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In 1405 March 15, the burgesses of the town were granted, by Henry IV, (In year 6 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Herewiche (Harwich Castle)
Licence, because the town of Herewiche, co. Essex, is situated on the sea-coast and in front of the king's enemies and is without a castle or fortress for its safe-custody, for the king's kinsman Thomas Moubray, earl Marshal, to grant in mortmain a parcel of land within the town, containing 160 feet in length and 160 feet in breadth, not held of the king, to the burgesses of the town and for these to build on it a castle or fortress of stone and lime and to crenellate the same. By K and for 20s. paid in the hanaper. (CPR)

Granted at Westminster. Grant by King and for 20s. paid in the hanaper.


Thomas Mowbray had died of plague whilst on (a rather enforced) pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1399 and Richard II had seized much of his land. His son, also Thomas, was estranged from the court of Henry IV and was to be beheaded for treason on 8 June 1405. Clearly Henry IV was using some of this land to encourage the burgesses of Harwich to defend the town. The wording of the licence might have something to do with some attempt to reconcile Mowbray but seems more to do with securing the legality of the grant of land.

Original source is;

(In fact, the original source given is usually a transcription/translation of what are precious medieval documents not readily availably. It should be noted that these transcription/translations often date to the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries and that unwitting bias of transcribers may affect the translation. Care should also be taken to avoid giving modern meaning to the medieval use of certain stock words and terms. Licentia is best translated as 'freedom to' not 'permission'.)

More information about licences to crenellate can be found here.

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Record created by Philip Davis. This record last updated on Sunday, October 4, 2015.