Buying wine on credit

In 1423 a merchant from Lombardy named Nicholas Martin (Niccolo Martini?) wanted to buy fourteen casks of red wine, at the very considerable cost of £46, from a London vintner named William Fromond. Fromond was reluctant to contract with a stranger who had no property in London to act as collateral for payment, but a London citizen, joiner John Derke, was willing to warrant that Martin was good for the money.

Derke, however (so Fromond alleged), was well aware that the Lombard was actually living outside London jurisdiction, in sanctuary in St. Martin le Grand (presumably for debt). Not only did Martin not have enough to pay for the order, but even if he had had the money, he had brought all his goods into sanctuary and thus Fromond could not even have the goods seized. Fromond sued Derke in the London mayor’s court to recover the payment, and Martin seems to have ducked responsibility altogether.

London Metropolitan Archives, CLA/024/02/003/41. Image: Wine merchants, from the Ordonnances de Paris, c1500

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