Markets & Fairs

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The existence of Markets and Fairs is a key indicator of commercial activity. In the medieval period, the right to grant markets and fairs was considered to be a royal franchise,[1] but the existence of such right did not of course mean that exercising it was commercially viable. The Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516 project surveyed a huge number of sources in order to produce a database of markets and fairs that had been chartered up to 1516.


Aim and Approach

The aim of this project is to extend the coverage of the existing Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs up to 1680, using contemporary sources (including maps and textual surveys) to record the grant of new charters and revocations of old ones, and (sometimes subjective) assessments of their activity.




  • John Leland, who made frequent comment on markets in his Itineraries.
  • Norden

Lists & Surveys

  • Blome 1673
  • William Harrison, The Description of England, 1587 (noted in Letters database)
  • George Owen (1552-1613), The Taylors Cussion. Lists of markets and fairs in each county of Wales, largely compiled in 1594.[2]
  • William Smith, 1588


  • Speed enumerated market towns with county totals on his map of England and Wales, but (for example) having given a total of only 29 for Somerset noted in his text that 33 were 'fit for buying and selling and other affairs of commerce'.

Alan Everitt also compiled an incomplete list of markets c.1500 to 1640 in the Agrarian History of England and Wales, volume 4.