also may have been copies of local laws from neighboring towns, and can shed light on social and economic practices in a medieval town. The custumal of Rye is divided into 48 clauses and share many of the legal concerns found in other Cinque Port custumals: procedures and pleading in the borough courts; imprisonment, arrests, and executions; inheritance and femme sole status; bloodshed, theft, and other crimes; the duties of the bailiff and coroner; and assizes, weights, and measures to be used at market.

Introduction Summary: 

On pages 71-2, the editor of this volume on the antiquities of Hastings gives his reasons for producing a translation of the Anglo-Norman French custumal of Rye. He believed the Rye custumal was similar to the one at Hastings, which is now lost.

Cataloger: ELC