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tion in the Statute, to have been for the purpose only of repaying the baker's charges for grinding and baking. The advantage loaves were for his maintenance and profit; but Your Committee do not find the mode is exactly specified by which the money allowance was paid; in later times the mode of payment was described at length in the book published by Order of Council in the latter part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and which refers to a former book of Assize as follows:
"In the reign of Henry VII, the bakers were allowed two shillings for their charges in baking a quarter of wheat and the bran, as plainly appeareth in the said old assize book, which hath relation to the Statute of Winchester aforesaid, in which assize book it is declared in what manner the said two shillings is to be allowed; that is to say, when wheat was at 12s. the quarter, the baker should bake at 14s, the quarter; when at 14s. he is to bake at 16s. the quarter; as in the said book is to be seen, and is to follow at the same rate at what price soever wheat is at the quarter." As this mode has been in use down to the present time, and is above referred to as having been long established, it is probably that which was in the earliest times adopted.
Your Committee proceeded to trace the successive alterations which had taken place in these two allowances to the bakers, and with regard to the payment in money, they found it was from time to time increased and altered; in the 12th of Henry VII, it was raised to two shillings per quarter; and Your Committee beg leave to point out,` that a large portion of this allowance appears to have been appropriated to the baker and his family, who by 51 of Henry III. were provided for by the advantage loaves.
"Anno 1405, 12 Henry VII, and as the said book of assize declareth, when the best wheat was sold at 7s. the second at 6s. 6d. and the third at 6s. the quarter, The Baker was allowed,
Furnace and wood
Two journeymen and two apprentizes
Himself, his house, his wife, his dog, and his cat
And the Branne to his advantage."
But as 418 lbs. was still the quantity of Bread to be sold for the price of a quarter of Wheat, Your Committee are led to believe that the allowance in Bread no longer continued to be noticed.
During the reigns of James I, and Charles I, the Money allowance was at 6s.; by the Statute of 8th of Anne, the Money allowance was raised to 12s. but by a slight error in the calculation of the tables the weight of Bread was reduced to 417lbs.; and as this Statute continued in force down to the year 1758, this accidental variation is the only one which for the long period of 556 years took place in the quantity of bread which was to be sold for the price of a quarter of wheat.
The act of 31 Geo. II, repealed the 8th of Anne, and it contained a table of assize constructed on a principle differing from all those which preceded it ; instead of 417 lbs. the bakers were to sell no more than 365 lbs. of wheaten bread for the price of a quarter of wheat, and 52 lbs. of bread were by these means added to the two advantage loaves originally granted, an alteration which could not fail materially to raise the price of bread; and Your Committee
therefore beg leave to point out its practical result. By the table in 8th of Anne, when wheat was at 84s. and the baker's allowance at 12s. the quarter, 4 lbs. 5 oz. 8 dr. being a quartern loaf of wheaten bread, was to be sold for one shilling.
By the table of Geo. II, when wheat was equally at 84s. and the baker's allowance at 12s. the quarter, the quartern loaf of wheaten bread was to be sold for 13 d. But as there is nothing in the act itself, or in any of the record of the House, which Your Committee have examined, which in any way notices the important alteration above pointed out, Your Committee have no means of explaining the grounds on which it was made.
The operation of the law however, and the higher price of bread it occasioned, gave rise to much inquiry; and in the 13th of the King, an act was passed, the object of which was to restore the bread laws to their former footing. This statute contained a re-enactment of the table of the 8th Anne, and contained also specific directions for dressing the flour of which the bread was to be made; but as these directions were in themselves contradictory, and as the profits to the bakers were by the construction of the table so largely reduced, they found means to prevent the possibility of putting it in force in London, although an attempt was made to do so in the year 1800.
Your Committee having proceeded thus far in their examination of the tables of assize, by which according to the market price of wheat (and latterly of flour) the price of bread was to be set, proceeded to inquire in what way that market price was directed to be ascertained; and on this subject they found nothing earlier than the statute of Anne; therein it is directed generally, "That the magistrates in setting the assize of bread, are to have respect to
the price, the grain, meal or flour whereof such bread shall be made, shall bear in the several public markets. "
By the 31st of Geo. II, the magistrates are in like manner directed "to have respect to the prices which grain, meal and flour, shall bear in the public market;" but it proceeds also to direct and empower the meal weighers of the city of London to collect the respective prices the grain, meal, or flour shall openly and publicly be sold for during the whole market, and not at any particular times thereof; and the returns so collected, the mealweigher or clerk of the market was to give in, and to certify upon oath; and by these returns, the price of bread continued to be set as long as the 31st Geo. II, continued in operation.
Your Committee beg leave in this place to point out, that the preamble of the act of Anne contains a clear definition, of the object of these laws, which is there stated to be "to provide for the observance of the due assize, or the reasonable price of bread, and to prevent covetous and evil-dispased persons for their own gain and lucre, from deceiving and oppressing her Majesty's subjects, especially the poorer sort;" and Your Committee are of opinion, that without the allowance made to the bakers, whether it is in advan tage bread or in money, or in both, is moderate and reasonable and further, that without the returns which are obtained of the prices of wheat or flour, are the real prices at which they are bonâ fide sold openly and in public market, the above defined benevolent intention of the Legislature cannot be obtained by the operation of the assize law; and Your Committee,(referring to the detail they have given of the most essential points in those laws which have heretofore been acted upon, by which it appears that the advantage bread continued to be allowed to the bakers, whilst the money allowance was largely increased, and whilst the value
of the surplus bread was increased also with its augmented money price,) cannot but entertain doubts whether the assize laws, even. in their earlier and better state, ever really effected their intended object; but in later times, when the tables in the 31st Geo. II, came into use, Your Committee are founded in believing they had a contrary effect.
Your Committee next proceeded to examine the act of the 37th of the King, and the subsequent acts by which that act has been explained and amended; and they found in the first place, that their operation is limited to the city of London, and the space within ten miles of the Royal Exchange; the first of these acts contains two tables of assize, one for wheat, and another for flour; and it is left to the discretion of the magistrate to fix the price of bread either by the one or the other, as he may see fit; and Your Com mittee finding, that this is the first statute which ever contained a regular flour table, beg leave to point out the course of this innovation in the ancient assize system; from the year 1202 to 1709, the price of bread depended solely on the price of wheat; and the allowance to the bakers always included the charges for grinding and bolting; and by the ancient custom of the land, where toll was taken, every twentieth grain (or 5 per cent, on the weight of the wheat) was deemed sufficient remuneration,
It was not until the 8th of Anne that the magistrates were directed to have reference to the price of flour in fixing the assize of bread; but it appears on the journals of the House, that in the year 1735, a petition was presented to the House by the bakers' company, stating the hardships under which they labored, and praying that the assize of bread might be set by the price of flour. A Committee to whom this petition was referred, reported to the House,