Sheffield Markets - Introduction
It is clear that markets have played a crucial role in the process of urbanisation in this country.
Firstly became the creation of the market itself stimulates agricultural production by providing an outlet for surplus produce; this in turn leads to an increase in trade and commerce.
Secondly, the development of markets has, from the earliest times, been controlled and confined to cities and towns.
Contained within the laws of William the Conqueror was the following:
"...let no market or fair be, or permitted to arise, except in the cities of our kingdom, and in boroughs enclosed and walled, and in castles and in very secure places where the customers of our kingdom and our common law and the dignities of our Crown...
...cannot perish, or be defrauded or violated..."
Not only was the location of markets controlled, but also the actual right to hold them. The right or franchise to hold markets is a privilege granted by the Crown (and later by authority of Parliament), giving the holder sole and exclusive right to hold markets within a certain area.
Initially many market charters were granted to lords of the manor and they produced a valuable source of income through the application of tolls and stallage fees.
Where lords of the market possessed a "view of frankpledge" or "court leet" they also had criminal jurisdiction over market offences such as the sale of unwholesome meat, or the use of false weights and measure. They were also generally responsible for the "assize of bread and ale", which fixed the price of bread in relation to that of wheat and the price of beer or ale in relation to that of wheat, barley and oats.
Over time, many markets and rights were acquired by local councils and from the 19th century onwards legislation was enacted permitting local councils to establish markets. The result is that today most franchise markets are under public control.
Sheffield Markets History