1) Could be a tenant of long standing, an officer of the Custom House at Hull, or somebody buying goods in a place of sale.

The word has had several distinct meanings. In the court roll for Colne in 1540 it was ordered that the Customers of the old tenur should be summoned to attend at Michaelmas. In that archaic sense of the word the customer was a tenant of long standing, a customary holder. Latin examples are found in very early undated charters: ita quod Willelmus de Percy nec heredes sui vel custumarii sui de Tatecastr. The word was also used in connection with the Custom House at Hull as the title of the officers who collected the customs or tolls paid by ship-owners. In 1521, a man named Thomas Annesley was said to have been custumer of Kyngeston uppon Hull by the space of viij yeres and an hallf. It was already an ancient tradition: 1457 Item thay payd to the cosstomars and to the clarkes at Hull ... xlvs stirlyng, York

a rental of 1465 shows that the Custoumers for two chambers called the Customhouses paid 26s 8d.

The Merchant Adventurers of York were in dispute with Hull in the 1540s and the Governor of Hull wrote the following letter:

1548-9 I understand that the merchant men of … Yorke fynd themselves gryved, for that they ar exacted to paye more for the costom of ther lead within the port of Hull than heretofore hath beyne by the costomers there required .

It remained a Hull institution: in 1594 William Johns, Customer, was buried at St Mary’s, Hull. Now, we use the word to describe any person who purchases goods in a place of sale whereas formerly it referred to a frequent buyer, one who customarily purchased from a particular tradesman: 1658 to Elizabeth Rodes my gowne, if she continue my sonnes costomer one yeare & a halfe, Selby. In 1699, Sir Walter Calverley fined a tenant five shillings for a trespass but then returned the money to him, saying he was a customer to my mills with his cloath. The transition towards these two related meanings is evident in a legal opinion expressed in 1717: it referred to an estate owner called Ramsden who feared losing Customers for his fulling mill as a result of decreased water power.

dates 1457 1465 1521 1540 1548-1549 1594 1658 1699

Related Content Loading...

Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0