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Oxford Mileways Act 1771: The Covered Market


The following part of the Act relates to the removal of the street market that took place in the High Street and Queen Street, and the building of the Covered Market (opened 1 November 1774) between the High Street and Jesus College Lane (now renamed Market Street), and the resulting ban on selling meat, fish, poultry, or vegetables anywhere else


Power to remove the Market and erect another

And whereas the holding of a Market as heretofore accustomed for selling of Meat, Fish, and Garden Stuff, in the High Street and Butcher Row, in the said City, hath been found very inconvenient, by reason of the great Number of Coaches, Carts, and other Carriages, and Travellers passing and repassing through the same, to and from the Roads above mentioned: And whereas, it is necessary for the Benefit and Accommodation of the Inhabitants of the said University, City, and Suburbs, and of all Persons resorting thereto, that a Market should be still continued for the Sale of all Kinds of Meat, Fish, Poultry, and Garden Stuff; and the Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the said University, and Mayor, Bailiffs, and Commonalty of the said City, are desirous to erect, hold, and maintain such Market; it is hereby further enacted, That the said Commissioners, or any Fifteen or more of them, shall have full Power and Authority to view, set out, and describe such Plot or Piece of Ground, between the High Street and the Lane called Jesus College Lane, within the said City, as they shall adjudge most convenient and proper for holding the said Market, and to and for making proper Avenues thereto: And it is hereby further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the said Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the said University, and their Successors, by and with the Consent and Approbation of the said Mayor, Bailiffs, and Commonalty of the said City, and their Successors, shall have Power and Authority, and they are hereby authorised and impowered to remove, or cause to be removed, the Markets for all Kinds of Meat, Fish, Poultry, and Garden-stuff, and to establish and hold, or cause to be established and held, within the Limits of the said  Plot or Piece of Ground, so to be set out and described by the said Commissioners as aforesaid, for the Scite of the said Market; and that it shall and may be lawful to and for the said Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars, by and with the Consent and Approbation of the said Mayor, Bailiffs, and Commonalty, to cause such Market to be held within the Limits aforesaid, daily and every Day, or less frequently, according as the same shall to them appear necessary for the Convenience and Accommodation of the Inhabitants of the said University, City, and Suburbs, and of Persons resorting thereto.

Reservation of the Right of the University to superintend and regulate the Markets, and of the City Right to Pitching-pence or Tolls

Provided that Nothing herein contained shall extend or be construed to extend, to take away the Right of the said Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars, to appoint or nominate One or more Clerk or Clerks of the said Market, and otherwise to govern, regulate, and superintend the same, as heretofore accustomed with respect to the antient Market-place or Places, or to take away the Right of the said Mayor, Bailiffs, and Commonalty, to such Pitching-pence or Tolls as have been heretofore paid to them or their Toll-gatherer, by Butchers, Gardeners, and others; but the same respectively shall remain and belong to the said Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars, and the said Mayor, Bailiffs, and Commonalty, severally, as before the passing this Act; and the said Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars, and Mayor, Bailiffs, and Commonalty, respectively, shall and may prescribe and have such Remedies for the same in such new Market, as they could have and were intitled to in the Places where the antient Markets were usually or commonly held.

No Meat, Fish, Poultry, or Garden-stuff to be sold elsewhere

And for preventing any Encroachments which might hereafter be made on the said Market, be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That from and after the same shall be completed and used as a Market, it shall not be lawful for any Person or Persons to erect or hold any other Market within the said University, City, or Suburbs, except the present Markets for Corn, Pigs, and Butter, or to vend or expose to Sale any Banner of Flesh, or other Raw Victuals, Fish, Poultry, Herbs, Roots, or Garden-stuff, which are usually sold in publick Markets in any other Place whatsoever within the said University, City, or Suburbs; and every Person who shall so vend, or expose to Sale, any Manner of Flesh, or other raw Victuals, Fish, Poultry, Herbs, Roots, or Garden-stuff, out of the said Market, within the said University, City, or Suburbs, and shall be convicted thereof before any One or more of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County or City of Oxford aforesaid, shall, for every such Offence, forfeit and pay the Sum of Five Pounds; to be recovered by Distress and Sale of the Goods and Chattels of the Offender, rendering the Overplus, (if any there be) after deducting the Expence of such Distress and Sale to the Owners thereof; One Moiety whereof shall go to the Informer, and the other Moiety to the Poor of the Parish where the Offence or Offences shall be committed.

Fishmongers or Poulterers may sell in their own House

Provided always, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to extend to prevent Fishmongers or Poulterers from selling Fish or Poultry in their own Shops or Houses, as heretofore accustomed in the said University, City, and Suburbs.

Justices may mitigate Penalties

Provided also, nevertheless, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the said Justices, where they shall see Cause, to mitigate or lessen any such Penalties or Forfeitures, according to their Discretion.

Stephanie Jenkins, 2013