On this Day 25th April 1332

Penzance Market Charter

The King to the Archbishops and others Greeting:

Know that we of our special grace have given and have confirmed by this our Charter to our beloved Alice who was the wife of Warin de Insula that she and her heirs may have for ever one market every week on Wednesday at her manor of Pensans in the County of Cornwall and one fair there every year lasting for seven days namely on the Eve and Day of St Peter ad Vincula and for five days following

And one other fair every year at her manor of Mosehole in the said County lasting for seven days namely on the Eve and Day of St Bartholomew the Apostle and for five days following

Provided that the market and those fairs be not to damage of neighbouring markets and fairs

Wherefore we wish and firmly command for us and our heirs that the said Alice and her heirs may have for ever the said market and fairs at her said manors with all liberties and free customs belonging to such market fairs as is aforesaid

Witnessed by the Bishop of Winchester, our chancellor, the Bishop of London, John of Eltham Earl of Cornwall our dear brother, James le Botiller Earl of Ormound, Gilbert Talbot, William de Monte Acuto, Radulf de Nevill Steward of our Hospice, and other.

Given by our hand at Nottingham the 25th day of April.


This charter was granted on 25 April 1332. It is one of the most significant documents in the history and development of Penzance. Warin de Insula (Warin de Lisle) was Keeper of Windsor Castle who had been hung in Pontefract in 1322 following the battle of Boroughbridge which brought to an end the Lancaster-led rebellion against Edward II. Also hung was Sir Henry Tyes, who met his death in London. Tyes was the Lord of the Manor of Alverton and only brother of Alice de Lisle, wife of Warin de Lisle. So Alice lost both her husband and brother as a result of the rebellion, she also lost her home and the income which would have flowed from the lands now taken back by the Crown.

Alverton was restored to Alice on 23 February 1327 following petitions to the Crown in which she requested restoration of both her brother's and her husband's estates. This restitution follows very closely on the heels of the deposition of Edward II, which was announced by the Archbishop of Canterbury on 15 January 1327, the reign of his son, Edward III, being dated from 25 January 1327.

The significance of the charter lies in fact that markets and fairs created a centre for the exchange of goods and services, they drew in traders and visitors. A market was vital if a settlement was to become a town so this charter represents Penzance's first step along this road.

For more on Alice de Lisle have a look at Tehmina Goskar's A Short History of Alice de Lisle, Patroness of Penzance

For more background on the growth of Penzance see P.A.S. Pool, The History of the Town and Borough of Penzance, Corporation of Penzance, 1974.

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Penwith Local History Group
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Growing Up in West Cornwall. A Publication by the Penwith Local History Group

"Growing Up in West Cornwall"

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Sally Corbet

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