The second was of greater importance. Francis Merrick applied to William III for a charter to hold a market. It looks as if he had some influence at court or had enough money to oil the wheels of the necessary machinery for there was little delay. The writ of application is dated 3rd September, 1698; the Inquisition ad quod Damnum followed only a month later on 7th October; and the charter itself was signed, sealed and delivered on 11th November. It is now in the care of the Central Library but has lost its seal.
Here is a translation of the Latin text:
‘William the Third, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, to all to whom these present letters shall come, Greeting:
‘Whereas by a certain inquisition taken at the Court House, Westminster, in our County of Middlesex, the seventh day of October in the tenth year of our reign, before William Bore, Knight, and Joseph Smart, Knight.the said gentlemen by virtue of our writ to that end made and issued, were directed to ascertain by the oath of good and lawful men of the said County, whether it would be to our damage or prejudice or to that of others, if We should grant to Francis Merrick, Esquire, of Northcott, otherwise Southall in our County of Middlesex aforesaid, his heirs and assigns, that he should have and hold on his own land in Northcott, otherwise Southall, a Market on every Wednesday for ever and likewise two Fairs or Marts annually for ever for the buying and selling of horses and all kinds of other beasts and cattle; one of the said Fairs being held on the Wednesday in every Ester week, and the other on the second Wednesday in every month of October for ever; and the aforesaid Inquisition duly signed and sealed has been delivered and deposited on record in our Court of Chancery.
‘Know now that We, of our especial favour, our certain knowledge, and of our own motion, have given and granted by these presents, for ourselves, our Heirs and Successors, do give and grant to the said Francis Merrickand his heirs, free and lawful power, license and authority that he himself and his heirs may have, hold and keep in or upon his own land at Northcott, otherwise Southall aforesaid, a Market [conditions as before] and a court of Piepowder, with all the liberties, Free Customs, Tolls, Stallages, and other Priviledges to such Markets, Fairs and Marts, and Courts of Piepowder respectively apertaining.
‘In witness whereof we have caused to be made these our Letters Patent.
‘Witness, Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, and other Guardians and justices of the realm, at Westminster, the 11th day of November in the tenth year of our reign.
‘By writ of Privy Seal
The site on Merrick’s own land is the same today and a market is still held there – the traditional livestock sale on Wednesdays and a general shopping market on Fridays and Saturdays. The livestock is occasionally donkeys: Southall being nowadays one of the principal markets for this rare and delightful animal.20 Some of the site was taken up by a cinema which has lately become a bowling alley. It was most unusual for a charter to be granted someone other than a lord of the manor. In the same year Merrick’s name appears on the list of justices for the county.
He did not enjoy his privilages very long: upon his death in 1702 he was succeeded by his son John. In 1705 Richard Awsiter died and was succeeded at the Manor House by his brother Robert. Meanwhile at Northcote was living William Leybourne. He was born in 1626, came to Northcote in 1666 and died there aged 90 in 1716. He was a mathematician of repute and published books on surveying and astronomy as well as compiling the first English ready-reckoner.21