Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

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

Source Details

Larking, Lambert B., ed., "The Custumal of Pevensey, as delivered to the Lord Warden at Dover Castle, in 1356." (Sussex Archaeological Collections, Relating to the History and Antiquities of the County 4, pp. 210-215) Read this source online

Text name(s): 

Number of pages of primary source text: 6


Dates: 1356 - 1603

Archival Reference: British Library MS Add. 34149, ff. 62-67

Original Language(s): 

  • Latin
  • Anglo-Norman


  • Original language included.

Translation Comments: No translation provided, but there is a good summary of the major issues on pages 215-218.

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • England

County/Region: Pevensey; East Sussex

Record Types: 

  • Law - Local Ordinances
  • Custumal

Subject Headings: 

  • Poverty / Charity
  • Law - Secular
  • Law - Crime
  • Government
  • Economy - Trade
  • Recreation
  • Towns / Cities


  • 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 Pevensey contains 14 local ordinances which cover a variety of topics: the election and oaths of bailiffs, jurats, and the town clerk; the responsibilities of the coroner; pleading in the court of the Queen’s steward; the supervision and distribution of charity of St. John’s Hospital; the form in which the sentence of death should take; pleas of land; the hunting of hares and rabbits; the manner in which the freedom should be conferred; tolls; Pevensey’s use of the customs of Hastings; and that freemen should not be sworn in civil causes.

Introduction Summary: 

The introduction (pp. 209-210) discusses the provenance and methods to date the manuscript.

Cataloger: ELC