Extract of Richard Banks' map of Sherwood Forest showing the town of Nottingham, 1609.

It is unfortunate that the Corporation papers throw little light upon the action which the town took in public movements during the last half of the sixteenth century. The painstaking and erudite editor of the volumes of Corporation records has to express his regret that the municipal documents are sadly deficient at dates when they might have been expected to yield matter of great and general interest. We know that gallant natives of the county rendered noble service in resisting the Spanish Armada, but we have no account of the help which the town gave, or of the contributions it furnished in men and arms on that notable occasion. The only references in the records are two brief entries relating to the making of bonfires when the town celebrated the great victory over the vast armaments of Spain. But though deficient in items referring to great events, the papers are rich in curious entries that throw a flood of light on the social condition of the borough at this important period. Specially notable are the presentments at the Sessions, which show with what care the town was inspected by the constable’s jury. People were presented for selling wine above the price fixed by the Mayor, for playing unlawful games, for harbouring vagabonds, and one ‘Lorence Debdall,’ ‘be cawse he dowth not lowket [look] apon hyss hoffyss [that of Common Sergeant-at-Mace] ass he should do, but swffares mwke and fylthe to be powered yn ye hy strett.’ One John Bell, of Woodborough, was presented because he bought corn in the market when he had enough to serve his purpose, there being a law passed (5th and 6th Edward VI.) that if any person having sufficient corn for household use and seed purposes for one year wished to purchase corn in the market for change of seed, he must bring an equal quantity of his own corn into the market for sale to others. Here is another curious entry: ‘We present William Nyx for regratting of fish that cometh to the market, for he buyeth it at the hands of them that would sell it in the town, and by that means we can have no reasonable pennyworth.’ In like manner women were presented for buying butter and eggs, oatmeal and salt, before they came to market, whereby these commodities were enhanced in price, and Mr. Mayor was desired specially to see that ‘Robert Quarmebe doth not sheut wyth hys hande gonne, for he hath one as we are informyd.’ Equally interesting are the presentments of the Mickletorn jury and the extracts from the Chamberlain’s accounts, but we must not linger over them.

Thurland Hall
Thurland Hall, the largest house in 17th century Nottingham, dated from the 1430s, although it was largely rebuilt in 1626. It was demolished in 1830.

The town saw little of royalty during the days of the Tudors, but when the Stuarts came to the throne it was honoured with frequent visits from members of the reigning family. James I. did not call at Nottingham on his way to London in 1603, but the Queen and Prince Henry were there on June 21, and received handsome presents from the Corporation. The King paid his first visit in August, 1612, when the Recorder presented him with an address and a purse of money, and he was also the happy recipient of three fair gilt bowls, costing £61 12s. His Majesty stayed one night only at Thurland, or Clare, Hall—a substantial mansion which stood ‘opposite the Black-a-moors Head stables,’ and which is stated by Throsby to have been rebuilt by Francis Pierrepont, third son of Robert, Earl of Kingston, who died in 1657. Throsby says ‘the rooms are spacious but gloomy, the walls are castle-like and thick. Here on particular public occasions the noblemen and gentlemen of the county dine in the great room.’ His Majesty lodged here again in August, 1614, and on several subsequent occasions was sumptuously entertained, while the ill-fated Charles spent several nights at Thurland Hall in 1634. The Corporation records have not been edited at present beyond 1625, but Mr. Bailey gives an extract in his Annals from the Hall books, ‘that on the 4th day of August, 1634, being Monday, our Sovereign Lord King Charles and the Queen came to Nottingham, and stayed here four nights, being entertained at Thurland Hall by the Earl of Newcastle. They were received at the Cowgate by Mr. Mayor and his brethren, and their companies, and presented each of them with a piece of plate.’ The sombre-looking hall was the scene of great festivities, and the town gave itself up to hearty rejoicing, or, as Mr. Bailey terms it, ‘demonstrations of popular exultation.’