First Town Incorporated by English Parliament

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First Town Incorporated by English Parliament

Plymouth, Devon The 12th of November 1439 AD

When the Domesday Book was collated there was no such place name as Plymouth, as the settlement on roughly the same spot was then called Sudtone, i.e. South Farmstead; previously the Saxons had called it Tamarworth, meaning the enclosure on the Tamar .
This was then an ancient place, and one which had continued to grow over the centuries. Such development included the building of town walls in 1404; but the townsfolk were still under the local governmental control of the Priors of Plympton. In 1411 they petitioned Henry IV to be granted a charter allowing self-government, but one was not forthcoming.
In 1439 another attempt was made, to both King by then Henry VI and Parliament. On November 12 1439 Parliament passed an Act giving the place municipal status, the first time that Parliament had granted such powers; the next year a royal charter followed. The change of status was marked by a change of name: henceforth the town would be known as Plymouth .
This does not herald a huge alteration in the balance of power in England, though Henry VI was of course a notoriously weak king. But it was one small milestone along that road.

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