23 Henry VIII chapter 4
(1531-1532)

The text is that printed in Statutes of the Realm, vol. III, page 366, with the following changes: Subheads and extra paragraph breaks have been added, even in the middle of sentences, because such chunking of the text makes it easier for a modern reader to grasp the meaning. The special ligatures and symbols needed to represent abbreviations common in 16th-century handwriting, for which no equivalents exist in online fonts, have been spelled out. 


An Acte that no Breuers of Bere or Ale shall make their barrels kylderkyns nor firkyns within them; and howmoche the same barrels &c. shall conteyne.

Where the Ale beuers and bere breuers of this Realme of England have used and dayly do use, for thir owne singuler lucre profitte and gayne, to make in their owne houses theyr barrels kylderkyns and firkyns of moche lasse quantitie contente rate and assisse than they ought to be, to the greate hurte prejudice and damage of the Kinges liege people and contrary to divers actes statutes auncient lawes and customes hertofore made had and used, and to the distruccion of the pore crafte or mysterie of Cowpers : For reformacion wherof be it enacted by the Kinge our Soveraign Lorde the Lordes Spirituall and temporall and the Commons in this present parliament assembled and by auctoritie of the same,

[brewers not to make casks]

that noo bere breuer nor ale breuer that shall brue to sale bere or ale shall fromehensforth occupie by hym selff nor by any other to his use in his house nor elswhere the misterie or crafte of Cowpers, nor make any barells kilderkins fyrkyns or other vessels by hymselff nor by his or theyr owne seruants, wherby they shall putt theyr bere or ale to sale; but that all suche barrells kilderkins and other vessels of Wood, wherwith they shall putt theyr bere or ale to sale, shall from hensforth be made and marked accordingly as hereafter shalbe expressed by the common artificers of Cowpers exercised and practised in the said occupacion; upon pain to forfaite and pay for every suche barrell kilderkyn firkyn or other vessell hereafter to be made contrarie to the tenour of this acte, three shillinges and foure pence.

 

And Be it also enacted that every artificer of the craft or mysterie of Cowpers, that woll exercise or practise to make any of the said vessells for bere or ale to be putt to sale, shall make the same vessells and every of them of good and resonable woode and putt his propre marke upon every of them: And that 

[sizes of casks for beer]

every barrell for bere shall conteyne xxxvj gallons, 
every kildekin for bere xviij galons, 
and every firkyn for bere nine galon of the Kings Standard galon; 

[sizes of casks for ale]

and that every barrell for Ale shal conteyn xxxij galons,
every kylderkyn for Ale xvj galons,
& every fyrkyn for Ale viij galons of the Kings Standard galon; 

So that they shalbe of goode and juste measure or ells above and not undre. And that no Couper shall make eny other vessell for bere or ale to be sold within this realme of any gretter or lessar nombre of galons than is abovesaid, oneles he shall cause to be marked uppon every suche vessell, that he shall so make of gretter or lessar nombre of galons, the true and certayne nombre of as many galons as every suche other vessell shall conteyne to thentent that every personne may knowe the content therof. And that no suche artificer of Cowpers shall enhaunce the prices of any suche barels kilderkyns firkyns or other vessels, in the sale of theym to any Ale bruer or bere brewer or other personne, but kepe the rates of suche prices as hereafter ensueth and not above; upon payn to forfaite for every barrell kilderkyn and firkyn defective or enhaunced in price in any poynt contrary to this acte iij. [shillings] iiij [pence]; that is to saye for every bere barrell ix. [pence] for every bere kilderkin v [pence] and for every bere firkyn iij [pence] and the ale barrell xvj [pence] the ale kilderkyn ix [pence] and the ale firkyn v [pence].

And be it further enacted by the said auctoritie that no bere brewer nor ale bruer, at any tyme after the feast of Lammas nowe nexte commyng, shall putt ther bere or ale to sale to any personne or personnes to be spente and occupied within this Realme, in any other barrels kylderkyns firkyns or other vessells of woode other than shalbe made and marked by an artificer of Coupers abovesaid; wherof every barrell for bere shall conteyn and hold xxxvj galons, every halffe barrell or kilderkyn xviij galons, and every firkyn ix galons, and every barrel for ale shall conteyne xxxij galons, every kilderkyn xvj galons and every firkyn viij galons of full and juste measure or above and not under that measure. 

[prices of beer and ale to be fixed by justices of the peace, mayors, bailiffs, etc.]

And that every bere brewer and ale bruer shall not take over and above for every suche barrell kilderkyn or firkyn of ale and bere, but after such prices and rates as shalbe thought convenyent and sufficient by the discrecions of the Justices of peace within every Shire where such bere brewer and ale bruer shall dwell, without any Citie Borowe or Towne corporat where no hedd offycers as Mayeres Baylyffs Shereffs or other hedd offycers have none auctoritie nor rule, & in every cytie borough & towne where there be Maiers Shireffes or other hede officers the same rates and prices to be named and cessed by them and every of them in thir discrecions; And that the said Ale bruers or bere brewers at any tyme hereafter shall not sell theyr bere nor ale at any higher rates or prices than shalbe to them assigned after the fourme above rehersed: 

[penalties for selling at higher prices]

upon payne to losse and forfayte for every barrell so putt to sale contrary to this estatute syx shillinges, for every halffe barrell or kilderkyn iij [shillings] iiij [pence] and for every firkyn ij. [shillings] and for every vessell conteyning gretter nombre of galons x [shillings] and for every other vessell contenynyng lessar nombre of galons xij [pence] : The one halfe of all the whiche penalties and forfaytures to be to the King our Soveraigne Lorde, and the other halfe to hym that will sue for the same by accion of dett bill playnt or informacion in any of the Kinges Courtes, in which accion and sute the defendaunte shall not wage his lawe nor any essoyne protececcion or privilege to be admitted.

[size of casks of soap]

Be it also further enacted by the said auctoritie that all maner of Soope makers within this Realme of Englond which shall putto sale any Soope by Barrell halfe barrell firkyn or other vessell, shall frome Lammas nowe nexte commyng make or cause to be made thir barrels halfe barrels firkyns and other vessels according to the rates contentes weights and assises of olde tyme used and accustomed, that is to saye: every emptie barrell to hold and conteyne xxxij galons or above, and to be in weight xxvj pounded and not above of full and juste mesure; and every halfe barrell emptie to be in weyght xiij [pounds] and not above, and to hold and conteyne xvj galons or above; and every firken emptie to weye vj [pounds] & ½*** and not above, and to holde and conteyne viij galons or above; uppon peyne of forfaitur for every suche barrell, halfe barrell, firkyn or other vessell hereafter to be made had or used contrary to this Acte, thre shillinges and foure pence.

 

And also be it enacted by the auctoritie aforesaid that the Wardens of the occupacion or mysterie of Coupers within the Citie of London frome hensforth at all tymes hereafter, when they shall thinke convenyent and expedient, taking with them an officer of the Maiers, shall have full power and auctoritie by vertue of this Acte to serche viewe and gage all maner of suche barrels kylderkins firkyns and other vessels, to be made or occuied for ale bere or soope to be putt to sale within the Citie of London and Suburbes of the same, and within two myles compas without the same Suburbes, to viewe and se that the same barrels kilderkyns firkyns and other vessels, aswell within liberties as without, be made and marked well and sufficiently and bere and conteyne ther true contentes rates and measures according to theffecte of this estatute; And also to marke every suche barrell kilderkyn firkyn and other vessell by them so viewed and gaged, bearing and contneynyng theyr trewe contentes, with the signe and token of a Seynt Antonyes Crosse; the same Wardens to have for the serche and gagyng of every suche barrell kylderkyn fyrkyn and other vessell by them so serched viewed gaged and marked one farthing and not above, of the Owners or makers of the said vessells; And shall and maye have auctoritie by vertue of this Acte to retayne every suche vessell as they shall so gage serche and marke unto suche tyme as they shalbe satisified therof : And in case they shall fynde any of the said vessels defective not bearing ther true contentes, that than by auctoritie of this Acte they may sease take and reteyne every suche vessell, and cause the same to be marked or amended according to the trewe content, or els cause the same to be brenned; And also the partie owner of suche vessell to losse and forfayte for every suche vessel not beyng of the full contentes after the rate above expressed xij [pence] to be recovered and employed as is abovesaid.

And Be it further enacted by the said auctoritie that in all other Cities Borowes and Townes wherin no suche Wardens of Cowpers be, that the Maiers Shireffes Bailliffes Constables or other hede officers in suche Cities Borowes and Townes, shall have power and auctoritie to serche viewe and gage all suche barrels kilderkyns firkyns and other vessels to be made hereafter in any suche Citie Borowe or Towne; and to have and take all suche avauntage therby and in like manner and fourme as the Wardens of Coopers within the Citie of London or other personnese by this Acte shulde or may have or take in every behalffe.

[brewers of beer permitted to employ one or two coopers to repair casks]

Provided alwayes that every bere brewer maye kepe in his house one or two servauntes of the mysteries or crafte of Coupers, to houpe and amende his barrels kilderkyns firkyns and othr vessels wherin they shall putt theyr bere to sale from tyme to tyme; this Acte or any thing therin conteyned to the contrarie in any wise not withstanding.

And Be it further enacted by the said auctoritie that if any personne, at any time after the said feaste of Lammas nexte commyng, do mynysshe or cause to be mynisshed any maner of barrell kilderkyn or firkyn to the deceyte of any the Kinges Subjectes, by reason of taking oute the hede of any suche vessell, or takyng oute of any Staffe out or frome any suche vessell, that than every suche vessell to be brente and thoffender to forfaite for every suche offense iij [shillings] iiij [pence] the one moytie therof to be to the King our Soveraigne Lorde, and thoder moytie therof to hym or thym of the Kinges Subjectes that woll sue for the same, to be recovered in maner and fourme above rehersed: And the partie so offending to be further punysshed by the discrecion of the hede officer or officers before whome suche defaulte shalbe presented.

[brewers of ale permitted to employ one cooper to repair casks]

It is enacted by auctoritie of this present parliament that, notwithstanding any thing conteyned in this Acte of Brewers and Coupers whereunto this Cedule is annexed, it shalbe lefull to every ale brewer mencioned in the same Acte to have and retayne in his service one personne of the misterie or crafte of Coupers, to exercise in his service the crafte of a Couper only in bynding (houping) and pynyng his Masters ale vessels recited by the said Acte; and in none otherwise to use or exercise any making of vessels concerning the crafte or mysterie of a Couper whiles that he is in the service of any Ale brewer.

Also it is enacted that every Cowper which herafter shall make any Ale vessell specified in the said Acte, shall frome the feaste of Pentecost nexte commyng make every suche vessell according to the Assise specified in the Treatise called Composicio mensurarum That is to seye: every barrell of all shall conteyne xxxij galons of the said Assisse or above; of the which eight galons make the common busshell to be used in this Realme of Englande; every kilderkyn for Ale xvj galons of the said Assise or above; and every firkin viij galons of Assise or above; upon payne of forfaiture of iij [shillings] iiij [pence] for every of the same vessels by hym untruely made contrary to this Acte, The one halfe to the same forfaiture to be to the King, and thoder to hym that woll sue for the same by accion of dette bill playnt writte or otherwise, in which accion none essoyne proteccion or wager of lawe shalbe allowed.

And be it also enacted that every Couper marke his vessell with his owne marke, upon payne of iij [shillings] iiij [pence] to be levyed and recovered after the like maner and fourme as is above said : And that no maner of personne in the serche making for the trewe gaging of any suche vessels shall putt out the Ale of any such vessell wherby the same Ale shall be the worse: And it shalbe lawfull to every Ale brewer to bring carry and cause to be brought and caried their Ale to the households of our Soveraygne Lorde the King, the Quene, the Princes, and to every Archebusshops Bysshops Dukes Marquesses Erles Barons and other honorable mennes houses in Tonnes Buttes Pypes Hoggesheedes or other vessels of gretter or largear quantitie than is expressed in this present Acte as before tyme hath ben used in that behalff. And also it shalbe lefull to the said Ale brewers to bringe carie or cause to be brought conveyed or carried their Ale to every mannes house in barrels kilderkyns and firkyns, bearing and holding theyr true contentes according to the purporte and effecte of this present Acte, any thing conteyned in the same Acte, to the contrarye hereof notwithstanding.

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