Abstract

Swine as agricultural products were extremely common in the medieval townscape, but pigs are also notoriously damaging if allowed to run amuck. This article explores how local governments tried to regulate pig rearing as an integrated element in urban space, arguing that the authorities attempted to control the movement, feeding, and slaughter of swine as much as possible to circumvent damage to goods, crops, and even people. Urban government and court records from the most populous English urban centers as well as smaller towns from the end of the thirteenth century through the sixteenth century show that swine were not free roamers in towns of the Middle Ages. Because swine were a daily part of urban life, and an integral part of local agricultural production, they required cradle-to-grave controls.

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NOTES

1. W. Hudson and J. C. Tingey, trans. and eds.,
The Records of the City of Norwich
,
2
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Norwich
:
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2
:
205
206
.
2. Ibid.
3. For consideration of the urban in agricultural history, see, for example, Lorena S. Walsh,
“Feeding the Eighteenth-Century Town Folk, or, Whence the Beef,”
Agricultural History
73
(Summer
1999
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267
80
; Harry Kitsikopoulos,
“Urban Demand and Agrarian Productivity in Pre-Plague England: Reassessing the Relevancy of von Thunen's Model,”
Agricultural History
77
(Summer
2003
):
482
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):
171
88
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Agricultural History Review
48
(
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A History of British Livestock Husbandry to 1700
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); Oliver Rackham,
The History of the Countryside
(
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J. M. Dent
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). For medieval urban meat consumption, see, for example, C. M. Woolgar,
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in
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101
. For archaeological work, see, Umberto Albarella,
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(
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75
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72
87
; Albarella,
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in
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Leeds
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,
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48
.
4. Albarella,
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73
77
; Albarella,
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141
43
; Woolgar,
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88
89
.
5. Albarella,
“Meat Consumption,”
142
. Strong responses to the pig menace were understandable. Catherine McNeur estimates that there were twenty thousand pigs in Manhattan in 1820.
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Journal of Urban History
37
(
Sept.
2011
):
639
60
.
6. Ted Steinberg discusses the town as an ecosystem of humans and animals living in concert in
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(
Oxford
:
Oxford University Press
,
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),
159
. For pigs' role in waste disposal, see, for example, Martin Melosi,
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(
College Station
:
Texas A&M University Press
,
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); Susan Strasser,
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(
New York
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,
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). Frances Trollope also remarked on the scavenging duties of urban pigs in Cincinnati when she visited in 1828, making it clear that as a woman from London, she was not accustomed to seeing urban pigs feeding on garbage: Frances Trollope,
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(
1832
; repr.,
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23
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7. Edwin Brezette DeWindt, trans. and ed.,
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8. Michael Prestwich, ed.,
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),
16
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“No one shall keep pigs which go into the streets by day or night, nor shall any prostitute stay in the city,”
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York Memorandum Book, Lettered A/Y in the Guildhall Muniment Room
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Durham
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Andrews
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,
1915
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1
:
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,
164
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110b
135b
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1275
1298
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91
100
,
1314
1337
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Beverley Town Documents
(
London
:
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19
.
9. For example, according to the bylaws of Lynn from 1331, if a pig was taken into town custody, the owner was charged fourpence. Stephen Alsford, ed.,
“Lynn By-Laws,”
Medieval English Towns, http://www.users.trytel.com/~tristan/towns/lynnlaws.html (accessed Feb. 14, 2013). In 1388 a carter's annual wage was ten shillings, so such a fine was considerable. There were twelve pence to an English shilling, and twelve shillings to a pound. Sellers,
York Memorandum Book
,
1
:
18
; Stephen Alsford, ed.,
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,
4
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Bristol
:
W. Crofton Hemmons
,
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2
:
31
32
; Hudson and Tingey,
Records of Norwich
,
2
:
88
; W. Gurney Benham, trans.,
Red Paper Book of Colchester
(
Colchester
:
Essex County Standard Office
,
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),
98
; Woolgar,
“Meat and Dairy Products,”
89
.
10.
Corporation of Nottingham
,
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,
8
vols. (
Nottingham
:
Thomas Forman
,
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),
1
:
357
59
; Isaac Herbert Jeayes, trans.,
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,
2
vols. (
Colchester
:
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,
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),
1
:
8
9
,
87
; Alsford,
“Ancient Usages.”
11. For discussion of St. Anthony's pigs in London, see, J. Strype,
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hriOnline, Sheffield, http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/strype (accessed Jan. 30, 2013); C. L. ten Cate,
Wan god mast gift … Bilder aus der Geschichte der Schweinezucht im Walde
(
Wageningen
:
Center for Agricultural Publication and Documentation
,
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),
140
53
; Angelo Raine, ed.,
York Civic Records
,
8
vols. (
York
:
Yorkshire Archaeological Society
,
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),
5
:
129
.
12.
Corporation of Nottingham
,
Borough of Nottingham
,
1
:
357
59
,
2
:
39
43
,
1
:
275
; Hudson and Tingey,
Records of Norwich
,
2
:
205
206
; Dorothy M. Owen,
The Making of King's Lynn
(
Oxford
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,
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), no.
471
. Waste quantities are derived from K. Pearson,
“Waste And Waste Disposal in the High and Late Middle Ages: An Examination of the Technical Problems of Human and Animal Waste and Medieval Solutions,”
paper presented at International Congress of Medieval Studies
,
2006
,
Kalamazoo, Mich.
, paper in author's possession.
13. Sebastian Brant,
“Das Narrenschiff,”
University of Houston Libraries
, http://www.digital.lib.uh.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=/p15195coll15 (accessed Mar. 21, 2013); MS 74, fol. 11r, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK; MS M.175, fol. 11v; MS M.52, fol. 7r, Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, NY. For husbandry texts, see, for example, Thomas Tusser,
Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry
, ed. William Mavor (
1557
; repr.,
London
:
Lackington, Allen
,
1812
). See, also, C. A. Drew,
“Pigs from Six Medieval Sites in Flanders: A Multiple Methodological Approach to the Study of Their Husbandry Development”
(
PhD diss.
,
Durham University
,
2010
),
11
13
, http://www.etheses.dur.ac.uk/710/ (accessed Jan. 26, 2013).
14. Mary Dormer Harris, ed.,
The Coventry Leet Book: or Mayor's Register, Containing the Records of the City Court Leet or View of Frankpledge, AD14201555, with Divers Other Matters
,
4
vols. (
London
:
Kegan Paul, Trench, Tru¨bner
,
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),
1
:
42
43
,
58
59
,
107
108
,
2
:
360
,
3
:
653
; H. T. Riley, ed., Memorials: 1383,
“Memorials of London and London Life: In the 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries,”
British History Online, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=57723 (accessed Feb. 14, 2013); Strype,
Survey of London
, I.i.23.
15. Harris,
Coventry Leet Book
,
1
:
27
28
; Leach,
Beverley Town Documents
,
19
; Charles Herbert Mayo, ed.,
The Municipal Records of the Borough of Dorchester, Dorset
(
Exeter
:
William Pollard
,
1908
),
111
; Mary Bateson, ed.,
Records of the Borough of Leicester
,
2
vols. (
London
:
C. J. Clay
,
1901
),
2
:
292
; James J. Parsons,
“The Acorn-Hog Economy of the Oak Woodlands of Southwestern Spain,”
Geographical Review
52
(
Apr.
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211
35
.
16.
Corporation of Nottingham
,
Borough of Nottingham
,
1
:
151
,
269
; Alsford,
“Lynn By-Laws.”
17. Wiseman,
Pig
,
12
; Harris,
Coventry Leet Book
,
1
:
27
; Sharpe, fols. 110b–135b; T. Wilkie et al.,
“A Dental Microwear Study of Pig Diet and Management in Iron Age, Romano-British, Anglo-Scandinavian, and Medieval Contexts in England,”
in
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, ed. Umberto Albarella et al. (
Oxford
:
Oxford University Press
,
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),
241
54
; Drew,
“Pigs from Six Medieval Sites”;
Calendar, MS 74, fol. 11r, Fitzwilliam Museum.
18. Harris,
Coventry Leet Book
,
2
:
389
; A. H. Thomas, ed., Roll A 5: (i) 1337–1344, 1323–1364,
“Calendar of the Plea and Memoranda Rolls of the City of London,”
British History Online, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=36658 (accessed Jan. 30, 2013). See, Robert L. Miller,
“Hogs and Hygiene,”
Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
76
(
1990
):
125
40
, for a discussion of pigs eating garbage in ancient Egypt. Tusser,
Five Hundred
,
48
; Martin Melosi,
The Sanitary City: Urban Infrastructure in America from Colonial Times to the Present
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Baltimore
:
Johns Hopkins University Press
,
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),
180
. Considering the number times improper disposal of butchery waste in waterways and pits comes up in these records, it would appear that offal disposal in water or reuse as field fertilizer was much more common than using it as pig feed. See, Ernst L. Sabine,
“Butchering in Mediaeval London,”
Speculum
8
(
July
1933
):
335
53
; Dolly Jørgensen,
“Local Government Responses to Urban River Pollution in Late Medieval England,”
Water History
2
(
July
2010
):
35
52
.
19. Harris,
Coventry Leet Book
,
1
:
58
,
217
,
3
:
652
53
; Levi Fox,
“Some New Evidence of Leet Activity in Coventry, 1540–41,”
English Historical Review
61
(
May
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):
242
.
20. Joyce W. Percy, ed.,
York Memorandum Book (B/Y)
(
Gateshead, UK
:
Surtees Society
,
1973
),
217
18
; Raine,
York Civic Records
,
4
:
64
,
5
:
25
,
129
.
21. For a sense of the multiple culinary uses of pork in the Middle Ages, see, Gina L. Greco and Christine M. Rose, trans.,
The Good Wife's Guide (Le Me´nagier de Paris): A Medieval Household Book
(
Ithaca
:
Cornell University Press
,
2009
).
22.
Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office, Richard II, vol. 1, 13771381
(
London
:
Public Record Office
,
1895
),
579
; Harris,
Coventry Leet Book
,
1
:
32
. The location is given in two land leases, BA/C/4/3/1, Dec. 1, 1448 and BA/C/4/3/2, Dec. 25, 1465, Coventry Town Archives, Coventry, UK. The second lease allowed the butchers access to draw water for the scalding house. Helena M. Chew and William Kellaway, eds., misc. roll. FF,
Feb.
16
,
1369
May
5
,
1374
(nos. 550–599),
“London Assize of Nuisance 1301–1431: A Calendar,”
British History Online, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=35981 (accessed Feb. 14, 2013).
23. Harris,
Coventry Leet Book
,
1
:
42
43
,
232
; Sabine,
“Butchering,”
335
53
; David R. Carr,
“Controlling the Butchers in Late Medieval English Towns,”
Historian
70
(Fall
2008
):
450
61
.
24. Albarella,
“Pig Husbandry,”
74
76
.
25. Alsford,
“Lynn By-Laws”;
Bateson,
Borough of Leicester
,
2
:
154
,
165
,
104
.
26. Perhaps London had earlier incentive to specialize governmental duties than the towns of Norwich and Coventry because of its greater population and larger urban area. Sharpe, fols. 110b–135b; Reginald R. Sharpe, ed., fols. 1–9, 1291–1309; fols. 253–290, 1375–1399,
“Calendar of Letter-Books of the City of London,”
British History Online, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/catalogue.aspx?gid=58&type=3 (accessed Feb. 14, 2013).
27. All court cases are from DeWindt,
“Court Rolls of Ramsey,”
cited as roll:entry number.
28. Ibid., BL Add.Roll39702:8, BL Add.Roll39649:25, BL Add.Roll39653E:27, BL Add. Roll39666B:8, BL Add.Roll34366d:65, BL Add.Roll39653B:8; Wiseman, Pig, 12.
29. DeWindt,
“Court Rolls of Ramsey,”
BL Add.Roll39598r:81, BL Add.Roll34362r:17, TNA/SC2/179/18 m.5r:94, BL Add.Roll39603r:47, BL Add.Roll39611d:54-56, BL Add. Roll39632r:48, BL Add.Roll39652:41, BL Add.Roll39627r:37, BL Add.Roll39629r:38, BL Add.Roll34368:42, BL Add.Roll34369:25, BL Add.Roll39656:32, BL Add.Roll3966d:28.
30. Ibid., BL Add.Roll39645r:45, BL Add.Roll34369:45, BL Add.Roll39650:39, BL Add. Roll39653E:28, BL Add.Roll39653A:35, TNA/SC2-179/59 m.8r:38-39. For manuscript illustrations of leading pigs, see, for example, MS 2092, fol. 18v, Bibliothéque Nationale de France, Paris; MS S.7, fol. 12r, Pierpont Morgan Library. The practice of leading pigs by a rope is discussed in H. Meyer,
“Schwein am Seil,”
Deutsche tierärztliche Wochenschrift
111
(
Sept.
2004
):
364
65
.
31. DeWindt,
“Court Rolls of Ramsey,”
BL Add.Roll39630r:13, BL Add.Roll39649:25.
32. Ibid., BL Add.Roll39645r:45, BL Add.Roll34369:45, BL Add.Roll39650:39, BL Add. Roll39653A:35, TNA/SC2-179/59 m.8r:39, BL Add.Roll39646r:58, BL Add.Roll39653E:27, BL Add.Roll39653B:25.
33. Ibid., TNA/SC2/179/63 m.5r:35, BL Add.Roll39659:20, BL Add.Roll39658:22 BL Add.Roll39666B:8-10, BL Add.Roll34406:31; Bateson, Borough of Leicester, 2:21, 103. For general descriptions of ringing practices, see, Robert Malcolmson and Stephanos Mastoris,
The English Pig: A History
(
London
:
Hambledon
,
2001
),
76
82
and ten Cate,
Wan god mast gift
,
109
15
.
34. DeWindt,
“Court Rolls of Ramsey,”
BL Add.Roll39635:47, BL Add.Roll39643:45, BL Add.Roll39658:8.
35. Barbor's misdeeds are recorded in DeWindt,
“Court Rolls of Ramsey,”
BL Add. Roll39627r:37, BL Add.Roll39629r:38-39, BL Add.Roll39630r:21-22, BL Add.Roll39631r:41, BL Add.Roll39632r:43, 48; BL Add.Roll39635:46. Botiller is cited per DeWindt, “Court Rolls of Ramsey,” BL Add.Roll34368:41-42, BL Add.Roll34369:25, BL Add.Roll39643:45, BL Add.Roll39646r:55.