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Thursday, 31 July 2014
On a Recently Discovered Monumental Brass, Belonging to Bowers Gifford Church: Transactions o.s. Volume 1
ON A RECENTLY DISCOVERED MONUMENTAL BRASS, BELONGING TO BOWERS GIFFORD CHURCH.
BY H. W. KING, ESQ.
Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, ‘old series’, Volume 1 (1858)
It was, I think, in the year 1845, while engaged in noting and copying the monumental and fenestral antiquities of the Churches of South Essex, that I first ascertained that an early monumental brass, of one of the ancient and knightly family of Gifford, mentioned in Salmon's History of Essex as existing in the Church of Bowers Gifford, had disappeared. Neither at that time, nor at various subsequent periods of enquiry, could I learn that any one had ever seen or heard of it. This occasioned no surprise, as I was aware, not only that many brasses had been lost, and that many sepulchre monuments and heraldic windows had been destroyed, or defaced, since 1740, when Dr. Salmon wrote, but arms and inscriptions, which I had myself copied, have since perished, and are, perhaps, recorded only in my own collections.*
I have now the satisfaction of reporting to the Essex Archaeological Society, the recent recovery of this long-lost monumental brass.
On visiting Bowers Gifford Church, in June last, I was informed by the present Rector, the Rev. W. W. Tireman, that the effigy was in the possession of Major Spitty, of Billericay, to whom it had been given, many years ago, by the Churchwarden when the Church was rebuilt. Within the last few weeks, Major Spitty has placed it in the hands of Mr. Tireman, who immediately very obligingly furnished me with the rubbing from which the accompanying engraving has been very accurately reduced.
Although, unfortunately, in a mutilated condition, the result of comparatively modern violence and spoliation, the figure is one of peculiar interest. Hitherto it has been neither described nor appropriated, and probably, for more than a century, it has been unknown to Archeaologists — it may, therefore, be regarded as an entirely new discovery.
The Church of Bowers Gifford, in the Hundred of Barstable, stands in the marshes, perhaps a mile from the high road, from which it is from no point visible; and being remote from any town, would be very likely to escape the notice of the Antiquary or Archaeologist, who, otherwise, from its obscure situation, would hardly expect to find within it any monument of interest.
The present structure was barbarously rebuilt about twenty or twenty-five years ago. There are but few vestiges of the olden edifice remaining. The tower contains two ancient bells, one of them inscribed in Longobardic characters : + SIT. NOMEN. DOMINI. BENEDICTUM; the other in old English: + SANCTA. KATEEINA. OEA. PEO. NOBIS., both of which legends are of frequent occurrence upon the church bells in that district, and elsewhere. An original perpendicular doorway opens into the belfry; the nave is lighted by four square-headed windows of the 15th century; a plain octangular font of the same period remains, and in the south wall of the chancel there is a trefoil-headed piscina.
Dr. Salmon's notice of the monument in this Church is as follows:— "Under the north wall [of the chancel] is a gravestone, seven foot in length, with the Portraiture of a Knight; the legend, which was upon a fillet of brass, is torn off, the arms of Giffard remaining, six fleurs-de-lis 3, 2 and 1." But I am able to refer to a much earlier mention of the monument, in a MS. in the Lansdowne Library supposed to be written by Wm. Shower, Norroy, temp. Queen Eliz., from which it also appears that the Giffard arms were then in one of the windows of the Church, and perhaps this is the only record of their arms and quarterings extant: "Sabell, 3, 2 and 1 floure de luce gould, Gyfford Armine, a cheife gould and gules quarterly, St. Nic'las. Sabell, a chevron ermine betweene 3 lyoncells silver^ passante. And the writer afterwards adds, "Bures in compleat hamys thar buiryed, with his scotchon of armes."
Shower had written "Bures" in both sentences; in the former he has erased it, and inserted “Gyfford," but in the second, it remains unoorreoted.
In the reign of Elizabeth, the monument was undoubtedly perfect, or the writer, according to his practice, would have mentioned it, had he found it defaced. Unfortunately, he did not record any inscriptions. In 1740, however, we find the brass fillet with its legend was gone; and Mr. Tireman has recently informed me that an aged parishioner remembers the figure perfect, but is unable to describe the form of the bascinet.
The effigy is of life size; the head and right thigh, it is to be feared are irrecoverably lost, but the figure, notwithstanding its mutilated condition, is of peculiar interest, being among the earliest specimens we possess of this description of monument, and a valuable addition to the series of English brasses. It is of the transition period, when changes were rapidly taking place in defensive armour, and perhaps were not always adopted. The costume, Mr. J. G. Waller informs me, "is no certain criterion of date, as we see figures on some monuments represented in a costume apparently earlier than the date of death, while others were probably executed at some period subsequent to the decease." The armour in which this figure is represented, seems, at least, as early as the year 1330, or some eighteen years prior to the date to which we shall assign it. At this time portions of plate armour, as brassarts and greaves, began to be worn. But this figure is clad only in banded ring mail, with the addition, however, of richly engraved genouieres, and elbow plates. Over his hawberk he wears file jupon embroidered at the bottom. The belt is highly ornamented, and the hilt and scabbard of the sword elaborately wrought. I would here direct attention to the small cross engraven upon the pommel of the sword, which, calling to remembrance the ancient practice of swearing upon the sword — although the hilt itself forms a cross, which was essential to the sanctity of the oath — ^may have been one purpose of its introduction, for here the Knight would actually kiss the sacred sign. The sword is worn across the left thigh, but in later brasses, I think, it is more commonly worn dependent perpendicularly by the side. The shield borne upon the left arm, and sustained across the right shoulder by a narrow baldric, is of particularly elegant shape ; the field, charged with the five fleur-de-lis, is diapered with a graceful flowing foliated pattern, similar to the diapering upon the shield of Sir Hugh Hastings (1374) in Elsing Church, Norfolk, with which effigy this figure has some analogies, as it has also with that of Sir John de Creke (1327) in the Church of Westley Waterless, Cambridgeshire.
There are but two of the family of Giffard, the dates of whose decease will accord with the period of the execution of this brass — namely, Sir Robert Giffard, of Bures, who died 17th Edward II., and Sir John Giffard, his son, who deceased in 1348. After a careful examination of the costume, and comparison with other monumental effigies of the period, I have no doubt that the person represented is Sir John Giffard, the last of the family upon record. In the Church there still remains a large stone, in the exact position indicated by Dr. Salmon, but there are no traces of matrices upon its upper surface; and, as far as could be ascertained by the Rev. Mr. Tireman, upon partially raising it, none were discoverable upon the underside. As there were, however, two slabs in the chancel, mentioned by Salmon, in memory of two former Rectors of the parish, who died in 1636 and 1641, respectively, this stone may, possibly, be one of them, but neither of the inscriptions exist. The Giffards were, evidently, a family of considerable station, for they deduced their descent maternally from the same ancestry as the Conqueror; but my researches do not enable me to extend their genealogy beyond that recorded by Morant. Their territorial possessions and influence in the county were extensive. With reference to these, the accuracy of the Essex Historian is fully confirmed, and I find, upon an examination of the Inquisitions Post Mortem that he has omitted nothing of importance. There are, however, some particulars to be derived from other records, of which Morant did not avail himself.
The Giffards appear to have held the Manor of Bures Gifford, under Hugh Bigod Earl of Norfolk, as early as the reign of Edward I. They descended from Walter Gifford, son of Osbem de Bolebec, and his wife Aveline, sister of Gunnora Duchess of Normandy, great-grandmother to the Conqueror, by whom this Walter was created Earl of Buckingham. In 1253, William Giffard, and Gundred his wife, were possessed of the advowson of the Church of S. Margaret de Bures; and in 1259 William Giffard is recorded as holding 100a of land in Bures, by the Sergeancy of making the King's lard or bacon, whenever he should be in England; and that he also held the Hundred of Barstable of the King for £16, and one mark, and used before to pay the King £18. In 1281, King Edw. I., in exchange for the Bailyship of the Hundred-and-Half of Barstable, confirmed to William Gifford and Robert his son, and Gundred the wife of the said Robert, in fee, the Manor of Bowers, quit and exempt of the ancient fee farm, reserving view of frankpledge and other liberties of the same; reserving also to the said Robert the fairs and profits of his market in Horingdon [Horndon], with some other exemptions, and fine warren. Gundred Gifford died in 1300, and Robert was her son and heir.
It appears, from the Hundred Rolls, temp. Edw. I., that William Giffird exercised the power of life and death in his Manor of Bures, for he had erected a gallows in the ville but by what authority the Jurats were ignorant. Robert the son and heir of Gundred, held, among other things, the Manor of Bures of Hugh Bigot by the yearly service of a pair of gilt spurs. Morant does not say in what year Robert Gifford died, but as he cites an Inquisition 17 Edw. II., it must be presumed that he deceased in 1323. I do not, however, find this Inquisition in the calendars, neither does it occur in Sir Symonds Dewes' collection of Inquisitions relating to this county. Sir John Giffard, the last of the family upon record, had a park at Buers, and held also the Manor and Advowson of the Church, with other estates, by the service of a pair of gilt spurs, of the value of sixpence, yearly. The particulars of these will be found in Morant's History of Essex^ with the exception of a few unimportant possessions which I find in the original Inquisition. It appears, from Newcourt's Repertorium that Sir John Gifford was the son and heir of Sir Robert, although the fact is not stated by Morant, and that he presented to the Church, on the 17th August, 1328, being the first presentation upon record. He died in 1348, and in the original Inquisition is styled a knight, a title which is not accorded to him by Morant, Willara Brygod, son of Thomas Brygod, of Ffange [Vange], was his heir, but the consanguinity appears not.
A more careful and extensive examination of records, had time permitted, might, perhaps, have enabled me to furnish a more complete history of the family and of their possessions, as I have references to charters and other documents connected with Bowers Gifford, which I had not leisure to consult; but the facts adduced afford sufficient evidence for the correct appropriation of the brass.
It is most fortunate that the effigy fell into the hands of Major Spitty, who was able to appreciate it as a work of art and antiquity, and to whom, not only this Society, but the Antiquaries of England, are greatly indebted; primarily, for its careful preservation for a series of years; and, secondly, for its opportune restoration, at a time when the historical value of such memorials is more fully understood. There is too much reason to fear that, had not Major Spitty evinced sufficient interest for Archaeology, as to preserve this valuable relic, it would, long since, have found its way to the braziers or the melting pot, which has, probably, been the fate of the missing portions of the figure. To the Rev. W. W. Tireman I desire to record my personal obligation, for his attention, in immediately informing me of its recovery; and our associates will be gratified to learn that it is Mr. Tireman's design to restore it to its ancient position in the chancel of Bowers Church, where we may hope that the effigy of its founder — as it very probably is — will continue undisturbed over his remains, and secure from any further act of Vandalism, for ages to come.
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Martin Stuchfield gave an interesting talk on monumental brasses at the Essex Record Office Conference recently on the Fighting Essex Soldier. He began by saying that there are many fourteenth century brasses in the home counties of Kent, Norfolk and Essex. Overall Essex has 473 monumental brasses – about one per church – 15 of which are fourteenth century. Another interesting statistic is that Writtle has twice the number of brasses than exist in the whole of Scotland.
His talk focussed on military figures depicted in Essex churches, three of which are considered to be of national importance.
The brass of Sir William Fitzralph in Pebmarsh Church appears on the cover of all 41 volumes of Arthur Mee’s ‘King’s England’ series of books. Previously thought to be the sixth oldest brass in the country – the oldest is an unknown priest dating c1282 in Ashford, Kent – it has been demoted to the ninth oldest. The brass is the oldest in Essex. It shows the transition of armour from mail to plate. By the end of the fourteenth century the soldier was clothed in plate armour. Fitzralph raised foot soldiers for the King, serving in 1298 and 1301. The brass has been re-dated 1331-38, previously 1323. Montgomery Burnett gives an account of the brass and Sir William’s service in the Transactions of this Society, ‘third series’, Volume 6. For more see: http://www.pebmarsh.com/history/fitzralph/brass/
Sir John de Wantone is commemorated at Wimbish. This is dated 1347 and is the earliest brass survival without a shield. He wears a leather sleeveless garment. De Wantone was summoned in 1345 to attend the King in France with men and arms. For more see: http://www.wimbish.org.uk/wimbish-in-1937.html
Sir John Gifford’s memorial at Bowers Gifford is the last brass surviving in England to be ornamented completely in mail. It has a skilfully engraved shield. The head has been missing since at least 1715. When the church was rebuilt in the 1830s the brass was given away but it was repaired in 1898 by the Essex Archaeological Society (now the Essex Society for Archaeology and History) to commemorate its Diamond Jubilee. “On a Recently Discovered Monumental Brass, belonging to Bowers Gifford Church, by Mr H W King“, may be found in Transactions ‘old series’, Volume I. Sir John Gifford died 1357/58. For more see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=123469 .
The very slim but detailed figure of Ralph de Knevynton is at Aveley. He died 5 December 1370. It appeared on the cover of the Monumental Brass Society’s Bulletin (No 125, February 2014). For more see: http://www.thurrock-history.org.uk/aveley2.htm
The brass of Thomas Stapel, who died in 1371, was once in Shopland Church (demolished 1937) but is now in Sutton Church. Only the top two-thirds of the armoured figure remain. It may have once been an altar tomb slab. The image was used by the Essex Record Office in 2014 to promote the one-day Conference on the Fighting Essex Soldier. The effigy is discussed in the Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, Vol XII, page 244, where an illustration is given. For more see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutton,_Essex
In 1849 Chrishall church was restored and the life-size brass figure of John de la Pole was hidden under flooring. Commemorated in full armour he clasps hands with his wife, and both are placed under a triple canopy. He frequently served in the theatre of war from 1369: in spring 1378 with John of Gaunt at St Malo. To see a detailed review of John de la Pole: http://sirgawainsworld.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/a-meeting-with-john-de-la-pole-of-chrishall-essex/
On the night of 21 September 1940 Little Horkesley Church and The Beehive public house was completely destroyed by a bomb. Staff at Colchester Museum was quickly on site to rescue the remains of the brass of Sir Robert Swynborne and Sir Thomas Swynborne. It was painstakingly restored over 17 years when the church was rebuilt and reopened in 1957. The dagger was restored in 1973. Sir Robert is in full armour. He died without issue on 6 October 1391. Sir Thomas died in 1412. “The Destruction of Little Horkesley Church, and the Discovery of Palimpsest Brass. By the Rev G Montagu Benton, M.A., F.S.A.” may be found in the Transactions of this Society, ‘new series’, Vol. XXIII Part 1. For more information see also: http://www.webring.org/l/rd?ring=ukgen;id=1;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwebspace%2Ewebring%2Ecom%2Fpeople%2Fau%2Fum_7035%2Fhorkesley%2Ehtml
‘The Monumental Brasses of Essex’ by Miller Christy, W. W. Porteous and E. Bertram Smith is a contribution to ‘Memorials of Old Essex’ edited by A. Clifton Kelway in 1908. These authors also produced a series of articles for the Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, the Essex Review and other publications about the same time. The contribution includes a review of ‘Brasses of Men in Armour’ and includes illustrations of the brasses at Pebmarsh, Chrishall, Little Horkesley and Aveley.
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
Recent Archaeology in Suffolk
Saturday 18th October 2014
University Campus Suffolk
Waterfront Building, Ipswich, IP4 1QJ
09.30 Arrival and registration
10.00 Introduction (Councillor Rebecca Hopfensperger, Cabinet Member for Archaeology, Suffolk County Council)
10.15 An Early and Middle Bronze Age Settlement Site at Fordham Road, Newmarket (Gareth Rees, Oxford Archaeology East)
10:45 The Heathland Road: The archaeology of the A11 Fiveways to Thetford Improvements Scheme (Mark Hinman, Pre-Construct Archaeology)
11.15 Coffee break (included in ticket price)
11.45 The small Roman town at Wixoe -excavations for the Abberton pipeline (Rob Atkins, Oxford Archaeology East)
12.15 An exemplary metal detecting survey: recent work at Rendlesham (Jude Plouviez and Faye Minter, Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service Conservation Team)
12.45 Barber’s Point on the River Alde – an island community in the 7th century AD (Jezz Meredith, Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service Field Team)
13.15 Lunch (not provided)
14.30 Stoke Quay: 1,000 years of burial in Ipswich (Andy Shelley, Ramboll UK Limited)
15.00 Excavations at The Swan Hotel, Lavenham (David Gill and Rob Brooks, Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service Field Team)
15.30 Tea break (included in ticket price)
16.00 Recording Suffolk's Historic Buildings (Leigh Alston)
16.30 New Research on the Second World War Defence Landscapes (Dr Robert Liddiard, University of East Anglia)
17.00 Close of conference
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Monday, 28 July 2014
Announcement and invitation
To the International Conference on
(Jerusalem, June 2015)
And a call for Abstracts:
The scientific committee of the conference invites experts to submit abstracts on the conference topics. The list of topics is presented on the conference web-site:Archaeologyisrael
More details on the conference are available on the site: Archaeologyisrael
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Sunday, 27 July 2014
Essex Sessions of The Peace 1351, 1377-1379
Essex Archaeological Society, Occasional Paper No. 3 (1953)
Edited with an introduction by Elizabeth Chaplin Furber
This is one of a short series of extracts taken from this Occasional Paper, no longer available from our storeroom. Members of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History may receive a digital copy of the book by subscribing to the ESAH Digitisation Project.
THE survival of the Essex peace rolls may be accounted for by the fact that the king's bench sat at Chelmsford in 1351 and again in 1380. Possibly the earlier move was occasioned by Chief Justice Shareshull's interest in the notorious Fitzwalter affair, or in the financial profits to be obtained from vigorous enforcement of the labour legislation. Shareshull was largely responsible for this legislation, and his financial success in having it enforced in Essex is vividly attested by the estreat roll and the subsidy roll. In the later year, possibly some inkling of the deep-seated unrest which was to lead to the Great Revolt may have induced Chief Justice Cavendish to move the bench to Chelmsford. The records of the Essex peace sessions, supplemented by evidence on the results of the indictments and on the identity of persons involved - justices, jurors, minor officials, men indicted and their victims - throw interesting light on many matters, legal, social and economic.
From the legal point of view, nothing absolutely 'new' appears on the Essex peace rolls. They contain no such full accounts of process, trials and completed business as are found on rolls for other counties. The earlier Essex roll gives no information on these points; the later roll gives some details on dates and places of sessions, presenting jurors, the process of compelling appearance and fines for labour offences. These rolls are primarily important in their cumulative effect in adding to the mass of proceedings before the justices of the peace available in print which will further the solution of many problems of fourteenth-century legal history. The Essex peace rolls give a broad picture of lawlessness and labour unrest during the years between the Black Death and the Great Revolt in a county which was a leader in that revolt. All classes of the population are represented from Lord Fitzwalter to the humblest felon who was hanged and left no chattels. The case of Fitzwalter, who maintained a notorious retinue of criminals long before the general withdrawal of soldiers from the Continent in the 'fifties, is unique and has been strangely overlooked hitherto. Many of the men indicted, both Fitzwalter's followers and others, obtained pardon because of service abroad, or went off to the wars and thus escaped punishment. Among the latter appear such men as the parson, William de Blaby (A41), who received thieves. While members of the clergy are frequently the wealthy victims of felons, others of the clergy are as frequently the worst offenders. These felonious clerks range all the way from William de Oveseye (A1-A2), clericus conuictus with no goods and chattels, to the archdeacon Roger de Harleston (A42), who obtained numerous benefices through the influence of powerful ecclesiastical kinsmen, and who was finally pardoned through the intercession of Queen Isabel. The laymen indicted were not necessarily landless malefactors, but were on occasion men of substance such as Richard de Bromley or Geoffrey Rolf.
As might be expected, although the rolls mention occasionally wool merchants and cheesemongers, and such commodities as woollens, worsteds and tiles, the emphasis is largely on agriculture. Since values of livestock, grain, cloth and other articles are often lumped together in the indictments, only a fragmentary list of prices can be compiled. Brewsters in 1377-79 were receiving 6d. per gallon for ale, a rate considerably higher than the 3d. or 4d. complained of in the inquiry of 1389, and out of all proportion to the customary rate of 1d. Tilers were charging 4s. per 1000 in 1377-79, whereas tiles were delivered for the repair of Hadleigh Castle in the 'sixties at the rate of 3s. per 1000.
Since no wage cases appear on the earlier Essex roll, though the estreat roll gives ample evidence of the 'enforcement of the labour laws in 1351, it is impossible to make a comparison of wages taken in 1351 and in 1377-79. For a long-range comparison, it is necessary to turn to Miss Kenyon's valuable tables of wages 1340-90, in her study of labour conditions in 1389.
Yet some comparison of wages taken in 1377-79, and the statutory or customary rates, may be of interest. The Statute of Labourers of 1351 provided that specified maximum rates per day be paid in certain occupations; that the rates customary in 1342-46 be paid in other occupations; and that men should work by the year and never by the day. The statute of 1360-61 increased the rates for carpenters and masons. No new statutory rates were fixed before the sessions of 1377-79. It was not until the Statute of Cambridge of 1388 that rates were fixed by the year; they ranged from 13s. 4d. per year and clothing once a year for a bailiff of husbandry to 6s. per year for a woman labourer, with a stipulation of less in counties where less was usual, without clothing, courtesie and other reward.
Turning to the rates given or received in the indictments of 1377-79, we find that daily wages show an increase over statutory or customary rates of anything from 1d. upwards; and practically all workers were receiving their food. More startling were the yearly rates given in the 1370's without any statutory provision. They ranged from 16s. and food given to a weak and failing servant to 40s. refused by a common labourer. The harangue of the preacher, who accused the ploughman of taking 20s. or 30s. and gay clothing, was obviously no empty oratory. The indictments lend support to Miss Kenyon's contention that these yearly wages were being paid not by the old lords, unable to adjust to the high rates demanded by the regular manorial servants as well as by the casual daily labourers, but rather by the new class of leaseholders, able and willing, in a period of rising prices, to take over the land at a fixed monetary rent and to engage annual labour at a high level of wages. Such a leaseholder was probably John Trumpe, of Steeple Bumpstead, who hired five ploughmen for 20s. a year, food, and a tunic worth 6s. 8d. (B101); Trumpe and one of the ploughmen were described as free tenants in the poll tax returns of 1380, the other four ploughmen as labourers. Such leaseholders were probably William Bette of Elmdon (B 100) and John Bolesen, of Newport (B124).
The seriousness of the labour situation is well brought out by a study not only of the indictments of 1377-79, but also of the estreat roll of 1351. Miss Kenyon has remarked that the' joint evidence of wages, prices and increase of the number of leases leads to a tentative conclusion that in Essex the plague of 1360-61 had more disturbing results than the more famous outbreak of 1349'. Yet it is significant that the justices of the peace in 1351, covering only part of the county, took fines for labour offences from over 7500 persons, or, in other words, from at least one out of every six adults in the county. In Colchester and its adjacent hamlets alone 319 persons made fine. No less significant is the enormous sum of about 719l. taken for these fines, of which about 675l. was used for the first year of the triennial grant of 25 Edward III, and represented well over half of the 1234l. collected for the subsidy in Essex. Chief Justice Shareshull undoubtedly had a hand in extracting this huge sum, for the only other county where half the subsidy was made up of labour fines was Buckinghamshire, to which county Shareshull also took the king's bench in 1351.
Such stringent enforcement of the labour laws, if long continued - and in 1377-79 two hundred of the two hundred and eighty extant indictments before the justices of the peace involved labour offences - would amply explain the violence of the insurgents of 1381 against the person or property of John de Cavendish, John de Bampton, Geoffrey de Dersham or the Suttons, all justices of the peace in Essex. While only one person mentioned on the peace rolls, the juror, William Gildebourne, has been tentatively identified among the Essex rebels hanged, many of those indicted at the Essex peace sessions may well have been among the mob of Essex men who marched on London. Wat Tyler, at Smithfield, 'demanda que nulle lay deveroit estre fors la lay de Wynchestre'. That the rebels should have 'thus demanded the abandonment of every measure taken since 1285 for the maintenance of public order and the regulation of labour 'becomes more understandable from a study of the 'success' of the justices of the peace in Essex in enforcing the labour laws and of their failure in bringing to adequate justice notorious and powerful offenders.