Patrick Delaforce & Ken Baldry

'Family History Research' - Chapter 32
The Gascon merchants in London - 13th century

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Chapter 32

J. DELPIT ‘Maine de Londres’ En la dite cité à nos bone gentz de Gascoigne,
repeyrantz en mesme la cité.’

The Gascon merchants in London - 13th century

In the period 1250-1325 the GIRONDE based family had two main trading activities. They owned their own vineyards outside Bordeaux. They also traded in London, selling not only their wines, but vast quantities grown in the Cahors area. Additionally they imported quantities of leather shoes from Cordova in Spain. Cordwaining was the name given to this activity, from the “CORDOBANES”.

The Calender of Letter Books, City of London (books A,B and C) has a lot of information about the family’s activities. They lived in a part of London called “La VINTRY” in Dowgate Ward. Ironically enough some 200 years later Lord Bernard de la Force was buried in 1471 after the battle of Barnet, at the Church of St. Martins-la-Vintry.

The medieval business between Gascony and England in this period was immense. In some years 100,000 tonneaux of wines were shipped from Bordeaux to England. The trade was killed in 1374 by French government edict, but Fortunes had been made before that. La Reole, a major port, was recaptured by the French, and the Gascon trade abruptly came to an end.

The MSS Commission 1876 5th report p.561 states that in the period 1288-1300 "VINGHE de la FOSSE" wines were famous. The wine was often given by the Kings of France, including Louis XI, to important people in London.

The wine originated in Cahors, and went overland to POISSY near Paris. It was then embarked at Rouen or WITSAND (modern WISSANT) for an English port and thence to London. Louis XI consented that the wine ‘shall be delivered in Gascony or the Bordelais because the countryside round POISSY was ruined and the vines destroyed.’

The Delaforces moved to London, perhaps initially about 1250, to sell their own wines grown by Williams, Raymonds and Peter, and probably others as well.

The first record is unusual. In 1256 ARNAUD DEFFORSIEU of Cahors ‘depensait à ACRE des sommes considerables pour y maintenir les positions des Marseillais en face de la concurrence Montpellieraine.’ This merchant - probably the same man as ARNAUD-GARSINS du FOSSAT, with his brother WILLIAM de Fourcès, witnesses at a major Treaty of AUCH in 1247, and also shown as ARNALDUS de FFONS at SEULA in 1256 - was buying from suppliers at Aix-en-Provence in preference to rival suppliers from Montpellier to supply his family in London with merchandise - possibly wines. The same ARNOLD GARSIE de FOSSATO of Bordeaux received a grant from the English King of £400 in Bordeaux pounds in 1253, and supplied military help to the English in 1254.

Another book called "1275-1292, Enregistrement à Guild Hall des creances de plusieurs marchands de Bordeaux" shows


FOLIO 23 Amanendo de ISPANNIA & ARNALDO de LAFOSSIE, mercatoribus de LARIOLE xxlv lib (pounds) pro VINIS” (wines)


FOLIO 46 "WILLELMO de LAFOSSIE et ARNALDO de LAFOSSIE fratri suo, mercatoribus de LARIOLE XXI lib. Ste pro VINIS"


FOLIO 49 "WILLELMO de LAFOSSIE, mercat de LARIOL VI lib. st" and also from the letter Books A-L of London.

In the period 1280 ARNAUD’s son ARNOLD, with his brother WILLIAM, are well documented in London.


Richard de Kyrkestede, cordwainer, was bound to Amenaud of Spain and ARNOLD de La FOSSIE merchants of LA REOLE for £24 for wine, to be paid at the Feast of St.Margaret, 1282.


ARNOLD de la FOSIE in 1286 with brother William are shown as “merchants of La Reole” living in London.


ARNOLD FORTRANT, merchant of Gascony in 1304, ARNOLD RAYMOND de FFORCE from Gascony in 1305, and ARNOLD FOSSE from Sancto SEVERO, Libourne was in London. They were obviously the same man.

In 1264 PIERRE DE FORT ‘n’eut été l’amitié qu’on a pour la ville de Cahors.’ Peter, the son of Pierre Fortet, who had been consul of Aurillac in 1284, Mandatoire du Roi, is shown as a ‘Master’ in 1286 in London, as PETER FAURE or FORE; in 1287 as Peter de La FOSIE, and in 1288 John atte Gate, "coureur", was bound to Peter de FORS for 70 shillings, to be paid half a month at midsummer, 8s 4d. at Michaelmas and Christmas, and half a mark at Easter.

Peter or his son is shown again in 1304. Robert Daundeley, cordwainer indebted to PETER FORT, merchant of CAHORS, in the sum of 78s 4d. - one moiety in the quinzaine of the nativity of St.John Baptist - rest at Michaelmas to be paid in shoes "in denarus sotularium".’ John de Brunne, cordwainer, indebted to Peter FORT, merchant of Spain, for 30s. John de Pountoyse, goldsmith, to Peter FORT, merchant of Spain, for 8 marks and 11d. Peter appointed John de Paru to be his attorney and pledged gold for his debt.

In 1346 PIERRE FORS/FORCIUS/FORCII, living in AGEN, was a maker of "Noix le metal, c’est le rouet de Despingole ou de l’arbulete" another skilled metal worker. This is interesting because in 1500 his descendant Peter de FORCE, brother to Anthony, was a goldsmith of London and Faversham, Kent.

William has even more references.

In 1286

William de la Fosie and ARNAULD, his brother are seen as merchants of La Reole, and William Barnche was bound to them for £21 for wine sold and delivered.

In 1287

William Le Huver was bound on behalf of Geoffrey, his brother, to William de la Fosie, Peter of the same (de codem) and 'GARSIE' (ARNOLD) of the same in the sum of £6 to be paid at the feast of St. Bartholomew.

10th Sept 1288

William de La Fosse, merchant of La Reole, going beyond seas, nominated Benettus de la Cosse until Whitsunday: 22nd July, Friday after the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen, came Adam Pikeman & acknowledged himself bound to William de La Fosie of La Ryole for £12 to be paid at Christmas.


Thursday after the close of East (clausum Pasche) came Robert Gange & Robert de St.Neot, tailor, and acknowledged bound to William de La Fosie merchant 'del oriole' (La Reole) for £6 to be paid at the feat of the Nativity of the Birth of Mary.


Wednesday before Pentecost (25 May) 20 year Edward I reign, came William de Winchester tavener of Brentwood (de Bosco Arso) & acknowleged bound to William de La Fosie and GALARD, his valet, in the sum of 54s to be paid at the Feast of St. Bartholomew.

26 May 1299

among ‘certains chevaliers de Gascoignes à Londres” by J. DELPIT was VITAL de FORSED, who was owed money by RICHARDO JUNCTORI 34s, DAVID PISTORI 11s, Guill. Le Chandler l0s and Willelmo de DORCEFORD piston 2s 7d.


WILLIAM de la FOZIE was shown as Burgess of La Reole. He must have travelled frequently by ship to London and back on his business ventures.

16th February 1298

William le Fort nominated Nicholas de Gildeford for one year, as surety for repayment of a bond.


William DELAUFARE with 30 other merchants agreed to pay a total of 1000 marks (£s) to the King for his confirmation of the Royal Charter. So William was amongst the 30 key merchants trading with France.


WILLIAM DELAUFARE was witness to Quitclaim for 500 marks paid to Sir Henry de Lacy, Earl of 'NICHOLE'. The same year WILLIAM and others agreed a Bond with the City of London common seal to the Society of FRISCABALDI of Florence for 200 marks of good and lawful sterlings and crowns out of the Kings MINT.


WILLIAM Le FORT was collector of customs at Chichester - earned 2s for each tun of wine imported. (In 1550 Jaques DELAFORCE worked for the Customs & Excise Collector for Southern England.) WILLIAM de LAUFARE was a master ‘coteler’ or cutler in the City. His father RAMON FORT of Bordeaux was a Taillandier (maker of edge tools). See Pierre of 1346.


WILLIAM FAURE de FIGAT (FIGEAC between CAHORS and the Auvergne) and Peter de Ceriat of Bordeaux were owed £6 by Bernard de la Rochelle.

There are also mentions of a John (excluding the Johns derived from the Albermarles). 1273 John Le Fers of Maling, Kent, known as Merchant of Brabant.


John de la Founs, merchant of Spain for cordwaining - owed sums of £66, £66 and £30 from different London customers.


John DELAFAURE, a merchant of London, his son JOHN in 1340 was a Master cutler-tapicier (See William of 1310).

14th November 1308

JOHN FORT, merchant of Ypres and Douai, got a warrant from King Edward II for goods unjustly arrested by the Bailliffs of Westminster.

Finally, REMUNDUS de La FORCHE was owed £6 by Willelm de HALLAGBER.

The conclusions are that the Gironde wine growers - Raymonds, Arnolds, Williams and Peter - and their sons, the William and Peter, sons of Aymeric de la Force of the Auvergne, all enjoyed a substantial merchant venturing business in London for half a century.

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Contact: Ken Baldry for more information, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 but best to e-mail him
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